Latinos stand with Black Lives Matter

Written by: Javier Armas, @javiersorganics

The Bay Area Latinos in Cannabis Alliance (BALCA) stands unabashedly beside our brothers and sisters fighting to end police brutality and systemic racism. Blacks Lives Matter. Period. We demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives senselessly. We also express our deepest condolences to the family and community of Sean Monterrosa, a local activist who was fatally shot by Vallejo PD.

Whether it’s in major cities, or the border area, Latinos face similar racist police violence as Blacks, which is why we need to stand together!  Between 2016 and 2018, Latinos in California made up 39% of the population but represented 46% of deadly police shootings – the second most disproportionate behind the rates for Blacks.  New York Civil Liberties Union found that in 2011, more than 685,000 people had been stopped and frisked, most of them Black or Latino — and nearly 9 in 10 were innocent.

In Latin America, police forces kill in greater numbers than in the US, and such violence is linked to the American sponsored “war on drugs.” In fact, more people of African descent are killed by the police in Latin America than in the US. Especially in Brazil, where over 75% of people killed by the police are Black, with a high concentration in Rio de Janeiro, sparking powerful Black Lives Matter protests. In Mexico, police corruption and violence is part of the context of 60,000 disappeared, and like the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, many are of indigenous ancestry. Whether it’s Latinos fighting for Black Lives in Latin America, or in the US, or our own community’s oppression, what is clear is the Black and Latino struggles are connected and overlapping.  

After the killing of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the Bay Area suffered more loss. On June 9th, California Highway patrol killed 23 year old Erik Salgado in Oakland, injuring his pregnant girlfriend. Shortly after, Sean Monterrosa, 22, was shot and killed by Vallejo police on June 2. The moment was clear regarding Latino and Black victims of police brutality are too common.  

On the one hand, many Latinos have African descent making a sizable Afro-latino community, making latino and african connection organic, on the other hand, there exists a prevalent anti-Black racism amongst Latinos. This makes Black liberation politics amongst Latinos a lively, difficult and a fractured topic to engage. Some Latinos encourage a white washing acculturation strategy, while others are militant about supporting Black liberation, with most being somewhere in between these polls. Since the movement for George Floyd exploded, we have never seen such a positive shift towards  Latino support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We encourage the discussion of this issue in our communities to continue to do away with anti-Black racism, which exists in both Latin America and here in the US. 

BALCA is very proud of empowering Latinos in Cannabis, but we know we can’t do it without supporting our Black brothers and sisters who are falling victim to systematic state sponsored racial violence. With Latin America in mind, Latinos know the movement for Black Lives Matter is greater in international scope. We want to do our part in challenging anti-Black racism in our own communities, and have both of our communities protected from violence, linked to the state sponsored “war on drugs.” Cannabis can help facilitate a process of peace, heal our wounds, and unite our communities. Just as the plant moved from China, Africa, Brazil to the Americas, we can see how cannabis has so much power to unify us, helping end the horrific racial violence that plagues our society and generate a new world of humanistic relations and practices. 

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