An all inclusive thread for news and discussion related to the movement.
You should know that by posting in this thread you are likely to become the target of domestic spying.*
*As if you weren’t already under surveillance due to your online communism.
Brother Cornell is a great man. I love that he’s always right there in the mix, doing the hard work.
I’m also glad to see the ongoing protests in Ferguson continuing this week, in the face of police brutality.
I’m also thinking that if Ella Baker were still around, this is what she’d be doing too. This is where the real democratic action is, and she was nothing if not a radical democrat.
I’d hope that someone has something to say on this topic… It’s kind of important. I hope everyone else finds it important as well.
I chatted with three of B’more’s finest a few weeks ago about an incident I had, and we gently moved from local crime into the abstracted, “what do you think about [new commish/recent spate of crime/relationship to LEO authority]”, and the cops toed the standard authoritarian line about how the lawyers “need to get out of the way” of them doing their policing, that the local kids are lazy and not willing to go to school and that they don’t listen to cops for anything, much less speak to them openly, that the politicians are merely grandstanding and are making things worse for the populace…basically everything the FOP surrounding any police department shouts on a regular basis.
The thing that surprised me was that all three POs were black, and one in particular was a sergeant. I was hoping that they’d have a slightly more nuanced view, especially when it came to oversight, and they didn’t seem to want to hear anything about systemic imbalances or community policing, etc.
There’s obviously an information/expectation gap between what cops think is their job to what the community at large thinks the cops should be doing–I wonder how we close that gap?
The attention that political figures are paying to the movement points to real anxiety that African-American voters who supported President Obama won’t turn out again. “This issue is at the forefront of people in the black community,” Quentin James, co-founder of the public-affairs firm Vestige Strategies, which specializes in engaging communities of color, told me. “Not voting is a choice, and many may choose to stay home. If you look at a pivotal state like Ohio, African-Americans ended up overvoting in 2012. If they undervote in 2016, the election becomes a little bit shakier.”
In talking about the problem of police violence at all, these national political figures are reversing a three-decade presumption within the Democratic Party, one established by Bill Clinton himself in 1994, that there is zero incentive to advocate for the rights of criminal suspects. “The narrative used to be: ‘We support the police and whatever police unions say,’ ” James said. “That has changed. Technology, having a video camera anywhere, has changed the game.”
Most of the activists are deeply skeptical that the candidates will follow through on their promises. Rachel Gilmer, the associate director for the African American Policy Forum, pointed to the long history of Democratic candidates who have “embraced rhetoric that implies their willingness and readiness to produce systemic change. However, once they’ve solidified our support and are elected into office, we’ve seen that they aren’t willing to confront or align themselves with the powers, systems and interests that continue to exploit black lives.” Gilmer went on to say that, absent a candidate who would be willing to address white supremacy directly, many within the movement would be content to opt out of voting for “the lesser of two evils.” [emphasis added]
Conventional wisdom holds that centrists candidates, like Clinton, are often seen as the more likely victor in the national election, and thus often the frontrunner in the primaries. It’s held that it’s hard to run left-of-center and win: see Kucinich, Dean, Bill Bradley.
Obama ran left of Clinton…and won. In no small part due to the turnout of the African-American vote. If any candidate is going to run to the left of Clinton and win, I predict they will need a whole-hearted coalition with the #BLM movement.
At this point, my hope is that Clinton and Biden drag each other to the center, and Bernie embraces BLM and sweeps them from the left.
You are full of great articles this week!
He also governed from center-right (but to be fair, to the left of clinton, is STILL center-right). I do think lots of people (not just African Americans, but many white liberals/progressives) voted for him because he was black. It was a historic moment to be able to vote for a black man for president in this racist country.
But this also gets back to what democracy is and what it isn’t. If it stops at the ballot box, then it’s not really democratic, because, as Emma Goldman said, “if it could change anything, it would be outlawed” (I’m paraphrase her, of course). So movements like this, aimed at specific issues reflect democracy in action.
Doesn’t this also reflect a couple of things - 1) that moving “up” in American has historically happened by stepping on someone else (see the Irish in America, who came from ethnic cleansing in their own country and became just as racist as anyone else), and 2) there are also deep class divisions in the black community itself (you can see that in divisions such as with SCLC and SNCC, and in that documentary a few years ago about Cory Booker, Street Fight).
In terms of your first thought, one of the officers took pains to tell me that he’d moved to Baltimore from Brooklyn, and that back in NY ‘these punks wouldn’t stand a chance’, which I took to mean either the LEOs beating you down, or the other “punks” who would beat you down for whatever transgression occurred. That same officer did mention that he’d done some outreach in the schools about how kids had to make a choice between what seemed the easy way out (drugs or some involvement therewith) and the hard way out (starting in an internship or low-paid position, working up from there), but I can see how that would be a difficult row to hoe. See also the recent BB post about women of color in STEM fields.
As for your second thought, I know that LGBT folks in Baltimore still face a great deal of harassment and disdain from within their communities, but most strongly from older people (according to a friend, so sample size of one).
Are there similar law enforcement authorities operating in similar city-sizes and demographics who are doing a good job dealing with this? Granted, making comparisons in this area is fraught given America’s past and present systemic racism as well as the overwhelming amount of guns in the country.
I’m sure you’re right. For me, his skin color was just a happy bonus, since I’m fundamentally suspicious of having another Clinton in the White House (and really allergic to having another Bush anywhere near it). But it’s been rare that I’ve been genuinely enthusiastic about a national candidate. The two that I remember really liking (Dean in '04, Simon in '88) crapped out relatively early in the primaries, so I’m used to sighing and going with the party’s craptastic nominee. I came within a hair of voting for Nader in 2000, but I distinctly remember the L.A. Weekly warning against such action if it looked like there’d be a reasonable chance for such action resulting in a spoiler for Gore, so I didn’t. (Absent such a threat, the Weekly endorsed a vote for Nader to send a message.)
I was fairly optimistic about Obama, since he ran slightly to the left of Clinton (which wasn’t all that hard), and I was tickled by how much his support snowballed. By Election Day I was pretty happily optimistic that we’d see a lot of big changes on the national stage, but I started getting disappointed in his (and the Democrats’) weak tea pretty quickly. I wouldn’t change my votes in 2008 and 2012, but I do hope Sanders hangs in there. In 1988, my first Presidential election, Simon dropped out before the California primary, so I never got to vote for him.
I’d still vote for Elizabeth Warren in a heartbeat.
You said it. Since I got married and started raising a family, my contribution to our republic has started and ended at the ballot box (along with sporadic contributions to the ACLU) since so much of my time and attention has been focused on my kids and this ridiculous time-consuming job I have. But you’re right: counting on our votes to make enough of a difference is a fool’s errand, but so damned many people who support (intellectually and emotionally, at least) progressive movements like Occupy and BLM feel they don’t have the time, energy or resources to actually contribute to the cause, and so we sit on our asses and wish something could be done until something finally bugs us so much (or actually materially affects our privileged lives) that we finally do something. And usually not even then.
Doesn’t the US government write about BlackLiveMatter themselves? They need to engage in internal discussions about topics which are controversial to them, which makes their concerns about others discussing it hypocritical.
I think it’s more that it’s a concept or idea that any number of people have embraced and used in various ways - including members of the government.
But I guess I don’t grok what you mean by it being about the government only, and others discussing it being hypocritical. Young black activists seized upon the phrase to illustrate the need for everyone, not just the government to understand the gravity of the situation regarding state violence against black bodies.
What I mean is that they I have always been told that the feds flag people for surveillance based upon them reading certain things or showing interest in certain topics on the net. The hypocrisy is that the feds themselves must also be reading the same stuff they complain about, otherwise they wouldn’t know that they didn’t like it! For example, in the largely pre-internet age, many people bought 2600 magazine in stores because they didn’t want to be on “the list” of people who read it. But if they found it so problematic, the feds must be reading it themselves. It also illustrates a failure of critical thinking of assuming that because a person reads a publication or even participate in a discussion, that they agree with or are sympathetic to it.
Also, it sounds like an invitation to surveil the government as well, if one chooses to accept and use their rationale for following issues.
Oh, I get you… yeah. But when THEY do it, they are just looking out for us, right? /s
But the problem with surveilling the government is that it’s being increasingly criminalized (war on whistleblowers) and it’s hard to do in any systematic fashion.
That’s a beautiful and heart-breaking essay… That’s part of the problem of institutional racism, isn’t it? not just the obvious ways it destroys black bodies, but the less obvious ones… [ETA] It’s this stuff, I think, that most often flies under the radar for people who don’t directly experience it, and that is why it’s so hard to address in the broader conversation.