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Est. April 5, 2002
July 16, 2020 - Issue 827
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Black Lives Matter
Movement in the U.S.

"The upcoming presidential election is the most  important
election in the nation’s history because it will determine
whether America will become a true progressive multiracial
democracy where Black people are regarded as human
beings, or sink even deeper into authoritarianism,
corruption and white supremacy."

(The following are remarks I gave at a Zoom conference entitled “Black Lives Matter Movement: Democracy and Social Prejudices in the US and India.” The talk was sponsored by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), based in Mumbai, India on June 28, 2020.)

The Black Lives Matter movement is only seven years old and in that period of time, particularly this year, it has become the foremost social justice movement in the U.S. What started in 2013 as a hashtag in response to the murder of a 17-year-old Black teen named Trayvon Martin by a vigilante named George Zimmerman has evolved into a national and international force seeking to eliminate systemic racism and dismantle oppressive institutions.

Black Lives Matter began as a campaign against police brutality, racial abuses and human rights violations in the criminal justice system. However, the dynamics of this movement changed this year, in 2020, with the police murder of George Floyd and a convergence of events that created somewhat of a national multiracial rebellion--a mini revolution.

Police brutality is by no means a new phenomenon in America. It dates back to the times of slavery when armed white men patrolled the slave plantations and had the power to capture and kill Black people. My great-great grandfather fled a South Carolina plantation during the Civil War, a baby tied to his mother’s back, running from the plantation police. Had they been captured, the mother was prepared to kill the baby and herself.

In the 1960s, figures such as Malcolm X and groups such as the Black Panthers fought against police violence. In the 1990s, as a human rights activist I worked with the victims of police violence and organized the first police brutality conference in the U.S. Countless numbers of people, particularly people of color have been murdered by police. But the May 25 strangulation murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer will prove to be a pivotal moment in the country’s history.

What made this time different?

George Floyd was not the first victim of police violence, nor will he be the last, unfortunately. He was one of thousands of Black people who have lost their lives in such a manner, choked, shot, beaten by police. His death became a catalyst for potentially historic change because of the timing and the circumstances. The murder was recorded on video, at a time of viral social media. The incident took place in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, itself an event of historic proportions, with millions of Americans infected, over 120,000 dead, and millions of people unemployed during an economic collapse the country has not witnessed in a century.

With millions of people in quarantine, on lockdown, while millions of others have been forced to risk their health and their lives--everyone living in a time of uncertainty, fear and trauma--people have had time to think about their lives and the problems in society.

The coronavirus exposed the inherent injustices, the contradictions and moral blind spots of the so-called land of the free. Staggering and worsening economic inequality, racism that the country never really came to terms with, born from the genocide of Indigenous people and the enslavement of African people. We never know when revolutions or rebellions will come about. I believe George Floyd would not have become a transformative moment without the pandemic. George Floyd had survived illness from the coronavirus, only to meet his death from the knee of a police officer on his neck.

People living under a neofascist government under Trump have reached the breaking point as people are dying from the coronavirus, disproportionately Black, Brown and working people through the policies of a white supremacist government led by incompetent and greedy sociopaths who will send lambs to the slaughter for the sake of the economy. Trump, I take it, is a fellow traveler with India’s Prime Minister Modi--likeminded.

This moment in which we find ourselves is both very American and international. The George Floyd murder, and the aftermath, has become a reckoning. The U.S. now is coming to terms with its Civil War, which ended 155 years ago but was never really resolved. Racism and white supremacy, a daily reality for people of color, have taken center stage in the public discourse. Protests throughout the nation have not been witnessed since the 1960s, and today’s protests eclipse the movements of the past. America is having an awakening. White people are realizing the need for change. A majority of the U.S. population now supports Black Lives Matter according to polls, and Black lives Matter protests are taking place in predominantly white parts of the country, in small towns and rural areas, not just the cities.

Already, these protests have led to change. On the federal, state and city level, policing reforms are proposed, as people are calling for the defunding and dismantling of law enforcement agencies, diversion of resources from weapons of war to programs of social uplift, and wealth redistribution. Violent police officers now face termination and prosecution for their abuse.

The payment of reparations for slavery has emerged as a serious national issue. The symbols of white supremacy are being dismantled as the country proceeds with a cultural shift. Statues of slave masters, colonizers and white supremacists are being toppled, whether by protesters or by government edict. Colleges and universities named for racist U.S. presidents and other leaders are being renamed.

There is a national conversation not just on police violence but the daily affronts that Black and Brown people experience with racism, in school, at work, and in their daily lives--the so-called microaggressions we face, the daily indignities, traumatic, humiliating experiences.

On the world stage, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter resonate with people in the global community. BLM demonstrations were held all over the world, reflecting international solidarity with African Americans, but also calls for freedom and racial justice in places such as London, Palestine and West Papua.

All of this takes place as the U.S. experiences a seismic demographic shift. It is a hopeful time and a potentially productive moment where the country, if it chooses, can heal itself and become an antiracist society. A majority of children born in America right now are Black and Brown, they look like my children.

This reality represents an existential threat to Donald Trump and his supporters. I believe the white reactionaries will continue to rail against the browning of America and do everything in their power to maintain white power and white supremacy, whether through voter suppression, continued detention of immigrants, physical violence through armed far right groups, and genocide.

The upcoming presidential election is the most important election in the nation’s history because it will determine whether America will become a true progressive multiracial democracy where Black people are regarded as human beings, or sink even deeper into authoritarianism, corruption and white supremacy. I’m cautiously optimistic, and believe Black Lives Matter is shaping this election and calls for an American transformation. History has shown that progress doesn’t take place in a straight line, but rather through advancements and regression, and there is much time for things to get worse before they get better.

David A. Love, JD - Serves as Executive Editor. He is a journalist, commentator, human rights advocate and an adjunct instructor at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to theGrioAtlantaBlackStarThe Progressive,, Morpheus, NewsWorks and The Huffington Post. He also blogs at Contact Mr. Love and BC.

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is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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