Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 3-Pack
The widespread protests in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor marked a new chapter in the struggle for Black liberation. What would constitute Black liberation? Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says it’s about self-determination. “Can we make decisions free of economic coercion? Can we make decisions that are truly free? That to me is what liberation would be. I know that it’s not something that Black people can achieve alone. Black liberation is bound up with human liberation. On a purely mathematical basis, Black people drift between 13 and 14% of the population. We can’t get free alone. So, this is also about really trying to examine the connections between the subjugation of Black people, and how that relates to a wider web of subjugation of other people, including White people, in our society.”
One of the techniques of ruling class control is to isolate people from one another. “Look out for yourself,” is the constant drumbeat. We are reduced to self-centered consumers not engaged citizens. Saul Alinsky suggests a different path. In his Rules for Radicals he said, “Change comes from power, and power comes from organization. In order to act, people must get together.” And that is happening. Popular movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Extinction Rebellion and Sunrise are shaking up the establishment. Finding kindred spirits and working collectively with allies not only has broader positive political consequences but helps to overcome negativity and feelings of loneliness and despair. You look in the mirror and you feel good about yourself. History has shown social movements can have a huge societal impact.
The Black Panther Party was founded fifty years ago. It did much to raise consciousness and pride among African-Americans. It was seen as a threat by the establishment and was thus targeted by Hoover’s FBI in a campaign of infiltration, destabilization and assassination. Today a new generation of activists has arisen in the aftermath of a series of outrageous killings of African-Americans by police. The Black Lives Matter movement has reawakened attention to the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and the persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and unemployment. Who can forget Eric Garner’s plea of “I can’t breathe” before he was choked to death on a Staten Island street? It symbolizes the plight of many blacks trying to survive in crushing poverty. The Black Lives Matter movement holds the potential to reignite a broader push for black liberation.
This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality. She is a professor of African American Studies at Princeton. Her articles appear in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Guardian and Jacobin. She is the author of Race for Profit, How We Get Free and the award-winning From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.