[5.20.2015] Black Politics and State Violence: A Panel Discussion - UCSC
Hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society. Co-sponsored by the UCSC Department of Politics, College 9, CAO/Provost, and the Student Union Assembly.
Boots Riley, Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club
Clarence Thomas, ex-ILWU
Nancy Kato, Freedom Socialist Party
The recent, widely publicized killings of unarmed black men – most notably Michael Brown and Eric Garner – and the resulting movement with its slogan “Black Lives Matter”, puts back on the agenda of a beleaguered American Left an old, yet 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 return of the Black Question to the forefront of the Left’s concerns seems to justify the suspicion that America is fundamentally, perhaps irredeemably, racist. At the same time, given the undeniable changes in American society since the Civil Rights Movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow, it seems necessary to resist simplistic answers to the difficult questions.
Over-reliance on the positions and perspectives of the past threaten to obscure the precise nature of the present, above all the question of how the Left got to where it is today. This skepticism appears doubly warranted in light of the fact that the Democrats, even as presently constituted, seem decidedly out in front of this movement, likely soon to have the necessary police officials and the black vote, perhaps even the police unions, duly lined up on their side. Given these circumstances and the dangers of yet another historical round of disappointment, another course in diminishing expectations, now would seem an opportune moment to reflect on how the Black Lives Matter movement might be made to herald a genuine revival of the Left here in the United States, where it is so badly needed.