The Movement for Black Lives platform is an extraordinary document. Developed over the course of more than a year by a coalition of over 50 organizations, it represents a comprehensive policy vision from those leading the resistance to ongoing structural and state violence against black people in this country with enormous bravery and energy.
The platform is both ambitious and thorough, composed of detailed policy briefs and proposals in six broad categories, backed up by data, sources of organizational expertise, and legislative models. Its approach is as intersectional as the movement itself, recognizing how national and international policies interact with one another to reinforce structural oppressions. While the focus is, as it should be, on self-determination and the kinds of policies necessary to undo centuries of enslavement and disenfranchisement of black people in the United States, the scope of the platform reflects a fierce insistence on the possibility of transforming our world into one where the full humanity and dignity of all oppressed people can be realized.
Within the long and violent history of racism and white supremacy in the United States, and unceasing resistance to it, this platform stands out as a remarkable initiative. Riding a high tide of protest and awareness, it articulates a bold and detailed vision of what real justice could look like, and it offers us all an opportunity to study and learn, to be challenged and grow, and to commit ourselves to whatever it takes to transform the United States into a society that truly values every human being who lives here. It should spark a national conversation about the structural depth and devastating consequences of white supremacy and racism, and what it will take to uproot it from our lives and our communities.
However, within days of its release in early August, a broad range of Jewish organizations—from the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston to JStreet to Tru’ah to the Reform movement to the ADL—released statements that varied in tone from wounded to outraged, full of angry assertions of betrayal and paternalistic expressions of disappointment. Their dismay was focused narrowly on one paragraph within the comprehensive policy agenda that addressed the oppression of Palestinians as a racial justice issue, endorsed the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement called for by a broad range of Palestinian civil society groups, and described what is happening to the Palestinian people as genocide.