by Alicia Garza, #BlackLivesMatter
On April 19, the Black Lives Matter National Network along with Million Hoodies for Justice, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and others joined ColorOfChange’s efforts to end the corporate control of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee. For all of us, it is extremely important to make sure Black elected officials know that they are accountable to our communities, not their corporate benefactors.
Like Black Lives Matter, the CBC was created in response to the needs of Black people. Organized seven years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, it is meant to remedy pervasive anti-Black lawmaking and to course-correct legislators whose interests encroach on the rights of Black people. Fast forward 45 years and the CBC has tripled in size but regressed on its mission. Which makes us wonder, in a time when Black people need more protections more than ever, does the CBC care more about corporations than it does about constituents?
Join us in demanding the CBC stand up to the unchecked power of money in politics here: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/Letter-to-the-Black-Caucus/?t=3&akid=5681.123764.aZN0Zi
Since ColorOfChange launched this campaign a little over a month ago, some of the newer and more progressive members of the Congressional Black Caucus have raised this campaign’s concerns with their colleagues. Unfortunately, the Black Congressional establishment that leads the Caucus and the PAC have continued to explain that this is how things are done in Washington. Why is the CBC standing with corporate lobbyists and opting for a business as usual approach instead of demanding an end to state violence against Black people?
We created #BlackLivesMatter after Florida failed to hold George Zimmerman accountable for the murder of Trayvon Martin and watched it go viral after Black people in Ferguson erupted in response to the killing of Michael Brown. After Ferguson, we saw and continue to see people all around the country disrupting business as usual to demand a change in the status quo that allows law enforcement to kill unarmed Black people without consequence.
That same spirit of disruption is driving our decision to challenge the CBC to end its ëreliance on corporations that are harmful to Black people. Black communities have fought from the founding of this country to make it live up to its democratic ideals, even when that democracy worked against our interests. The unchecked influence of corporate money in politics hurts Black people more than almost any other community.
No more business as usual! Demand that the CBC end the corporate dominance of its Political Action Committee and cut ties with companies that are harmful to Black people.
As just one example, the CBC PAC has taken thousands of dollars in contributions from lobbyists for the private prison industry. These folks are paid to keep private prisons open and profitable, but the CBC PAC thinks it is fine to accept their money at a time when the Black community is as united as ever in our efforts to end mass incarceration.
If the CBC is no longer beholden to the people but instead to corporate profits, there must be consequences. It is unconscionable to simultaneously take an oath to protect Black people while stuffing your coffers with corporate money from the same people who decimate our families and deny our humanity. The time is now for the members the CBC to live up to their values and our expectations and to prioritize constituents over corporations.
“Congressional Black Caucus Calls meeting off Campus Amid Activist Criticism” Buzzfeed, 3.2.16 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/6181?t=8&akid=5681.123764.aZN0Zi
Hillary Clinton’s Congressional Black Caucus PAC Endorsement Approved by Board Awash in Lobbyistsî The Intercept, 2-11-16, httpss://act.colorofchange.org/go/5880?t=12&akid=5681.123764.aZN0Zi