Alicia Garza Discusses Leaving Black Lives Matter, The Complications Of Balancing Activism And Branding On Jemele Hill Is Unbothered!

TheRoot.com, By Jay Connor, Posted May 20th 2021

One thing is for sure, two things are for certain: Spotify’s Jemele Hill Is Unbothered isn’t always what we expect, but it’s always a treat.

On the latest episode, the award-winning journalist chops it up with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, who dishes on her new book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart; her decision to distance herself from BLM and start her own organization, Black Futures Lab; and the tricky relationship between celebrity and activism.

In addressing her decision to leave BLM, Garza noted that the sheer magnitude of the movement restricted her ability to exist freely while associated with it.

“I didn’t want to be the Black Lives Matter lady for the rest of my life,” she says. “To be honest, I have a lot of other talents. I have a lot of other skills. I have a lot more to offer and, you know, I’m not Black Lives Matter. That is something that I helped to create, but I am like the smallest piece of it. And I just kept feeling like the longer I’m here, the more it becomes about me and Patrisse and Opal and less about what it is that we’re trying to do out in the world.”

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Aside from her work with BLM, the 2020 The Root 100 honoree directs Special Projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and remains committed to empowering the Black community through the Black Futures Lab, which “works with Black people to transform our communities, building Black political power and changing the way that power operates.”

Garza also touched on the complications of doing this type of work while also juggling the increased popularity that often comes with it.

“There’s something that happens when a movement starts to become a brand, too. And I think this summer was the worst part of it, to be honest,” she says. “I couldn’t turn on the television without seeing Black Lives Matter. Whether it was Netflix, Comcast, Real Housewives of Atlanta;it was just a lot, right? So I get it. And I also don’t know how movements become effective if they’re not well-resourced. So that’s the question for me.”

She continued, “I think there’s also a dynamic here where so many families throughout this country—who have had a loved one stolen from them through no fault of their own—[…] are still dealing with the loss of a loved one. [They’re] still fighting, and waiting, and pushing for justice. I can understand their frustration, too. Like, ‘Why is my child’s story not the thing that everyone is talking about? Why is it Black Lives Matter?”

With Garza being acutely aware of how that delicate balance works, her insight and opinions on these matters hold tremendous weight. Hit up Spotify to check out the rest of this episode of Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, where Garza also shares her thoughts on respectability politics and if she’d be open to one day running for public office.

Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y’all to stop putting sugar in grits.

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