Monday, December 29, 2014

Black Lives Matter and the Challenge of 2015: Some Recent Articles for Your Consideration

My Facebook feed lately is peppered with passalong articles (from connections of my Facebook friends) about how "black crime" has proliferated under the nation's first black president, a secret black Muslim intent on waging jihad against white American people. As I take note of these articles that continue to peddle in the 21st century racist filth I remember so well from my upbringing in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s, my resolve to keep speaking out against racial injustice only grows more determined as this turbulent year ends. Here's some of what I've been reading lately to strengthen this resolve:

Jamelle Bouie on why people keep protesting that black lives matter:

When criminals kill law-abiding citizens, they’re punished. When criminals kill cops, they’re punished. But when cops kill citizens, the system breaks down and no one is held accountable. That is what people are protesting.

Wendell Griffen on how we reacted to the Sandy Hook shooting and the Aurora, Colorado, shooting (hint: no one called for a cessation of anti-gun-violence protests after either shooting, or blamed protesters for causing the shootings):

When Adam Lanza, a lone white mentally unstable gunman, murdered elementary students and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School after having already murdered his own mother in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 people weren’t asked to suspend protests about gun violence.  When James Eagan Holmes, a white man, allegedly killed 12 people on July 20, 2012 inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises" people weren’t asked to suspend efforts to protest gun violence.

Kevin Prindle on who's most likely to be poor in American society today (hint: think female, black, elderly): 

It should therefore come as no surprise that one in five women over age 65 who lives alone in America is living in poverty. Yet it isn’t even on the political or media radar. I’m talking about women who must make daily choices between heat and medicine — who consider suicide on a regular basis, like the women in this video.

Jorge Juan Rodriguez on Jesus's death as a disruption of the business-as-usual system:

The zenith of the Christian narrative is the death of an innocent, unarmed black man who declared his inability to breathe as he asked God why God had forsaken him. Yet what forsook the Christ was a system that allowed the state to justify the death of an innocent man and crucify him at the hands of soldiers following orders. It was a system that understood his death as "business as usual."  . . . 
Theology happens when we offer our bodies in solidarity with the oppressed, disrupting the systems that perpetuate oppression: this is what theology looks like.

Elias Isquith on what happens to societies in which law enforcement stops being about the preservation of justice: 

The problem is that the culture of law enforcement in America has gone badly off-course; too many officers — and, for that matter, too many citizens — forget that law enforcement’s mandate is to preserve justice as well as maintaining the peace.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on what provokes national comment and what doesn't:

The killings of Officers Liu and Ramos prompt national comment. The killings of black civilians do not. When it is convenient to award qualitative value to murder, we do so. When it isn't, we do not. We are outraged by violence done to police, because it is violence done to all of us as a society. In the same measure, we look away from violence done by the police, because the police are not the true agents of the violence. We are.

Brendan Fischer on the attempt of the Mall of America to make those who recently participated in a black-lives-matter protest pay for disrupting business in the mall (hint: corporations have consciences and free speech; ordinary citizens do not):

In recent years, the First Amendment has undergone a revolution in the U.S. Supreme Court--in cases like Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, and McCutcheon--but largely in favor of expanding the "free speech rights" of corporations and the wealthy few, rather than protecting what Justice Hugo Black described in 1945 as "the poorly financed causes of little people." When average Americans raise their voices in protest, they can still be muffled by corporate interests.

Bill Fletcher on what should, what must, happen after Michael Brown and Eric Garner, if the United States expects to remain a viable democracy — though there is now a concerted effort to shut this discussion down after the police shootings in New York:

This is a moment that necessitates a genuine national discussion on race, racism, and violence. This is a discussion that must be joined by all institutions in U.S. society. It is not a discussion to be held exclusively with African Americans or Latinos. It is a discussion that governmental authorities should organize, along with groups in civil society. We must ask ourselves how is it, nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War and nearly 50 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, that disproportionate State violence against African Americans and Latinos not only occurs, but is actively tolerated by the so-called mainstream of US society. We must also ask, how is it that the differential in treatment for African Americans and Latinos not only persists, but continues to grow during what some commentators have described as a supposedly 'post-racial' era.

The tweet at the head of this posting is from Truth Teller.

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