August has been a monumental month on the trail of Black resistance and, by many estimations, Black global progress.
The sudden and necessary scorching of the professional sports world led by Black athletes has a broader meaning over the past few days.
Yes, the Milwaukee Bucks decision to strike was the first time an NBA playoff or regular-season game had not been played due to protest, but in the tug of war for Black liberation globally, their resistance at this time has new meaning. All of these events’ timing looks like a divine compass from our ancestors above that can’t be explained.
On display was a harnessing of power not typically allocated to a group of predominantly Black people. For a few days, the players pulled the plug on a billion-dollar structure that churns out more and more global influence annually.
Black August originates from California prisons in the 1970s as a month of study across the African Diaspora of the oppression, colonization, imperialism, slavery, and Black people’s resistance globally. It is principled in sacrifice. Black political prisoners engaged in “self-discipline” – fasting from corporate radio, and eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Some of the markers of study for the prisoners were: 1619, when the first enslaved Africans arrived at U.S. shores; the Nat Turner slave rebellion; the birth date of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton; the 1963 March on Washington, and the Haitian Revolution.
Specifically, the prisoners during that time spent the month elevating the state-sanctioned murder of George Jackson. Jackson was sentenced to one year-to-life in prison for stealing 70 dollars from a California gas station in 1961.
Throughout his time isolated behind bars, he became a revolutionary activist writing books and providing other inmates with the necessary political education about their rights.
There will also be thousands of protesters marching past the Washington monument on Friday to commemorate the March on Washington. In hand will be a laundry list of demands, such as reinstating all pieces of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — and some of which are the same things Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about on that luminous Wednesday afternoon 57 years ago.
Considering this history, the strike for Black lives ignited by the Bucks refusal to play is a dream that could be traced directly back to that day.
The fact that there is a month dedicated to circumstances of Black-led uprisings with Black liberation at the center tells you a lot about the world we live in.
The need to shield Black life from state-sanctioned terrorism pushes past the bounds of the United States. Yesterday, a 16-year-old Black boy with Down’s Syndrome had his life snuffed out by police as they riddled his cinnamon skin with bullets behind a parked van in South Africa.
That story isn’t being covered by many local and national outlets here in the U.S., but what many in our country won’t acknowledge are the glaring similarities between South Africa and the U.S. — colonization — and the lingering residue that has seeped into the structures of both country’s institutions — White supremacy.
It is infected with the same institutional problems of countries it looks down upon. That’s what makes this moment and this time even more critical.
From the U.S. to the Caribbean to the continent of Africa, so many Black revolutionary acts have come about during the summer’s most intensifying month. Many people will remember the Bucks’ strike as the refusal to play a playoff game in light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Still, this moment fits into a premise for this time of year — and that’s the fight for human rights and the creation of innovative institutional systems to meet this moment.