In the 90s, before Hillary Clinton was taking private meetings with Deray McKesson and campaigning on promises to end mass incarceration and reform mandatory minimums, she was a little less enlightened, shall we say, on issues around race and criminal justice. At a speech last night, two Black Lives Matter activists took her to task for it.
When my former colleague Jason Parham reviewed Stanley Nelson’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution last September, much of its retrospective content (dating back to the ‘60s) was uncannily relevant, given the growing amplification of dissatisfaction over racial inequality in this country, including but not limited to the routine police killings of unarmed black people. Parham wrote:
Dayton, Ohio-area cop Lee Cyr has been placed on leave after a Facebook comment reading “Love a happy ending” appeared next to his name under a thread about the death of Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel II, who committed suicide on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Monday.
Ten days ago, Tim Wolfe—the ex-University of Missouri System president who famously stepped down from his position last November after a black student’s hunger strike made the state’s flagship campus in Columbia the focus of a national discussion regarding the treatment of minority college students—sent an email to confidants that he labeled “CONFIDENTIAL.”
On Thursday night, four days before unnamed gunmen shot five people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, video surfaced of two men driving toward ongoing demonstrations around the police shooting of Jamar Clark, one of them carrying what appears to be a handgun. “We’re going to see what these fucking dindus are up to,” one of the men says near the beginning of the video. “And yes, we are locked and loaded.”
In recent weeks, calls for widespread institutional change at some predominantly white colleges and universities have captured the nation’s collective attention. On one side, free speech fundamentalists at schools like UCLA, Yale, and the University of Missouri insist that one’s First Amendment right outweighs issues of racial insensitivity. Nobody ever guaranteed a hostile-free learning environment, they say. On the other side, black students feel unsafe as a result of unregulated free speech masked as open intellectual exchange.
“It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community,” activist Stokely Carmichael said in June 1966 upon his release from jail (he had been arrested during the March Against Fear). “It is a call for black people to define their own goals.” Self-determination, Carmichael believed, was the first need of a free people.
After entertaining two perspectives on whether the Black Lives Matter movement should be categorized as a “hate group,” Bill O’Reilly decided, “They’re a hate group.” Well! Glad that’s settled. Just kidding—there’s always more: “And I’m going to tell you right now, I’m going to put them out of business.”
[UPDATED BELOW] Yesterday, the nativist website Breitbart.com alleged that the anti-racism activist Shaun King had repeatedly and willfully misrepresented his racial background for money and publicity, highlighting the fact that King’s 1979 birth certificate indicates he was born to two white parents (instead of a “Caucasian mother and an African-American father,” as a 2012 profile of King noted). But now MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid is reporting—and King has since confirmed in an essay for DailyKos—a crucial bit of context: The father listed on the certificate, Jeffery Wayne King, is not the activist’s biological father. Today Reid told anchor Richard Lui: