[5.21.2015] Panel Event: Black Politics and State Violence
Ida Noyes Library, University of Chicago
Panellists: Toussaint Losier, Michael Dawson, Mel Rothenburg
The widely publicized killings of black men by police and the resulting movement with its slogan "Black Lives Matter" put back on the agenda of a beleaguered American Left a seemingly perennial question, one that evokes a long history of struggle, longing, and disappointment. With a black president in the White House having survived or co-opted the #Occupy Movement, the Black Question seems to pose a return to the old platitude that America is racist. At the same time, precisely because of recent history, it seems necessary to resist a complacency that threatens to obscure the precise nature of the present, not to mention an adequate analysis of how the Left got to where it is today. Such skepticism would appear doubly warranted in light of the fact that the Democrats seem way out in front of this movement, likely soon to have all the necessary police officials and the black vote duly lined up on their side. Given these circumstances and the dangers of yet another historical round of disappointment, another course in diminishing expectations and demobilization, now would seem an opportune moment to reflect on how this movement might indeed be transformed into the herald of a genuine revival of the Left here in the United States, where it is so badly needed.