The Teaneck Youth Initiative is a youth organization based in Teaneck. Composed of a diverse group of young individuals, the Teaneck Youth Initiative has devoted our efforts to creating a more unified community and fostering an inclusive environment that is tolerant and respectful of all races, religions, sexualities, genders, and more. The Teaneck Youth Initiative prides itself in being a representative for the youth in Teaneck and their demands. This past summer, we saw individuals of all ages come together from around the world to protest police brutality and advocate for social justice in the name of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
We understand the movement may draw skepticism from various communities, especially from those belonging to the Jewish community, because of previous comments that misrepresented the BLM movement as having an anti-Israel political position. According to the founders of the BLM movement, the mission of BLM is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”1 In addition, the updated Movement for Black Lives (one of many organizations within the larger BLM movement) removed their policy point on Israel
It’s important to understand that both Black and Jewish communities in the U.S. have historically been at the receiving end of inexcusable discrimination and injustice. However, with each community having suffered horrific historical events, specifically the African Enslavement and the Holocaust, there is the tendency to compare the two, with the intention to justify current socio-economic circumstances. As a result, mass media has become a main source for creating divisiveness between the two groups. The comparison of these events is immensely disrespectful to both our Black and Jewish ancestors who endured so much. Our collective traumas should not be what divides us, but rather what unites us.
Equality, community and strength are a few terms that can be used to describe what BLM represents and what the mural represents for Teaneck. This mural was created to show the township’s support of a movement that focuses on the importance of Black lives and their history. Supporting the Black Lives Matter mural in Teaneck is critically important to the unification of our diverse community.
The purpose of the mural is not to suggest that all lives do not matter, but rather to emphasize the importance of all Black lives at a time when the Black community is at the forefront of discrimination and scrutiny. This not only benefits Teaneck’s Black community but the Jewish community as these two demographics have experienced a great deal of oppression. This kind of inclusive environment will allow for continued growth to occur in this diverse town while at the same time serving as a model for success in diversity and inclusion for other areas. Unity is the important factor in how this community will move forward and we are asking you all to join this movement and help bring empathy and understanding to all of our neighborhoods.
To sign the petition to make the Teaneck BLM mural, visit http://chng.it/NyDL9GmS
Sincerely,The Teaneck Youth InitiativeAaron Clark - PresidentTeji Vega - Vice PresidentOdein Karibi-Whyte - SecretaryAaron Oliver - Director, Events & TreasuryGabby Velez - Director, Strategic CommunicationMoniah Dailey, Director, Outreach