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What you won’t hear at tonight’s Presidential debate

September 29, 2020

Tonight, Joe Biden and Donald Trump will face off in the first Presidential debate of the election season. One topic that will likely be framed incorrectly? The murder of Black people and the subsequent uprisings this summer.

While the debate discussion will attempt to criminalize those protesting state violence and racial injustice, we know this framing deceptively mischaracterizes the movement to defend Black life.

Here’s how we should discuss the summer’s uprisings.

  1. Whether from white vigilantes or unjust policing, it is clear that Black life is under attack. As a nation, we must acknowledge the root cause of the summer’s uprisings: the unjust system that allows Black people to be murdered with impunity. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor and others are the result of inexcusable racism. Law enforcement and white supremacists must be held accountable for the violent harm they cause.
  2. The uprisings indicate that Black & Brown people envision a collective future in which healthy, sustainable and equitable communities are safe for all, not just for white people. The uprisings successfully sparked change pushing the city of Louisville to outlaw no-knock warrants and prompted the Minneapolis City Council to vote to dismantle its police department. This new vision of public safety is becoming a reality across the country.
  3. In the United States, the military should never be turned against those marching for justice. Everyone has a constitutional right to demonstrate, and a militarized response from police not only escalates tensions in the street, but also acutely exemplifies why policies like the Breathe Act must be enacted. This federal legislation would divest resources for policing and mass incarceration and invests in Black and Brown communities.

Before tonight’s debate, check out these narrative resources that address how both the news media and scripted television can perpetuate criminalizing narratives around people of color. Explore these resources to also learn what empowering language we should use to inspire and engage our communities.

Listen in at 9:00 p.m. EST and join the discussion on social media using #Debate2020. We cannot allow false narratives and misleading rhetoric to mischaracterize our movement. Clap back and let your networks know that Black life is #NotUpForDebate.