Artist lends her talents to Black Lives Matter

Long-term goals include Black liberation, reparations

Asha Long
Asha Long

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Asha Long attended Harvest Prep Academy in North Minneapolis, later graduating from De La Salle in 2009. She attended college in Duluth, studying liberal arts and humanities, achieving a liberal arts degree. When she returned home, she found herself drawn into the new activism stirring up the Black community.

“Two years ago, I moved back to Minneapolis where I became a founding member of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis,” says Long. In addition to her work with Black Lives Matter, Long is currently “employed full time at the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group as a campus organizer, working with college students, interesting them in social justice issues and helping support their leadership development.”

“Who am I? I am a community member. I am an artist; I love to create. I really feel like creating is life,” Long says. “If you are alive, you’re changing and growing and creating.”

Besides her community work, she is also a painter, a writer of short stories and poems, a songwriter and a singer. “A big thing for me is, I am a thinker,” Long says. “I am always coming up with creative ways to address challenges in all the work that I do.”

Who’s an object of her admiration? “I admire former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. As a voice for Black people and women, she paved the way for today’s political landscape. She planted a seed that Blackness and womanhood have presidential potential. She stood up against what the United States [was doing]…and fought for radical change. Shirley Chisholm paved the way, and her work is still incredibly relevant.”

Asked about the operating system of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, she says, “[We] are like a Rotary. We like to draw on all the strengths of everyone in our group. For me, I assist in the writing and creating of press releases. I am always reaching out, being that accessible community member.

“It’s weird talking about it when you are trying to compartmentalize exactly what you do,” Long explains, “because it’s like [I am] doing all the work, whether it is talking to someone on the street, getting people together, acknowledging and talking about our truth and our Blackness and being unapologetic about that.”

In the short term, Long and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis would like to see the videotapes of the killing of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old Black male who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police in November 2015. The tapes still have not been released as this article goes to press.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis is also working on the elimination of grand juries in the State of Minnesota. “As we know, this is where murders go to die,” says Long of grand juries.

A long-term goal for Black Lives Matter is Black liberation. Long wants reparations: “For me, I really hope that comes down to supporting our economic development and providing us with the tools we need so we can become strong.”

In a consistent effort to stay current and active around topics that support Black lives, the community group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis holds monthly member meetings for people who want to get involved. They also have a subgroup called The Arts and Culture Squad, specializing in just that: arts and culture.

Long will also be working on Macalester College and Augsburg College campuses and around the city of Minneapolis, playing music. “I love being able to relay [communications] to my Black community in Minneapolis. I had fallen love with the ‘Blackness’ of Minneapolis when I came back home.”

 

For more information on Asha Long, go to the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook page.

Brandi Phillips welcomes reader comments at bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.