The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ encompass a fight against all forms of injustice and this generation understands that it can no longer “sit back and allow deaths and injustices, institutionalised racism, to continue,” adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, author, activist and daughter of late civil rights activist Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz, told N1, adding that the first step toward this goal is reforming education.
Shabazz spoke about her father, his role in the civil rights movement in the US and the parallels to what is happening in the United States currently.
“It was in the 1950s, my father was in his late twenties, there were young people demonstrating, protesting, marching, even then, for quality life, for quality education, for quality housing, healthcare, the safeguards of their families. And my father came along and said, ‘listen, we demand our human rights as your brothers, we demand our human rights ordained by God,” she explained.
“I think today, when we see these continued killings of young, unarmed, innocent people in most cases – you’ve got to, at some point, recognise the difference between right and wrong. I think that this generation understands that we can no longer sit back and allow these deaths and injustices, institutionalised racism, to continue,” she added.
Shabazz said that when one looks at the foundations of contemporary America, it is clear that “it was built off the backs of the indigenous African diaspora” and that it is extremely important to “make sure that our educational system, the retraining, our policies, laws, legislation, that all of these things are done over, that they are written over.”
“And at the end of the day, we’ll see that it’s not a matter of black and white, it’s a matter of right and wrong, and having the capacity to recognise the difference between right and wrong, because each of us will be accountable for the lives that we live. Each of us is ultimately going to perish,” she said.
“So when we say Black Lives Matter, this includes and encompasses all forms of injustice,” she explained.
Shabazz praised the fact that 50 states within the US, as well as 18 world countries, joined the ongoing protest following the killing of George Floyd, but also pointed out that “there have been six lynchings” recently.
“There have been people hung by ropes. And this was something that was very consistent during the Jim Crowe era, during the times of slavery, and at some point, we have to say – enough is enough. And I think it begins with education. Ensuring that our educational curriculum is not just one-sided,” she said.
She explained that it is important to understand “the significant contributions that blacks made not only to the world and not only to the continent but what they made right here in America.”
“Injustice against anyone is injustice against all of us as human beings,” she declared.
More about the importance of education and knowing history, the work of Malcolm X, the reasons behind the ongoing protests in the US and the specific circumstances that led to such a large movement at this particular time can be heard in the full interview above.