Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now

The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now:
At the heart of contemporary organizing is the notion of black exceptionalism. Contemporary Black Lives Matter activists and supporters insist on the uniqueness of the black predicament and on the need for race-specific remedies. “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza explains. “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity and our resistance in the face of deadly oppression.”1 “When we say black lives matter,” Garza continues, “we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement [that] Black poverty and genocide [are] state violence.” This essay takes aim at this notion of black exceptionalism and lays out its origins and limits as an analysis of hyperpolicing and, more generally, as an effective political orientation capable of building the popular power needed to end the policing crisis.