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This could be seen as significant progress, yet many have found that the system is still stacked against them when it comes to helping black communities. In the s, the Reagan administration slashed the budget for social programs, leaving every city leader without federal aid and little chance to battle poverty and unemployment in black neighborhoods.

To raise campaign funds from local businesses, every mayor, no matter his race, has been forced to cut taxes, leaving social services struggling to make a difference. As a result, black citizens are just as fed up with the black politicians as they are with the white. The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery throughout the country in , but Southern states went on to find other ways of keeping their black populations in servitude.

While Black Codes were banned in , the idea of restricting the freedom of the black population would live on. Much of the desire to keep black people behind bars stemmed from the economic imperative to find cheap — or, in this case, free — labor. And convict leasing became the legal method to make this happen. Since the Southern economy had been reliant on such workforces before the war, they remained dependent on convict leasing. At the turn of the twentieth century, the vast majority of Southern prisoners were black.

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Black communities remained disproportionately policed and they continued to face a double standard from the legal and justice systems in the United States. In Detroit during the early twentieth century, it was standard police procedure to take black men into custody and hold them for several days while they decided whether or not to charge them with a crime.


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Meanwhile, the police would routinely fail to offer the black population any protection, especially if they were being attacked by angry white people. This was the situation in Chicago, in , when a black teenager, Eugene Williams, was murdered by a white racist when Williams failed to comply with the segregation rules at a local beach. In , USA Today looked at 70 police stations across the United States and found that black people are still ten times more likely to be arrested than any other race. For the first time in history, 64 percent of eligible black voters cast their ballots — an unprecedented turnout.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation - Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

In , following the financial crisis that hit black working-class communities especially hard, the first signs of disappointed voters became evident. The unemployment level of black workers increased to over 13 percent. Nevertheless, Obama approved the bailout of the banks that were responsible. Martin, a black teenager, was walking home from a convenience store and talking on his phone. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, saw Martin and, for no good reason, followed him.

Then, after confronting Martin, Zimmerman shot him in the chest, killing him.

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When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman claimed it was Martin who was the aggressor. Protests took place around the country, and after 45 days of mounting tensions, Zimmerman was finally arrested, only to be found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin. It was apparent that black political leaders were failing to bring about any change. But this inaction gave rise to a new movement. In , community organizer, Alicia Garza, responded to the injustice surrounding Trayvon Martin with a Facebook post that contained the hashtag: BlackLivesMatter.

This hashtag became a powerful force, offering a unified protest against police violence and injustice. Indeed, it spawned an entire organization devoted to fighting black discrimination. Sadly, the deaths of young black men at the hands of police continued on August 9, , when Mike Brown was killed in the small town of Ferguson, Missouri.

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Wilson then shot and killed Brown, whose body would be left at the scene for over four hours, exposed to the hot summer sun. Once again, an all-too-familiar scenario of inhumanity and injustice played out as protests and riots ensued. Police even destroyed the flowers mourners had left at the murder site.


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The anger and violence only increased when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the protesters. But this time the reaction against the injustice and unchecked police violence continued to grow and spread across the nation. When a grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown, nation-wide protests against police violence erupted in major cities, including New York and Washington, DC.

Tens of thousands of people marched in unison to expose the national epidemic of police brutality against the black population. At this time, thousands of college campuses also became stages for protests and raising awareness. Taylor argues that this cannot be understood as just a black versus white problem.

Black politicians run the city of Baltimore and control its police force. The theory was first used by Richard Nixon and the Republicans, but was later taken up by sections of the black movement as it became utterly compromised. Being colourblind means saying that no group should have advantages. In practice this means removing anti-racist laws that were enacted in response to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the s. For instance, the Supreme Court struck down sections of the Voting Rights Act in as no longer relevant.

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These policies relegate racism to the past as there are no legal equivalents to the Jim Crow laws. They ignore the institutional racism of US society. For Talyor the way to escape the dead end of mainstream politics is to look at the class tradition of fighting racism, such as that used by the Communist Party in the s.

She argues that people who claim that emphasising class involves downgrading racism often talk as if black people or women are not a significant part of the working class. Skip to main content.