We All Do Better

Last week GRITtv with Laura Flanders featured a 3 minute teaser from Even the Walls after an interview with Alicia Garza, co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Garza spoke to the importance of building movements without shedding differences. The focus on #blacklivesmatter, she explained, is not meant to exclude, but is a call to understand structural racism in America and how it affects us all.

"Changing #blacklivesmatter to #alllivesmatter is not an act of solidarity. What it is, is a demonstration of how we don't actually understand structural racism in this country. When we say all lives matter, that's a given...but the fact of the matter is some human lives are valued more than others, and that's a problem."

Denying the experiences of entire groups of people is problematic. Perspective and representation are important. Yes, we're all in this together. But our experiences are not all the same. Even the Walls was an effort to afford a platform for perspectives and experiences that often are drowned out by the mainstream. Instead of interviewing architects, developers and housing authority members about Yesler Terrace, the film focused solely on the experiences of its residents. Although not monetized, their social capital and experience of their community has value. And that value extends beyond the borders of Yesler. The community connections that Yesler's residents fear losing are what we are all losing.

The late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone's words ring true - "We all do better when we all do better."    

"...if there’s a group of workers that don’t have rights, that means that your rights are being threatened…because there’s gonna be an excuse at some point to take your rights away from you."

"When we talk about black liberation being intrinsic to everybody's liberation we're really talking about how systems in this country have been not only built on the backs of black people and black labor, but certainly have been crafted to exclude and exploit black people. So if we are able to dismantle those systems, everybody is able to have a chance of living a better life..."

Can we really call it "progress", if (at the very best) members of our city community feel unheard, frustrated and without agency?

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