In early October 2017, Foreign Policy broke the news that the U.S. government through its counterterrorism division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) designated so-called “Black Identity Extremists” as a “growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.” Foreign Policy noted that the FBI report first appeared in early August. Ironically enough, it was 50 years to the month in August 1967 that the FBI under its COINTELPRO launched a program against so-called ‘‘Black Nationalist–Hate Groups,’’ which targeted the Southern Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. Martin Luther King, and other civil rights leaders. Just as there was no such thing as Black “Nationalist Hate Groups” in 1967, there is no such thing as “Black Identity Extremists” today. The U.S. government is using a broad term that has no basis in reality to cast a wide net that may ultimately criminalize legitimate organizations pursuing justice on behalf of Black folks.
The purpose of this platform is to raise awareness about US government’s long history of targeting and criminalizing people of African ancestry who have stood up for justice on behalf of Black people inside and outside of the United States.
1. Raise consciousness about the Justice Department’s attempt to designate Black activists as dangerous extremists.
2. Take the power from the government’s attempt to define what it means to be Black and extreme and defining it for ourselves.
3. Educate our youth about those who stood up for us in the past and was labeled by the U.S. government as extreme. For example, those labeled as extremists include Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Paul Robeson and W.E.B Dubois (both of whom had their passports taken away by the government).
4. Popularize the term (Black Identity Extremist) so that the Justice Department will have a harder time isolating and defining legitimate pursuits of justice for Black folks as extreme, dangerous or a threat.
5. Raise funds through the sale of T-shirts for organizations that are fighting for justice at home and abroad.