Fordham Hosts Dialogue on the Culture of Police Brutality in America, Led by Darnell L. Moore

"Before a bullet is actually shot from a gun, we shoot bullets from our minds."

“Before a bullet is actually shot from a gun, we shoot bullets from our minds.”

More than 100 members of the Fordham University community met today to share their reactions to the recent police shootings across the country and to learn about how to speak out against institutionally racist policing. The event was sponsored by Fordham’s Black Student Alliance, the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice, and the African and African-American Studies Department.

It featured guest speaker Darnell L. Moore (@Moore_Darnell on Twitter), Bedstuy, Brooklyn-based writer and activist who has been integrally involved in Black Lives Matter, a movement that has organized nationwide bus rides to Ferguson, Mo., where on Aug. 9 unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson.

After leading a 30-second meditation to honor the victims of police brutality, Moore explained why he has been a part of a movement that is based on “an assumption [black lives matter] that we all should know is true”: “We exist in a culture with a history that is full of a genealogy that points to various examples where black lives, brown lives, and the lives of so many others absolutely didn’t matter.”

Moore told the stories of a 10-year-old girl from Los Angeles who traveled 36 hours and a 17-year-old girl from New York who traveled 21 hours to join the Ferguson community. “They feel the traumatic trace of something very heavy, something very very toxic. A 10-year-old girl who should be playing in the park should not be concerned about whether or not her life is going to be snatched away.”

“What makes you so hungry for justice?” Moore asked after telling the story of the Lost Voices (who were arrested today), a group of young people who have been sleeping outside in tents since Aug. 9. “Folk have lost their jobs because they have been protesting everyday.”

Noting that Black Lives Matter was started by two women who identify as queer, Moore emphasized how important expanding the racial justice framework is to him. “Racial justice has only ever really been organized around this notion of a black straight man…People forget all about the black girls and women…We can no longer allow queer, trans black folk to be invisibilized in the fight for justice. All black lives matter.”

“I’m really tired of having to host stuff like this, to give talks like this, come and try to convince people that black lives matter. It’s 2014. I want the type of world where my nieces and my nephews would not have to come to a talk like this on a college campus,” Moore said.

For 40 minutes, the floor was opened to those who wanted to share their experiences or reactions. Here are their voices:

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“Frustrated and disgusted.”

“I feel more scared than anything.”

“It’s very frustrating because sometimes when my brother leaves, I’m like, ‘I hope I see you later,’ and that’s so sad.”

“It’s a shame that it takes lives to be lost for people to actually stand up and see what’s actually happening.”

“It didn’t shock me.”

“When I saw what the youth was doing out in Ferguson, it made me just want to organize.”

“In the wake of Ferguson, I’ll never forget when I was watching CNN, and they had a segment called ‘How Black Youth Should Engage with the Police.’ Why do I have my own set of rules about how to engage with police? I don’t see no ‘How Whites Should Engage with Police.’”

“What pisses me off the most is that I still have peers who think this is actually all right.”

“I am shocked as a white person.”

“I came here because a friend of mine was murdered a few weeks ago. A young black man.”

“There are no more excuses. There is literally not a single one.”

“You get asked eight times in the Gap, ‘Do you need help with something?’”

“If you’re constantly wondering why this happens, please go and study the history of our country. We have to realize that our country is built on black and brown blood.”

“Instigate. Shake. Yell. Scream. Inform.”

“I grew up getting called the ‘n’ word. I grew up getting called a slave.”

“It shouldn’t take death to bring us together.”

“We as white people need to get our shit together.”

“I feel less valued as a person of color at Fordham. I feel oppressed at Fordham.”

After a short session about how to get involved, the event ended with a standing ovation for Darnell L. Moore.

Darnell L. Moore, sitting. To his right in the photo, Aimee Meredith Cox, professor of African and African-American Studies at Fordham University.

Darnell L. Moore, sitting. To his right in the photo, Aimee Meredith Cox, professor of African and African-American Studies at Fordham University.

The Solution to ISIS Is Not Military Action

Source: The Intercept

Source: The Intercept

Originally published at the Fordham Observer.

“Iraq’s future will be in the hands of its people. America’s war in Iraq will be over,” President Obama announced to troops at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina on December 14, 2011, one day before the official end to the eight-year-long Operation Iraqi Freedom. I wish those words still held true. But, nearly three years later, President Obama became the fourth consecutive president to authorize military action in Iraq. Welcome to 16 years of George W. Bush foreign policy.

Whenever the United States bombs a Muslim country, it’s justified as “humanitarian intervention” (“to liberate the women!“). And President Obama can easily sell this propaganda to his liberal base. But bombing for “humanitarian” ends never actually helps anyone or defeats an enemy. We can’t just bomb our way to peace. Terrorist organizations use bombing to recruit more terrorists. When we order drone strikes on wedding ceremonies in Yemen to “kill terrorists,” when we detain Muslims at Guantanamo Bay without charging them with a crime (600 of the 779 were released without charges, many after being held for years), when we kill actual U.S. citizens without charging them with a crime, we’re actually creating more terrorists – the principle of blowback. Terrorists become terrorists because we are terrorists.

Source: University of Maryland / Zogby International

Source: University of Maryland / Zogby International

Also, has anyone considered that maybe we don’t actually care about solving “humanitarian” crises in the Middle East, considering that the U.S. government doesn’t oppose the violent subjugation of populations there? Example A: Israel. One thing that every elected official publicly agrees on is continued support for the apartheid state of Israel and its war crimes. Example B: Egypt. Not only did Hillary Clinton say, “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family,” but also the United States has continued to militarily and economically support the dictators of Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster. Example C: Saudi Arabia. According to a secret National Security Agency (NSA) memo published by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, the United States “has an interest in regime continuity” in the brutally repressive government of Saudi Arabia. With our history of supporting tyranny and oppression, why would anyone believe the propaganda about “humanitarian” goals in the region?

Let’s remember another fact: ISIS exists because of us. When a top State Department official said to House and Senate lawmakers in July that ISIS is “worse than al-Qaeda,” did he consider why? It’s because of the nearly nine-year U.S. occupation of Iraq and, more largely, the Global War on Terrorism. At the time of 9/11, terrorist organizations (including al-Qaeda) were small and unorganized. Today they are powerful. During the occupation of Iraq, we destroyed its infrastructure, government, and military. These newly unemployed Saddam-era soldiers joined insurgent militias – eventually forming a coalition that has become ISIS. (Before ISIS was ISIS, it was called al-Qaeda in Iraq.) The United States also supported and installed Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, who ruled along strict Shia sectarian lines, squashed dissent, and thus convinced many Sunnis that their only hope was in the form of a military: ISIS. Moreover, when ISIS members were fighting a civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the United States gave them weapons because it opposed the Assad regime. Sounds a lot like when we trained and armed Osama bin Laden and the Afghani mujahideen against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

No one doubts that ISIS is reprehensible. So what can we do? A lot, actually, according to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Call for an arms embargo on all sides. Work with Iran to put pressure on the Iraqi government to end sectarianism and human rights violations. Use the United Nations and Russian to help bring about a peaceful end to the civil war in Syria. Lastly, of course, increase non-lethal humanitarian aid to refuges across the region.

The end goal is to stop all wars – not create more of them. The only way to do that is to take all military action off the table. President Obama did indeed speak truth in that same speech at Fort Bragg when he said, “It’s harder to end a war than to begin one.” We must end our role as, in the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., exactly one year before he was assassinated, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.