#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Declines An Invite To Meet President Obama At The White House
While most people would be thrilled to accept an invite to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to meet the POTUS, one particular person had ZERO interest. #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Aislinn Pulley semi-politely declined the offer and wrote about why in an Truth-Out op-ed…
On February 18, civil rights activists and leaders from around the country were invited to the White House for what the Obama administration has called a “first-of-its-kind” intergenerational meeting to discuss “a range of issues, including the administration’s efforts on criminal justice reform” and “building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.” The event’s guest list includes high-profile civil rights leaders like Al Sharpton, student organizer DeShaunya Ware and others.
As the cofounder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, I was issued an invitation to this event, and various news outlets have already listed me as an attendee. But as a radical, Black organizer, living and working in a city that is now widely recognized as a symbol of corruption and police violence, I do not feel that a handshake with the president is the best way for me to honor Black History Month or the Black freedom fighters whose labor laid the groundwork for the historic moment we are living in.
I respectfully declined the invitation to the White House to discuss criminal legal reform and to celebrate Black History Month. I was under the impression that a meeting was being organized to facilitate a genuine exchange on the matters facing millions of Black and Brown people in the United States. Instead, what was arranged was basically a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president. I could not, with any integrity, participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and the institutional racism that fuels it. For the increasing number of families fighting for justice and dignity for their kin slain by police, I refuse to give its perpetrators and enablers political cover by making an appearance among them.
Images via AP/Tumblr