Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza has created a new initiative aimed at helping black communities achieve greater political power.
Garza on Monday announced the launch of Black Futures Lab, which promises to “develop strategies that help Black people imagine the political, social and economic alternatives needed at the local, state, and federal level, while also building the political power needed to implement those alternatives.”
Conditions for black people in America are “incredibly dire,” and it’s important to have avenues for policy changes that benefit black communities, Garza told HuffPost.
“We have a president that is openly supportive of white nationalist groups and working alongside his administration to dismantle the tatters of what was left of a safety net in this country and also working hard to dismantle organizations that work for the end of economic and political and emotional support of black people,” Garza said.
“Coming out of the 2016 election there was a few things that became really clear,” she continued. “One, that black people deserve to have vehicles that represent the breadth of our interests. Two, that we really need to do a better job of being able to communicate what conditions and experiences our communities are facing.”
Non-black politicians often try to explain issues black people are facing to them, Garza said. But it’s time for a change ― a reason for Black Futures Lab, created in partnership with Demos, Color of Change, Center for Third World Organizing, Socioanalitica Research and the Tides Foundation.
Their first initiative is the Black Census Project, which the group said is the first large survey focusing on black lives in America in more than 150 years. The project aims to capture the range of issues black people are facing in their lives ― something the U.S. Census is limited in doing.
Survey questions include such subjects as political attitudes and participation, organization affiliation, experiences with racism and police violence, perceptions of social movements, access to adequate health care and economic well being.
“We really have a wide breadth of questions that we’re asking folks to tell us more about and the census doesn’t really do that,” Garza said. “There’s a lot of questions about what a census will be under the Trump administration and so, data is not neutral. Our data is also not neutral. We want to know about the full breadth of experiences that black folks are having, and we also are asking about our business and what it is we want to see happen in order to address the problems in our communities.”
The project’s goal is 200,000 completed surveys before Aug. 1. In addition to an online survey, representatives will collect responses door to door. The Black Census Project will target 20 states, looking at urban and rural communities as well as neighborhoods with a high population of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and incarcerated people.
“It’s time for a survey that really captures the experiences that black people are facing in these communities and it’s time to do that in a way that also captures the diversity of communities that black folks are living in,” Garza said. “We really want to capture the breadth and the complexity of who are communities are and we plan to use that information to influence decisions that are made about us.”