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A Vision for Black Lives - Policy, Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice, M4BL, 2016

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Black humanity and dignity requires Black political will and power.
Despite constant exploitation and perpetual oppression, Black
people have bravely and brilliantly been the driving force pushing
the U.S. towards the ideals it articulates but has never achieved.
In recent years we have taken to the streets, launched massive
campaigns, and impacted elections, but our elected leaders have
failed to address the legitimate demands of our Movement. We
can no longer wait.
In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence
against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective
of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black
people from across the country have come together with renewed
energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. We
are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but
we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people;
collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.
We believe in elevating the experiences and leadership of the
most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those
who are women, queer, trans, femmes, gender nonconforming,
Muslim, formerly and currently incarcerated, cash poor and
working class, differently-abled, undocumented, and immigrant.
We are intentional about amplifying the particular experience
of state and gendered violence that Black queer, trans, gender
nonconforming, women and intersex people face. There can be
no liberation for all Black people if we do not center and fight for
those who have been marginalized. It is our hope that by working
together to create and amplify a shared agenda, we can continue

to move towards a world in which the full humanity and dignity of
all people is recognized.
While this platform is focused on domestic policies, we know that
patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy
know no borders. We stand in solidarity with our international
family against the ravages of global capitalism and anti-Black
racism, human-made climate change, war, and exploitation. We
also stand with descendants of African people all over the world
in an ongoing call and struggle for reparations for the historic and
continuing harms of colonialism and slavery. We also recognize
and honor the rights and struggle of our Indigenous family for land
and self-determination.
We have created this platform to articulate and support the
ambitions and work of Black people. We also seek to intervene in
the current political climate and assert a clear vision, particularly for
those who claim to be our allies, of the world we want them to help
us create. We reject false solutions and believe we can achieve a
complete transformation of the current systems, which place profit
over people and make it impossible for many of us to breathe.
Together, we demand an end to the wars against Black people.
We demand that the government repair the harms that have
been done to Black communities in the form of reparations and
targeted long-term investments. We also demand a defunding
of the systems and institutions that criminalize and cage us. This
document articulates our vision of a fundamentally different world.
However, we recognize the need to include policies that address
the immediate suffering of Black people. These policies, while less
transformational, are necessary to address the current material
conditions of our people and will better equip us to win the world
we demand and deserve.
We recognize that not all of our collective needs and visions can be
translated into policy, but we understand that policy change is one of
many tactics necessary to move us towards the world we envision.
We have come together now because we believe it is time to forge
a new covenant. We are dreamers and doers and this platform
is meant to articulate some of our vision. The links throughout
the document provide the stepping-stones and roadmaps of
how to get there. The policy briefs also elevate the brave and
transformative work our people are already engaged in, and build
on some of the best thinking in our history of struggle. This agenda
continues the legacy of our ancestors who pushed for reparations,
Black self-determination and community control; and also propels
new iterations of movements such as efforts for reproductive justice,
holistic healing and reconciliation, and ending violence against Black
cis, queer, and trans people.

END THE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE 
We demand an end to the war
against Black people. Since this
country’s inception there have been
named and unnamed wars on our
communities. We demand an end
to the criminalization, incarceration,
and killing of our people.
This includes:

1	

2	
3	
4	
5	

An immediate end to the criminalization and
dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of
society including, but not limited to; our nation’s
justice and education systems, social service agencies,
and media and pop culture. This includes an end
to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of
students, the removal of police from schools, and the
reallocation of funds from police and punitive school
discipline practices to restorative services.
An end to capital punishment.
An end to money bail, mandatory fines, fees, court
surcharges and “defendant funded” court proceedings.
An end to the use of past criminal history to
determine eligibility for housing, education, licenses,
voting, loans, employment, and other services and
needs.
An end to the war on Black immigrants including the
repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills, an
end to all deportations, immigrant detention, and
Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids, and
mandated legal representation in immigration court.

6	

7	

8	
9	
10	

An end to the war on Black trans, queer and gender
nonconforming people including their addition to
anti-discrimination civil rights protections to ensure
they have full access to employment, health, housing
and education.
An end to the mass surveillance of Black
communities, and the end to the use of technologies
that criminalize and target our communities (including
IMSI catchers, drones, body cameras, and predictive
policing software).
The demilitarization of law enforcement, including law
enforcement in schools and on college campuses.
An immediate end to the privatization of police,
prisons, jails, probation, parole, food, phone and all
other criminal justice related services.
Until we achieve a world where cages are no longer
used against our people we demand an immediate
change in conditions and an end to public jails,
detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as
we know them. This includes the end of solitary
confinement, the end of shackling of pregnant people,
access to quality healthcare, and effective measures
to address the needs of our youth, queer, gender
nonconforming and trans families.

REPARATIONS
We demand reparations for past and
continuing harms. The government,
responsible corporations and other
institutions that have profited off of
the harm they have inflicted on
Black people — from colonialism to
slavery through food and housing
redlining, mass incarceration, and
surveillance — must repair the
harm done.
This includes:

1	

2	

Reparations for the systemic denial of access
to high quality educational opportunities in the
form of full and free access for all Black people
(including undocumented and currently and formerly
incarcerated people) to lifetime education including:
free access and open admissions to public community
colleges and universities, technical education
(technology, trade and agricultural), educational
support programs, retroactive forgiveness of student
loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.
Reparations for the continued divestment from,
discrimination toward and exploitation of our
communities in the form of a guaranteed minimum
livable income for all Black people, with clearly
articulated corporate regulations.

3	

4	

5	

Reparations for the wealth extracted from our
communities through environmental racism, slavery,
food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized
capitalism in the form of corporate and government
reparations focused on healing ongoing physical and
mental trauma, and ensuring our access and control
of food sources, housing and land.
Reparations for the cultural and educational
exploitation, erasure, and extraction of our
communities in the form of mandated public school
curriculums that critically examine the political,
economic, and social impacts of colonialism and
slavery, and funding to support, build, preserve, and
restore cultural assets and sacred sites to ensure the
recognition and honoring of our collective struggles
and triumphs.
Legislation at the federal and state level that requires
the United States to acknowledge the lasting impacts
of slavery, establish and execute a plan to address
those impacts. This includes the immediate passage
of H.R.40, the “Commission to Study Reparation
Proposals for African-Americans Act” or subsequent
versions which call for reparations remedies.

DIVEST–INVEST
We demand investments in the
education, health and safety of
Black people, instead of investments
in the criminalizing, caging, and
harming of Black people. We want
investments in Black communities,
determined by Black communities,
and divestment from exploitative
forces including prisons, fossil fuels,
police, surveillance and exploitative
corporations.
This includes:

1	

2	

A reallocation of funds at the federal, state and
local level from policing and incarceration (JAG,
COPS, VOCA) to long-term safety strategies such
as education, local restorative justice services, and
employment programs.
The retroactive decriminalization, immediate release
and record expungement of all drug related offenses
and prostitution, and reparations for the devastating
impact of the “war on drugs” and criminalization of
prostitution, including a reinvestment of the resulting
savings and revenue into restorative services, mental
health services, job programs and other programs
supporting those impacted by the sex and drug trade.

3	

4	

5	
6	
7	

Real, meaningful, and equitable universal health care
that guarantees: proximity to nearby comprehensive
health centers, culturally competent services for
all people, specific services for queer, gender
nonconforming, and trans people, full bodily
autonomy, full reproductive services, mental health
services, paid parental leave, and comprehensive
quality child and elder care.
A constitutional right at the state and federal level
to a fully-funded education which includes a clear
articulation of the right to: a free education for all,
special protections for queer and trans students,
wrap around services, social workers, free health
services (including reproductive body autonomy),
a curriculum that acknowledges and addresses
students’ material and cultural needs, physical activity
and recreation, high quality food, free daycare, and
freedom from unwarranted search, seizure or arrest.
A divestment from industrial multinational use of
fossil fuels and investment in community- based
sustainable energy solutions.
A cut in military expenditures and a reallocation of
those funds to invest in domestic infrastructure and
community well-being.
Financial support of Black alternative institutions
including, but not limited to: cooperatives, land trusts,
and a culturally responsive health infrastructure.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE
We demand economic justice for all
and a reconstruction of the economy
to ensure Black communities have
collective ownership, not merely
access.
This includes:

1	
2	

3	

4	
5	

A progressive restructuring of tax codes at the
local, state, and federal level to ensure a radical
and sustainable redistribution of wealth.
Federal and state job programs that specifically
target the most economically marginalized Black
people, and compensation for those involved in the
care economy. Job programs must provide a living
wage and encourage support for local workers
centers, unions, and Black-owned businesses
which are accountable to the community.
A right to restored land, clean air, clean water and
housing and an end to the exploitative privatization
of natural resources — including land and water.
We seek democratic control over how resources are
preserved, used and distributed and do so while
honoring and respecting the rights of our Indigenous
family.
The right for workers to organize in public and private
sectors, especially in “On Demand Economy” jobs.
Restore the Glass-Steagall Act to break up the
large banks, and call for the National Credit Union
Administration and the US Department of the
Treasury to change policies and practices around

regulation, reporting and consolidation to allow for
the continuation and creation of black banks, small
and community development credit unions, insurance
companies and other financial institutions.

6	
7	

8	

9	

An end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a
renegotiation of all trade agreements to prioritize
the interests of workers and communities.
Through tax incentives, loans and other government
directed resources, support the development of
cooperative or social economy networks to help
facilitate trade across and in Black communities
globally. All aid in the form of grants, loans or
contracts to help facilitate this must go to Black led
or Black supported networks and organizations as
defined by the communities.
Financial support of Black alternative institutions
including policy that subsidizes and offers lowinterest, interest-free or federally guaranteed
low-interest loans to promote the development of
cooperatives (food, residential, etc.), land trusts and
culturally responsive health infrastructures that serve
the collective needs of our communities.
Protections for workers in industries that are not
appropriately regulated including domestic workers,
farm workers, and tipped workers, and for workers
— many of whom are Black women and incarcerated
people— who have been exploited and remain
unprotected. This includes the immediate passage at
the Federal and state level of the Domestic Workers
Bill of Rights and extension of worker protections to
incarcerated people.

COMMUNITY CONTROL
We demand a world where those
most impacted in our communities
control the laws, institutions, and
policies that are meant to serve
us – from our schools to our
local budgets, economies, police
departments, and our land – while
recognizing that the rights and
histories of our Indigenous family
must also be respected.
This includes:

1	

2	

3	

Direct democratic community control of local, state,
and federal law enforcement agencies, ensuring that
communities most harmed by destructive policing
have the power to hire and fire officers, determine
disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and
subpoena relevant agency information.
An end to the privatization of education and real
community control by parents, students and
community members of schools including democratic
school boards and community control of curriculum,
hiring, firing and discipline policies.
Participatory budgeting at the local, state and federal
level.

POLITICAL POWER
We demand independent Black
political power and Black selfdetermination in all areas of society.
We envision a remaking of the current
U.S. political system in order to create
a real democracy where Black people
and all marginalized people can
effectively exercise full political power.
This includes:

1	
2	
3	

4	
5	

An end to the criminalization of Black political activity
including the immediate release of all political prisoners
and an end to the repression of political parties.
Public financing of elections and the end of money
controlling politics through ending super PACs and
unchecked corporate donations.
Election protection, electoral expansion and the right
to vote for all people including: full access, guarantees,
and protections of the right to vote for all people
through universal voter registration, automatic voter
registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, same day
voter registration, voting day holidays, enfranchisement
of formerly and presently incarcerated people, local and
state resident voting for undocumented people, and a
ban on any disenfranchisement laws.
Full access to technology—including net neutrality and
universal access to the internet without discrimination—
and full representation for all.
Protection and increased funding for Black institutions:
including Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCU’s), Black media, and cultural, political and social
formations.

GLOSSARY
A NTI- BL ACK

The Council for Democratizing Education defines antiBlackness as being a two-part formation that both voids
Blackness of value, while systematically marginalizing
Black people and their issues. The first form of antiBlackness is overt racism. Society also associates unpolitically correct comments with the overt nature of
anti-Black racism. Beneath this anti-black racism is the
covert structural and systemic racism which categorically
predetermines the socioeconomic status of Blacks in
this country. The structure is held in place by anti-Black
policies, institutions, and ideologies.
The second form of anti-Blackness is the unethical
disregard for anti-Black institutions and policies. This
disregard is the product of class, race, and/or gender
privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black
institutions and policies. This form of anti-Blackness is
protected by the first form of overt racism.

A NTI- BL ACK
RA CISM

BL ACK

CA PITA LI SM/
AN T I- CAPITA LI SM

A term used to specifically describe the unique
discrimination, violence and harms imposed on and
impacting Black people specifically.
Black is defined as a person who identifies as Black AND
has African indigenous ancestry that predates colonization
(be located anywhere in the diaspora—excluding generic
claims of Dinknesh (also known as Lucy) descendants)
An economic system in which products are produced and
distributed for profit using privately owned capital goods
and wage labor. Many feminists assert that a critique of
capitalism is essential for understanding the full nature
of inequality, as global economic restructuring based on
capitalism reflects a particular ideology that celebrates
individual wealth and accumulation at the lowest cost to
the investor, with little regard for the societal costs and
exploitation

CAR E ECO NO M Y

An unpaid economy sometimes called the “domestic” or
“reproductive” sector or “social reproduction” in which
women do most of the work of maintaining the labor
force and keeping the social framework in good order—
both vital services for government and the commercial
economy. The care economy produces and reproduces
family and provides community-oriented goods and
services such as healthcare, childcare, education and
the like as a part of the process of caring for people and
often outside the money economy. The care economy
overwhelmingly depends on women’s labor. The value
of the care economy is usually excluded from official
economic statistics, making it hard to assess the gender
impact of budget and policy decisions that touch on this
sector. Work in the care economy is often not paid, though
it may be supported by payments from the government.
Conversely, government cutbacks on social programs
or funding inadequacies in the provision of basic social
services and essential utilities in infrastructure and other
areas of basic needs can add substantially to women’s
burden of unpaid work in the care economy. Feminist
Movement Builder’s Dictionary

CO LO NI ALI SM

Colonialism is a power relationship in which an external
nation state (colonizer, in this case Europe and the U.S.)
directly controls the political and economic system of
another nation state and/or people (in our platform
we’ll be focused on Black people). It normally involves
the presence of a military force to crush dissent and the
migration of people from the colony to the nation state
of the colonizer (in this case, stopping African migrants
from moving to the U.S.). Colonialism can also occur within
geographic boundaries of a colonizer nation state. For
example, Black people exist as a domestic colony within
the U.S.

CO MMUNITY
CO NTRO L

Community control occurs when a community, whether
community be defined by geographical boundaries,
culturally, or otherwise, directs the institutions and
businesses that affect their lives, on how they will meet the
community’s needs.
It is in essence the the local community having control
of issues that directly affect their lives, land and security.
Implicit in this definition is the clear statement that Black
people must determine and control the pace, shape and
manner of change and decision-making at local, regional,
state and national levels.” Adopted from
http://www.bullinahahs.org.au/about-us/aboriginalcommunity-control/

DE C OL O NI ZA TIO N

The active resistance against colonial powers and a
shifting of power towards acquisition of our own political,
economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence
and power. This process occurs politically and also
applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political,
agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial
oppression.

FOOD A PA RTHEID

The systematic destruction of Black self determination
to control our food (including land, resource theft and
discrimination), a hyper-saturation of destructive foods
and predatory marketing, and a blatantly discriminatory
corporate controlled food system that results in our
communities suffering from some of the highest rates of
heart disease and diabetes of all times. Many tend to use
the term “food desert,” however food apartheid is a much
more accurate representation of the structural racialized
inequities perpetuated through our current system.

FO O D J USTI CE

A process whereby communities most impacted and
exploited by our current corporate controlled, extractive
agricultural system shift power to re-shape, re-define
and provide indigenous, community based solutions to
accessing and controlling food that are humanizing, fair,
healthy, accessible, racially equitable, environmentally
sound and just.

FOOD
SO VEREIGNTY

A framework going beyond access to ensure that our
communities have not only the right, but the ability to
have community control of our food including the means
of production and distribution. Food sovereignty entails a
shift away from corporate agricultural system and towards
our own governance of our own food systems. It is about
our right to healthy food produced through ecologically
sound and sustainable methods, with the right to define
and ultimately control our own food and agriculture
systems. Shifting from an exclusively rights based
framework to one of governance puts the needs of those
who work and consume at all points of the food chain at
the center rather than the demands of corporations and
markets.

NO N- BL ACK
PEO PLE O F
CO L O R

A non-black person of color is defined as a person of color
(non-white person) that does not identify as Black and
does not have African indigenous ancestry that predates
colonization. The term was developed to provide greater
context to the distinct and unique oppression imposed
on Black people, while recognizing the struggles of other
people of color.

O THER
INSTITUTIO NS

PATRI ARCHY

When we refer to “other institutions” in the reparations
demand we are speaking about the major institutions, like
churches, universities and philanthropic institutions, who
have also profited off of Black labor and are culpable. Note
the most recent Georgetown U. scandal: http://www.nytimes.
com/2016/04/17/us/georgetown-university-search-for-slavedescendants.html
A form of social stratification and power-relationships
in society that favors men, mainly White men, and
grants them more rights and privileges over women and
oppresses women’s social, political, financial, sexual and
human rights. It has a connection with a social economic
system such as capitalism. Agenda to Build Black Futures
A sex/gender system of authoritarian male dominance
and reinforced female dependency, characterized within
capitalist society by certain characteristics. Manning
Marable

PO L I TICA L
A CTI VI TY

Is defined as activity directed towards the establishment
and/or control of local, national or international
governance.

PO L I TICA L
PRI SO NERS

A political prisoner is defined as someone imprisoned
because they have opposed, criticized or participated in
activities that oppose or are in direct contradiction to the
established government’s exertion of power and control
over a land and people.

REPARA TIO NS

The making of amends for a wrong that has been done—
whether by individuals, corporations, government or other
major institutions—by paying money, control of land,
housing, jobs, health care, transportation and even finance
and trade. Agenda to Build Black Futures and UN Working
Group of Experts: Mississippi Mission, US South Human Rights
Abuses, Workers Rights and Economic Justice Testimony

RESPO NSI BL E
BUSI NESS/
AC CO UNTA BL E
BUSI NESS

Responsible Business/Accountable Business is a position
by which a business will be held in check or account for
their decisions and actions. An accountable business
requires a commitment to the vision of Black and other
oppressed peoples to assume self-determination over
those areas deemed by Black and other oppressed people
to directly affect their lives. “Responsible” or “Accountable”
businesses must meet three basic criteria: provide living
wage jobs for community residents; adhere to ethical labor
and investment standards; treat workers and consumers/
clients with dignity and respect; and make regular charitable
contributions that support Black communities.

RESTO RATIVE
J USTI CE

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes
repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places
decisions in the hands of those who have been most
affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to
the victim, the offender, and the surround community.
Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal
broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons
for the offense. It emphasizes individual and collective
accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities
to build community and increase grassroots power when
restorative practices are employed.

T RAN S FO RM ATIVE
J USTI CE

“Transformative justice [is] a theory and approach
to violence…[which] seeks safety and accountability
without relying on alienation, punishment, or State or
systemic violence, including incarceration or policing.
Three core beliefs: 1) Individual justice and collective
liberation are equally important, mutually supportive,
and fundamentally intertwined—the achievement of
one is impossible without the achievement of the other;
2) The conditions that allow violence to occur must be
transformed in order to achieve justice in individual
instances of violence. Therefore, Transformative Justice
is both a liberating politic and an approach for securing
justice. 3) State and systemic responses to violence,
including the criminal legal system and child welfare
agencies, not only fail to advance individual and collective
justice but also condone and perpetuate cycles of
violence.
Transformative Justice seeks to provide people who
experience violence with immediate safety and long-term
healing and reparations while holding people who commit
violence accountable within and by their communities.
This accountability includes stopping immediate abuse,
making a commitment to not engage in future abuse, and
offering reparations for past abuse. Such accountability
requires on-going support and transformative healing for
people who sexually abuse.” Generation 5
The main goal of transformative justice is to repair the
harm done as much as possible. Ideally, transformative
justice seeks the transformation of individuals,
communities, and society as a whole. Also, transformative
justice at its best places the power to respond to harm
back into the hands of the people most affected by harm.
The institutions of the state and of white supremacy
would no longer control and dictate responses to acts of
harm. Critical Resistance

 

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