The verdict had recently been rendered in the Zimmerman Trial, Marissa Alexander’s case had been brought to the spotlight again and Ryan Coogler’s cinematic portrayal of the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life, Fruitvale Station, had been released in select theaters.
Timing is everything and for the group of young professionals and entrepreneurs of color–my friends and I–the timing was perfect for a Fruitvale screening and panel discussion to serve as a propeller for the fight to eliminate–or at minimal, reduce– the occurrence of racial injustices playing out before us on a national and local stage.
That’s seven days to:
And the list goes on. Bottom line: we didn’t have a lot time.
But we did have a lot of passionate, resourceful, creative and conscious individuals on the planning team.
The email and text threads totaling over 300 [long] messages, countless phone calls, planning, debates and ONE in-person meeting resulted in a sold out screening, a great panel discussion and a post-mixer at Positano Coast restaurant.
Throughout the panel and post-mixer, our discussion focused on film reactions; issues faced by communities of color that experience high occurrences of race-related injustices and violence; and next steps for channeling our emotions into thorough planning and positive action. As organizers and young professionals, we were especially sensitive to the importance of recognizing generational differences. There are a myriad of experiences that factor into a person’s understanding and subsequent perspective of life, and in the specific instance that we’re addressing: racial injustice and violence. In order to create and present a solution that will prove effective we must first have common ground to stand on…confidently.
The youth, the elder and anyone in between must be able to feel confident and represented when anyone of them has to bare the brunt of the fight and/or make personal decisions that will ultimately impact the whole. As Garron Gibbs, a friend and partner in the screening through ConcreteCakes.com, said in his coverage, “we can no longer think solely of ourselves,” adding, “if we are to truly enact social change, we must be consistent and intentional…we can never be comfortable.”
Those of use who planned, as well as many who attended the screening, are not okay with what’s happening around us and this…this was our way of taking our respective passions and work, and joining together to create a greater impact in a more strategic manner. We’re also not okay with doing nothing more than discussing the issue of injustice–especially racial injustice–and all of its implications. That isn’t enough and that won’t fix the problem.
So, this–along with our daily personal efforts–is the starting point.
We are now in the process of carrying out the next step suggestions garnered at the screening and panel discussion. And we refuse to do that alone. History has proven that it can’t be done alone.
So as we continue to plan #NoJusticeNoSleepPhilly future events and opportunities, while doing our respective parts through our organizations and brands–be it mentoring, holding community events, etc.-we invite you to do the same…and let us know about it! Help keep the conversation going as well as share your personal efforts to drive change via the use of the following hash tags for social networks:
#NoJusticeNoSleepPhilly | #FruitvaleStation | #FriendsforJusticePhilly
A very special thank you to our community partners and panelist:
Thank you to everyone who came out to the #NoJusticeNoSleepPhilly screening and panel discussion!
– Sincerely Syreeta