This Article provides a detailed, contemporary examination and critique of the practice of Black protectionism. The discussion focuses on how Black protectionism has evolved over the decades, and whether the changes make it a more useful tool for community empowerment than its applications in previous eras. Its latest iteration, herein labeled Critical Black Protectionism, is assessed and evaluated in light of the increasing use of social media.This Article is divided into five parts. Part I provides an overview of Black protectionism, its roots and evolution. As well, this Part examines how African Americans have used protectionism. Part II sets out the step-by-step process of Black protectionism. It details who is eligible for protectionism and the “trigger questions” used to determine whether it is merited in a particular case. Part III assesses and critiques how Black protectionism has been applied in contemporary cases where African Americans have been accused of criminal or ethical wrongdoing. Part IV discusses the Black Lives Matter movement and its push and impact in reshaping and reimagining Black crime victims. It also considers how this reimagining has encouraged a revamping of Black protectionism. This Part also examines the emergence of social media and the role it has played in the refining of Black protectionism. This Part concludes by identifying the shift to a new, updated form of protectionism: Critical Black Protectionism. Part V addresses outstanding questions about Critical Black Protectionism, including its future iterations and its ability to impact and alter how the justice system works for African Americans.
Kathryn Russell-Brown, Critical Black Protectionism, Black Lives Matter, and Social Media: Building a Bridge to Social Justice, 60 Howard L.J. 367 (2017), available at