The election of Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists across the country. Hate crimes have been on the rise for several years now, and racism, which has been ingrained in U.S. institutions since the nation’s founding, has become glaringly apparent even to those who’ve thought for a few years now, especially since a black president was elected, that racism was a thing of the past.
“Trump’s election has allowed [white supremacists] to completely go buck wild,” scholar and Black Lives Matter co-founder Melina Abdullah tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest installment of Scheer Intelligence.
Abdullah takes the fight for social justice everywhere from our streets to our courtrooms and classrooms. Not only is she a professor of Black Studies as the discipline turns half a century old, but she is also an impassioned activist who is often openly critical of the Los Angeles Police Department and was arrested during a May 2018 protest.
Today’s struggles could cause some to despair at the idea that the hardwon achievements of the civil rights movement have been erased. However, one place where the legacy of the black and brown movements of the 60s and 70s lives on is higher education according to Abdullah who attended Howard University, a historically black college, as well as obtained her PhD at the University of Southern California and is now the head of the PanAfrican studies program at Cal State, Los Angeles.
“I still think black studies is probably the most enduring victory of the Black Power Movement, right?” says Abdullah. “It’s a part of an institution that never wanted it. And so it means that the struggle is constant, because the institution is always trying to shut us down and kick us out. But it also is kind of a way of taking resources back. An education system that was intended for, you know, the sons and daughters of the wealthy---that scandal that’s plagued the country.”
The intersectionality of Americans’ troubles is not lost on the activist who identifies “gentrification, homelessness, poverty, miseducation” as “interlocking systems” that combine to oppress the most vulnerable members of our society. And despite the fact that so many conditions in communities of color have gotten worse over the past few decades, Abdullah has hope and a recipe for resistance.
“[As long as we push back] through whatever forms we have---through media, through personal interactions, through our writings … they’re gonna lose,” Abdullah concludes. “Let me say that real clear. The white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative capitalists are going to lose. Because they always lose. The only way they win is when we refuse to fight.”
Listen to their full discussion about the plight of people of color in Trump’s America as well as the damage that was inflicted on black and brown communities by both Democrats and Republicans throughout the recent administrations.