Tuesday, July 12, 2016

NCOBPS express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement

July 2016

This is a statement from the President and the President-Elect of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS).  It is to express our organization’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement and its cause of the human rights of black as well as other marginalized people who confront racial and economic inequalities, most especially with the administration of law enforcement and the criminal justice systems.

We write this statement mindful of the most recent events of the terrible police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castille in suburban MN.  Our hearts go out to the loved ones and friends who lost these two men to police violence as well as to the all too many others who lives have been lost and who deaths fundamentally have called us to act.
We are also very mindful of the possibly retaliatory violence against Dallas, TX police officers that claimed five lives and critically wounded seven others.  Our hearts also go to these families because we, like the Movement, do not see acts of random violence against police officers, in any way, as answering the cause of racial justice, especially when these officers are protecting the right of the Movement to peacefully protest.  We also condemn the words of critics who dare to argue that the Black Lives Matter Movement is inspiring anti-police violence. 

Instead, we remind the public and the media of the broader, fundamental inequalities that confront African American communities and have inspired Black Lives Matter activists and others to continue a long tradition of brilliant and courageous activism.

The National Conference of Black Political Scientists Presidential Statement on “Black Lives Matter” July 2015

On behalf of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS), we make this presidential statement to voice a very widely shared sentiment among NCOBPS members that indeed “Black Lives Matter.”  NCOBPS is an organization with a nearly 50-year old legacy of affirming universal human rights and thus the human treatment and acknowledgement of the humane dignity of all.  We especially affirm the human rights and humane treatment of the Global Black community – persons of African descent and their allies – in the United States and throughout the world.

NCOBPS is an organization that has always sought to be relevant to the struggles of Black/African communities by ensuring our scholarship and activism serves the struggles of these communities to be self-determined and free from the oppressions imposed by race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and any other forms.  Most recently, we and our various members have become intimately involved in struggles for asserting Black and Brown Lives Matter whether stemming from various forms of violence such as: racist police violence harming and readily taking the lives of Black people (most recently in Alton Sterling in Baton, LA and Philando Castille in suburban MN); the injustices of the criminal justice system and the prison/industrial complex; the environmental racism of the Flint, Michigan water crisis poisoning Black and poor people, particularly children; and most recently the hate-crime terrorism of the Orlando shooter killing 49 mostly Latina/Latina LGBT persons.  These are just specific instances of a broader systemic and structural matrix of oppression that we as scholars and activists have joined with others to confront. 

As political scientists and students of politics, we reiterate a call for all to address and redress the challenges that Black/African people confront; history and present circumstances of Black people call into question the continuing need to demand justice, equality, equity, and attention to the contemporary experiences and disparities that they, sometimes uniquely face, as an utter consequence (intentional or unintentional) of Blackness.
So at this present moment we feel it necessary for NCOBPS to add its voice to the current political debates as to how not only move the United States but the world progressively forward to advance a vision of full human rights and human dignity.  As scholar-activists, we remind all willing to read this statement that of the broader inequalities and disparities that Black Lives confront in the United States:

Increasingly, Black children are introduced to school suspensions, expulsions, and juvenile offenses that more harshly and disproportionately punish them in comparison to white children and foreclose many of their life opportunities.  The “school-to-prison pipeline” disproportionately affects young Black girls more than black boys.  Across the nation, Black boys were suspended three times as often as White boys; however, Black girls were suspended six times as often as white girls. (See http://www.aapf.org/recent/2014/12/coming-soon-blackgirlsmatter-pushed-out-overpoliced-and-underprotected.)

Compared to American Indians (7.61), Asian or Pacific Islanders (4.07), Hispanics (5.00), and whites (5.06), in 2013, Black Americans have the highest infant mortality rate (11.1) per 1000 live births. (See http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_09.pdf.) The mortality rate for Black Americans continues to be higher than it is for White Americans. (See http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_09.pdf.)

From 1967 through 2014, Black Americans had the lowest median household income, compared to White Americans (not Hispanic), Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.  In 2014, while 10.1 percent of White Americans (Non-Hispanic) lived in poverty, 26.2 percent of Black Americans lived in poverty, compared to 23.6 percent of Hispanic Americans (of any race) and 12.0 percent of Asian Americans. Nationally, the poverty rate was 14.8 percent of Americans in 2014.  (See https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf.)  Among the civilian population, despite unemployment percentages falling below 5 percent for White Americans, as of 2014, Black Americans’ unemployment was 8.2 percent. (See http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk.)

Pre- and Post- Great Recession wealth statistics for Blacks, whites, and Hispanic Americans indicate a greater effect of the recession on Black and Hispanic Americans’ wealth than compared to White Americans’.  In fact, White Americans’ wealth in 2009 was reportedly 18 times as large as Black Americans’. (See http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics.)

Criminal Justice
In 2013, non-Hispanic Black males (37%) comprised the largest portion of male inmates under state or federal jurisdiction, whereas non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics comprised 32 percent and 22 percent of this population, respectively.  For female inmates, black females comprised a lower percentage (22 percent) of the inmate population compared to white female inmates (49 percent).  However, Black females were imprisoned at a rate of 113 per 100,000, compare to white females, who were imprisoned at a rate of 51 per 100,000.  (See http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p13.pdf.)

To this extent, we of NCOBPS are united in the belief that it is inhumane, unjust, unfair, and democratically unfathomable that people can experience life in this way within a nation that claims to be a beacon of democracy and human rights.
We emphatically assert that “Black Lives Matter,” without devaluing the value of other people’s lives, as being of any lesser value.  We do not adhere to this false logic.  We profess (as it is often implied, otherwise) that Black Lives are equal to all other social groups’ lives, as this always should have been the case.  Therefore, Black Lives should be treated and valued, as if they “matter,” in order to safeguard them, reconcile historic and contemporary racial disparities, and enhance their qualities of life to the point of full humanity.

Moreover, the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) stands with other allied organizations to encourage, advance, and sustain research, community discourse, and activism that challenges practices that implicitly, explicitly, and complicity have undermined the full and equal value of Black Lives.
In a spirit of solidarity, we strongly reiterate this organization’s declaration that “Black Lives Matter”!

Dr. Todd C. Shaw

Dr. Shayla Nunnally


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