Through the generous support of some community partners, I was able to travel to Ferguson for the Alianza hosted by Hands Up United on January 15, 2015. The Alianza (Alliance) was a convergence of the Black & Brown communities to talk about the way structural oppression effects both communities and ways that we can work together to fight back.
There has already been some good reporting on the Alianza - it was an incredible event. Rebel Diaz and Rosa Clemente were key speakers. There was space for people in attendance to share stories of their experience with racism. We talked about ways to build together in the future - how to be united in the struggle for freedom.
I'm so grateful that I was able to travel to Ferguson for this event. I have struggled personally with what my allyship (or freedom fighter status, or accomplice-ness, depending on who you're talking to) should look like. I am a light-skinned Chicana, and I have really struggled with the connections and also divisions that police violence in Black and Brown communities creates. Yes, Latinxs are also affected by state sanctioned violence in many of the ways that Black people are (and at much higher rates than other non-Black POC), but most of us (I can not forget Afro-Latinxs) are not subject to the centuries long deep systemic oppression that is anti-Black racism. So how do we stand in solidarity?
Rebel Diaz describes it as "hood to hood solidarity." He came to Ferguson at first to support a friend who is Mike Brown's cousin. It was that simple for him. He comes from an over-policed neighborhood, and going to stand in support of another over-policed neighborhood seemed right. He describes this united front of Black and Brown people as "white supremacy's worst nightmare."
The question now is how does this translate to scale? How do we do it in Boston? How do we organize in occupied neighborhoods? How do we connect the violence our communities face together without losing the emphasis on the idea that Black Lives Matter - and that this is a movement for and about Black Liberation - all people will be liberated when Black people are.
The Alianza raised these questions - and Black and Brown leadership committed to finding an answer. Awesome.