I’ve been thinking relentlessly, maybe obsessively, about the concept of protection; questioning who gets protected, what gets protected, and especially who folks rely on to do the protecting for them? Police? Policy? What’s protection and what’s predation?
Last week, PIC abolitionist Mariame Kaba argued in an NYT op-ed on defunding the police that the police are tasked primarily with protecting the status quo. She wrote:
“People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all? “
Imagine. I’m in awe of the decentralized and grassroots protective measures and systems of care that have always existed in Black communities and those that have sprung to life in response to the past three weeks of protest alone. It’s not possible for everyone to be out in the streets right now, but below are just three of the countless grassroots efforts run by Black folks and set up specifically to help protect the people on the frontlines of the fight for justice. (And here are four more mutual aid funds in case you missed them.) If you have the means to contribute, please do. If you’d like to share a note about what you’re doing to care for the folks around you, please do that, too!
Nourish NYC is on a mission to keep NYC protestors safe, fed, and free. Founded by 22 year-old Tania Maree Giordani, known as tmg, Nourish NYC has been supplying New York City protestors with supply kits that include necessities like water, snacks, first aid supplies and PPE, in addition to extending cash grants to folks who need to pay for transportation home, cash bail, et cetera.
Feeding the Frontlines is a grassroots food justice initiative committed to feeding the folks at the forefront of the fight for racial justice in Brooklyn. This group of friends and organizers is committed to making and distributing high vibrational foods, grounded in Black culture and foodways; black-eyed pea hummus sandwiches, included.
This week, Justice for Black Girls launched the Oluwatoyin Salau Freedom Fighters Fund to honor the life of 19-year-old activist Toyin Salau who went missing and was found dead earlier this week. In less than twenty-four hours, the fund raised $50k that it will begin distributing as individual $750 grants. Young Black activists, aged 25 and younger, are invited to apply for funds to support overnight housing, food, and other protective measures. Note: Due to an overwhelming response, fundraising is currently paused as the group reorganizes and makes plans for a sustainable future fund. The application will close today, June 17, at 5 pm and reopen in July. The first round of grants will be made on Saturday, June 19 in celebration of Juneteenth.
Stay tuned for more information when fundraising resumes; in the meantime spread the word to young black activists in need of support.