Harvard Law School’s Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) extends its deepest condolences to the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and George Floyd. We acknowledge the unfathomable pain of watching a loved one’s final moments. We know they are more than hashtags and headlines. We know they are deeply loved. We hold you in your healing from the death of your loved ones. They were taken too soon from you. We support you in taking your time and taking care. We hold space for your pain and your rage. We echo your calls for accountability and justice.
HBLSA is in solidarity with the millions of Black people frustrated and enraged by a system that continues to disregard and devalue Black Lives. The United States has long borne witness to racially motivated violence towards Black people. These incidents cannot be divorced from the history of the perpetual subjugation of Black people upon which our nation stands. A tradition that is complicit in the deaths of George Junius Stinney Jr., Emmett Till, Fred Hampton, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims, Rodney King, and Kalief Browder. This pervasive and omnipresent system of state-sanctioned violence built upon the notion of Black criminality perpetuates the denial of Black humanity and our right to freedom. From “Stand Your Ground” laws, the ‘94 Crime Bill, the McCleskey decision, “qualified immunity” defenses, to the consistent criminalizing of Blackness to bring about an onslaught of physical, emotional, and mental violence—the United States denies Black people the right to bird-watch, jog, sleep, read, and worship in peace.
The United States is witnessing uprisings all over the country. We recognize these as acts of rebellion against anti-Black violence that saturates us. Additionally, we are reminded of this moment’s place in our nation’s history; these uprisings are moments of unrest and resistance in the midst of 500 years of killing, torturing, and looting––of Black people and indigenous peoples more broadly. In the words of Dr. King, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” In the spirit of the work of those like Dr. King, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and Malcolm X, we are concerned about the ongoing looting of Black communities by bailed-out billion-dollar corporations who impoverish Black and brown people and continue to evict them from their homes in a pandemic. We have had enough.
As the COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, these deaths serve as a painful reminder of the United States’ failure to address its history of institutionalized racism and pervasive anti-Blackness. This is a lethal reminder to reject complacency. This demands our attention and presents us with a fundamental crisis of consciousness. We must challenge our institutions, our progress, and our role in the fight for life and equity. We are required to learn from the past in order to move forward more united and inclusive. We demand the protection of Black queer, trans, femme, and system impacted lives. Hear the voice of the unheard. Hear their pain, their anger, their sadness, and their disgust. We must expand our understanding of justice and accountability to include an investment in Black life.
Now is the time to continue moving from education to action. The resources listed below are not exhaustive, but a springboard for you to take steps to participate in this movement for justice.
Please support the funds and organizations below dedicated to racial justice, liberation, and ending violence against Black people.
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- How To Be Anti-Racist and Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
- So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Ahmaud Arbery Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/i-run-with-maud
- George Floyd Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
- Breonna Taylor Petition: standwithbre.com
- Reclaim the Block, a Minneapolis organization devoted to reallocating the city’s money away from the police department and toward “community-led safety initiatives.”
- Black Visions Collective, a Black, trans, and queer-led social justice organization and legal fund based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
- Bail Funds and Legal Aid By City, a community-sourced list of bail funds and legal aid organized by city.
- Campaign Zero, online platform & organization that utilizes research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in the United States.
- Northstar Health Collective, a St. Paul-based organization that provides health services and support at protests.
- The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which pays criminal and immigration bail and bond for people who cannot afford it. This fund is currently “overfunded,” so please consider giving to others.
While voting doesn’t solve every problem, voting in local elections, especially for District Attorneys and Sheriffs, has a direct impact on how and who is held accountable.
HBLSA has been and will continue to take steps to do our part, individually and as a collective. Stay connected for updates.
The Harvard Black Law Students Association