Fear of Falling: Can Making Black Lives Matter Rescue a Failing State?Roundup
tags: racism, government
Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes and is now at work on a new book on the history of torture in the United States.
My thinking about our nation’s rapid fall into failure began with my personal tumble on the way to a Black Lives Matter demonstration. In a way, that couldn’t be more fitting, because African Americans, particularly through their presence on the streets and in the media, are leading the present effort to pull this country back from the brink and toward legitimacy, more collective decision-making, the genuine provision of people’s needs, and participation in the community of nations.
The platform of the Movement for Black Lives represents an excellent place to start when it comes to preventing this country from becoming a failed state. The document itself is the result of an extended process of collective discussion and decision-making. Its goals include ending police violence and mass incarceration; investing in community needs; supporting the rights of women, LGBTQ communities, and immigrants; creating economic justice; and increasing black political power.
The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to this country’s long history of state-sanctioned violence against African Americans, whether in the form of lynching, cultural erasure, forced labor, or predatory lending. More than a century of violent, indeed murderous, policing of black and other marginalized communities has made this country’s use of state violence profoundly illegitimate. The present wave of resistance has forced the rest of the country, and the world, to look at it squarely.
If the U.S. is to break its headlong rush into failed statehood, it must begin by addressing the legitimate demands of the people this country has failed from its very inception. Through that process we might also begin to restore our nation’s collective decision-making, improve the genuine provision of public services, and make a new and better place for ourselves in the community of nations. Without it, there is no hope of doing so.
We shouldn’t fool ourselves, though. In Donald Trump’s -- or even Joe Biden’s -- United States, it’s going to be a long, hard haul. But better that than a steep fall.
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