Movement for Black Lives Statement on the 2023 State of the Union Address
After President Biden delivered his 2023 State of the Union Address, the Movement for Black Lives issued the following statement:
“Black voters elected President Biden to transform public safety, expand voting rights, defend our democracy, and pass sweeping measures to advance racial justice in this country. The last two years have made it clear that our electoral support has earned us nearly nothing in return.
In his remarks, President Biden painted a picture of life in the US that almost entirely ignored what it means to be Black in this country. He touted an improving economy and a subsiding pandemic as indicators that the state of the union is strong when we know that economic growth often happens at the expense of Black low-wage workers. Our system of racial capitalism remains strong. President Biden and his administration have focused more on a war abroad in Ukraine than a war on our people at home. Last month alone, police officers murdered Keenan Anderson, Manuel Esteban Páez Terán, better known as Tortuguita, and Tyre Nichols—whose parents Biden called “courageous, ” while also calling for more “training” and other ineffective reforms that while in place did not prevent the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner or George Floyd.
While Biden touts historic wins for Democrats during the midterm elections, discriminatory voting laws violate our civil rights. He travels the country boasting his bipartisan infrastructure law while these upgrades fail to reach our communities. We fear white supremacist violence daily, asylum seekers are turned away from our borders, our history and ideas are being erased from classroom discussions, anti-LGBTQ sentiments are targeting Black queer communities disproportionately, and we are more vulnerable to criminalization, surveillance, and harm since the fall of Roe – the list goes on.
With each call for piecemeal reforms that maintain the status quo or stalled progress on his promised policies, Biden strays further from the progressive action our communities demand. How can those promises be realized as he condemns our movement for Black liberation, praises and funnels money to law enforcement, and does little to combat the white supremacist extremism that terrorizes our communities?
We demand President Biden invest in communities and divest from deadly policing, including urging Georgia to halt Cop City and other police projects that take resources away from interventions that grant our communities real safety. We are also demanding he tells the Department of Justice to end the criminalization of protests. This Trump-era policy has significantly impacted those protesting for Black lives and environmental justice – this includes granting amnesty to those arrested due to these reactionary statutes and ordering their immediate release.
President Biden cannot deliver the transformative change that Black people deserve while upholding the racist institutions that enable our oppression, nor can he ask for the support of Black voters while ignoring the violent conditions this country forces them to endure. We demand sustained commitment from our elected leaders at all levels of government, bold solutions that will move us forward, and a better future for our communities, as outlined in our Vision for Black Lives. Now, more than ever, it is essential to remember that the union is only as strong as the state of all its members – for the wellbeing of our communities, we have a long way to go.”
The Movement for Black Lives is a national network of more than 150 leaders and organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize and take action. M4BL includes activists, organizers, academics, lawyers, educators, health workers, artists and more, all unified in a radical vision for Black liberation and working for equity, justice and healing.