BOOK REVIEW

Proposing a pathway forward in the fight for Black lives

Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. PHOTO: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr
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When I was invited to review Christina López’s pamphlet Which way forward for the Black Lives Matter movement? I was eager to take on the gig but conflicted about the subject matter. While I supported the ideals of Black Lives Matter, recent news of financial mismanagement as well as collaboration with useless neoliberal political entities turned me off the idea that BLM as a centralized entity (i.e., BLM Global Network) could achieve the change we activists desperately fight for.

So, you can imagine my excitement and relief when López took the first portion of her pamphlet to call out BLM Global Network for their anti-revolutionary practices. It’s hard to put into words how effortlessly she manages to answer the main problems of activist movements today. With less than thirty pages of material, the author manages to set fire to the dangerous preconceived notions that sabotage the class struggle for freedom. Her sure-handedness — missing from a lot of today’s progressive leadership — is refreshing to read here.

One of my favorite points raised is the crucial difference between “tactics” and “strategy.” López makes it explicitly clear that if today’s movements cannot catalyze short-term passion into long-term organization, meaningful progress will forever be unattainable. She brings up the world-famous marches that sprang up in the wake of Black murders at the hand of police as an example of momentary energy leading to minimal change, but you can also see the shortfall of tactic-based organizing in the disappointing Occupy Wall Street Movement.

But just because López’s presentation is simple doesn’t mean her words don’t have depth or the ability to challenge the reader. Her mini-discourse on the danger of cultural nationalism both reflected my own sentiments about Black isolationism but also challenged me to do a better job challenging these destructive beliefs when I encounter them in the work.

Personally, I have been heavily involved with the Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board (ECRB) — the same police accountability effort in New York City (NYC) mentioned in the pamphlet. From the beginning, the ECRB campaign has embraced contributors and leaders of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and ages. With this intentional diversity comes new perspectives that have given the campaign staying power beyond the flashfire of mass protest, which has led us to produce a bill that now has eight sponsors in NYC City Council with growing public support.

In the new year with the world’s voice clamoring for justice now louder than ever, recognizing and adopting the concept of “revolutionary integration” that López describes becomes more crucial than ever. The path to universal harmony requires universal cooperation.

I applaud López for her holistic assessment of the struggle for justice, and I cannot recommend this pamphlet enough to anyone committed to true, far-reaching revolutionary action.

Lee Gill is an African American writer and an organizer involved with the Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board, a NYC-based grassroots movement for police accountability. Send comments to: writerlelandgill@gmail.com.

 

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