Twenty years ago, there was a gathering of men in the U.S. Capital to address the exact issues that Black, Brown and Indigenous Americans are struggling against today. That gathering is known as the Million Man March. Its purpose was to bring attention to the issues of mass incarceration, low-paying jobs, joblessness, poverty, police brutality, low-quality education and inadequate housing among many others. The Honorable Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam served as the lead organization in bringing all of the March participants together, and the country hasn't seen anything like it since.
Twenty years later, the struggle of Black, Brown and Indigenous Americans is getting worse. "Justice or Else," to me, is an opportunity for us all to come together with one voice and one agenda. No matter what divides us, we all have yet to receive the justice we deserve.
It is important for us to show the world we can stand together as one people. It's even more important for our youth to see us standing together and fighting for what what is right. It shows them that they can push back against a corrupt system without being a so-called "thug."
It lets them know that we can gather in large groups in a display of solidarity and love, and not end up killing each other as is so often the popular media narrative. It shows the world that we can organize, demonstrate and resist and at the same time be "civilized" people who just want to be treated as humans that are equal in a system that was never meant for us to be anything more than property and savages.
Justice means equity to us.
It means that no matter what our skin color is, we all start from the same place. That means any unearned privileges or obstacles you inherit as a result of your skin color are eliminated and that we are all equitable in this society. It means that you aren't shut out of society for life because you were railroaded into prison by design, and it means if you are put in prison that it is truly a place where healing and rehabilitation take place.
Prison cannot be a place where anyone makes a profit off of people working for legalized slave wages. The goal should be to ensure that formerly incarcerated people do not come back, unlike the predatory cycle of recidivism that exists today.
If you must pay a so-called "debt to society," you should be able to vote again, get public housing, and find a job after paying that debt. Justice to me means zero tolerance for police terror and police who abuse their power and brutalize Black, Brown and Indigenous Americans.
Justice for us is our teachers being equipped with the things they need to be successful with our youth and that the communities which have the most catching up to do get the most effective teachers. It means that we teach our kids a full and complete history about who we are as a country, where we all come from, and what we were all doing before we got here.
We all know that I haven't gotten justice, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to keep fighting for it.
In my fight, I am inspired to know that even though I have been fighting for the last year, Indigenous and Brown Americans have been fighting for much longer, and Black people have been fighting in this country for the last several centuries.
Money isn't justice to me, and I think the Native Americans would agree. Truth and reconciliation are a really good start. This struggle is much larger than me. It's larger than the injustice against Black Americans that has been captured on video over the last year. We have seen our voting rights stripped right along with our humanity. And it is time that we join together to say, "Enough is enough. We want justice -- or else!"