Growing up Black, our sense of family extended beyond the standard definition. Family included many people who may or may not have been related to us by blood, and we found a home wherever we belonged or felt cared for. Our mamas sent us to our auntie’s house for a nutritious meal or to pick up the sugar or to the home of an elderly lady down the block who needed necessities to get her through the week. Sometimes we got in trouble for being at our ‘play cousin’s’ house too long after the street lights went off. 

As we grow up, we often yearn to revisit this nostalgic and expansive sense of family. Anti-Black racism, state-sanctioned violence, and systemic oppression mean it becomes harder to maintain ties or thrive within our families and communities due to incarceration, limited job opportunities, or a lack of access to affordable housing in the neighborhoods where we were raised. 

For those of us who identify as queer, trans, gender non-conforming, or intersex, we may not find the support we need in our families of origin, so we make our own.

Even with all these obstacles, Black families have thrived for centuries by keeping our kinship alive. It’s time for us to come together in a Black political home that collectively demands justice and builds power while offering a sense of family and community where ALL Black people can belong and take action. 

The Movement for Black Lives invites all Black people to join its network and share in its expansive view of family and justice. Much of mainstream white America’s narrative and policies are built on racist and harmful ideas about Black families and communities. M4BL centers on a Black queer and transfeminist perspective that uplifts all the ways we care for each other and come together to vision and shape our families and our futures.

M4BL is creating a broad political home where all Black people will find an opportunity to learn, organize, and take action. Their network of over 150 leaders and organizations is composed of activists, lawyers, educators, and more, all unified in one radical vision for Black liberation and to support Black families to access economic, political, and educational power. For M4BL, home is about family and the network is creating a space where all Black people can find connection and belonging in service to Black lives and Black futures. 

M4BL created the Vision for Black Lives in August 2016 in the wake of the Ferguson uprising. Now in 2020, the Vision for Black Lives works to support the future of Black people with a “comprehensive and visionary policy agenda” for the Black liberation movement, according to the MB4L website. The Vision for Black Lives agenda reflects the current political climate, as well as the ever-changing legislative and policy landscape in the country. 

Black families have long excelled at creating traditions steeped in familial history, building off our ancestors’ legacy of struggle and resistance as we move toward our vision for Black liberation. M4BL’s framework includes a call on allies to assist with transformation - or even abolition - of the current anti-Black systems that have long neglected our best interests as people. The Vision for Black Lives is separated into six policy platforms that include demands to help MB4L better address the current state of all Black people.

End The War on Black People

The first demand is that we need to put an end to the war against Black people. There is a call to have proactive policies that end the racial, economic, gender-based, and interpersonal violence against Black women, queer, trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and disabled people. All Black lives deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and that starts with policies that keep us all safe and able to access the care and resources we need. Doing so will make our people stronger and will spearhead the journey to liberation we all deserve.  

Reparations

The network is fighting for the reparations owed to our people from the government and other entities that have profited from the trauma Black people have endured for decades. Black people deserve restitution from disinvestment in our communities, cultural and educational exploitation, as well as legislation that recognizes the mistreatment of our people dating back to slavery. Black families need to see a full stop on the overcriminalization of our people, especially our youth who are often robbed of access and opportunity from a young age. 

Divest, Invest

The demand for investment is at the forefront. M4BL is calling for the country to invest in the education, health, and safety of Black people. The network demands the country reallocate funds away from racist, ineffective policing to free up resources to implement long-term safety strategies applied to creating quality jobs and affordable housing, as well as guaranteeing universal health care and fully-funded public education.

Economic Justice

M4BL is calling for a reconstruction of the economy to ensure that every person is provided collective ownership, rather than access. Restructuring of tax codes, job programs, and a right to restored land will help Black people reach our path toward liberation that we deserve. 

Community Control

The Black community should have access to control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us. Ranging from our schools, local budgets, economies, and police departments, we require the political power to engage in making decisions and electing leaders to shape policies and practices that impact our daily lives.

Political Power

M4BL members believe that we should reconstruct our current political system so all Black people can exercise their political power in every area of society.  Elections should be publicly financed and Black political activity should not be criminalized nor our votes suppressed. Our rights must be guaranteed and should be protected.

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Black families are no doubt the nucleus of our community. Our sense of self, pride, and belonging originate from the bonds created in Black families whether or not they are our family of origin. In the same way that our family bonds have morphed and taken different forms over generations, we now need for the policies in this country to do the same. The network of organizations within MB4L believes that collective liberation will be a product of all of our work. Imagine a world where we collectively share freedom and restoration instead of oppression and restraint. 

According to M4BL, “We cannot rely on existing political, economic, and cultural systems to take the lead to transform themselves and serve our communities. To manifest the world we’re building, we must collectively rise up to demand accountability, action, and justice.”

Ready to be a part of the movement? We can’t do this without you, family. Let’s work as a unit to move into a new vision for our current and future families. 

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives.