What is Black Lives Matter (which henceforth will be abbreviated as 'BLM' in this OP)?
BLM is an explicitly non-partisan organization that encourages & schedules protests to build public awareness and attempt to apply pressure regarding police & public violence inflicted against black persons in the United States (and is expanding to cover international issues). The org primarily operates via public gatherings & social media; it was formed by Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza following a year of high profile slayings of black persons by police officers & consequential community backlash (both in terms of peaceful protest & vigils as well as violent rioting, arson & looting).
What are the goals & interests of BLM?
The current mission statement of BLM:
Black Lives Matters is an affirmation and embrace of the resistance & resilience of Black people.
And, to quote from their response to the DNC's pledge of support to their cause:
We demand freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us.
I don't want to put words in their mouths, but I think it's reasonable to say that they wish for a very swift end to the brutal violence & distorted lens through which the legal system sees & judges black people. This seems like a more than fine goal to me.
BLM also provides a concrete platform that they wish to see implemented, which they call Campaign Zero
. Full credit to @AngelHedgie
for giving that topic it's own thread
OP's opinions on BLM?
I am very torn on the organization right now. Just as one example: this is their response to the DNC expressing support & solidarity with them
. On one hand, they're absolutely right: the Democratic party has been an absolute blight on the lives of black people in the south. They were the longest-standing allies of the KKK, for example. Talk is also cheap in politics, and everyone has heard the same tiresome promises over and over again about how we'll eventually get around to creating some sort of equal laying field for the PoC. When? Well we're not so sure about that.
On the other hand, rejecting an offer of solidarity from an entity as large as the DNC strikes me as having the wrong attitude, and while I can appreciate that patience is pretty spent by now, I'm afraid that more is always required in politics. I also disagree that True Change (TM) is strictly the domain of people marching in the street.
I dislike the cavalier stance that BLM has taken in the past when violence overruns a protest (re-publishing images of beaten & bloodied police officers as war trophies, for example), as I feel that this is totally counter-productive to their goals. At the same time, I honestly don't know what to say to a community of people that have been pushed far, far beyond any reasonable level of tolerance, who have repeatedly been told to just politely sit and wait for change to come drifting down from Heaven.
I agree that applying pressure mostly on the left is a good strategy, but I also feel that the implementation of that strategy so far (taking over speeches, mobbing camera crews, yelling website slogans) is, again, counter-productive. The Id that I think one might want to aim for is what Malcolm X captured in that famous exchange:
“Do you consider yourself ‘militant’?”
“No, I consider myself Malcolm.”
That aside, they're a good organization full of good people with a blunt message that hasn't been echoed nearly enough in a culture that does not at all currently appear to appreciate that Black Lives Matter every bit as much as anything else matters.
Things I hope the thread can be used to discuss:
Civil rights, both historical & contemporary; community organization; protest strategies; data about how ridiculously racist the systems in the U.S. are; arguments & data regarding means to make the system less racist;
Things I hope that the thread can perhaps avoid:
'White lives matter' rhetoric; demonizing or championing protests that devolve into riots; partisan rhetorical shots about which party is most racist (BLM seems to feel that this is a distraction, and that the systemic racism transcends the party system. I agree with that assessment).