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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

The fight against racism in modern America

By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (2016) brings you up-to-date on the ongoing struggle for Black liberation in the United States. Discover the real reasons why racism continues to fracture America and why activist organizations like Black Lives Matter remain a much needed force for change. The fight is far from over, so find out what you can do to be part of the solution.

Key idea 1 of 8

Problems in Black communities are often misidentified as a cultural issue rather than a systemic one.

You’re probably aware that slavery was abolished in the southern United States during the Civil War. Despite this landmark event, President Lyndon B. Johnson, speaking nearly one hundred years later, made it clear that “freedom is not enough” and that we still need “equality as a result.”

Under Johnson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and it outlawed any discrimination based on race or color. Yet it did little to alleviate the problems, such as crime and poverty, that remained pervasive throughout African-American communities.

One of the reasons these problems continue to persist is because they’re blamed on cultural weaknesses.

When Republican representative Paul Ryan speaks about high unemployment rates in impoverished Black communities, he calls it a “culture problem.” Ryan suggests that people in these communities are unfamiliar with the value of work.

When President Obama spoke about the violence in Chicago neighborhoods, he suggested it was the result of bad choices made by Black youths, saying, “We have to provide stronger role models than the gangbanger on the corner.”

This thinking shifts the problem onto Black people and their lack of discipline rather than acknowledging the real causes of poverty and inequality throughout the country. It also perpetuates the misrepresentation of Black people as lazy criminals who are opposed to authority and education.

But the truth is, Black poverty has been built into American society since the times of slavery, and this is the real problem we’re facing.

The very economy and democracy that America was built on relied on slavery to support the nation’s cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco industries. And after the abolition of slavery and the fight for civil rights, Black suffering didn’t just come to an end.

During decades of economic struggle, Black people have been unemployed as well as underemployed, improperly housed and poorly schooled. During the Nixon and Reagan administrations, social-welfare programs had their funding slashed, the effects of which are still damaging Black communities today.

As the following blinks will show, racism still exists long after the civil rights movement of the 1960s. And it’s fueling a new Black liberation movement.

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