The Revolution will not be Televised
In the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter became the social media trend that would become a movement. Black Lives Matter reached its zenith in the summer of 2014 after the wrongful death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Black Lives Matter became a modern-day civil rights and black power movement. NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was blacklisted from the game for his kneeling protest during the 2016-17 NFL season in support of the BLM movement and ending police brutality. He hasn’t played a game in almost three seasons.
In reality, this grassroots movement wasn’t started by famous football players, black politicians, or social media celebrity activists. It was a movement started by black women, men, and queer black activists fed up with police brutality and murder.
The United States was a country founded on racism and bigotry, and at its core, that prejudice has been directed towards people of African descent. From slavery to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights and Black Power Era to today’s new Jim Crow and Trump Era.
At every step of the way, black people have rebelled and fought against systematic oppression, from Nat Turner’s rebellion to Ida B. Wells Red Record to Bloody Sunday to LA Riots to Baltimore 2016. Black folks at the margins of society have always been at the vanguard of dismantling racism and bringing about a system of justice.
History has proved time and time again that when people have fought for liberation and against repression, there have been counter-revolutionary forces at play that try to quash the rebellion. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained many foes since it’s inception, like other movements in the past. Unfortunately, over the past few years, there have been many mysterious deaths of young BLM activists across the country. What makes these deaths BLM activists tragic is they are cloaked in mystery, from Chicago to Ferguson, to Columbus, Ohio, to New Orleans. BLM has been criticized for being anti-police and, in some cases, anti-white. Thus, in the wake of these deaths, perhaps local law enforcement could be lackadaisical in solving these fallen activist murder cases? Or it could something more sinister at play?
During the Jim Crow era, the KKK and White Citizens Council enforced their own brand of repression against black people who stood up to the injustices of the time. Many of these hate groups were tied intimately to local law enforcement and government. In the 1950s and 60s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation created COINTELPRO to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of the Black nationalists.” This program worked with local law enforcement across the country to neutralize civil rights and black power activists. FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover once stated, “the Black Panther party, without question, represents the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”
Is it so far fetched to think that local and federal law enforcement would take a keen interest stomping out a movement built on exposing policing corruption, mass incarceration, police brutality, and murder of unarmed black and brown citizens across the country? History shows us what repression and violent retribution looks like against those who challenged the status quo of America’s racial and economic caste system. The assassination of Chicago’s Black Panther folk hero Fred Hampton, the surveillance, and eventual assassinations of MLK and Malcolm X. Activist, Assata Shukar is still on the FBI’s most wanted decades later. So when BLM activists come up dead or murdered, the black community has every right to be skeptical of the circumstances that lead to their untimely demises.
Martyrs of the Revolution
In the era of Trump dominating the news cycle, there has been radio silence on the deaths of so many young BLM activists lost far too soon. Of the media outlets that have reported on the deaths of these activists, they have concluded they lived in crime-riddled communities; thus, it’s not surprising that they met their end with violence. There are some in the community who suspect foul play by law enforcement in the deaths of some of these activists and are still fighting to find the truth.
It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but it’s not a stretch of reality that some of these activists might have died because of their activism and challenging the racist power structure. It could be ill-intent or a case of them being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s just too many people dead, in a few short years since Ferguson, to be merely just a coincidence. Only time will tell if these fallen heroes get the justice they deserve, or will they be denied because they chose to speak out against injustice. To quote Fred Hampton, “You can kill a revolutionary, but you can never kill the revolution.”
To Muhiyidin d’ Baha, Marshawn McCarrel, Edward Crawford, Danye Jones, Bassem Masri, Delmonte Johnson, and Amber Evans, may you all rest in power. Until justice is served, black lives matter!