We stand with those in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black lives matter.
In his July 9, 1938, “The Persecution of the Jews,” Bertrand Russell memorably said, “[T]he oppression of a minority by a majority is no better, except numerically, than the oppression of a majority by a minority.” The longstanding, and ongoing, oppression of Black people in America falls into this category, as does the broader oppression of people of color in America, Canada, and elsewhere.
The Bertrand Russell Society opposes oppression in all its forms, whether on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, indigenous status, immigrant status, or socioeconomic status. Today, we affirm our opposition to the systematic and institutional oppression of Black people in America and worldwide. Such opposition is demanded by any credible effort at embodying Russell’s values in our own lives.
We oppose all instruments of oppression: whether it is implemented by the state through police brutality, police-involved killings, uneven enforcement, or discriminatory laws, by private parties, or in some other way, we oppose it.
To those in the Black Lives Matter movement, we offer the same words of support and encouragement that Bertrand Russell once gave to Muhammad Ali. As Ali recounted in his 1975 autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story, Russell wrote to him in a May 18, 1967 letter:
… In the coming months there is no doubt that the men who rule Washington will try to damage you in every way open to them, but I am sure you know that you spoke for your people and for the oppressed everywhere in the courageous defiance of American power. They will try to break you because you are a symbol of a force they are unable to destroy, namely, the aroused consciousness of a whole people determined no longer to be butchered and debased with fear and oppression. You have my wholehearted support. …
And yours sincerely,
The Bertrand Russell Society