Black Lives Matter is not a hate group

July By B19, 20BJ. Richard Cohen is president
of the Southern Poverty Law Center

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HUNTS POINT, BRONX, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2016/07/17: On the second anniversary of the death of Eric Garner by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, the Black Lives Matter community organized the Stop The Violence Rally, March and Healing Circle in the South Bronx to remember Eric Garner and other victims of police brutality with a peaceful demonstration around the neighborhood culminating the march at the 41th Precinct where participants held a moment of silence followed by chanting “I CAN’T BREATHE” 11 times as Eric Garner did before his tragic death by an illegal choke-hold. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

Each year, the Southern Poverty Law Center, of which I am the president, compiles and publishes a census of domestic hate groups. Our list, which is cited extensively by journalists, academics and government officials alike, provides an important barometer—not the only one, of course—to help us understand the state of hate and extremism in America.

In recent weeks, we’ve received a number of requests to name Black Lives Matter a hate group, particularly in the wake of the murders of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Numerous conservative commentators have joined the chorus. There is even a Change.org petition calling for the hate group label.
In our view, these critics fundamentally misunderstand the nature of hate groups and the BLM movement.
Generally speaking, hate groups are, by our definition, those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity. Federal law takes a similar approach.
While it’s no surprise, given our country’s history, that most domestic hate groups hold white supremacist views, there are a number of black organizations on our hate group list as well.
A prime example is the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), whose leaders are known for anti-Semitic and anti-white tirades. Its late chairman, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, famously remarked: “There are no good crackers, and if you find one, kill him before he changes.” Bobby Seale, a founding member of the original Black Panther Party, has called the NBPP a “black racist hate group.”
We have heard nothing remotely comparable to the NBPP’s bigotry from the founders and most prominent leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and nothing at all to suggest that the bulk of the demonstrators hold supremacist or black separatist views. Thousands of white people across America—indeed, people of all races—have marched in solidarity with African Americans during BLM marches, as is clear from the group’s website. The movement’s leaders also have condemned violence.
There’s no doubt that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee—or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.
Many of its harshest critics claim that Black Lives Matter’s very name is anti-white, hence the oft-repeated rejoinder “all lives matter.” This notion misses the point entirely. Black lives matter because they have been marginalized throughout our country’s history and because white lives have always mattered more in our society. As BLM puts it, the movement stands for “the simple proposition that ‘black lives also matter.’”
The backlash to BLM, in some ways, reflects a broad sense of unease among white people who worry about the cultural changes in the country and feel they are falling behind in a country that is rapidly growing more diverse in a globalizing world. We consistently see this phenomenon in surveys showing that large numbers of white people believe racial discrimination against them is as pervasive, or more so, than it is against African Americans.
It’s the same dynamic that researchers at Harvard Business School described in a recent study: White people tend to see racism as a zero-sum game, meaning that gains for African Americans come at their expense. Black people see it differently. From their point of view, the rights pie can get bigger for everyone.
Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. But the perception that it is racist illustrates the problem. Our society as a whole still does not accept that racial injustice remains pervasive. And, unfortunately, the fact that white people tend to see race as a zero-sum game may actually impede progress

‘Graceful in the lion’s den’: Photo of young woman’s arrest in Baton Rouge becomes powerful symbol

By Michael E. Miller , Washington Post

 

Photo of woman in Baton Rouge

Iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, a young Black woman protesting in Baton Rouge, LA

 

She was the calm at the center of the storm, a storm spreading across the country. The young woman stood silently on the cracked asphalt, her summer dress billowing in the breeze. Around her swirled a kinetic mix of police officers and protesters. Dozens of demonstrators had blocked Baton Rouge’s Airline Highway on Saturday to denounce the death four days earlier of Alton Sterling, shot by police outside a convenience store. Many protesters carried signs. Some shouted into bullhorns. A few carried guns.
A phalanx of police officers stepped across the road, dressed in riot gear.
Jonathan Bachman of Reuters News was snapping pictures of protesters yelling at the officers when he turned and saw her.
The woman in the summer dress didn’t seem to look at the two officers as they ran toward her. Instead, she seemed to look beyond them — even as they arrested her.
“She just stood there and made her stand,” the Reuters photographer told BuzzFeed. “I was just happy to be able to capture something like that.” Bachman’s powerful photo quickly went viral.
The young woman’s stoic pose drew comparisons to Rosa Parks’s refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus or “tank man” facing down war machines in Tiananmen Square.
Some likened her to a modern-day Statue of Liberty, guiding a bitterly divided country back toward the proper path. Others called her a “superhero.”
Several, however, said she was simply breaking the law and deserved her night in jail.
What is clear is that the image of the young woman’s arrest has captured a critical moment for the country. Like the Facebook video of Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds calmly talking to the officer who had just fatally shot her fiance, the photo of the arrest in Baton Rouge encapsulates  the anger, struggle, exhaustion and spirit of Black Lives Matter activists.
“There are certain photos that define a moment: The man in front of the tank in [Tiananmen] Square; the girl crying over her dead friend at Kent State; the sailor dipping and kissing the girl in Times Square; John John saluting JFK’s casket,” wrote Cynthia Cox Ubaldo on Facebook. “This is one of those iconic photos to define the moment and the movement.”
Bachman knew he had a great photo, but he didn’t get the woman’s name.
Within hours of the photo’s publication, news outlets, activists and the Internet itself were working overtime to figure out who she was. The Atlantic and the BBC both asked readers for help.
After activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King posted the photo to Facebook, several self-identified friends and family members identified her as Ieshia Evans.
“To see all of the comments under this post shows me that my cousin did not make a mistake by going out there and standing up for her rights and what she believes in,” wrote Nikka Thomas. “I’m proud to call you my family Ieshia.”
“This is my best friend that I have known since we were 8 (20 years now),” wrote R. Alex Haynes. “Her name is Ieshia and she has a 5 year old son. She went to Baton Rouge because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights. They haven’t released her as of yet but she’s fine. And yes, she is everything you see in this photo + so much more.”
Haynes told The Washington Post that Evans is, in fact, the woman in the photo. He forwarded a statement from him and his wife, Natasha, saying that Ieshia is from Brooklyn and lives in Pennsylvania. (Public records support this.) Evans traveled to Baton Rouge after the fatal police-involved shooting of Alton Sterling because “she has a son she wants a better future for,” according to the statement.

 

Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ was government sanctioned terror on Black people

war-on-drugs

People protesting the War on Drugs

Last week, a quote from Richard Nixon’s former Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman surfaced, confirming a disgusting truth that’s been well known by Black folks for several decades: the war on drugs had nothing to do eradicating a drug epidemic. Instead, it was a ploy to hide for the intentional targeting and decimating of the Black community. Ehrlichman states: The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
I’ve always believed the “War on Drugs” was a hoax from the very beginning, thus I felt a wide range of emotions reading this quote. I’ve seen my own community ripped apart by enforcement of draconian drug laws. I know people who are currently serving sentences related to the same drug that, now increasingly legal, is being used to make white folks and the government wealthier.
And still, America’s embarrassing incarceration rates and disparities, painstakingly outlined in Michelle Alexander’s now legendary book The New Jim Crow are merely a fragment of the aftermath of Nixon’s vicious war on black folks. When the highest levels of government, in the now incontrovertible spirit of genocide, decide to decimate a community, the ripple effects will be unending.
Consider first: all wars need soldiers. The soldiers in Nixon’s phony war have been police officers, chiefs, prosecutors and judges- all law enforcement officials tasked with carrying out inherently racist order. Much of the now well-documented problem with how law enforcement officials interact with communities of color can be traced to the war on drugs. Despite the fact that drug use in our country has always spanned broadly across lines of race and class, our entire system and everyone in it were necessarily taught to view urban communities as being rife with criminals and addicts needing to be cleansed.
None of this was  possible without Nixon perverting another broken system for his destruction campaign: mainstream news media. Plastering implicitly anti-black propaganda on major networks with regularity is how America was taught to view urban centers – and the black people living there – as deserving of war.  The war’s soldiers, therefore, are to be supported with a similar blind deference as we are taught to give our military. (A comparison which, of course, helps us justify equipping the police like they’re in combat).
The kind of racist reporting Nixon expressly requested from mainstream media outlets didn’t end with Nixon’s shameful exit from the White House; four decades later, it remains a staple of what American’s consume daily. Just Google news anchor Wendy Bell and see what people who control the messages on your TV screens think of black people.  Hell, media bias is the reason this news of Nixon’s war against black communities (read: treason) wasn’t a front page headline.
This is bigger than detestable police and biased media, however. Like with any unjust war, there are economic implications – in this case, in excess of a trillion dollars spent destroying the very community that ironically is one of very few domestic racial groups terrorized by the government that hasn’t received any sort of reparations. There are social implications, namely that what follows from unjustly incarcerating black people at alarming rates, a majority of them men, is a decapitation of the black family unit that spans generations.
And there are lasting community implications, the most startling of which is that the blighted neighborhoods that are most impacted by the terror of the war on drugs – pillaged by Nixon’s soldiers and stripped of many of their bread winners – are part of the communities across the nation being actively identified “development.”  Gentrification is a brand of renovation that forces the removal of black families for economic reasons– and it didn’t appear out of thin air.
So remember that the next “conspiracy” you hear being repeated by hundreds of thousands of marginalized people probably isn’t a conspiracy at all. The next time you hear that a useful social initiative is just too expensive, be reminded that we wasted more than $1 trillion over 40 years taking out Nixon’s perceived enemies.  And the next time people try to convince you that drug abuse in black communities is a criminal issue, tell them to extend the same courtesy given to white communities and call it what it is- a healthcare issue.
Nixon wasn’t the first criminal to commit crimes against his own citizens; our government has perpetrated criminal atrocities against communities of color before, from the Tuskegee Experiment to Japanese Internment Camps.
Lies and deceit are nothing new.  But this time, when you go to the polls, remember Nixon’s “War on Drugs.”  Then act accordingly.  The stakes are too high to let another lie go unchecked.