Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at Town Hall Seattle
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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at Town Hall Seattle
Credit: Sonya Harris

Why Black Lives Matter still matters, and what to do about it

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in February of 2012. His death sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Black Lives activism is the subject of much of Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s work. In this talk, she encapsulates how the movement began, the culture of racism and structural inequality that inspired it, the political and economic climate that inhibits it, and where it might be headed.

She spoke at Town Hall Seattle on September 5. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded the conversation.

“Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”- Black Lives Matter website

Since Trayvon Martin’s death, BLM has marked other killings. The names should be familiar. Among them are Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed by police while playing in a park with a toy gun; Tanisha Anderson, a 37-year-old woman who died after being slammed to the pavement by police in front of her house; Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man choked to death on a sidewalk while saying repeatedly "I can't breathe"; Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman found hanged in her jail cell after a traffic stop; and Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

“About 100 in 100,000 black men and boys will be killed by police during their lives, while 39 white men and boys per 100,000 are killed by police. This means black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men.” – University of Michigan

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” and the editor of the recently released essay collection “How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.” She is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.