The Radical Democracy of the Movement for Black Lives :: Peniel Joseph

The Radical Democracy Of The Movement For Black Lives

“Black Lives Matter has cast a strobe-light on contemporary myths of racial progress, arguing correctly that the criminal justice system represents a gateway to a panoramic system of racial and class and gender and sexuality oppression.”

The Black Lives Matter policy agenda represents one of the most important agenda setting documents collectively produced by black activists in a generation. The proposals, authored by over fifty different civil rights organizations, offers a panoramic narrative, diagnosis, and political alternatives to the intricacies of structural racism, state-sanctioned violence, and the institutional exploitation of black bodies across the nation.

A Vision For Black Lives” builds on, expands, and goes beyond policy agendas promoted by a range of civil rights and Black Power era groups, including the Black Panthers, Nation of Islam, NAACP, SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), CORE, Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, and Martin Luther King Jr’s SCLC. In its poignant urging of the United States to “end the war on black people,” the document is reminiscent of the “Gary Agenda,” the historic 1972 document that emanated from the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.

Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher speaks at the National Black Political Conference in Gary, Ind. (AP/Charles Kelly)

That meeting of over 8,000 black delegates from across black America’s political and ideological spectrum proved to be a watershed event, albeit one that was hamstrung by an inability to translate grassroots insurgency into tangible political power, accountability, and resources.  Gary, like the Black Power Conferences from the late 1960s and the African Liberation Day and Sixth Pan-African Congress of the 1970s, sought to modernize the black convention movements that could be traced back to the Reconstruction era, where black activists organized for political power in slavery’s aftermath.

By the early 20th century efforts like the “Niagara Movement” faltered due to a lack of resources and political infighting. For a time, Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association cast a shadow large enough to encompass the complexity of black life, uniting economic strivers with revolutionary activists in developing a black agenda broad enough to attract millions of black people across several continents.

Garvey’s decline fractured aspects of black political life, but not dreams for a cohesive vision, plan, and strategy for black liberation, a cause taken up during the Depression and Second World War by a variety of groups including the Southern Negro Youth Congress, National Negro Labor Congress, The Nation of Islam, the Civil Rights Congress, and the Council of African Affairs. The NAACP’s membership reached almost a half-million by 1946, the closest it would ever come to mass membership in scale. Black political leaders pushed an agenda to the left of the New Deal creating space for the global popularity of Paul Robeson, the political resurrection of W.E.B. Du Bois, and the insider status of Mary McLeod Bethune and Ralph Bunche.

 

Organizers like Ella Baker in New York City and Septima Clarke in South Carolina, worked the lower frequencies of black life, working at the margins of the black quotidian: the ordinary black folk from New York to South Carolina whose dreams remained disarmingly pragmatic ones focused preserving hope and dignity.

The Black Lives Matter Movement is rooted in this wider Black Freedom Struggle, one whose two dominant branches are reflected in the Civil Rights and Black Power era. BLM activists’ successful adoption of non-violence is rooted in the civil rights era even as their unapologetic focus on structural racism, community control, and political self-determination reflects the Black Power era’s radical politics. Surprisingly, so does the movement’s focus on intersectionality. Popularly remembered as deeply masculinist, unapologetically sexist, and homophobic, the Black Power era proved to be more complicated than such simple generalizations indicate. Despite the movement’s many political and ideological blinders, black women, queer activists, and others on the margins of African American life consciously shaped an expansive Black Power politics.

 

The Third World Women’s Alliance articulated a vision of radical black feminism, socialism, and Black Power militancy that made it a visionary example of cutting edge social justice movements. The Combahee River Collective gave voice to radical black lesbian feminists whose politics went to the far left of the more mainstream National Black Feminist Organization. In many ways both of these organizations reflected the black radical feminist politics revealed in Toni Cade Bambara’s groundbreaking 1970 anthology, The Black Woman, an intellectual and political intervention that ushered in Black Women’s Studies and helped give attention to the works of Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, Gloria Hull, and many others.

BLM activists have taken some of the best aspects of these two generations of the Black Radical Tradition and linked it with more recent efforts to promote reparations (especially by grassroots a organization like N’COBRA, although reparations go back to the formerly enslaved activist Callie House as the historian Mary Frances Berry teaches us); divestment from domestic and global racial exploitation which Jesse Jackson, especially in 1984, promoted as a hallmark of his presidential campaign; the pursuit of independent black political power that had been advocated in the post Gary era by a series of organizations including the National Black United Front, the National Black Independent Political Party, and the Black Radical Congress; the movement for economic justice that has been promoted by a spectrum of grassroots labor, community, church, and secular activists, including black nationalists in communities such as St. Petersburg, Florida, who famously booed candidate Obama in 2008 by chanting and holding signs, “What About the Black Community Obama?”

Black Lives Matter has cast a strobe-light on contemporary myths of racial progress, arguing correctly that the criminal justice system represents a gateway to a panoramic system of racial and class and gender and sexuality oppression. This intervention, while important, is incomplete without an acknowledgment of the way in which the rise of mass incarceration is connected to systems of racial segregation, voting rights denial, state-sanctioned violence and exploitation of black bodies, all while criminalizing and decimating the very communities that remain largely under assault even in the Age of Obama.

The Age of Ferguson, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Black Lives Matter has shattered conventional civil rights narratives, ones that begin with Rosa Parks, continue with King’s Dream, and sought to end with Barack Obama’s election. This version of history as a bedtime story, complete with heroic individual blacks, stalwart white allies, and the thanks of a grateful nation has only one glaring problem.

It’s a lie.

The Civil Rights era heroic period experienced pervasive anti-black violence that only increased during the Black Power era and its aftermath. What is now universally acknowledged as a moral and political good—complete with a multiracial cast of characters—was demonized in word and deed by the larger society, a denigration that became inscribed in a series of intricate anti-black legal, legislative, and policy challenges that have utterly decimated some of the gains of the era, especially for the black poor.

“A Movement For Black Lives” is essential precisely because it helps to expose what is at the root of our national amnesia regarding slavery and anti-black racism-white supremacy and its relationship to conceptions of citizenship, the rule of law, democracy, and justice. In its passionate repudiation of the political status quo and elevating the lives of the black community’s most vulnerable residents—the poor, young, elderly, trans, LGBT, mentally ill, incarcerated, ex-offenders—the BLM has produced a watershed document that once again illustrates why the black freedom struggle has always been on the cutting edge of movements for radical democracy: we have no choice.


Peniel Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Professor of History at The University of Texas. He is the award-winning author of several books, including Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, and Stokely: A Life. Follow him on Twitter @PenielJoseph.

Source: The Radical Democracy of the Movement for Black Lives

OCG This Week :: “A Quiet Danger Brothers Invisible: Classroom to Home” :: In Conversation with Dr. Tommy J. Curry

OUR COMMON GROUND
Saturday, October 10, 2015
In Conversation with Dr. Tommy J. Curry
“A Quiet Danger Brothers Invisible: Classroom to Home”

10-10 Curry“In short, although masculinity may be a part of being a man, it is not the foundation on which manhood rests.”

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about Dr. Tommy J. Curry
Dr. Curry is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is a Ray A. Rothrock Fellow 13′-16′ in the Department of Philosophy.  He is an editor of PhilPapers, Choice Magazine and a regular contributor to RacismReview.com and OUR COMMON GROUND.

Over the last several years, Dr. Curry has published over three dozen articles in prestigious venues like: The Journal of Black Studies, The Radical Philosophy Review, The Pluralist and The Transactions of the Charles S. Pierce Society. He is the editor of a forthcoming re-publication of William H. Ferris’s The African Abroad, and is currently working on several manuscripts: the first full-length publication on Derrick Bell’s political philosophy that birthed the Critical Race Theory movement entitled Illuminated in Black; a philosophical exploration of Black male death and dying entitled “The Man-Not;” and a book on Josiah Royce’s racism.

His work in social justice, applied ethics, and bioethics concerns the present interpretation of the Belmont report, and the racial/class barriers to minority access to medical innovation in health care.

He has been interviewed by Forbes.com, the Wall Street Journal,Salon.com and other popular venues for his opinions on politics, ethics, and racial justice issues.

 Episode Notes
“So we have hypothesized since 1978, that Black manhood is different than the concept of masculinity, in 1992, several studies decided to test this notion. Guess what they found:

Historically, the images of Black manhood have been unidimensional, and research has tended to focus on the inadequacies of Afro-American males’ role performance. In this preliminary analysis, we explored the cultural constructions of manhood as defined by Afro-American men at various social locations (age, occupation, income, and marital and family status). Manhood was defined in terms of the self (self-determinism and accountability, pride), family (family), the human community, and existential ideology (spirituality and humanism). It is our view that issues of self-determinism and accountability (i.e., directedness, maturity, economic viability, free will, and perseverance) are at the core of the self and of manhood and form the foundation on which family role enactment, pride, and living through one’s existential philosophy (e.g., spiritual, Afrocentric, and humanistic) are based. Interestingly, discussions of masculinity were absent from men’s definitions of manhood. Perhaps this reflects an awareness of the differences between the physical sexual man and the social man that Hare and Hare (1985) suggest is critical in Black boys’ transition into manhood. When respondents were asked to rate attributes related to masculinity (e.g., physically strong, competitive,masculine, and aggressive), they saw it as somewhat important. In short, although masculinity may be a part of being a man, it is not the foundation on which manhood rests.”      Andrea Hunter and James E. Davis-1992

On this broadcast, we begin with the recently released report by the Schotts Foundation for Public Education, “Black Lives Matter”
We recommend that you either review or read it prior to the broadcast.http://blackboysreport.org/

“It seems that America has tolerated and grown accustomed to the under-education of African American males largely because it has written this off as a “black problem.” Rather than being embraced as an American problem and challenge, our leaders in politics, business and education, have implored the Black community to do something, while washing their hands of responsibility for the failure of the public institutions that should serve them. . . .
The consequences have also been evident in the high rates of unemployment in economically depressed, socially marginalized neighborhoods, cities and towns where desperation festers and crime and violence are rampant.

The consequences have also been felt by families and communities where fatherless children fall prey to a vicious cycle of failure in part because they lack access to fathers because they are incarcerated, or don’t have the skills to obtain a job to support their family.” – Pedro A. Noguera, Professor of Education
Executive Director, Metropolitan Center
New York University – See more at: http://blackboysreport.org/national-summary/afterword-by-pedro-a-noguera/#sthash.GKiVJMsm.dpuf

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Saturday, September 10, 2015 10 pm ET


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“The Flames of Liberation: Rebellion and Resistance” ll September 5, 2015 with Ruby N. Sales

Activist and Organizer, Ruby N. Sales

  “The Flames of Liberation: Rebellion and Resistance”

Saturday, September 5, 2015    Φ     LIVE  10 pm EDT

 “Transforming Truth to Power, One Broadcast At a Time” 

           OUR COMMON GROUND  Session II 2015 SEASON 

     33rd BROADCAST SEASON 

                               We open our 2nd Session of the 2015 Season continuing to examine the depth of structural and institutionalized racism, the impact of white supremacy and the concept of #BlackLivesMatter as a clarion call and the its promise as a movement.  As always we ask, “What is your End Game?”                      We invite you to join us and be part of the response to THE STATE OF EMERGENCY.

 

Guest Moderator, Ruby N. Sales, Founder & Director, The Spirit House Project

 

To help us kick off this session we have asked Rev. Ruby N. Sales to join us a co-moderator on the critical questions and issues that challenge, trembling like a swelling tsunami beneath the ocean. A seasoned veteran of the civil and human rights campaigns of our time and a fierce and clear visionary of Black Power, we believe that she is most appropriate to help us press out an authentic narrative on these issues.

Institutionalized Racism is the concept and practice of white supremacy. It is the practice of discrimination and oppression based on skin color, physical characteristics, continent of origin and culture. It has its origins as a justification for slavery and the conquest of the Americas. From the beginning, slavery in the United States was tied to the development and growth of capitalism. Founded on the sale and ownership of human beings on the basis of their physical characteristics and color, its purpose was the exploitation of unpaid labor for super profits. As chattels, Africans were hunted like animals, transported to the “New World,” and then sold on the auction block like beasts of burden. In like manner Native American Indians were exterminated on a massive scale.

Moral and intellectual rationales were invented and continue to justify this kidnapping, sale, enslavement and genocide against human beings. As an ideology, racism provided the moral and intellectual underpinnings of slavery, the westward expansion of colonialism and the seizure of half of Mexico. Thus the purpose of this doctrine was, and still is, to put forward ideas and theories founded on the myth that Black people and other people of color are inherently inferior.

Almost 130 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the legacy of slavery remains. It is embedded in and influences every aspect of social, economic and political life. Institutionalized racism is the combined economic, political, social, cultural, legal, ideological and other structures that exist to maintain the system of inequality. #RaceMatters

Institutionalized racism has economic, social, political, ideological and cultural forms, and denies equality, justice and dignity to all people of color.  There are new problems because of the systemic nature of crisis. Our discussions should examine what adjustments must be made in these new efforts to eradicate our place in this society. We rebel and resist the effort to force us into the margins, to make us invisible and to remove us to prison for profit camps.

Our discussions must explore and examine how to elevate our voices in the fight against police brutality, housing discrimination, immigrant rights, and the dismantlement of public education to mention a few issues. At OUR COMMON GROUND provide “a place for our unfiltered voices”.  With the brightest, most loyal and insightful Black activists, community organizers and servants, scholars, researchers, journalists and social scientists we raise, clarify and illuminate the racist dimension of these issues, show how their roots lie in the system of capitalism and its new stage of crisis, and come up with concrete ideas to launch new initiatives and support existing ones.

As a set of institutions, racism is infused in the very foundations of our society and is inseparable from the economic foundations of U.S. capitalist society. The “new domestic military policing” is implemented to intimidate and destroy racially homogenous communities and put into place a ‘superexploitation’ of racial oppression that ensures our silence and to fill prisons serves to create and make real the essence of white supremacy.  We are living in an increasingly surreal special system of oppression and racism perpetrated by a narrative dictated outside of our community. None of this is new; the struggle to liberate ourselves has been before us since our time on these shores. One of our most effective weapons is to ensure that we work from an authentic narrative and that its formulation comes from our Truth. OUR COMMON GROUND for more than 33 years has focused its broadcast mission on ensuring that the Black Truth illuminates and informs our struggle.  #BlackTruthMatters #BlackVoiceMatters

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   BOLD      BRAVE       BLACK 

           OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

                                 “Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves” 

                                email: OCGinfo@ourcommonground.com

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Paris, #BlackLivesMatter, the Cultural Violence, and the White Western State

Paris, #BlackLivesMatter, the Cultural Violence, and the White Western State

January 8, 2015

By

By: Malik Nashad Sharpe

Today, I mourn with French society, especially the families who have lost their loved ones to violence during yesterday’s attack at Charlie Hebdo. I also stand in solidarity with all of the Brown people in France, who, because of media fear-mongering, and Islamist-blame-gaming, will be further excluded from French society by State-condoned racism.

I’m not French, but one doesn’t need to be in order to see how deeply racism runs throughout French, and Western, societies. The ruthless murders of cartoonists– cultural producers who were questionably using their art to dispel (or perpetuate?) racism to an already discriminatory public in the name of free speech–and the counter-attacks against everyday Muslims, who would prefer this incident not be blamed on their entire, diverse, multi-faceted community, provides us with another opportunity to think through solutions to violence issued on behalf of the State and those retaliating to such violence in the form of extremism.

paris1France, like every Western country, ruthlessly excludes Brown/Black people by using discourses of exceptionalism to dispel claims of State-perpetuated racism in order to protect racist hatred under the guise of free speech. Take a look at the Parisian suburbs, Clichy-sous-Bois and Seine-Saint-Denis. Look back at France’s imperialist occupation of Algeria, or the French parliament, and one can easily tease out how obviously anti-Black/Brown French culture has been and become.

But France is not alone, anti-blackness runs deep throughout the West, most particularly among White people who have enslaved Brown/Blacks, have deprived us, murdered us, appropriated our cultures and claimed them as their own, lynched us, isolated us, and tortured us, in the name of the State.

charllieI do not condone the killings of any sentient being, and, yet, the same people trending the popular, #JeSuisCharlie hashtag are the same people trending #KillAllMuslims. The same people who are throwing grenades at French mosques in counter-attacks are the same people who believed Charlie Hebdo wasn’t racist, but satirical. In fact, what we really need to question is why satirizing non-White cultures is seen as harmless, especially when Black and Brown people of these particular cultures have been murdered time-and-time again in the name of the State because of the maintenance of anti-Black, White racial supremacist ideologies.

However, what troubles me the most is the fact that the same activists who have been protesting police violence against people of color, especially here in the United States, are the same people who are shamelessly posting sympathies with Charlie Hebdo.

garnerLet me be frank. Islamophobia runs deeply within Western culture. The same activists who are screaming Eric Garner’s last words “I can’t breathe” throughout all of the world’s metropoles should be the same people taking a stand against the rampant Islamophobic now proliferating via media. State-sanctioned cultural violence against Brown Muslims in France, is connected to the State-sanctioned violence exacted upon Black bodies in the United States.

Let us not forget that when Michael Brown was murdered in the streets of St Louis, when Tamir Rice was murdered in front of a park in Cleveland, when Aiyana Jones was murdered while asleep in her bed in Detroit, that across the ocean, Bouna Traoré and Zyed Benna were murdered after being chased by Parisian police into an electrical substation where they were ultimately electrocuted to death.

Let us not forget that Western culture does not believe that the murders of Black/Brown people are worthy enough to be considered national tragedies.

Let us not forget that Charlie Hebdo cartooned racist caricatures of deprived Brown cultures in the name of free speech.

Let us not forget that no one became Christianphobic when White KKK members and other White racial supremacists burned crosses and murdered Black people throughout the United States in the name of Christianity.

Let us not forget the cowardice of Western media as they’ve attempted to focus on Black on Black crime or the recent, tragic, murders of NYPD officers by one Black man as a way of reminding Black and Brown people that we are capable of killing, too.

Media outlets are guilty of igniting the already fiery racial hatred that has been ablaze and guilty of forgetting to fully narrate the ways racial supremacy harms all of us. White people can bomb NAACP offices in Colorado or Mosques in France, and the United Kingdom, and not even get close to the same coverage as did the stories of the two police officers murdered in Brooklyn or that of the cartoonists murdered in Paris.

Let us not forget the pregnant Muslim woman who was attacked for wearing a Niqab in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil. She not only suffered from anti-Islamic taunts by her attackers, but also had her veil ripped, hair cut off, and most depressingly of all, her soon-to-be born baby murdered via miscarriage.

Let us not forget the White couple who caricatured Eric Garner’s death on ABC Live but did not receive any backlash from Western media.

Let us not forget the Turkish Muslims in Germany fearing for their lives, as Neo-Nazi’s paraded through the streets of German cities, while being excluded from the folds of German society.

Let us not forget that Islamophobia is not just about religion, but more particularly about race, and that even though Charlie Hebdo caricatured France’s White right-wing sensibilities, White people are the only one’s who benefit from racism.

Let us not forget that racism kills, too.

_______________________

MalikMalik Nashad Sharpe is a queer experimental choreography, poet, writer, and radical thinker from New York, who  is now based in Chicagoland. His choreographic works have been showcased in London, Tokyo, and in Williamstown, MA, and his poetry has been published with New Bourgeois. He graduated from Williams College with a BA in Experimental Dance and Live Art, and also studied radical performance theory, choreography, and contemporary dance at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance in London, UK. His artistic work can defined specifically as a form of politics, using the organization of time, space, bodies, and words to formulate radical commentary and resistance.

 

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#SupportKelliMurray: Stop the Bullying of the Baltimore Co. FOP Lodge | LBS Baltimore

#SupportKelliMurray: Stop the Bullying of the Baltimore Co. FOP Lodge | LBS Baltimore.

Kelli Murray is currently an employee of the Baltimore County Government who works as a dispatcher. She is a wife and mother.  After the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo in New York City (the officer who killed Eric Garner), she posted a Facebook status that expressed her fear of her children interacting with law enforcement.  This is a fear that has been expressed by many people in light of the increased coverage of issues of police brutality.  She went out of her way to express that she appreciates the job that good police officers do, but that in light of the current events her fears persist.  This was the text of her actual post:

 

“UPDATE: 12/29: Since this article has been published, Kelli has been continued to be bullied online and in the media. She will likely have to move and find new employment. Kelli is a wife and mother of six who needs support. Please click here to donate to her family and support them during this time.  Kelli has also released a video public statement about her comments (at the bottom of this article).

Unfortunately most people who are talking about racism in the mainstream political discourse are not sufficiently literate in the dynamics of racism to properly apply it to the events that have dominated the mainstream news media.  Racism is about the power that white dominated and controlled institutions have over the livelihood of Black people and other people of color.  In the context of police brutality what we are seeing is racism as it exist in our society.

Racism does not exist in a form that requires ill intent of a white person against Black people.  We are not seeing evil white people conspiring to kill young Black people.  What we are seeing is police officers operationalizing their feelings of Black criminality and worthlessness that our society has been saturated with.  They are acting on impulses that all of us are socialized to have.  Black criminality and worthlessness are notions that have been with us since America’s inception.  From the 3/5’s compromise, to the system of Jim Crow, American civil society has been structured on popular narratives that justify our dehumanization.  It’s latest iteration has been embodied in the war on drugs that has decimated Black communities.”

 

“Instead of society admitting that there is a deep seeded problem of racism in our country beyond the rudimentary discourse of unfair treatment, our conversation about police brutality has been muddled.  Admitting that law enforcement (like all of the major institutions of society) is an institutions that perpetuates institutional racism doesn’t mean that you are anti-cop.  All it means is that you acknowledge that the criminalization of Black people has caused law enforcement officials to engage in behaviors that dehumanized Black people.  And if you are serious about effectively serving the people that you are designated to protect then you would take the time to take seriously the ways that internalized racism effects how you interact with Black people.”