Asserting that black lives matter also means that the quality of those lives matters. This report takes its title from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which was founded following George Zimmerman’s acquittal of murder in the death of black teenager Trayvon Martin.
In the time since, #BlackLivesMatter has served both as an umbrella and a focus point for protest and activism in response to the violent deaths of black people across America at the hands of law enforcement officials. The movement hit a peak in the latter half of 2014 as grand juries failed to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City. The explosion of political protest that arose in Ferguson and other cities has inspired a new wave of activism that goes well beyond the individual cases of these black people who lost their lives.
Asserting that black lives matter also means that the quality of those lives matters. Economic opportunity is inextricably linked to the quality of the lives lived by blacks in America. Several years past the Great Recession of 2008, the American economy has recovered, and workers and families in most demographic groups have begun to participate in that recovery. Yet African Americans have yet to feel those benefits. Focus on the recession obscures the fact that our country has been harboring a black jobs crisis for many decades, and there are no signs on the horizon of an immediate resolution of that crisis.