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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

American academic and author

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an African American academic, writer and assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University.

QuotesEdit

The fight against racism doesn't stop here (2013)Edit

About the trial of George Zimmerman, The fight against racism doesn't stop here (July 23, 2013), Socialist Worker.
  • For too long, the powers that be in this country have been able to explain these inequalities--why there are higher levels of poverty among Blacks, why there's higher unemployment, why Blacks go to the worst schools--by saying that we don't care. They blame the parents, and they blame the individuals for their success or failures. And at no point is there a discussion about the society that we live in and the way it's organized. There's no discussion about how the system sets up people to fail, it sets up people to be poor, it sets up people to be unemployed.
  • For 40 years, there has been a one-sided discussion blaming Black people for their own victimization. And so Black people accept it. It's that pervasive that African Americans as a whole, and organizations that are supposed to defend our civil rights, accept that logic. We have to fight back against that logic and offer a different argument for why inequality and discrimination runs right through this society.
  • It's not like people don't know that horrible things are happening. But at the same time, because so many horrible things are happening, it can feel exhausting and insurmountable. ... That can make you feel like there's nothing we can do--that the people in charge are all powerful. But at the same time, people don't forget the experience of struggle--and that there are victories along the way, amid the defeats. ... There are some victories even amid the setbacks.
  • We shouldn't discount or downplay those who are showing up because the protests overall aren't as big as we would like them to be. There are a growing number of young people in this country who are getting fed up, and they're the ones who are showing up to protests and demonstrations, and who want to fight now. We have to connect with those people to figure out where we take these movements around different issues. Movements don't just fall out of the sky fully formed.
  • We do know from the numbers of people who have come out already--and from the anger that we know exists in the communities where we live--that people want to fight. They don't necessarily know how to fight or what to do. But they want to, and that's important because it means people want things to be different, and that's an important starting place to work with. For people who want to do something, and do it now, this means we have to be both patient in terms of how larger movements develop, but also urgent about doing the work of organizing for the things we can do now. Movements aren't built by waiting for the struggle to develop and build itself--it's based on what we do today.
  • In one sense, this is a healthy response because it recognizes that race matters and racism matter, and and create different experiences for people in this country. But there is also something important to be said for solidarity. ... It's important to say that solidarity is not charity. Historically, solidarity has meant the recognition that all our struggles are connected. In the socialist movement and the labor movement, there's the old saying that "an injury to one is an injury to all." The point is to understand that when the majority of people are divided and standing up for one another, the chances of losing are much greater--but when we stand together, we have a better chance of winning.
  • Unity isn't established by ignoring the differences between different groups, but by persuading everyone to take all the different struggles seriously. That needs to be in the front of our minds now--to organize as broad a movement as possible as we move forward. Because the attacks are happening on so many different levels: the criminal justice system, housing and evictions, public education, low wages and poverty. All sorts of struggles are happening right now, and we should be standing in solidarity and supporting all of them.

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