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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Black Activism Matters on the Border’s Both Sides

from the April 5, 2023 Bulletin

economy & economic reform environmental issues foreign relations

Jorden Giger, an NAACP member, cofounded the Black Lives Matter chapter in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. His community organizing has won millions of dollars in home repair and rental assistance funds for low-income homeowners and other significant gains for neglected Black neighborhoods. But few know better than Giger that racist policies know no national borders. Earlier this year, he organized for the Global Exchange binational Peace Summit held in México City.


The Black Lives Matter movement made police impunity a national issue. What impelled you to become an activist in that movement?

As a boy, I heard my great-grandfather’s stories about his days as a sharecropper. Among other hardships, he witnessed lynchings, conducted with white impunity. I traveled with him to those places in the South where no Black person could feel safe.


Trayvon Martin’s 2012 murder in Florida would be a pivotal moment for many Black millennials, including me. We realized we still aren’t safe.

I went to graduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia when Black players on the football team went on strike against racism there. 


You can’t mess with football. The alumni love it, and it brings in a ton of money! White confederates flew their flags during the strike, and Black students got death threats. 


I left and went home to South Bend. At the time, Pete Buttigieg was serving as mayor, and the city had no Black Lives Matter chapter. So I started one.

Buttigieg began his 2020 run for president without Black support because he had failed to address the deterioration of the city’s Black neighborhood. We organized an exposure and pressure campaign that got national attention, and, as a result, Buttigieg came up with a “Plan for Black America” — and then other Democratic candidates followed suit. 


That all proved to me that you can push from below and get a response.


Did your perspective include confronting violence against other populations besides Black folks?

Why (Black) South Bend residents are warning America about Pete Buttigieg/New York Post

Indiana happens to be more diverse than people on the coasts realize. We have Central Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, people from the Caribbean, Afro-Asians — and we have solidarity. I had friends who were deported, the victims of unjust colonial borders.  CoreCivic, a company that owns and runs private prisons, wanted to build a detention center near us, and all our communities joined forces to stop that project.


In South Bend, we share the same spaces. Millennial and Gen Z generations live in racially mixed families. Young people today live more inclusively in terms of race and gender than in the past. In a few decades, people of color will make up the majority of people everywhere. That reality is fueling a sense of white fragility, a fear of living on a non-white planet. White supremacists can seem to be really strong these days. But I think we’re actually witnessing white supremacy’s last violent gasps.


You became an organizer for the Global Exchange US/México Summit. Why?


Our politically apathetic state of Indiana has one off the lowest voter-turnout rates in the nation. I want to find ways to encourage greater participation. I saw the US/México Summit as a way to shed light on the violence we experience and to show we’re not facing an isolated problem. 


As a Black Lives Matter activist, I’ve been asked by people in my own community, “Why don’t you address Black-on-Black violence?” The Summit gave me ways to help my community see the root causes of that violence. How did all the guns, for instance, get into our communities? Black folks don’t manufacture or sell guns. Mexicans don’t either!


And where do all the drugs come from? Forces outside of our communities manufactured the drug crisis. Declassified documents show that officials, beginning with Nixon, intentionally pushed drugs into minority communities to destroy revolutionary movements like the Black Panthers that were gaining strength in the 1960s.


And then the “War on Drugs” fostered mass incarceration and police violence. Black and Brown people became labeled the criminal class. The government’s goal: that we’d never again see a movement that could ignite the imagination of the people.


This kind of narco-government exists in México too, a model exported from the US. Expand the police and military to repress the people, get in on the drug money by colluding with the cartels. Keep the system flowing: drugs, drug money, prisons, deaths.


An African-descended affinity group attended the Summit in México City. Did Afro-Mexicans and African Americans find shared issues and goals?


Racial subordination and violence — against people of African descent and indigenous peoples — exist in both the US and México. These groups are getting unfairly targeted on both sides of the border.


Look at Haitian migrants traveling through México. Sometimes they endure physical attacks in the camps on the border. Other times they get pushed to the back of the line by other migrants trying to go into the US. Once in the US, these Haitians find themselves less likely to be granted asylum. 


Afro-Mexicans and African Americans face common problems that range from the lack of representation of our peoples in school curricula and the denial of land rights to violence against women and discriminatory laws. We need reparations on a global scale. 


Will working for peace across borders help end racist violence and state impunity?


Yes! For African Americans, abolitionism — ending state violence against Black people in every part of the world — has become central to our ideology. We have actively resisted state violence throughout our history. 

The US government wants us to see Mexicans as our enemies and the cause of our problems. Meeting face to face with Mexicans, we realize that we’re looking in the mirror at people confronting circumstances much like our own.


The violence we all endure comes from the same source.

Afro-Mexicans are pushing for legal recognition
in México’s national constitution/HuffPost

We must keep up the struggle in honor of the tenacity of our ancestors like my great-grandfather. As Black political activist Assata Shakur has said, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.”