"Whose Streets? Our Streets!": A Reflection on the Movement

By Stephen Grigelevich for Boston Compass (#125)

July 2, 2020


The symbolism almost escaped me. “On July 4th, join Black Lives Matter Boston to lament, honor, and celebrate the lives of Black womxn.” 3pm, Nubian Square. March to the Boston Commons. Only later did I remember that July 4th was Independence Day. But my realization was a hollow one (see Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”). When Christopher Columbus was beheaded in the North End on June 10th, the message was clear. Our leaders have been our enemies all along. BIPOC activists and those acting in solidarity will have to reorganize power.

In Boston and beyond, QTBIPOC movements have consistently displayed radical strength in the face of White Supremacy. “After an unfulfilled list of demands by BLM in 2015,” members of the Boston Black and Latinx Pride Committee recently wrote, “we have started a campaign to demand that all 6 members of the Boston Pride Board resign, to be replaced by a majority QTBIPOC board by August 31st.” Last month, Athena Vaughn of Trans Resistance organized a vigil and march in Franklin Park, drawing thousands. “It’s time for Black Trans excellence to lead OURSELVES,” she wrote. Once again, whiteness has betrayed the radical collectivist vision.

The Black and Brown led Justice Youth and Power Union marched for police divestment and reinvestment in the community. 40 miles south, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is battling the Trump administration’s rejection of their federal recognition status. Nearby, in predominantly White, affluent Brookline, Chiuba Obele is suing the police department. Calls for divestment have followed. “We are anti-capitalist” says Movement for Black Lives. “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family…” writes Black Lives Matter. These are our leaders. In this town, many White people will say “Black Lives Matter.” But too few will fight to achieve its logical ends… ⁠

—Stephen Grigelevich

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