A Vision for Black Lives—Cutting-Edge Policy Agenda that Could Heal Our Nation

Release Date: 
August 4, 2016

I have just finished reading—re-reading, actually—A Vision for Black Lives, the national policy platform released recently by the Movement for Black Lives, the Black Lives Matter Network, BYP100 and over 50 other grassroots organizations. This document is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a public servant, policy maker, civic or community leader. It’s hot off the press, and it is an extraordinary gift.

We need A Vision for Black Lives for the sake of our future as a nation. For the sake of our human dignity. Because all lives cannot matter, until Black Lives Matter.

As a Latina, as a progressive leader, and as a Vice President of Demos, I’m not writing to endorse this national platform. The movement for Black lives does not need my stamp of approval. Instead, I’m calling on other progressives—especially other light-skinned people of color and white people—to sit up and pay attention. Do not let today end without reading A Vision for Black Lives.

A Vision for Black Lives is a contribution to the political conversation that is urgently needed. It approaches policy design with targeted universalism, a perspective defined by the academic and activist john a. powell, in which solutions are universal in terms of their goals, yet targeted to the specific concerns and circumstances of the population most impacted by the issues our public policies try to address. In doing so, A Vision for Black Lives is a policy platform that seeks to create equity… not just a papier-mâché bridge to equality.

Although it’s subtitled “Policy Demands for Black Freedom, Power and Justice,” the document is far more than a list of demands. Click on the links and you’ll find detailed descriptions of solutions, actions that all levels of government can take, and model legislation. If any public policymakers care to follow it, the path has been laid out, trail markers and all.

Progressives, particularly white progressives, should read this policy platform while keeping in mind the distinct, violent, and structurally disadvantaged conditions created for Black people in this country. This includes a structural lack of both political and economic inequality. For example, the reality is, the higher the percentage of a state’s population that is Black, the more likely that state is to have restrictive voting laws. And the more support from Black communities a federal policy has, the less likely it is to be passed. But do not make the mistake of seeing A Vision for Black Lives as only a rebuke for what we as a society have failed to do. The most important reason to read, to study this, is so that you may see it as the remarkable gift that it is.

Scores of organizations collaborated for a year to put together this national policy platform. It is an agenda that, if put to use, can help heal our country and move us forward toward our long-held ideal of justice.  

To thank the authors for their leadership, and to welcome an expanded audience, Demos and Mijente have made this Spanish translation of the platform available: Una Visión para las Vidas Negras.

The platform demonstrates that the Black Lives Matter movement—the masses of individuals (Black, Latinx, Asian, white, Native American and Arab) with the visionary and principled leadership of young, Black, LGBTQ women—is, in fact, a movement for all of us. It is a movement built out of love. Founded on the recognition of human dignity. A movement with such a deep ethos of solidarity that it shines a light on the dignity of people of all ethnicities, all genders, all religions, all immigrants, all queer and trans folks. It even illuminates a path to the dignity of people who have been so infected with the disease of white supremacy.

The movement for Black lives is showing all of us the way. The progressive movement should follow. And we must do it without co-opting or tokenizing the leadership of the Black women who have built this. We need A Vision for Black Lives for the sake of our future as a nation. For the sake of our human dignity. Because all lives cannot matter, until Black Lives Matter.

Jodeen Olguín-Tayler
Vice President, Policy and Strategic Partnerships
Demos