Reflections on Race Relations

by Camel on February 7, 2016 - 1:22pm

The evolution of the Civil Rights movement today has taken a turn towards violence and upheaval of authority. The major difference between the early Civil Rights movement and today’s is the early movement had defined goals. During the Civil Rights Movement, much of the earlier attention was towards the right to vote; however, the movement today has shifted to distributing attention on many injustices surrounding racial tensions. Ultimately, there is a loss in identity in today's movement because of how many issues are trying to be solved, and a taboo nature has been created surrounding race, forcing mainstream people into an awkward predicament.

 

Countless groups during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s worked tirelessly to register African American voters in order to influence their political system. Through the work of the NAACP, Freedom Summer, and local community organizers, African Americans began to fight for the right to vote and change their destiny. Clearly there was pushback from white society in both Northern and Southern areas, but this did not stop African Americans to start organizing politically units. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party’s (MFDP) Frannie Lou Hamer shocked the nation when she lobbied for her right to a delegate seat, and slowly awareness spread and acceptance followed. This vibe of revolution and the dawn of a new era has not been seen since and this is because of the new Civil Right’s unknown agenda.

 

We live in a society that was built on slavery and racism. Even with the right to vote, racial injustice remains a factor in the incarceration rates, healthcare, police brutality, access to equal opportunities, etc. With one in three black men having the likelihood of going to prison, compared to the one in 17 for white men, there is serious anxiety, but also questioning, of the police system for profiling and the education system for not providing equal opportunities. Yet, within this web of problems, the “black lives matter” movement has not taken on a target. The phrase, “black lives matter,” indicates a desperation among African Americans to feel worth and value in society. Where the movement starts to take a turn is when violence erupts. When there starts to be monetary damages as well as civilians being affected in negative ways, the movement is counter productive.

Thus, our society has come a long way since the 1960s, but there are still injustices in Civil Rights leader’s wake. For Americans, race is too much of a unpolitically-correct trap that no one is willing to take the issues and change. When we are too scared to talk about the issues, only the radical opinions are heard, which is completely counter intuitive to achieving a mass consensus. Violence cannot be the answer to these major crisis’ and controlled focus needs to be the direction of Civil Rights movements today.

Comments

Hi! I agree, that there needs to be more discourse surrounding the racial divide, and the injustices that have been coming to light over America's existence. But I would argue that though it is easy enough to point to the specific accomplishments of the 60s civil rights movement and say "this movement had specific goals and purpose", hindsight is 20/20. In the midst of the 60s, the end goals were probably not so clear--equality for all? Such a broad topic is sure to breed disparity in who thinks what goals matter most. I would suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement has just as much purpose as the 60s movements--equality for blacks in society, with some more specific goals such as ending racism within the criminal justice system. But I completely agree that this is a topic that people often shy away from, and we need to encourage discussion on it.

I really like your point of view, you pose a great counterpoint. I would go further to state that because there is no centralized leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, there is no focus for outsiders to see. I wonder if there was a "Martin Luther King" of the Black Lives Matter movement, if there would be more unification and strength for effective change. Thoughts?

I see where you're coming from, but does there have to be a single leader for the movement to make an impact? There are many different voices speaking out from across all backgrounds, and the role that social media has played in raising awareness and rallying people has been monumental. This page of the Black Lives Matter website talks about misconceptions about the movement, and number 2 discusses the idea that the Black Lives Matter movement is leaderless:

http://blacklivesmatter.com/11-major-misconceptions-about-the-black-live...

A point they raise that really stuck with me is that when we look for "leaders" we often look for old, wise, heterosexual, cisgendered men. But a strength of the Black Lives Matter movement is that they have so many strong leaders. Is it really necessary to pin a face to the movement? That seems to me as though it would narrow the movement far too much--without a specific face, whenever I hear about the movement, the first things that come to mind are the injustices surrounding black lives in America (specifically I associate it with Freddie Gray).

That being said, I see some middle ground between our two views--more publicity for the leaders that are in place would show outsiders the varieties of leaders that exist, and perhaps more collaboration could be reached. I see what you mean about wanting another MLK for Black Lives Matter, but I would say there are many MLKs for the Black Lives Matter Movement. What do you think?

Hey! I completely agree with you. There are in fact still many injustices in Civil rights leaders’ wake. There must continue to be pushes for change until these injustices are settled. I feel as if race is not the only injustice that still remains in our society. Gender inequality is also a major cause for concern in today’s society and much like you said about race, gender inequality tends to be considered a “trap” that many aren’t willing to take the issues and change. Gender inequalities exist practically everywhere in society, especially in the world of politics. Much like you spoke of with African-Americans during the Civil rights movement of the 1960’s, the first wave of feminism pushed for the right to vote for women in order to influence their political system. The suffragettes put up a tremendous battle in order to achieve women’s suffrage. Although they were given the right to vote, they still faced and continue to face major political adversity. In recent years in the United States, there have been 2 major events that had a large positive impact on the adversity faced by both African-Americans and women in politics. First being the election of Barrack Obama as President of the United States and the second being Hillary Clinton and her ongoing race to be leader of the Democratic party. Although there have been many advancements in society that have allowed Hillary Clinton to have this opportunity, there are still many people who refuse to believe that a woman is entitled to the power that comes with being President thus refusing to vote for her solely because of the fact that she is a woman. They don’t care about how she can change the US in more ways than her opposing candidates, they simply care about the sex of the person in charge. This all goes to show that like you said, our society has come a long way, but there are still many civil injustices. Here is a link that speaks of the lack of women in Canadian politics, to further prove our point of civil injustices still being very existent in today’s society.

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/women-politics/