Sunday Suggestions & Connections 2.14.16

by Abaki Beck

Sunday Suggestions & Connections is a weekly feature pairing recent news stories with related social justice readings or resources and ideas to take action.

This week we look at the suicide of activist MarShawn McCarrell (and mental health in communities of color), reactions to Beyonce’s song Formation (and the Black Panther Party), and some important racial justice news stories you may have missed this week.

On Monday, MarShawn McCarrel, a young black activist, committed suicide on the Ohio Statehouse steps. McCarrel, 23, was an activist involved with the Black Lives Matter organization in Ohio. He also founded Pursuing Our Dreams, a youth mentorship program. His mother believes his activist and charity work was too mentally and physically exhausting for him.

Tragically, suicide is higher in most communities of color than in white communities. This is due to a variety of reasons, including lack of access to mental health care or substance abuse treatment, cultural disconnect with health care providers, and the psychological impacts of living in a society that refuses and rejects your brilliance. Below, please find articles and ideas about mental health and communities of color. But first, read this poem written by MarShawn McCarrel.

Racism and health more generally:

Specifically about suicide and mental health in communities of color:

On Sunday, Beyonce performed perhaps her most politically radical song at the Super Bowl halftime show. The song, “Formation” is an unapologetic affirmation of blackness, doesn’t pander to white audiences (or non-black audiences in general), and featured back up dancers dressed as members of the Black Panther Party. While many people of color across the country responded with celebration and praise, some ignorant white people responded negatively - as ignorant white people often do when people of color do something they don’t understand and thus feel uncomfortable with. Some have called the performance a threat to police officers, including former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani, others have simply been confused by its meaning. And people of color collectively responded: “Not everything is for you.”  

Like Beyonce’s song, music video, and halftime performance, the Black Panther Party has been misrepresented in U.S. history and social thought. Often portrayed in contrast to Civil Rights Movement heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Panthers are seen as violent, anti-white, and threatening. The use of Black Panther-like uniforms in the performance is significant not only because of the symbols of black liberation it evokes, but also because the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California, very near to where the Super Bowl was held. Below, please find links to learn more about the Black Panther party, many of which were written by former Black Panther party leaders. We must insure that these histories are not white washed or forgotten. Because of them, we are here.


If you missed them, here are some links to other important news stories related to racial justice to check out this week! Stay informed, stay involved!

And finally, for those in the United States - tomorrow is President’s Day, or as some Native Americans have reclaimed it, All Chiefs Day. Celebrate by learning about a tribal chief in your home state. Thank you for reading, and have an empowered and relaxing weekend!