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Reformation or Revolution? Community Weighs In on the Local Movement for Black Lives

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Reformation or Revolution? Community Weighs In on the Local Movement for Black LivesAll photos by Lauren Sega.
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Voices in the community are discussing black liberation, and behind them is a spectrum of ideations and philosophies as diverse as they come. Black, brown, white and mixed, privileged and poor, the skeptics and the faithful — they’re all thinking about it and talking about it. And how could you not? The presumption of a post-racial society has been debunked. Nazis are organizing in the streets. And Columbus has not remained insulated from this racial tension.

The movement for black lives, once known for mass gatherings and the tendency to blockade roadways, has morphed into a localized, intersectional effort with organizers striving toward community revival, reformation and revolution. In Columbus it’s bound with other movements for the poor and working class, the queer and trans, and immigrants and refugees. Some say this all-in struggle is a sign that revolution is inevitable, others want to salvage the system and fix it.

Does the movement need to be radical? Does it need to play along with the system? Local organizers, activists, leaders, and artists have some answers:

Jasmine Ayres Community Organizer

Jasmine Ayres, Community Organizer:

“You have to work with the power structures. It’s just how it is. But, there are absolutely internal conversations, things we can be doing without anybody. It doesn’t require anybody from Downtown for you to, instead of wagging your finger at the young man who has his pants down to his knees, say ‘Hey baby, did you eat today? Do you want a sandwich?’ That doesn’t take anybody from Downtown. That’s stuff we have to start bringing back as a community. We have to start loving on each other and lifting each other up.”

“The other most important thing people can do is to inject money into the economy for black folks. Patronize their businesses, mentor them. A lot of black people are first generation business owners. They don’t have an uncle they can call when they run into a problem and say, ‘Hey, how do I handle this?’”

“A lot of our problems are jobs. Joblessness leads to homelessness, which leads to anger, which leads to violence and all these other things. So I would say put your money where your mouth is. Just because you put out a Black Lives Matter yard sign, that does nothing for me. I need you to patronize our businesses, mentor our local business owners, and support black-led organizations.”

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