On the first day of the new year, a coalition of organizers from Black Lives Matter: Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, Southside Organizing Together for Power, and BYP100 traveled around to different restaurants in Lake View and Wicker Park during the brunch hour as BlackBrunchChi, where they “disrupted” the brunch of the mostly White patrons to create awareness about the various forms of state violence against Black communities in Chicago, including police violence and economic disinvestment from Black communities. BlackBrunch is an organizing and civil disobedience tactic that I first learned about last year, while following along on Twitter, protests against police violence in the Bay Area; where groups of mostly Black people traveled to restaurants to “disrupt” the brunch of mostly White patrons, to let people know that the status-quo can’t go on like this.
This tactic particularly resonates with me because it really puts into focus the fact that Black lives are disrupted daily, whether by poverty, police violence, school closures, closure of mental health clinics and so many other routine indignities that the most vulnerable of us face. As the Black Lives Matter: Chicago press release states: “The “safety”, economy, property value and social resources across Lakeview are made possible by a disastrous tradition of depleting, displacing, economically deserting and aggressively surveilling Black communities across the South and West sides of this city.” While “following” the protests on Twitter, I saw that activists were tweeting some of the reactions from White patrons of the restaurants. The fact that many of them became so angry that for a few minutes their brunch was disrupted by the “inconvenient” facts of Black life in this city, is just…..infuriating. The fact that they can’t step outside of their lives for just a few minutes to think about the lives of others who don’t have their racial and economic privilege is….maddening. The lives of all of the families who have lost loved ones to police violence has been disrupted forever.
Someone said something really great on Twitter: that the lives of Black folks on the South and West sides should matter to people who live in the Loop, Lincoln Park, or anywhere else in the city. If you are a White person who shakes their head every time you hear about violence on the South or West side, or grumble about “those people” ruining our city or making Chicago look bad then you need to understand that the violence of poverty, no healthcare and police brutality causes the interpersonal violence you see on the news every night, and you should be in solidarity and follow the lead of Black folks in our demands for lives free of state violence, a living wage, affordable health care and a fully funded public education system. In their press release, Black Lives Matter: Chicago included a list of transformational demands; I implore you to read them here.