Black Lives: Trap, Why Civil Rights Aren’t Enough to Make the American Dream Come True
This video is the second of a series of nine exploring life in inner city African American communities. The first looked at life in Ferguson Missouri four years after the police murdered Michael Brown – which sparked the formation of the group Black Lives Matter (see Still dreaming of racial justice in St Louis Black neighborhoods). Clearly little had changed.
The rest of the series looks at other decaying urban ghettos, as well as examining problems unique to poor African American communities (the absence of decent jobs or housing, failing schools, teen pregnancy, gangs, and drug dealing). My first reaction on viewing the series was to question why the US media rarely reports on these issues – or efforts by local African American leaders to address them.
The second film focuses on poor Black communities in Baltimore and Washington DC. Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s, the bleak living conditions poor Black Americans endure remain virtually unchanged.
The most interesting interviews in this episode are with two activist religious leaders organizing their communities to improve living conditions..
One makes an interesting observation about the determination of the FBI and CIA to infiltrate and destroy any grassroots movement that takes serious strides towards improving African American living conditions.*
He also believes the two major political parties exploit racism to win votes. Republicans provoke anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments among white males who feel excluded from the massive economic transformation occurring in industrialized society. Democrats use racism to line up black votes, while making notoriously empty promises to improve their lives.
*Which corresponds with my experience in Seattle’s African American community, while working with a prison reform committee and Seattle’s African American Heritage Museum.