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Why A #Vision4BlackLives is a Guidebook for Civic and Community Leaders

Why A #Vision4BlackLives is a Guidebook for Civic and Community Leaders

[Re-posted with permission from Demos. Also available in Spanish.]

A Vision for Black Lives—a hot off the press comprehensive policy agenda that could heal our nation.

I have just finished reading—re-reading, actually—A Vision for Black Lives, the national policy platform publicly released today by the Movement for Black Lives, Black Lives Matter Network, the Black Youth Project (BYP100) and over fifty other grassroots organizations. This document is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a public servant, policy maker, civic or community leader. It’s hot off the press, and it is an extraordinary gift.

As a Latina, as a progressive leader, as a Vice President of Demos and Demos Action, I’m not writing today to endorse this national platform. The movement for Black lives does not need my stamp of approval. Instead, I’m calling on other progressives—especially other light-skinned people of color, white people and leaders of the Democratic Party—to sit up and pay attention. Do not let today end without reading A Vision for Black Lives.

A Vision for Black Lives is a contribution to the political conversation that is urgently needed. It approaches policy design with targeted universalism, in which solutions are universal in terms of their goals, yet targeted to the specific concerns and circumstances of the population most impacted by the issues our public policies try to address. In doing so, A Vision for Black Lives is a policy platform that seeks to create equity… not just a papier-mâché bridge to equality.

Although it’s subtitled “Policy Demands for Black Freedom, Power and Justice,” the document is far more than a list of demands. Click on the links and you’ll find detailed descriptions of solutions, actions that all levels of government can take, and model legislation. Policy makers, the path has been laid out for you, trail markers and all.

In particular, the Democratic Party should study A Vision for Black Lives as a guidebook. Is that because there’s no way to win the 2016 elections without the Black vote? Yes—but it goes so much deeper than that. Is it because without the support of Black voters, Democrats would not have had viable presidential candidates since the 1960s? Because without Black voters, Democrats would barely have a party, much less political power? Is it because election after election, Black voters have proven to be the backbone of the Democratic Party? These things are all true. And yet it is only in their very best moments that Democratic Party leaders have struggled, much more often failing, to earn that steadfastness from Black voters.

As a party, they have done little to change the reality that the more support from Black communities a federal policy has, the less likely it is to be passed. Nor have Democrats done enough to address the fact that the higher the percentage of a state’s population that is Black, the more likely that state is to have restrictive voting laws.

So, yes. Democratic Party leaders, for all of these reasons you must read A Vision for Black Lives. And as you do, do not make the mistake of seeing only a rebuke for what you haven’t done. The most important reason to read, to study this, is so that you may see it as the remarkable gift that it is.

Scores of organizations collaborated for a year to put together this national policy platform. It is an agenda that, if put to use, can help heal our country and move us forward toward our long-held ideal of justice.

To thank the authors for their leadership, and to welcome an expanded audience, Demos Action and Mijente have made this Spanish translation of the platform available here: Una Visión para las Vidas Negras

The platform demonstrates that the Black Lives Matter movement—the masses of individuals (Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, White and Arab) with the visionary and principled leadership of young, Black, LGBTQ women—is, in fact, a movement for all of us. It is a movement built out of love. Founded on the recognition of human dignity. A movement with such a deep ethos of solidarity that it shines a light on the dignity of people of all ethnicities, all genders, all religions, all immigrants, all queer and trans folks. It even illuminates a path to the dignity of people who have been so infected with the disease of white supremacy.

The movement for Black lives is showing all of us the way. The progressive movement should follow. The Democratic Party should follow. And they should do it without co-opting or tokenizing the leadership of the Black women who have built this. We need A Vision for Black Lives for the sake of our future as a nation. For the sake of our human dignity. Because all lives cannot matter, until Black Lives Matter.

Jodeen Olguin-Tayler
Jodeen Olguin-Tayler
Senior Innovation Fellow, Movement Strategy Center / MEV Cohort 2 Movement Maker

Jodeen serves as the Vice President of Policy & Partnerships at Demos and drives a campaign-oriented approach to Demos’ advocacy work and to expanding strategic partnerships. Learn More

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