Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog


photo by Peter Nakhid

photo by Peter Nakhid




What To Do With The Negroes?


There is a secret hidden in the heart of New Orleans, a secret hidden in plain sight but ignored by all but the secret citizens themselves. Before Bienville arrived in this area in 1718, Native American scouts informed the adventurous Frenchman that there were groups of Africans—they probably said “blacks”—living over there in their own communities and that these self-ruled women and men would not talk to whites.


Although how the Native Americans knew that the blacks would not talk to whites remains unexplained, the report seems accurate on the face of it. After all, close to three centuries later in post-Katrina New Orleans there remain a number of us who are reluctant to talk truthfully to outsiders—not out of fear of repercussions or because of an inability to speak English but rather we remain reticent on the general principle that there’s no future in such conversations.


Indeed, I am probably breaking ranks simply by writing this although what I have to say should be obvious. Whether considering our 18th century ancestors who inhabited the swamps of the North American southeast from Florida to Louisiana, or unsuccessfully trying to question a handful of staunch holdouts among the Mardi Gras Indians, there have always been blacks who were both proud of being black and determined to be self-determining—not just constitutionally free as any other 21st century U.S. citizen but independent of any higher authority whether that authority be legal, religious or cultural; whether that authority be other blacks, wealthy whites, politicians of any race or economic status, or whatever, none of that mattered. We recognized no higher earthly authority than ourselves.


Sometimes when it looks like we are doing nothing but waiting on the corners, sitting quietly on a well-worn kitchen chair sipping a beer in the early afternoon shade, sometimes those of us people pass by as we hold court on one of the many neutral grounds, i.e. medians, separating the lanes of major streets and avenues in Central City, sometimes those blank stares you see at a bus stop, sometimes what you are witnessing is not what you think it is.


We are not waiting for the arrival of a messiah or for a government handout. We expect nothing from our immediate future but more of the past.


Our talk will seem either fatalistic or farcical, and certainly will not make sense to you. The weary blues etched into our cheeks and coal-coloring the sagging flesh beneath our eyes; the mottled black, browns, greys and streaks of blond or red on our woolly heads and the aroma of anger clinging to our clothes has nothing to do with our failures or with failed expectations. We never anticipated that we would be understood or loved in this land ruled by men with guns, money and god complexes.


No, what you see when you look at us looking back at you is a resolve to keep on living until we die or until someone kills us.


* * *


The history of New Orleans is replete with the inexplicable in terms of how black people lived here. In the late 1700’s before the Americans arrived as a governing force in 1804, a nominally-enslaved black man could be seen walking to his home, which he owned, carrying a rifle, which he owned, with money of his own in his pockets—yes, I know it seems impossible but the impossible is one of the roots of New Orleans culture.


Under the Spanish there were different laws and customs. We had been offered freedom in exchange for joining the Spanish in fighting the English. Join the army and get emancipated—all you had to do was shoot white men… and avoid getting shot.


The Black Codes guaranteed Sundays were ours. All the food, handicrafts, services or whatever we could sell, we could keep all the proceeds. If you study the colonial administrative records you will notice that our economy was so rich that the city merchants petitioned the governor to be able to sell on Sundays (like the slaves did).


Prior to the Civil War the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that one man had to pay back money he borrowed from a slave. Not to mention, a shocked Mrs. Latrobe, the wife of the architect who designed and built New Orleans waterworks—imagine “…how shocked I was to see three Mulatto children and their mother call upon me and say they were the children of Henry.” Henry was the dearly departed son of Mrs. Latrobe. He died of yellow fever and was buried in New Orleans in 1817, three years before his father who also died of yellow fever and was buried next to his son in St. Louis Cemetery. Much like many, many people today, Mrs. Latrobe had no idea about what was really going on in New Orleans.


You can read the papers all day and sit in front the TV all night and never get the news about a significant and shocking subculture in New Orleans. A subculture that not only is unknown to you but a subculture that really does not care to be known by most of you.


Our independently produced subculture is responsible for the roux that flavors New Orleans music, New Orleans cuisine, New Orleans speech idioms, New Orleans architecture, the way we walk down here and especially how we celebrate life even in the face of death. From the African retentions of VooDoo spiritual observances to the musical extensions from Congo Square, this subculture has made New Orleans world renown.


I don’t remember the black sufferers ever receiving a thank you or a blessing. Instead of recognizing our contributions, the black poor and those who identify with them have been demonized. When the waters came, those who were largely affected and eventually washed away were overwhelmingly black. Our saviors gave us one way tickets out of town. Four years later there have been no provisions to bring blacks “back here”—I say back here instead of back home because “back here” is no longer “back home.” Post Katrina New Orleans is not even a ghost of what our beloved city was.


What is gone is not just houses or pictures on the wall, not just the little neighborhood store we used to frequent, or the tavern where we hung out on warm nights; not just the small church in the middle of the block or even the flower bed alongside the house; not just the old landmarks or some of the schools we used to attend, not just the jumble of overcrowded habitations or the storied stacks of bricks we called the ‘jects (aka projects), housing schemes we knew by name and reputation. No, it is not just brick and wood that is missing from the landscape. What is gone, what we miss most of all is us.


We the people are not here. What is left is an amputated city ignoring its stumps. Moreover, even if it were possible, our city does not desire to re-grow or replace what was “disappeared.” Good riddance is what many of the new majority says.


“Good riddance” is sometimes proclaimed using the coded language of “a smaller footprint” (reductively, smaller footprint means fewer black butts). At other times, “good riddance” is spewed forth as the uncut racist cant of “lock all those savages up.”


* * *


Although poor blacks controlled none of the city’s major resources, we were blamed for everything that was wrong—from a failing school system to rising crime; from ineffective and corrupt political leadership to an “immoral” street culture of drugs, sagging pants and loud music; from a rise in sexually transmitted diseases to deteriorating neighborhoods. When responsible citizens wrote to the Times Picayune daily newspaper suggesting what ought be done do address these concerns, high on the list of panaceas was our incarceration, as if so many—indeed, far, far too many of us—were not already in prison.


How convenient to ignore the glaring statistic: the largest concentration of black women in New Orleans is located at Xavier University and the largest concentration of their age-compatible, male counterparts exists across the expressway in the city jail—dorms for the women, cells for the men. The truth is disorienting to most: what has been tried thus far, whether education or jail, has not worked.


The people who complain the most about crime in the city, or should I say the voices that we most often hear in the media complaining about crime are from the people who are the least affected.


However, worse than the name-calling is the fact that New Orleans is now a city that forgot to care. In the aftermath of the greatest flood trauma ever suffered by a major American city, New Orleans is devoid of public health in general and mental health care in particular.


In the entire Gulf South area that was directly affected by Katrina, only in New Orleans were 7,000 educators fired. The Federal Government guaranteed the salaries of teachers in all other areas and guaranteed the same for New Orleans teachers but the state of Louisiana made a decision to decimate the largest block of college educated blacks, the largest block of regular voters, the largest block of black home owners.


The denouement was that the entire middle class black strata was disenfranchised. Black professionals, the majority of whom lived in flooded areas in New Orleans East, whether government employees or independent professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and the like), black professionals no longer had a client base. Most professionals could not re-establish themselves in New Orleans. What was left of the black New Orleans social infrastructure was nothing nice.


* * *


How does anyone explain why in post-racial America economic inequality gaps are widening, not closing?


In a city that prior to Katrina had one of the highest rates of native residents, why are so many young adults leaving rather than staying?


Why is spending nearly twice as much per pupil to service half the pre-storm population called a success in education innovation, especially when the current status quo is economically unsustainable, not to mention that comparable pre-storm health care and retirement benefits are no longer offered to teachers?


I don’t even know how to identify what is happening to us without sounding like a cliché of class warfare, without sounding bitter about racial reconciliation or ungrateful for all the charitable assistance New Orleans has received.


I know that my voice is a minority voice. I know I don’t represent all blacks, nor most blacks, nor educated blacks, nor your black friend, nor Malia and Sasha, nor… I know it’s just plain “stupid” to talk like I’m talking…


I know. I know we blacks are not blameless. Indeed, we are often a co-conspirator in our own debasement. Too often we act out in ways for which there is no sensible justification. Yes, I know about corrupt politicians and a seeming endless line of street level drug dealers, about rampant gun violence and an always for pleasure, 24/7 party attitude.


But amidst all our acknowledged shortcomings, I ask one simple question: who else in this city has contributed so much for so long to this unique gumbo we call New Orleans culture?


Like the state of Texas finally admitting that “abstinence only” sex education has led to higher, not lower, rates of teen pregnancy, unless we materially address the realities of our social situation, we may find that the short-sighted solutions we have put in place will, in the long run, worsen rather than solve our problems.


* * *


Most days I am resolved to soldier on, to suck it up and keep on keeping on, but sometimes, sometimes I feel like Che Guevara facing a summary execution squad of counter-insurgency soldiers.


Sometimes after working all day in the public schools or after hearing Recovery School District administrators refusing to allow us to teach an Advanced Placement English Class because “we don’t have any students capable of that kind of work”; or sometimes after finding out that a teacher we worked with last year is no longer employed not because she was not a great teacher but rather because (as they told her without a note of shame or chagrin in their voices): you are being surplused (i.e. terminated) because we can get two, young, straight-out-of-college, Teach-For-America instructors for the same price we paid your old, experienced ass; sometimes when the city accidentally on purpose bulldozes a house that the same city issued a building permit to the couple that is struggling to rehabilitate that property and this happens while this insane city administration that, four years after the flood, has yet to come up with a coherent plan to address the 40,000 or so blighted properties that dominant the Ninth Ward (Upper Nine, Lower Nine and New Orleans East) landscape; sometimes, I just want to calmly recite Che’s command: go ahead, shoot!


Just kill us and get it over with.

* * *

But until then: a luta continua (the struggle continues)!


Kalamu ya Salaam








mccoy 02


© All rights reserved

Jazz Ost-West Festival in Nürnberg 1986, Germany

Musicians: McCOY TYNER – piano FREDDIE HUBBARD – trumpet JOE HENDERSON – tenor sax AVERY SHARPE – bass LOUIS HAYES – drums 

Track List: 1. Birdlike 2. Just Feeling 3. As Me Now 4. Caravan 5. Inner Glimpse












magic oxygen



Our short story and poetry competition has an incredible prize fund of £3,000, which will be awarded to each category as follows:

  • First Prize – £1,000
  • Second Prize – £300
  • Third Prize – £100
  • Two Highly Commended – £50

In addition, we will be planting a tree in Kenya for each entry, so every entrant is a winner! When the contest closes we will email the GPS co-ordinates of your tree to you.

Please Read the Rules Before Entering!

In brief, they are:-

  • Short Stories up to 4,000 words, excluding title
  • Poetry up to 50 lines, excluding title and lines between stanzas
  • The theme is open
  • Online entries preferred but written entries are also accepted (Click here for the address and postal details)
  • Open to writers all over the world
  • Entrants must be 16 or over at the time of submission
  • Entries must be written in English and must be your own previously unpublished work
  • Entries must show no name, address or identifying marks other than the title.
  • You may submit as many entries as you wish
  • £5 per entry
  • Closing date midnight 30th November 2014

Click here to read the rules, Ts and Cs in full.

Your submission will also act as your acceptance of the rules.

Click here to enter the competition.








baltimore review

Contest Submissions

- Poems, Short Stories, Creative Nonfiction

- Submit Here

$10.00 USD


The theme for The Baltimore Review’s winter contest is “Work.” 


Whether you wake up each morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to begin your day’s work—your profession, your raison d’etre. 

Or whether you live for the weekend. 

Whether you’re desperately seeking a new one. 

Or counting the hours until your retirement. 

Work consumes much of our lives.

It’s how many of us define ourselves.

It’s what many of us do to survive.

The theme is also one more great excuse to do some research and learn how others live.

Writers like to do that. Right?

As long as you incorporate the idea of work in your poem, short story, or creative nonfiction, you’re good.

Three winners will be selected from among all entries. So winners could be one story and two poems; or two stories and one work of creative nonfiction; or one story, one poem, one work of creative nonfiction—you get the picture. 

3,000-word limit for fiction and creative nonfiction. One to three poems in an entry. All entries considered for publication.

Prizes are $500, $200, and $100. Entry fee is $10. All contest entries, regardless of genre, should be submitted through this Contest link.

Deadline is November 30, 2014

Final judge:  Jen Michalski






africa in words

Call for Papers

Colloquium on

‘Print Culture and

Colonisation in Africa’

28-29 May 2015, Cape Town 

Jointly hosted by the University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town, in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University and with funding from the British Academy

The flow of technology, missionaries and merchants brought printing to African countries. The development of print culture was dispersed and intensified by the advent of colonisation. This two-day colloquium will focus on the interplay between colonial interventions and local textual cultures. Papers may explore the ways in which books and the book trade have been shaped by Africa’s colonial and postcolonial history, and how print cultures developed across the continent in the context of wide-scale European colonisation. They may also consider the history of the book in the context of apartheid South Africa. “Colonisation” may also be seen as an ongoing practice, and its power dynamics and implications for current print culture explored.

Postgraduate students as well as established researchers are invited to submit abstracts to Beth le Roux ( by 31 January 2015. Limited travel assistance is available for speakers from African institutions.















Edelmy Marin, Student, Wins Award from Louisiana Federation of Teachers

Edelmy Marin, an outstanding student from McDonogh 35 Senior High School in New Orleans, was given an award for her achievements by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers at their Convention and during their 50th anniversary



Who’s Pedro?

A young man learns about the African diaspora from a classmate in a 2014 summer program conducted by Students at the Center, an independent writing program that functions in the public high schools of New Orleans. This 9-minute video was written by and features Edelmy Janice Marin and Austin Smith, directed by Kalamu ya Salaam.
















uptown messenger

Nov 26, 2014







jewel bush:

Should a boy’s BB gun

be a matter of

life or death?


My 11-year-old son used his allowance to purchase a BB gun at Academy Sports & Outdoors on a shopping trip with his grandfather a few weeks ago.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about it. My father, who grew up in Rosa, a rural agricultural community in St. Landry Parish, thought nothing of it. He grew up hunting deer, rabbit and whatever else was in season along with his eight brothers and scores of cousins. Back in his day, as kids, they handled real shotguns, not replicas, and missed weeks at a time of school to help his father in the fields.

I could have gotten really angry with my father and called him up, as I’ve done in the past, to explain why I parent the way I do and give him my speech on why I believe fake guns and weaponry are not suitable playthings.  And, in turn, he would’ve spoke of how he was raised, hunting, fishing, riding horses, slaughtering hogs at boucheries — rites of passage for boy children reared in the country.

But I didn’t.

“What are you going to do with a BB gun?” I questioned my son.

I half heard his answer, “hunting” before unleashing a lecture detailing the dangers of him as a young black boy being seen walking around the city with a toy gun.

“I know. I know,” he interrupted, “I know better than that.”

Over the weekend, Cleveland police shot down Tamir Rice after the authorities received a 9-1-1 call about him being spotted in a park with a gun, an airsoft-type gun that shoots plastic pellets. Tamir was 12, barely older than my son.

The 9-1-1 caller said at least twice that the gun was probably fake. However, the dispatcher doesn’t appear to have revealed that detail to cops. The police report that instead of Tamir raising his hands as directed, he drew the pellet gun from his waistband though he said nothing and did not point it at them. Cops shot Tamir anyway.

I told my son Tamir’s story this week.

There was no change in his voice. Nor facial expression. He was numb. Unfortunately, this is what happens when violence — street violence, police violence, emotional violence — becomes the new rite of passage for our young black youth. When horrific incidents happen so frequently and injustice reigns as the order of the day, they damn near expect tragedy to strike the people they know, those who resemble them and them personally. Eventually.

To cope with this world’s madness, our black youth detach as a means not to live every single day broken to prevent an overdose on sadness.

The cynic in me, a student of history — even recent history with Darren Wilson not being indicted in the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. — already knows the outcome of the police shooting investigation of Tamir.

Word choice by the media and law enforcement will be deliberate and calculated to condemn Tamir while justifying yet another murder by the police. Key phrases such as “split second decision,” “life-or-death situation” and “public safety” will be used to drum up sympathy for police, in general. The officers involved, out on administrative leave, will be painted as victims.

Media coverage and police language will turn this preteen into a monster. A narrative of Tamir as a menace will emerge. Every detention he’s ever received at school, every less-than-stellar progress report, any trouble he may have gotten into in his short life will become a matter of record and be offered up as evidence that little Tamir was headed for a life of thuggery.

This is what happens in these cases. The dead are the ones who end up on trial, and the police lifted up as misunderstood heroes.

If law enforcement believes these police shootings are truly tragedies as they say in press conferences to the mourning families and the grieving public, when no indictment decisions are being handed down; if these words are not mere script, why do these killer cops get to gloat in national TV interviews and tout a perverse self-righteousness?

If this is supposed to be our country, one shared with cops and civilians alike, and not some far-off war zone in a hard-to-pronounce mountain range or desert or jungle, why is a black person killed every 28 hours by police officers, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes right here in this country?

Tamir was a 12-year-old boy playing in the park with his BB gun when police shot him. Was he shot because he was a threat to “public safety”? Or was he shot because that’s what happens when cops in America have “split second decisions” to make about young black boys?

So, should I tell my son, the grandchild of a St. Landry Parish-bred outdoorsman, that he cannot have that BB gun? While my son says he “knows better,” the police demonstrate over and over that they do not.



jewel bush is an award-winning journalist and writer. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Times-Picayune and The (Houma) Courier. She has won numerous awards including distinctions from the Louisiana Press Association and the New York Times Regional Media Group. Her short story, “Red Polish” appears in “Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.” Her newest piece, Related Somehow to Africa: Black Palestinians and the Search for Shared Identity, appears in issue 115 of the Harvard journal, Transition.












nytimes logo379x64

NOVEMBER 26, 2014





Telling My Son

About Ferguson


COLUMBUS, Ohio — MY son wants an answer. He is 10 years old, and he wants me to tell him that he doesn’t need to worry. He is a black boy, rather sheltered, and knows little of the world beyond our safe, quiet neighborhood. His eyes are wide and holding my gaze, silently begging me to say: No, sweetheart, you have no need to worry. Most officers are nothing like Officer Wilson. They would not shoot you — or anyone — while you’re unarmed, running away or even toward them.

I am stammering.

For the past few years, I have traveled from coast to coast speaking to just about anyone who will listen about the horrors of our criminal injustice system. I have written and lectured extensively about the wars that have been declared on poor communities of color — the “war on crime” and the “war on drugs” — the militarization of our police forces, the school-to-prison pipeline, the millions stripped of basic civil and human rights, a penal system unprecedented in world history. Yet here I am, on Monday evening, before the announcement about the grand jury’s decision has been made, speechless.

My son wants me to reassure him, and tell him that of course Darren Wilson will go to jail. At 10 years old, he can feel deep in his bones how wrong it was for the police to kill Michael Brown. “There will be a trial, at least — right, Mom?” My son is asking me a simple question, and I know the answer.

As a civil rights lawyer, I know all too well that Officer Wilson will not be going to trial or to jail. The system is legally rigged so that poor people guilty of relatively minor crimes are regularly sentenced to decades behind bars while police officers who kill unarmed black men almost never get charged, much less serve time in prison.

I open my mouth to speak, look into my son’s eyes, and hear myself begin to lie: “Don’t worry, honey, you have nothing to worry about. Nothing like this could ever happen to you.” His face brightens as he tells me that he likes the police, and that he always waves at the cops in our neighborhood and they always wave back. His innocence is radiating from him now; he’s all lit up with relief and gladness that he lives in a world where he can take for granted that the police can be trusted to serve and protect him with a wave and a smile.

My face is flushing red. I am embarrassed that I have lied. And I am angry. I am angry that I have to tell my son that he has reason to worry. I am angry that I have to tell him that I already know Darren Wilson won’t be indicted, because police officers are almost never indicted when they kill unarmed black men. I must tell him now, before he hears it on the school bus or sees it in the news, that many people in Michael Brown’s town will be very angry too — so filled with pain, sadness and rage — that they may react by doing things they shouldn’t, like setting fires or breaking windows or starting fights.

I know I must explain this violence, but not condone it. I must help him see that adults often have trouble managing their pain just like he does. Doesn’t he sometimes lash out and yell at friends or family when he’s hurt or angry? When people have been hurt over and over, and rather than compassion or understanding you’re given lectures about how it’s really all your fault, and that no one needs to make amends, you can lose your mind. We can wind up harming people we care about with words or deeds, people who have done no harm to us.

I begin telling him the truth and his face contorts. The glowing innocence is wiped away as his eyes flash first with fear, then anger. “No!,” he erupts. “There has to be a trial! If you kill an unarmed man, don’t you at least have a trial?”

My son is telling me now that the people in Ferguson should fight back. A minute ago, he was reminiscing about waving to Officer Friendly. Now he wants to riot.

I tell him that sometimes I have those feelings too. But now I feel something greater. I am proud of the thousands of people of all colors who have taken to the streets in nonviolent protest, raising their voices with boldness and courage, capturing the attention and the imagination of the world. They’re building a radical movement for justice, one that would make the freedom fighters who came before them sing from the heavens with joy.

I tell my son, as well as my daughters, as we sit around the dinner table, stories of young activists organizing in Ferguson, some of them not much older than they are. I tell them about the hip-hop artist Tef Poe, who traveled with Michael Brown’s parents to Geneva to testify before a United Nations subcommittee about police militarization and violence. I tell them about activists like Phillip B. Agnew, Tory Russell, Brittany Ferrell and Alexis Templeton, who marched in the streets and endured tear gas while waving signs bearing three words: “Black Lives Matter.”

I’ve met some of these activists, I say. They believe, like you do, that we should be able to live in a world where we trust the police and where all people and all children, no matter what their color or where they came from, are treated with dignity, care, compassion and concern. These courageous young people know the tools of war, violence and revenge will never build a nation of justice. They told me they’re willing to risk their lives, if necessary, so that kids like you can live in a better world.

My son is stirring his mashed potatoes around on his plate. He looks up and says, “Right now, I’m just thinking I don’t want anything like this ever to happen again.”

I’m tempted to tell him that it will happen; in fact, it already has. Several unarmed black men have been shot by the police since Aug. 9, when Michael Brown was killed. But I don’t say another word. It’s much easier telling the truth about race and justice in America to strangers than to my son, who will soon be forced to live it.






washington post 02

November 25, 2014





After grand jury decision

in Ferguson, calls to



By Sarah Halzack


Protesters on West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis, Mo. early Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Protesters on West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis, Mo. early Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)


Chaos swept the streets of Ferguson, Mo., Monday night when it was announced Darren Wilson would not be indicted on any charges related to the shooting of Michael Brown.  The grand jury decision and the protests were a catalyst for a torrent of social media conversation about race, politics, the criminal justice system–and also about whether to shop on Black Friday.

Consumers have taken to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to encourage others to sit out the annual shopping ritual this year to show their opposition to the grand jury decision and to make a broader statement about race relations the United States.

Two hashtags, #BoycottBlackFriday and #BlackoutBlackFriday appeared to gain traction on social media last night and this morning, with users pledging to stay home this weekend in hope that their closed wallets would send a message.Here are some of the calls to action:

ferguson on fire 02
ferguson on fire 03 ferguson on fire 04 ferguson on fire 05 ferguson on fire 06

Do you plan to boycott Black Friday because of Ferguson?

More from The Washington Post:

Ferguson takes stock after rage over grand jury decision

Darren Wilson explains why he killed Michael Brown

Transcript: Wilson’s grand jury testimony



Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post’s national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.








Director Of

Oscar Grant Biopic


‘Black Out Black Friday’

Shopping Boycott


Blackout Black Friday logo

Blackout Black Friday logo


OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Blackout for Human Rights, a group founded by Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale Station, is calling on the American public to boycott Black Friday to show solidarity with victims of police brutality.

Word of the retail boycott is being spread via social media with official Blackout content on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Tumblr. Participants have been sharing content using the hashtags #BlackoutBlackFriday, #NotOneDime and #HandsUpDontSpend.

People are being encouraged to pledge not to shop on Black Friday, and instead participate in grassroots events nationwide, such as food drives, art showings, film screenings and performances. 

On the website Blackout for Human Rights, organizers identify themselves as a network of concerned citizens and reference recent police shootings involving unarmed teens and adults. “We have witnessed enough. We mourn the loss of men like Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John Crawford and Michael Brown, who met their deaths at the hands of police officers… We mourn the loss of life and the absence of justice for Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis, killed by private citizens.” 

The movement’s website also lists a set of goals that include “find lasting solutions to the root causes of human rights violations, through research, fundraising, and advocacy,” and “empower citizens most at risk for these types of violations (low income, minorities, women and the disabled) by using our collective economic resources to make impact.”

Coogler, an Oakland native, works as a youth guidance counselor at juvenile hall in San Francisco. His film, Fruitvale Station won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in 2013, as well as the award for Best First Film at the Cannes Film Festival.

In Los Angeles boycott organizers are holding a screening of Fruitvale Station. The ticket price is a donation of food. In New York, there will be a screenplay reading of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.