BLM and the bigger picture

I would like to make two points in this blog post. The first focuses on the difference between a movement and organization, and how branding Black Lives Matter as a ‘movement’ inevitably leads to its crude reappropriation for a variety of unrelated causes. The ‘founders’ of the Black Lives Matter movement have made attempts to claim the BLM movement in a place, community, and lived experience, but to my knowledge have failed to draft up a constitution or mission statement that would elucidate these claims in a cohesive manner. They are averse to leadership and organization, but at the same time do not condone the acts of these spin-off groups. How do they expect to have a united movement without leadership or a written document binding them together? I totally understand BLM’s aversion to having a top-down structure with a powerful leader: history has shown us time and time again the pitfalls of this approach. However, even with a leader, I believe a unifying document is key so that the leader nor his people do not stray from the original goals of the movement. Until BLM has a unifying document and manages to implement it in a far-reaching and easily accessible way, the movement will not reach its full effectiveness.

The second point has to do with BLM and its somewhat misguided rhetoric. To my knowledge the movement centers around white police killing innocent black people out of purely racist motive. Even if only some of the killings stemmed from a cop’s racial bias, these killings are undeniably tragic and unjust. Racism is real, and unfortunately is reflected in the actions of some of our police force. However, data shows that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. The left’s rebuttal is that that 84 percent of white homicide victims are killed by other whites, but The Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Riley points out that the white crime rate is “much lower than the black rate.” This data shows that white police killings, despite being racially motivated more than anyone would like to admit, account for a very small fraction of black homicides. Therefore, it seems strange that so much national attention is focused on these police killings, when other problems such as income inequality and redlining – problems that disproportionately affect black people and other minorities – are not being addressed. By framing this issue as racist battle between white police and black civilians, we miss the underlying socioeconomic and institutional dysfunctions that contribute so much more to black deaths than police shootings.


In Defense of BLM

There’s a lot of debate over whether Black Lives matter is helping or hurting the non-black American perception of black Americans and the racial tensions in the country. Critics of the movement claim that protestors just hurt their own public image by engaging in not always non-violent protests, which is a fair point but one that misses the greater picture of the movement. Black Lives Matter was created in response to the still very present racial tensions in America, tensions that were greatly accentuated by the mass documentation of racist police brutality and murder of black citizens by policemen in the past five years. In some ways, being a black citizen in America seems very much like being a normal citizen in Egypt; if you look at an officer the wrong way, you could find yourself in the back of a police car heading towards the local station. If you’re very unlucky, you might die from repeated head trauma in the back of that police car before you ever get there, as in the case of Freddie Gray.

To say that Black Lives Matter heightens the racial tensions in the country might be true, but it escapes the necessity of answering the larger issue. Black Lives Matter was created as a response to heightened racial tensions, the murders by police, so to say it’s created all the racial tensions, or even most of them, is woefully uninformed. That statement also supposes that we were previously living in some super-American, post-racial haven that Black Lives Matter then corrupted by speaking up. This argument ignores almost the entire racial history of the US where blacks have been both personally and systematically persecuted by groups of whites, and it implies that perhaps the critic supposed that racial tensions ended after the Civil Rights Movement, an argument which any newspaper (other than Breitbart) could tell you is factually wrong. In this way it seems America has an underlying dichotomy similar to Egypt’s. Egypt has two splits: one between the military government and the citizens and another between the old and young. America has a split between all the different races (not just blacks and whites) and another between the militaristic government and the citizens, when those citizens are black Americans.

So the movement Black Lives Matter is aptly named, because the rest of America (especially the police) has been showing since the country’s inception that black lives don’t matter. The racial tension has always been there, and it’s about time we tell them they’re wrong.




How do we turn it around?

The Black Lives Matter Movement and other upstart black movements have been judged as to lacking leadership. Even Oprah is noted in the text of expressing criticism for the lack of leadership. As noted in the text the concept of leadershipless social action maybe a symptom of the twitter /social media movements when in reality their are leaders of black movements as identified in the readings. These leaders have qualities that are different and have evolved from the Martin Luther King era. They are as the article states more facilitators of action and moderators that spark the group into action… more democratic and less autocratic.

The greater problem is how do we spark change among youth in cities where violence, unemployment and poverty are at an all time high. The need for work, education and opportunity are evident as tools for solving the problem. If a society has primary needs met …drugs, violence and social upheaval diminish. How do we meet our needs? More military?

Role Models vs. Leaders and the BLM

“The central contradiction of the civil-rights movement was that it was a quest for democracy led by organizations that frequently failed to function democratically.”

It is almost impossible to determine whether or not the Black Lives Matter movement, or any movement for that matter, would function better with or without leadership. On the one hand, we see how misguided and unproductive, social activism can be without a rock steady plan or a leadership to take it in a forward direction. Instead what comes to be is an amalgam of angry individuals with points of view and emotions each unique to every individual. In this kind of climate there is often nothing but rage but with no clear objective, all the potentially powerful energy sort of just dissipates and nothing is really accomplished. Then if you assign leaders to the movement, it becomes far too easy to overlook the outliers of the cause. A leader can never fully represent the entirety of everyone they speak for. And if a leader speaks only to the majority, then again the minority is neglected and the vicious cycle repeats itself. This is why the Black Lives Matter movement needs not leaders, but role models. BLM isn’t desperate for leadership to direct it where to go or what to feel. The individuals that identify with the BLM know what they feel. They can see the injustice. They know they want better for themselves and the people they love. Instead, BLM requires role models like Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks and Muhammed Ali who, as central to civil rights movements as they were, they led by example not by instruction. BLM needs to become a movements that showcases the potential and the beauty, the power, the unity, the support of black individuals. And to do that it must be achieved by looking to minority role models and understanding that that is how we want to live our lives. Because for Black Lives Matter to succeed and make real change in the world, it can’t be an organization demanding respect. It has to be a way of life commanding it.

Black Lives Matter, too

Tomi Lahren on Black Lives Matter

After reading the articles, I went online to search more about the movement and the “all lives matter” response. The video above, in my opinion, represents a lot of people who would say all lives matter and their argument against the movement. Watching her talk made me angry, even though before this video I also felt like the movement is not that much my concern, because how can someone contradict herself so much but still defends herself so confidently?

The entire premise of All Lives Matter is to distract and erase the whole idea behind BLM. Black Lives Matter started because evidence has shown that even though many choose to ignore it, racism is still very much alive in this country and black people are still discriminated against – they understand that all lives matter, but the people who are starting the All lives matter slogan do not see that they meant “black lives matter TOO”.

Ransby’s article on the movement points out a few problems with the movement – it is too often dismissed as a leaderless movement that will not succeed, even though it does. The history of BLM is all on the internet for anyone to learn, its strong ties to feminism and the LGBTQ community, has all been discussed by leaders of the movement publicly. But people want things handed to them. Which is why there are so many people doing things under the BLM name wrongly. Which is also why people like Tomi Lahren would criticise the movement – they were already against it, after seeing so much bad press, they felt justified to call activists “cry babies still protesting for a failed movement.”

#BlackLivesMatter is still alive and I think its more important than ever right now; more structure, more education, more change.

Understanding #Blacklivesmatter

Black Lives Matter is an amazing organization that was created after the murder of Trayvon Martin. The organization goes beyond this murder, and beyond the killings of Black people by police and authority. The organization declares the lives of all Black lives along the gender spectrum, and is a tactic to rebuild the Black liberation movement. “Yet, although the movement initially addressed the killing of unarmed young black men, the women were equally committed to the rights of working people and to gender and sexual equality” (Cobb 2016). This organization, #Blacklivesmatter, uses social media to promote it’s ideas and gain followers. The organization calls attention to the way Black people are intentionally left powerless. Unfortunately, with the inauguration of President Trump, this movement and many more will have to stand up and fight for freedom and equality. “Black activists have organized in response to police brutality for decades, but part of the reason for the visibility of the current movement is the fact that such problems have persisted—and, from the public’s perspective, at least, have seemed to escalate—during the first African-American Presidency” (Cobb 2016). It is very unfortunate that these problems are more likely to get much worse with President Trump’s election into office. I am personally very scared, not just for American’s but for humanity as a whole. The organization asserts that all lives matter, not just Black lives. Black lives matter is working to combat racism, it is so important that we support movements and groups like this! In addition, we must solve our gun law problems in America. I have little hope that things will get better, but I am hoping we can fight together and stay strong.

“Not your Grandfathers Civil Rights Movement”

The Black Lives Matter movement has been one of the most prominent social movements ever witnessed by our generation within the United States. There has been mass controversy over the legitimacy and rhetoric of the movement since its beginnings, but I believe the controversy to be caused from a long stemming misunderstanding of the group in question. From what I understood from reading The New Yorker article about where the Black Lives matter movement is heading today, is that to a certain degree the movement has been hindered by bullying and personal attacks made on social media sites. I think this is expressive for how ephemeral social movements which started on social media can be, though I believe BLM has made enough of an impact to continue to push its goals.

Reading this article really made me understand how Garza’s work within the movement propelled it to such magnitude. I still do not understand however, how there is still police violence and lack of ambition to correct the ideology that perpetrates inequality among races. Especially with the rise of the new president, there has been an unfortunate excuse to now believe there is only a certain acceptable type of “American.” I think programs such as the one mentioned in the article with the Ella Baker Center to help Californians monitor and report police brutality can be applied on a national level to prevent more incidences of unnecessary violence. I also believe action should be made to demilitarize police, there are certain uses of forces that are completely unnecessary with the resources the police department has, and de-escalation tactics should be used more frequently.