Co-founder of the Black Lives Matter International movement
Alicia Garza (born January 4, 1981) is an American civil rights activist, known for co-founding the international Black Lives Matter movement and for Her editorial writing published by The Guardian, The Nation, Rolling Stone, and Truthout.
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- Race and racism is probably the most studied social, economic and political phenomenon in this country, but it's also the least understood. The reality is that race in the United States operates on a spectrum from black to white. Doesn't mean that people who are in between don't experience racism, but it means that the closer you are to white on that spectrum, the better off you are. And the closer to black that you are on that spectrum the worse off your are.
- When we think about how we address problems in this country, we often start from a place of trickle-down justice. So using white folks as the control we say, well, if we make things better for white folks then everybody else is going to get free. But actually it doesn't work that way.... When we talk about the wage gap, we often say women make 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes. You all have heard that before. But those are the statistics for white women and white men. The reality is that black women make something like 64 cents to every 78 cents that white women make. When we talk about Latinas, it goes down to about 58 cents. If we were to talk about indigenous women, if we were to talk about trans women, it would even go further down. So again, if you deal with those who are the most impacted, everybody has an opportunity to benefit from that, rather than dealing with the folks who are not as impacted, and expecting it to trickle down.
- I think there's a few things that we need to be doing. So one is we have to stop treating leaders like superheroes. We are ordinary people attempting to do extraordinary things
- So we know that young people are the present and the future, but what inspires me are older people who are becoming transformed in the service of this movement. We all know that as you get older, you get a little more entrenched in your ways. It's happening to me, I know that's right. But I'm so inspired when I see people who have a way that they do things, have a way that they think about the world, and they're courageous enough to be open to listening to what the experiences are of so many of us who want to live in world that's just and want to live in a world that's equitable. And I'm also inspired by the actions that I'm seeing older people taking in service of this movement. I'm inspired by seeing older people step into their own power and leadership and say, "I'm not passing a torch, I'm helping you light the fire."
- I was impacted in a way that I didn’t expect...We see black death all the time, and I don’t know what it was about this, but I know I went home and then I woke up in the middle of the night crying. And I picked up my phone and I started clickety-clacking, right?... Patrisse and I, we started talking about building an organizing project around state violence... Patrisse had been working on her own stuff at the time — the Dignity and Power Now. She was just getting that off the ground. All of this stuff kind of came into synergy. I knew designers and artists here in the Bay [Area] who were really excited to help and reached out and said, ‘What can we do?’ And so that’s really the genesis of this.
- On a political landscape, Black Lives Matter was just dead in the water (after Zimmerman’s acquittal)... When you look at those polls, basically saying anything about Black Lives Matter — [it] just made everybody mad. And so from a political standpoint, you couldn’t bring Black Lives Matter into a state legislature, because Black Lives Matter was synonymous in people’s heads to, like, the Black Panther Party, and people were not fucking with it.
- Civil-rights organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi put those three words into our minds and hearts seven years ago, when they began to change the country. The sweeping calls for change we see today are not sudden, but the fruits of the labor of activists like them. Their work has given us room to demand more, because black lives don’t truly matter just because people simply say so.
- It was seven years ago this July that Garza reacted to George Zimmerman’s acquittal of murder in the Trayvon Martin case with a viral Facebook post expressing her pain, writing: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter. Black Lives Matter.”“ ... Patrisse Cullors, a Southern California activist close to Garza, saw the post and added the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. In New York City, immigration organizer Opal Tometi learned of the Zimmerman verdict after leaving a screening of the Ryan Coogler film Fruitvale Station, about the 2009 police shooting that killed Oscar Grant III. Already emotional, Tometi then read Garza’s viral post...By the next day, Tometi, who knew Garza through the Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity Network, contacted her fellow organizer. She hadn’t yet met Cullors, but in short order, the three joined forces and launched the Black Lives Matter Global Network.