The Black Lives Matter movement is not only uplifting Black people; it is helping give wind to efforts led by other minority groups.
People of color in the United States have been fighting for their rights since Christopher Columbus arrived. To many, it’s clear that even 500 years later, the nation still has a long way to go.
“As a Latinx person I believe that my communities and safety and freedom will only be ensured through Black Liberation,” Artemisio Romero y Carver, a local teen activist, wrote in an email. Romero y Carver is one of several young people who are part of Santa Fe’s Youth United 4 Climate Crisis Action, better known as YUCCA. While the group was formed to advocate for environmental protection, part of that goal is to “educate voters, endorse candidates, organize protests, and commit civil disobedience, among other strategies.” Romero y Carver said most of YUCCA’s successes in achieving these goals are largely due to the momentum of Black Lives Matter.
Yang Toledo, a Diné and Chicana activist from the Navajo Nation who also participates in YUCCA, agreed, noting that Black Lives Matter has encouraged younger Indigenous people to “exercise their rights to implement change in their communities.”
Alongside her YUCCA work, Toledo works with Youth Care, Earth Allies and the National High School Model United Nations Conference. She said errors of the past must be corrected because “America was not [initially] set up to benefit people of color.” The only way to protect the nation’s future from the imminent threat of climate change is for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to come together, she said.
Although about 11 percent of Santa Fe’s population is Native, many of them feel excluded from local narratives of place. Christina M. Castro, co-founder of the Native nonprofit Three Sisters Collective, aims to bring awareness to the Tewa land New Mexico residents occupy and include Native voices in the story of the state.
Castro said the white American subconscious doesn’t want to listen to “the lived experiences of Black, brown and Indigenous people,” and she said if they wanted to hear about Native struggles, it would have happened by now.
Largely because of the momentum of Black Lives Matter, “people are being forced to listen,” she said.
This was evidenced recently in the presidential election, when many Indigenous people made sure they had the ability to vote and then exercised that power.
Hannah Burling, president of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, said she feels the voices of Black Lives Matter are coming into focus at a necessary point.
“Under the Obama administration, it was possible for some to believe that we were living in a post-racial society,” she said. “We now know that is not true.”
Burling said the League of New Mexico Women Voters aims to ensure the state is “a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate” in the voting process. She said she works to recognize the power and importance of every person within every minority.
Castro said this type of effort is critical. Although Indigenous people “have been resisting and have been resilient forever,” she said, “we also need white allyship more than ever to make the changes we want to see moving forward.” She said she hopes momentum of activism and awareness continues to thrive.
Regardless of what the white population’s response is, people of color will not stop their fight for equality.
“I think white Americans have done their best to not listen to voices of people of color so that they do not have to recognize that their wealth and privilege has come at the price of human lives,” wrote Romero y Carver.
The activists’ goal is not only to have their voices heard but to have their views respected, spread and used to make the world a better place.