Brandon M. Terry at The Point:
“Ferguson,” Cornel West declared in the wake of the November unrest, “signifies the end of the Age of Obama.” This, at least from the vantage point of African-American politics, appears appropriate. Though not many wanted to say it at the time, a notable chill fell over progressive and radical black politics from 2007 until roughly 2012, the year of Trayvon Martin’s slaying. This deep freeze stemmed from strategic concerns about Obama’s reelection prospects and political standing, genuine outrage at the intransigence and hostility he has faced from some Republicans, broadly shared affective investments in his and his family’s symbolic import, and an optimism born of the improbable fact of his electoral success.
The Ferguson eruption and the movement that arose in its aftermath are only the most spectacular evidence that these factors appear to be less constraining on African-American politics than at any time since Obama’s ascendancy. For a rising number of African-Americans and their racially egalitarian allies, the reactions to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner—and the non-indictments of those responsible—dramatized the need for another path. That the protestors in Ferguson were met with such an enthusiastic and imitative response across the country signals the thawing out of the black protest tradition and a rejection of more conciliatory and consensus-oriented conceptions of black politics. Once again, extraordinary effort is being devoted to building militant, independent social movements with organized African-American participation, capable of transcending the limits of conventional electoral politics and effectively channeling black rage and resentment.