The Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter.

The parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the more recent Black Lives Matter are staggering and show that racism did not die out in the 1960s with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Instead, racism is still very much alive today. Lynchings have turned into extrajudicial killings by the hands of the police; microaggressions still play a large part in everyday life; mass incarceration was birthed out of the end of slavery and still disproportionately impacts people of color (especially black men).

Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad spoke with NPR’s All Things Considered recently about these parallels between the two movements and also mentioned that the Black Lives Matter movement is:

….fundamentally committed to moving past what they call respectability politics. They want to suggest that the work of transforming America now means that everyone is entitled to their human dignity and their due process. And if they don’t speak perfect English, if they’ve not graduated from high school, they still deserve respect in this nation.

We as white people often refuse to see the parallels between these movements often because we don’t want to take the uncomfortable responsibility of acknowledging and accepting our role in the ongoing systemic racism. We are complicit in this system of white supremacy whether we realize it or not and romanticizing the past and washing it out from context does nothing other than resolve our own guilt and paint the incorrect picture of racial harmony. We deflect from real conversations on race and racism with things like #AllLivesMatter without realizing that in reality, all lives don’t in the US.

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