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Lee: The Blood Bucket Challenge

BY ASHLEY LEE | SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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In Defense of Black Bodies is a youth organization that strives to challenge and subvert systems of oppression in the United States that hurt and marginalize black lives. Last week, members of the organization released a YouTube video documenting the Blood Bucket Challenge.

Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, individuals who participated instead awaited a bucket of “blood.”  The three-minute video holds the United States accountable for its historic and present-day mistreatment of African Americans and references an online petition started by Dream Defenders — demanding national change to protect citizens and communities from police violence and misconduct.

The video first defines genocide, then proceeds with the challenge, featuring Nina Simone’s version of “Strange Fruit” in the background. Alongside participants, the following message appears: “We are charging the United States with the genocide of black bodies. By means of mass incarceration through the prison industrial complex, the preservation of segregated resource-less communities, the forced sterilization of incarcerated black women, the unlawful murder of black citizens by police and white vigilantes, as well as the ongoing terrorism inflicted on black communities by the militarized police state. These charges only reflect a fraction of the injustices perpetuated against black bodies in the United States. We have been disillusioned with rhetoric promising a free and just nation. We hold the American government accountable for these crimes against humanity. We charge genocide.”

Rightfully so.

The video addresses the long and disturbing relationship the United States has had with people of African descent.

It urges audiences to consider just how much the past has carried into today. We are still do not grant black bodies the same value and respect as white bodies. Belittling, denying, or ignoring such a problematic component of American society only hurts us.

This particular group of young people is doing what it can to respond to an inherited racial legacy that they had no control over. The blood of their ancestors who lived through slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, and voter suppression is what inspires them to move forward and demand change from a government that actively continues to enforce white-dominated spheres and subjugate black lives.

By releasing a video, these young men and women have used a creative outlet to be seen and legitimized.

People who look like me carry what I call the Badge of Blackness, something that is very much stigmatized in our society. Government sanctioned violence and injustice against American blacks must be dealt with honestly and sincerely.

In a nation that still demonizes blackness while selectively profiting off of elements of black culture, participants of the challenge show how black people are unable to disassociate themselves from the harsh realities that coincide with living in black skin. But most importantly, they convey black perseverance amid racial oppression.


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