Black Lives Matter and the Politics of Redemption

This article explores the role of practical political theory in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. I argue that BLM represents a multifaceted engagement with the complicated politics of redemption that lies at the heart of American democracy. In one sense, BLM stands for the integration of black life into the framework of political value, and thus for a redemption of the promise of ‘justice for all.’ In another, it is a challenge to the principles themselves, viewing justice as a threat to be managed, rather than as a principle to be redeemed. Exploring the praxis of this movement, organized both against and within the possibility of redemption, will enable us to more effectively characterize the limitations of a politics grounded in the theorization of justice, and generate a richer understanding of the possibility for practical political theory to simultaneously employ and critique the politics of redemption.