“I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does, so I can’t tell you how it compares to what the Black Panther Party was. I know what the BPP was. I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assaults on us by the police and government – I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.”
Singer and former Chairwoman of the Black Panther Party (BPP), Elaine Brown, doesn’t seem to be a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The above remarks were made during a recent interview with Spiked Deputy Editor Tom Slater. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, and like many critics of the movement, Brown doesn’t take the party’s comparison to the Black Lives Matter movement lightly.
“There is no comparison,” she told Slater. “The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young Black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organized fashion, with and agenda, to create revolutionary change…”
Black Lives Matter erupted in the wake of the police-involved shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. Brown was unarmed at the time, and many expressed anger through riots and other violent means in protest of police brutality, particularly the killings of Black people by white officers.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter quickly evolved into a full out movement, but one that is heavily criticized for its lack of defined leadership.
“We [BPP] advocated community self-defense organizations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights,” Brown continued. “This to me is a plantation mentality. It smacks of ‘master, if you would just treat me right.’ And it has nothing to do with self-determination, empowerment and a sense of justice, or anything else.”
Carrying on the tradition of the BPP’s “survival” programs, Brown has set up Oakland and the World, a non-profit that creates cooperative businesses for ex-cons and others “facing extreme barriers to employment.”
“In the absence of a serious people’s movement, we have to do something… For now, we must do what we need to do to live, to fight another day.”