Longtime activist and former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party Elaine Brown didn’t mince words when it came to characterizing the Black Lives Matter movement. She says the movement’s slogan “hands up, don’t shoot” is grounded in a “plantation mentality.”
The harsh criticism of the movement came in an interview with the U.K. site Spiked-online. When asked to compare Black Lives Matter to the Black Panther Party, she said that she doesn’t “know what Black Lives Matter does.”
“I know what the BPP was,” she said. “I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assaults on us by the police and government — I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.”
She criticized today’s “new generation” of young people for “complaining and protesting about the murder of young Black men and women by police,” but said they had no other plans beyond public protests.
They will protest but they will not rise up in an organized fashion, with an agenda, to create revolutionary change. We advocated community self-defense organizations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights.
This to me is a plantation mentality. It smacks of ‘master, if you would just treat me right’. And it has nothing to do with self-determination, empowerment and a sense of justice, or anything else. When, in 1967, the California state legislature was tabling a bill banning the open carry of firearms – in direct response to the Panther patrols – [BPP founders Huey P.] Newton and [Bobby] Seale led an armed delegation to the State Capitol. One need only contrast that to BLM protests in the wake of police shootings – where they host ‘die-ins’ – to see the chasm between the two movements.
Brown said that the Black Panther Party, which celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this month, was a “24-hour job” which included neighborhood patrols, social programs in Black neighborhoods, and fighting back against police brutality. Brown served as chairwoman of the party from 1974-1977.
On Monday, activist and writer Shaun King gave an interview with Democracy Now!, where he said that he respects Brown, but disagrees with characterization of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I love the BPP,” King said, adding that Brown’s former party-mate Bobby Seale was supportive of the BLM movement. “I was disappointed in what Elaine said.”
He added that it was an unfair comparison to draw because the Black Lives Matter movement is only two years into existence.
“I understand her criticism, saying ‘what are they doing?’ compared to what [the BPP] accomplished,” he said. “But even some of us look at the dangers of what happened to Black Panther leaders. From targeted assassinations to COINTELPRO. And some of the lessons that we learned from them has caused us to change our methods.”
“The Black Lives Matter Movement is not a carbon copy of what the Black Panther Party did,” he added. “How we do what we do will be uniquely different. Our time is different.”
You can see Shaun’s full interview here: