Comparison: Black Panthers vs Dalit Panthers

Who were the Black Panthers?

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The Black Panthers were founded in 1966, sparked from the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. Their original aim was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect against police brutality. Their ideology was based in revolutionary Marxist theory as they believed that the root cause for all oppression was economic exploitation. This meant that they believed wealthy African Americans could exploit poorer African Americans which separated them from other Black Rights movements of the time. They also made distinctions between racist and non-racist white people and allied with some that they perceived non-racist.

Main Achievements: Despite their original aim being to protect against police brutality, the Black Panthers did a lot for the most disadvantaged in society; they opened free health care clinics, a tuition free school, food banks etc etc.

Similarities

  • Both groups supported rights for all those at the bottom of society
  • Dalit Panthers’ structure based on Black Panthers’ presidential structure
  • Both saw violence as a legitimate means for their desired ends

Differences

  • The Black Panthers had a very particular recruitment strategy which protected them from infiltrators (such as police) and enabled them to continue their work without an overwhelming number of recruits however in comparison, the Dalit Panthers allowed anyone in that wanted to join and this created ideological issues
  • The Black Panthers are still having an impact today despite the group no longer being in existence e.g. Beyonce Super Bowl performance and arguably the Black Lives  Matter campaign has been formed off of the idea of not accepting  police brutally which was normalised by the Black Panthers whereas the Dalit Panthers seemed to have a limited impact on the caste structure
  • Though the Black Panthers had a clear Marxist political ideology the Dalit Panthers did not have a clear ideological perspective
  • Black Panthers didn’t have a conflict within their ideology and leadership whereas the Dalit Panthers did e.g. Neo Buddhism vs Marxism

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