“We are in the midst of a movement to upend white supremacy,” say the Nation‘s Jesse A. Myerson and Mychal Denzel Smith. They have three economic ideas for making #BlackLivesMatter.
We are in the midst of a movement to upend white supremacy. Thousands of people across the country, acting in response to the unpunished killings of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown and so many more unarmed black people who have lost their lives to police or vigilante violence, have taken to the streets to proclaim that “black lives matter.” While this is a powerful proclamation all its own, it can now be strengthened by a vision of what it will take to make those lives matter in America.
In 1966, along with A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and other organizers and scholars, Martin Luther King Jr. released the now all-but-forgotten Freedom Budget for All Americans, which included full employment, universal healthcare and good housing for all. “The Freedom Budget is essential if the Negro people are to make further progress,” he wrote. “It is essential if we are to maintain social peace. It is a political necessity.” Dr. King came to espouse this view toward the end of his life, acknowledging that civil and voting rights were a critical but merely partial victory in the struggle for complete equality.
King’s vision, needless to say, was never realized. This is why we propose that, in addition to calls for police reform, it is vital for the defeat of the racist system that the #BlackLivesMatter movement advance an economic program. We cannot undo racism in America without confronting our country’s history of economically exploiting black Americans. Demands from Ferguson Action and other groups include full employment, and this foundational item is one that can and should be fleshed out, as we hope to do here.
Read more at the Nation.