Photograph: “Pinback button stating “Black Lives Matter Everyday,” from Million Man March 20th Anniversary.” In the Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
All Black Lives Matter
Tony McDade should still be alive
Breonna Taylor should still be alive
George Floyd should still be alive
Ahmaud Arbery should still be alive
Nina Pop should still be alive
Jamel Floyd should still be alive
All the Black people who have died from Covid-19 should still be alive
They were all killed by state-sanctioned violence carried out by racist police and the racist systems that prop up our healthcare, education, economic, social, and cultural infrastructure.
We Love Black People. We affirm the value of ALL Black people’s lives and we commit to doing memory work both in our personal and professional lives that will lead to dismantling systems that continue to harm Black people. Our work must support efforts to defund the police, abolish prisons, and redirect resources to the communities that have suffered the most under these racist structures that exist and thrive solely because Black people’s lives are consistently devalued around the world.
We are Black memory workers committed to documenting the Black experience during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the current uprisings brought about by racist police violence against Black people. Our work is imperative, especially as we witness this dual assault white supremacy has unleashed on Black people. We offer this call to action to ethically and comprehensively archive during this moment, to ensure that we shine light onto the oppressive systems that disproportionately subject Black people to generational pain and suffering.
Facebook post by Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old African American girl who filmed George Floyd’s murder while on her way to run an errand. Retrieved from TMZ on 6/6/2020.
We offer this call to action because we know moments of crisis and Black suffering are also opportunities ripe for institutional exploitation and professional opportunism in the cultural memory sector, where harmful activities involved with building collections for institutions that don’t care about Black people, become more important than documenting the root causes of why Black people are suffering in the first place. We do not offer this call to action on behalf of our affiliated cultural memory institutions. Instead, we offer this call in solidarity with our Black communities all over the world.
We reject attempts to document this moment that fails to center the Black experience or that fails to document the facts about the State’s role in inflicting Black pain. We commit to modeling care in our memory work because Black people deserve care. We commit to doing ethical memory work that protects Black people because racist state-sanction violence also resists documentation. We commit to archival practices that support accountability and historical accuracy because when the dust settles attempts will be made to rewrite the history. We commit to an intersectional archival practice that also presents a global perspective of Black suffering and the response to it because we acknowledge that Black people with disabilities, and from working-class, queer and immigrant communities have suffered negative and disproportionate harm due to white supremacy and capitalism. We believe that Black memory workers should lead the documentation response when Black people are suffering. And we believe Black memory workers should be supported and given the space and resources to do this work.
We invite anyone to complete this form to sign onto this call to action in solidarity with Black memory workers. We are also organizing efforts based on this call to action. If you are a Black memory worker interested in joining our efforts, please identify yourself as such in the form.
Lae’l Hughes Watkins
Skyla S. Hearn
Jessica C. Neal
Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski
Andrea L. Battleground
megan renée williams
Tiffany Atwater Lee
Kai Alexis Smith
Oriana E. Gonzales
Mori Anderson Hitchcock
Valencia L. Johnson
Bridgett Kathryn Pride