#BlackLivesMatter Going Forward

So far, we’ve learned how politics, social influences, and education have affected the black community in America. So far, we’ve learned that social institutions have found every chance to exploit, oppress, and undermine blacks in this country. We’ve also learned that with unison and swift tactical responses, there is hope for blacks in this country. From W.E.B DuBois to Keeanga Taylor, we’ve learned that going forward with black movements, these tactics have to include social cohesion. With class and racial differences, the upper middle class has pitted lower middle class and middle class whites against blacks. Various authors from the readings have mentioned that going forward, blacks and movements like Black Lives Matter, need to try to include this group of people in the movement. Maintaining the racial identity, black thinkers have established the black revolution as one that must refer to class and status, and one that has to take on institutions that are bigger than racial disparities.

As time has progressed, slavery morphed into lynching and Jim Crow, and lynching morphed into shootings and mass incarceration. The violence and oppression against black faces has seen a distasteful parallel to that of a previous era. Under political tycoons, racist policies have targeted black families with various methods, but the outcome has always been the same. As always, protests are labeled as riots, and are met with swat teams and tear gas. In the 60’s they were met with powerful water hoses and dogs. Again, different methods, but the same outcome. Going forward, there seems to be a much more common consensus about the change in tactics to combat such drastic methods. More people have absorbed the idea that “black faces in high places” isn’t the solution to the revolution. More people have understood that civil unrest has to be persistent and forceful. And with this new knowledge, there will be progress.

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot

“Violence and brutality have always defined the police’s relationship to African Americans. There is no “golden age” of policing to which elected officials can point, and there is little reason for optimism that American police can truly be reformed.”

In Chapter 4 of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” Taylor discusses the relationship between the police and the black community in America, and its historical relevance. She brings up an interesting point about how the long standing relationship between the two social groups has always been negative. We are now living in what most Black scholars call the “New Jim Crow” era, due to the immense arrest rates within the black community. Not only the arrest rates, but when looking at the murder rates of black men at the hands of officers, it is important to note the amount of force that is almost always involved. Taylor reminds us of the comparison of police brutality among most developed nations, giving the numbers of police shootings of each nation in the past seven years with the US at a record 7,427, Canada at 78, England at four, Germany at zero, and China at 12 (130). These numbers are outrageous. They show that the police force in this nation is by far more endangering to the people than it is helpful. The level of force police are using to serve the community is more than any other nation, even communist nations. As police funding has been increased, the methods of policing seem to be getting more militarized. People should not be dying for running. If unarmed, people should be treated as such, not like violent animals. This is the reason for Black Lives Matter. Black people are the main target for such violent and unhinged aggression by police.

I shouldn’t have to be terrified if I get pulled over. I shouldn’t be afraid for my life  or anyone I care about when I see a police car on the street. People who don’t understand the historical relationship with black people and the police will always argue “if you abide, you won’t get hurt.” Ignorance is not bliss, and it’s not attractive. Police have not always presented themselves within the black community as a force of service, but more as a force of surveil.


A Revolution Is Just the Means

“It is no exaggeration to say that the men and women in blue patrolling the streets of the United States have been given a license to kill—and have demonstrated a consistent propensity to use it. More often than not, police violence, including murder and attempted murder, is directed at African Americans.”

Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta (2016-02-01). From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Kindle Locations 147-149). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Over the years, shootings of African-American males by police officers has been an epidemic that has not gotten better or worse; it’s just being broadcasted worldwide. Taylor refers to the protests that have taken place since 2009 because of these shootings.  Taylor points out the protests are in direct response to the unjust shootings, which have sparked a wave of civil unrest across the nation.

As it stands, the protests that have taken place are not going to be the answer to the unjust events that are currently taking place in this country. Taylor offers criticism of the first black president, Barack Obama, mentioning that she doesn’t believe he contributed enough to the black power struggle. This criticism is fair in that is analyzes the presidency that was expected of Obama by the black community.  Taylor also mentions the idea of a parallel of the 20th and 21st centuries, how black people continually get swept up in the comfort of having a black leader to lead us to the promised land.  Taylor calls these figures “black faces in high places,” insinuating that these leaders are offering more distraction and comfort than they are actually helping. This is not necessarily to say that blacks in America believed that Obama would be the savior of the black struggle, but seeing a black face in the most powerful position in the world was a light if shining hope. As a people, there needs to be less reliance on a black leader who is positioned in the media as our Messiah. The answer to the struggle of blacks relies heavily on unity and focus. We cannot allow ourselves to sit back and wait for the next MLK or the next Malcolm X. There needs to be proper civil unrest. There needs to be fashion industry boycotts, mainstream sports boycotts, etc. Until justice is found, there needs to be no more disenfranchised movements. #Blacklivesmatter is a key movement, but there is too much division about what it’s platform is because of media outlets and extremists taking the message into their own hands. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to fall into this whirlwind of  distraction. The goal is to finally be people who are looked at and treated both equally and fairly. The means to get there has to be revolution in our homes, schools, and government.

Dear Beautiful Black Child

You are black

You are not a burden

You are not bothersome

You are not bad

You are not blameworthy

You are not brainwashed

You are not a bastardized

You are not brutal

You are not bland

You are not blind

You are not boneheaded

You are not barbaric

You are not behind bars

You are not beneath

You are not burnt

You are not beaten

You are not battered

You are not broken

You are not buried

You are not bitter


You are bigger

You are better

You are beyond

You are blessed

You are brave

You are bold

You are behaved

You are becoming

You are blameless

You are believable

You are bearable

You are beneficial

You are brilliant

You are bighearted

You are blissful

You are breathtaking

You are beautiful

You are black

If You Don’t See Color, You’re not Seeing the Entire Picture


In the 21st century,a fresh wave of consumerism has taken over. People are desperate for the newest fashion trend or newest gadget. Along with it, a new wave of rebellion has washed over Western culture almost parallel to that of the 60’s and 70’s. Oddly enough, the media does not often cover the impact of the clashing of the two generational waves. Madison Van Oort explains the mingling of the two in her writing piece Shut it Down!

What’s shown in the news way more often than not today, is the “violence” of the Black Lives Matter movement. Combined with the already obscene and vulgar language of rap music today, it is clear to see why someone’s idea of the black community could follow the guidelines of “violent, obsessed with high priced clothing, and uneducated.” However, what they rarely ever pick up on is the piece that Van Oort crafts about her experience in the middle of protestors and fashion stores. On top of accounts of direct and indirect racism from store representatives, people of color tend to be on the exploited end of Western fashion trends. Holidays such as Black Friday are great targets, as Van Oort points out, for black protestors to make their statements. Black people have always been on the bad side of consumerism. We buy super expensive clothing, but instead of being acknowledged for being able to afford like everybody else, there is always suspicion or harassment. Unfortunately, black people have gotten sucked into capitalism and consumerism as deep as they were meant to. Coming from a place of no money and having to endure years of having nice things being dangled over your head and told, “if you work hard enough you can get it too,” but not seeing the end of the deal, is frankly hard to overcome. From this exact stance has BLM pushed back on the fashion industry. Blacks being the top fashion consumer in the country, fashion companies have definitely attempted to turn the appeal towards the task of trendsetting this new black generation has put on its shoulders.

The Cycle of the Racial Caste System

What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt.

-Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

We are now in the time period of what Michelle Alexander labels “The New Jim Crow,” which encompasses mass incarceration, institutional and systematic racism, and a racial cast system. During this era we have witnessed things from police shootings based on suspicion and fear, to mass incarceration of blacks and minorities.

The previous era of Jim Crow laws existed to keep blacks oppressed in order to “keep them in their place” post-slavery. The actions that were taken to enforce this racial caste system included violence and sometimes murder. The idea of racial caste is important because it highlights the difference between the class system and the caste system, but also compares the two on the basis of race. In the US, class consists of economic standing, and can be achieved over time. Some people are mobile within the classes, meaning they move from one class to another due to their economic standing, their wealth accumulation, and value of possessions. The caste system, however, is a system of ascribed status. Within the caste system, people are born into the status they have for the rest of their lives. The caste system parallel with the race system we’ve constructed in the US is an idea that highlights a lot of the issues within the conversation about racial tension in the US. Since slavery, race has been a mark of the status a person has in society. One of my favorite things the famous rapper Kanye West has ever said in his music is, “Even if you in a Benz, you still a ni**a, in a coup (Kanye West, All Falls Down).” The system that has been created in this country tells blacks that no matter what they have achieved, there is still something negative about being black. And this is what Michelle Alexander is talking about when talking about the New Jim Crow.

Mass incarceration has created a new mentality that has simply just tipped off the effects of slavery. If a black child is born into poverty and hopelessness, that is all they know until they are old enough to know beyond the limits of this environment. A young mind affected by such tragic struggle can turn a young heart cold, causing youth to resort to violence and crime as a means to providing for themselves and their family. Faced with a choice between an education and fast money from distributing illicit or illegal drugs, it is rare that any young man put in this position will pick education. With no one enforcing the importance of education, the only idea of education he has is that he isn’t good enough to make it to college. In his mind, why should he go into debt getting an education he cant afford when money is right in front of him? His dad did it, his brother did it, his uncle did, why can’t he?  In this scenario, the youth is arrested, and is labeled as a felon. Once released, still labeled as felon, the newly learned black man is released back into society without his right to vote or his right to compete within the job sphere. Some argue that the idea of taking away the Constitutional right to vote from a felon goes hand in hand with the mass incarceration of black men. The coincidence of the correspondence makes this idea seem all too real. This is the vicious cycle of the New Jim Crow.

This cycle has to be infiltrated, and politicians have yet to show that they care about this system. Racial profiling and the rumors spread about it by the media cause greater tension between the black community and law enforcement, which in turn gives those law officials with any bit of racial prejudice an upper hand. The portrayal of blacks in the media has become so negative that the fact that we have  black president means absolutely nothing. The so called “War on Drugs” has just made it worse, creating a stereotype for black men that police and law officials have turned to for an excuse of racial profiling and prejudice. A lot of times, this excuse gets an unjustified act by law enforcement brushed over instead of being eligible for an indictment. Black youth are still being beaten, murdered, and oppressed. Until education is fairly spread out to such under-attack communities, the cycle will continue, and more youth will be exposed to a life of imprisonment both mentally and physically.



One Click Away from Jim Crow

“Slavery ended over a hundred years ago. Why can’t you people just get over it and realize that racism doesn’t exist anymore?”

Slavery “ended” on January 1, 1863. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865. The Civil Rights Movement began in 1954. Emmitt Till was murdered at the age of 14 in 1955. Oscar Grant was shot in the back by an officer who “thought it was his taser” in 2009. Sandy Hook Elementary school was attacked, children were murdered, and families were left devastated in 2012. The shooter was only taken out by his own bullet. A movie theater was attacked, 12 people died, and the shooter was deemed insane. Trayvon Martin  at 17 years old was shot and killed in 2012 for looking suspicious to a trigger happy neighbor. Eric Garner, father of six, was choked on film in 2014 for selling untaxed cigarettes. Michael Brown at the age of 18 was shot to death in 2014. Sandra Bland died from asphyxiation in her jail cell 2015. A black church in Charleston, SC was attacked by a gunman who was there to “kill black people.” Nine people were killed, including the head pastor of the church, and the killer was arrested alive. Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were both shot point blank in 2016 by law enforcement. A massacre took place at a night club in Orlando in 2016 due to homophobia. How far removed are we really from the Jim Crow law era?

Black people have been treated poorly in this country for centuries. Injustice has become something not that we face, but something we are taught to deal with from birth. But in the midst of being learned citizens about our history, we are taught to be strong, independent, and unbothered by oppressive circumstances. This is what Du Bois calls “double consciousness (The Souls of Black Folk, 45).” We are made to be fully aware of a two-sided perception society gives us, which includes knowing the person we are, as well as being fully perceptive of how society views us. It would seem that in the late 1800’s and early to mid 1900’s this idea would be more prominent than it would be in the 21st century, but that isn’t the case. Injustice has been taking place all over the world regardless of the legislation put in place to stop it. The only difference between today and 100 years ago is the injustice is being filmed more often. People who are unarmed are being killed by the people who are supposed to be protecting them, people are still being killed for their sexual orientation, and there has been minimal results in the minimal legal acts taken to stop it.

I do not think that rioting is our best way to counteract injustices, even though when peaceful protests and political sit-downs take place nothing really happens. Instead, how about we come up with better ways to educate our communities such as funding our public schools better. How about building more infrastructure or funding more programs that will give kids more incentive to go to school so they can be better prepared to work and less interested in street crime because they have no hope for gaining a decent income. How about we have a better screening policy for the police who are in each community so that they are trained to be better prepared in situations where they feel threatened which excludes being trigger happy. Du Bois talks about during slavery, when poor white workers were put in place to “police” the black slaves. This gave the white workers some feeling of status as to always keep them feeling better or more important than blacks. This feeling of superiority has left most “red” state populations with still, very similar feelings. I’ve said before, the worst thing you can be born as in this country is a black male. How about we be honest for once in history and accept and try to understand that injustice is happening and instead of just always “talking about it” why don’t we get off our assess to force the government into a corner to where they have to do something about it. How about we stop being so capitalistic and selfish and realize that as a nation we are suffering and in order to stop, we need to begin helping one another more often. The great thing about our society is that everybody gets a piece of this great big economic pie, but if the people in power are hoarding the big pieces for themselves and their families, the people who the economy needs to prosper the most are not going to get enough of the pie. And then riots happen. How about we stop making people feel so oppressed. Can we begin learning from the history and instead of regressing into it, how abut we begin turning away from it. I don’t understand how Germany can get it right after all these years, yet we still can’t get our shit together here. People were enslaved, persecuted and left to die because of their skin color or ethnic background. But yet we love to fly our flag high in the sky as the most accepting and free country in the world. Well it’s not. It’s becoming the opposite. People are still being persecuted in ways that aren’t necessarily face to face or physical but they are still feeling it. Until the tragedies end, there will be people up in arms. We need to educate our society better. We need to put an end to injustice.

The Irony of Black Excellence

“When I was seventeen, I secured a job in the factory and discovered that blacks tended to be restricted to manual labor while whites filled managerial positions. That setting was reminiscent of Mississippi cotton fields where blacks labored and whites supervised. I became aware that racism did not stem merely from the hate of mean white segregationists but rather was a national phenomenon (Aldon D. Morris, The Scholar Denied).”

In the 1900’s anybody who was not a hetero-sexual, Christian, white male, was seen as deviant. One of the worst things to have been was black. In The Scholar Denied, Aldon Morris explores his upbringing in such an environment.

Growing up in the 1950’s, Morris tells us about his experience with the Jim Crow Laws, the times from the brutal murder of Emmitt Till, the Civil Rights movement, and how both the black community and society as a whole was impacted by such events. Within all this racially charged phenomena, Morris analyzed his lifetime from a sociological standpoint, making W.E.B Du Bois his sociological compass, and making a case for why Du Bois’ work should be more highly recognized in Sociology.

Morris reminds us that from Du Bois we get an ironic situation of  The what we now call a Black Scholar. The irony stems from the fact that the image of a black man during Morris’ time was that of low prestige, limited or no education, and violent or criminal tendencies. However, Du Bois broke away from this stigma to challenge social studies head on from a “black radical” standpoint. Morris also got his chance to become his own idea of a Black Scholar from being exposed to Du Bois’ work.

Morris explains his experience in college, having a background which told him college would not be an option. He came from a family of people who valued education so primely, but never had the opportunity to grasp it for themselves, so Morris pursued higher education. Personally, having a background such as Morris’ has motivated me that much more. During his time in school, he learned about W.E.B Du Bois, and his impact on sociology. This forces Morris to question why Du Bois’ contribution is not acknowledged as much as it should be.

From Du Bois, we learn about race in sociology more than his predecessors cared to talk about. According to Morris, from Du Bois also came the first school of scientific sociology. However, because of the color of his skin, Du Bois gets denied the earned right of being acknowledged for his direct contribution to the science. As a sociology major, I think it is unfair. A lot of the ideas we study in the science are accredited to Karl Marx. However, most of it was also covered in Du Bois’ work as well. Du Bois wrote about class and power struggle, constantly eluding to the idea of how the struggling class (black people) can gain status in society. As a black scholar himself, many can say he was a great leader in the wave of what we label as  “Black Excellence,” which is now paving the way for further scholars such as Morris and myself to educate ourselves and to educate others to come.