Monday, August 10, 2015

Underlying Conditions Which Give Traction to "Black Lives Matter"

Black Lives Matter, as a movement, emerged from police killings of unarmed Black men and women. But powerful underlying trends that have been around for some time give the movement traction. Among these trends are:
A drug war which has led to levels of incarceration of non-violent Black drug offenders which have destroyed entire communities and are utterly disproportionate to the actual role of African Americans in the nation's drug business.
The militarization of the nation's police, as a result of both the drug war and the "war on terror" which have led to young people of color being pinned into their own communities, and occasionally their own housing projects, by aggressive policing.
The widespread adoption of the "broken windows" theory of policing, reinforced by data driven methods of evaluating police performance, which lead police to aggressively confront people of color when walking, driving, taking public transportation, entering or leaving schools, if it appears that non violent infractions of the law might be taking place
The massive closing of public schools in inner city communities, over the objections of local residents, which has led to the destabilization of neighborhoods, the firing of thousands of teachers of color, and the enrollment of young people of color in charter schools which engage in intimidation and expulsion of students who
don't conform to the draconian disciplinary policies these institutions adopt
Housing and development policies which have forced people of color out of neighborhoods they have lived in for generations, pushing them into suburbs and rural areas where they have few amenities, few institutions which reflect their traditions and which often contain police forces hostile to their presence.
These trends have gone unchecked for the last 20 years, supported by politicians of both parties, and have not slowed down in the slightest during the years of the Obama Presidency.
It is any wonder that young people have become incredibly frustrated with leaders inside and outside their communities who do not address their concerns.