After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle (Paperback)

After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle By Cedric G. Johnson Cover Image

After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle (Paperback)

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"After Black Lives Matter should be commended both for the clarity of its message and the bravery of its convictions."
–Jay Caspian Kang,  New Yorker

Why did a movement as powerful as the one inspired by the murder of George Floyd fall short of securing its most militant demands?


The murder of George Floyd prompted a historic uprising that transformed the way Americans and the world think about race and policing. Why did that movement fall short of the most militant demands to defund and dismantle police departments? After Black Lives Matter argues that the failure to make institutional changes was not a simple result of the mercurial and reactive character of the protests. Rather, the core of the movement itself failed to locate the central racial injustice that underpins the crisis of policing:socioeconomic inequality.

The anticapitalist and downwardly redistributive politics of many Black Lives Matter activists has too often been drowned out in the flood of black wealth creation, the fetishism of Jim Crow black entrepreneurship, corporate diversity initiatives, and a quixotic reparations demand. Contemporary policing reflects the turn from welfare to domestic warfare as the chief means of controlling the most dispossessed elementsof the working class.

The way forward lies in building popular democratic power to advance redistributive policies and social welfare.
Cedric Johnson is associate professor of African American Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His book, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics was named the 2008 W.E.B. DuBois Outstanding Book of the Year by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. Johnson is the editor of The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism and the Remaking of New Orleans. His 2017 Catalyst essay, “The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now," was awarded the 2018 Daniel Singer Millenium Prize. Johnson’s writings have appeared in Nonsite, Jacobin, New Political Science, New Labor Forum, Perspectives on Politics, Historical Materialism, and Journal of Developing Societies. In 2008, Johnson was named the Jon Garlock Labor Educator of the Year by the Rochester Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He previously served on the representative assembly for UIC United Faculty Local 6456.
Product Details ISBN: 9781804293003
ISBN-10: 1804293008
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 416
Language: English
"A virtuoso performance! Weighing the successes and limitations of Black Lives Matter, Johnson concludes that identity-based mobilization—confusing what people look like with what they need—cannot substitute for majoritarian political coalition-building."
—Barbara J. Fields, Columbia University

"Cedric Johnson delivers that increasingly rare experience in political writing: surprise. Whether telling the story of Louis Armstrong’s first hearing of Mack the Knife or reporting on the inequities of Chicago’s public transportation system or mounting a mini-memoir of his encounter with crime in Louisiana and Rochester, Johnson invests the drama of Marxist theory with new energy and vital detail. No matter how dark and dreary the landscape may be, it gets lit up wherever Johnson casts his sharp and appraising eye."
—Corey Robin, author of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas

"A brilliant scholar who is first and foremost concerned with equality and justice. It’s those very commitments that lead him, in After Black Lives Matter, to question today’s antiracism and its nostrums."
—Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor of Jacobin and author of The Socialist Manifesto

"A compelling argument for reinstating a meaningful anticapitalist analysis and politics into the fight to end police violence and the harms of the criminal justice system in the United States. Readers will undoubtedly come away with new perspectives that deepen their understanding of the successes and limitations of Black Lives Matter and its political vision."
—Leslie Kern, author of Feminist City

"Essential reading for those weary of platitude-driven texts on race and criminal justice and in the market for an empirically grounded political analysis that points to practicable solutions to one of the biggest problems of our day."
—Touré F. Reed, author of Toward Freedom

"A provocative and expansive critique from the left of the loose collection of protest actions, organizations, and ideological movements-whether prison abolition or calls to defund the police-that make up what we now call Black Lives Matter...After Black Lives Matter should be commended both for the clarity of its message and the bravery of its convictions."
—Jay Caspian Kang, New Yorker