Wednesday, May 4, 2016

From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation

Book Review by Kam Williams

From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation
by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Haymarket Books
Paperback, $17.95
286 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60846-562-0

The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a postracial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists.

In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor survey the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence  of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation."

-- Excerpted from the Bookjacket

How did the Black Lives Matter movement manage to emerge at a time when so many people considered America to be post-racial? After all, the nation had not only elected its first African-American president in 2008, but had witnessed the emergence of black political elites both in Washington, D.C. and in cities all across the land. 
Recall how the Congressional Black Caucus, led by John Lewis, endorsed Hillary Clinton while questioning Bernie Sanders' civil rights credentials. That support delivered over 90% of the African-American vote to Clinton, and has made the difference in her quest for the Democratic nomination. 
But according to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, there is a "growing polarization between black officials and ordinary blacks living in urban communities." She further asserts that African-Americans in positions of power "are just as eager as white officials to invoke racial stereotypes to cover their own incompetence, from claims about cultural inferiority to broken families to Black criminality."

In From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, Professor Taylor explores why opposition to police brutality suddenly became a rallying cry, despite its having already been an issue for generations. The author, who teaches African-American Studies at Princeton University, also devotes considerable ink to a historical discussion of icons like Dr. Martin Luther King and Lyndon Baines Johnson as well as such hot button topics as colorblindness, American exceptionalism, the criminal justice system and the roots and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Overall, a scathing indictment of "racism, capitalism and class rule" as continuing to oppress the black masses, President Obama's occupying the White House notwithstanding.

To order a copy of From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, visit: 


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