Over the last few years the killing of unarmed African Americans including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray by agents of the state have generated massive protests against a political system that almost never punishes police violence. Activist groups like Black Lives Matter have emerged as voices on the front lines from Ferguson to Baltimore.
Their message is simple: American society and the political system it has created do not value black lives the same as white lives. They draw powerful connections between the state-sanctioned use of force, a discriminatory criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and economic inequality for racial minorities. But their indictment of the system is predictably met with hostility by conservatives in denial that white supremacy exists, much less dominates American politics.
Right-wing authoritarians believe the real problem is liberals blowing a small number of sensationalist incidents out of proportion. They claim liberals take isolated cases of blacks being killed during police encounters and misconstrue them as discrimination, or argue that unemployed or incarcerated blacks created their own fate through their personal choices.