If there was ever a need for a multiracial movement for Black lives, it’s now.

The “Multiracial Movements for Black Lives” plenary at Facing Race National Conference was an electrifying conversation between six writers, thinkers and activists: Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow” moderated the discussion featuring Alicia Garza, cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter (BLM), Zon Moua, a youth organizer with Freedom, Inc., Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance, Isa Noyola, of the Transgender Law Center, and Chris Crass, author, educator and parent.

Photo: Brian Palmer, Facing Race National Conference 2016 Speakers seated on stage. From left to right, Chris Crass, Judith LeBlanc, Alicia Garza, Michelle Alexander, Isa Noyola, Zon Moua.

Michelle Alexander’s sobering opening about the recent election stirred the 2,000-strong crowd. “Today, we’re going to talk about what is necessary, what is essential for us to beat the odds.”

“How do we keep our imagination unlocked and unfettered?” Garza asked. “We all have to be in this together. There are some people who think ‘let’s talk to White people better,’ she said. “No, that doesn’t work. Black Lives Matter is important because we have an opportunity to build a movement that is truly intersectional. It allows us to claim space for all of us.” 

That means, the group agreed, multiracial organizations should support Black Lives Matter.

The movement for Black lives, said LeBlanc, compelled an examination of structural and institutional relationships. “What is the relationship between genocide and slavery?” LeBlanc also said that BLM has helped to provide the language to embark on this kind of discussion. “Black Lives Matter compels our White allies to dig deeper.” 

What does a multiracial movement for racial justice look like?

“We have to think about who we are centering,” said Noyola. “Trans women of color are being set aside, being used as messengers or accessories in order to fill a space. This is no longer acceptable.” 

“The issues between communities are very different even though they are affected by same systems,” said Moua. But it’s important to support other cultural, racial or ethnic groups, she said, by sharing funding, resources, and education. 

For White people, Crass says, this work is a deep examination of the language and function of White supremacy. “White people have turned into soldiers of White supremacy,” he said. “More people need to join the Black Lives Matter movement.”  

Says Alexander, “Our love for each other and our commitment to birthing a society and community remains.”
 

Photo: Brian Palmer, Facing Race National Conference 2016 Audience in ballroom.