Saturday, June 13, 2020

RSVP to Join Us on June 17 at 5pm EST for the Data for Black Lives Movement Roundtable

data as protest. accountability.
& collective action. 

Dear friends,
Like many of you, I have lived my entire life in a police state.

I grew up in communities where incarceration was imminent and law enforcement ubiquitous. Survival meant learning early on that the inherent feature of the law enforcement apparatus was its ability to camouflage, to adapt. To be ever present, always felt, though never fully seen. 
The police state was physical in the form of patrol vehicles and traffic stops, but also social, through a culture of policing that had come to impact every aspect of our lives. I loved school, but receiving an education meant navigating the ever present threat of suspensions and arrests, policies that turned our school into sites of crime fighting instead of learning. As a child I learned that to be Black and to be poor was to be a problem, a criminal in the eyes of the world. 

When my grandmother lost her home as a result of a predatory loan, it wasn’t the bank we interacted with, but the police. I learned then that police existed to protect capital, and that behind the most aggressive policing practices were the most brutal inequalities.

Like clockwork officers showed up when the notice to vacate expired, armed and dangerous as they ordered us to leave the property. It was difficult to avoid feelings of despair as we stood and watched them move our meager belongings to the street. It was easy to believe there was no recourse, no accountability, that we had no power over the decisions that impacted our lives.
When I was first introduced to abolition as a youth organizer, it was as if a whole new world had opened up to me. Abolition became the answer - it was about dismantling the structures that once seemed so permanent and powerful, but it was also about creating something totally new. For us, abolition meant doing the important work of changing policy, but most importantly, it was the performance of liberation, the creation of new infrastructures for self-determination, under conditions of duress. For the first time in my life, I felt possibility. Abolition was the framework that turned my despair into hope, and then into action.
The current uprising is about the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and all whose lives have been stolen by police violence. But it is also about living for too long under the heavy hand of state violence and political domination that has stolen our agency and our ability to have a say over what happens to us and to our communities. This uprising is about exercising our right to self-determination.
What does it mean for us to practice abolition in this moment -- to demand and build the infrastructure for collective self-determination for Black communities nationwide?

Next Wednesday, June 17th, we will be convening a roundtable of organizers, activists, and practitioners to discuss how we can organize, mobilize and coordinate in this moment and for the long haul. 
We invite you to join us for this pulse check, but also to be part of what we are building. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. 
The love and care I have for you all is infinite.

Data as Protest: Data for Black Lives with Yeshi Milner 

How can we claim agency over data systems to fight for racial justice? What is Data for Black Lives? How can you join the movement?

Listen to our Executive Director Yeshimabeit Milner answer these questions and more on the Radical AI podcast. Her episode has the most single day downloads of any episode yet, a testament to the power of our collective work in this moment.

Available on the Radical AI site and on all platforms. 

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