A Global System of Oppression
Black Americans’ problems with the police are part of a global conflict, said Phillip Agnew, of the Dream Defenders, the youthful activist organization that emerged after Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012. “They’re all connected to one system: a system of injustice, a system of exploitation, a system of oppression that governs and controls us, nationally and internationally,” he said. “The same thing that is happening in Jacksonville, Florida, is happening in Palestine. The system isn’t broken; it’s working exactly how it was designed to work in order to oppress people around the world.”
Rulers Face Crisis of Legitimacy
Voter turnout in Philadelphia in last month’s local elections was the lowest in generations, especially in poor Black districts. This does not bode well for Democrats, especially Hillary Clinton, according to scholar and activist Dr. Anthony Monteiro. Unless something happens to dramatically energize Blacks, “Hillary Clinton cannot win the state of Pennsylvania, and if she cannot win Pennsylvania, she cannot become President of the United States.” Monteiro believes “we have entered a period where there is a crisis of legitimacy, where those who govern no longer have the legitimate support of the people they govern,” he said. “The question is, How will they govern without the support of the people and call it a democracy?”
Taking Measure of the “Ferguson-Baltimore Moment”
Black resistance confronts “a financialized, monopoly capitalism, with its repressive apparatus – the police and so forth – combined with the ideological apparatus of the educational system and the entertainment system,” said Dr. Cornel West, of Union Theological Seminary, on a Real News Network special program on “Building a Mass Movement.” “When folks are able to see through” the system’s ideological apparatus and “keep track of the suffering, and provide better, more liberating conceptions of what it means to be in the world, then I think we’re in a new day. I think we’re approaching that new day with what I call ‘the Ferguson-Baltimore moment,’” said West.
Marshall “Eddie” Conway, a former Black Panther Party member who spent 44 years as a political prisoner, said poor communities in cities like Baltimore have been “driven so far down, they can only go up.” Activists must help build “institutions that will sustain these communities.” The government and vested economic interests will then respond with attacks on such people’s institutions, but the community will learn that the system “doesn’t work in their interest.”
The current historical moment is marked by young people’s “rejection of traditional leadership, the outright disdain for those leaders who have served to temper the social movement,” said Rev. Osagyefu Sekou, of the Fellowship for Reconciliation. “Internal work” in Black communities will be key. “What are the ways that Black communities are going to self-organize, outside of the specter of the State, through cooperatives and feeding programs, cop-watches, self-patrols, those kinds of things where folks feel that they have a buy-in in the geography they occupy?”