Black Lives Matter Philadelphia stands in solidarity with our comrades at Black & Brown Workers Cooperative and Philly for REAL Justice in support of their April 18, 2018 statement regarding Asa Khalif as well as their work in response to the recent instance of racism at Starbucks.
The Movement for Black Lives here in Philadelphia is large with varied actors who have been working toward Black Liberation for decades. Groups such as the Black & Brown Workers Cooperative and Philly for REAL Justice have been particularly active and successful at tearing down and radically transforming strongholds of white supremacy in Philadelphia, be they nonprofit spaces that oppress Black and Brown workers or coffee shops that inflict the violence of the state on Black patrons.
Asa Khalif is just one actor in the midst of this wide movement. His actions have, at times, endangered and compromised other activists and organizations. Furthermore, as we stated in our February 8, 2017 Statement Regarding National Affiliation, Mr. Khalif has never been affiliated with Black Lives Matter Philly or the Black Lives Matter Network. Just as Mr. Khalif does not and can not speak for the Movement for Black Lives in Philadelphia, he does not and can not speak for Black Lives Matter Philly. Any attempts on his behalf to promote himself as the voice of Black Philadelphia activists is disingenuous and self serving.We have sought to resolve these matters in the past with Mr. Khalif and have been rebuffed. He recently made one small concession after much cajoling. He altered his intentionally confusing group name from “Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania” to the equally confusing “Black Lives Matter Movement Pennsylvania.”
As stated by our comrades, the media must take care to distinguish between the various Black Liberation groups active in Philadelphia. It demonstrates an unethical laziness on the part of members of the media when they immediately seek out Mr. Khalif for statements on actions or controversies of which he has no part. It is equally problematic when the media seeks and then reports his opinion as those of “the leader” of the movement. Not only is this practice poor journalism, it also generates confusion in the community and is dangerous. Mr. Khalif’s actions have sometimes been incorrectly linked to other activist groups which has lead to activists suffering unwarranted harassment and threats.
Mr. Khalif is not the leader of the Movement for Black Lives in Philadelphia nor is he the face of the movement. Any effort to cast him as such is a disservice to the many people and organizations that are working for Black Liberation in Philadelphia.