#BlackLivesMatter

With Serena Williams' record-tying Grand Slam victory July 9, her claim to the best athlete of her generation — male or female — seems irrefutable. But with the celebrity tennis player's Compton-to-Wimbledon narrative, and emergence as an outspoken and defiant champion of the African American community in the US, is the superstar athlete the most iconic since the late Muhammad Ali?
Jesse Williams used his award acceptance speech to denounce institutional racism and police brutality. Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams has been attacked for speaking out against racism with an online petition that garnered a paltry 1600 signatures in two days, demanding television network ABC fire the actor. By contrast a counter-petition in support of the star had received 11,000 signatures by July 4.
Three young African-American women started a blog in 2013 entitled “Black Lives Matter” in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a racist vigilante backed by the police, for the murder of unarmed Black youth Trayvon Martin. The blog started a movement that took the same name, as young Blacks launched mass actions that broke through the wall of silence concerning police murders of Black people.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement By Angela Davis Haymarket Books, 2016 180 pages, $15.95. In the summer of 2014, images spread across the world of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, facing off against police in riot gear, driving tanks and hurling tear gas grenades in the wake of the police shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown.
Protests against police killings in Chicago, November 25. Across the country, police murders of Black people continue apace — as do prosecutors' failure to charge the killers, getting hung juries at best.
The Black players on the University of Missouri’s football (gridiron) team — a team in the national title hunt just two years ago — went on strike against racism on November 7. The players demand was simple: they would not play until school president Tim Wolfe resigned over his inability to address a series of racist incidents on campus.
I had no intention of going to Ferguson, the flashpoint of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality. It was the United States’ dirty problem, not Australia’s. Then I read a piece about Black Lives Matter activists taking the mic from Bernie Sanders while he campaigned for Democratic presidential candidacy. Parts of the crowd booed.
#BlackLivesMatter activists Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford stormed the stage as Sanders began speaking and demanded an opportunity to address racial injustice. Seattle, August 8. There is a lull in the large mass mobilisations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, but the campaign targetting racism and police brutality remains central to politics in the US.
The white police officer who shot two unarmed Black youths in May in Thurston County, Washington state, will not face criminal charges, the Thurston County Prosecutor announced on September 2, because the youths’ skateboards were said to be “threatening” the officer. Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said that rather than charging the cop, whose bullets left one of the young men paralysed from the waist down, assault charges would be filed against the two men, Bryson Chaplin, 21, and Andre Thompson, 24.
LeBron James. If there was ever a moment that signalled how little Black lives mattered to people in power in the US, it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf of Mexico — especially devastating the city of New Orleans — 10 years ago. This fact was called out in real time by New Orleans residents, racial-justice activists around the country, and Kanye West's off-script and utterly true comments that “George Bush doesn't care about Black people”.

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