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Grassroots activist, feminist, sociologist, poop talk pro, future foster mom, travel whore, thrift store junky, music and food consumer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#AboutLastNight

The colonists fought for their freedom during the Revolutionary War, while owning slaves. Our current power elites wage wars to fight for the freedom of other nations and albeit in the name of our own, while the not-so-free continue to exist within the borders that symbolize freedom in song and legal documents. Every other body fighting for freedom is understandable except the black one, except the brown one...unless you're fighting for the freedom of the white one. Blacks helped fight the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, and every war that followed in hopes of being free, of being human, of being equal. But violence doesn't fit in the narrative for black & brown freedom because black and brown bodies fighting for freedom are thugs & terrorists. The only freedom fighters are black bodies who rode buses into danger, who got shot, and beat, and bombed, who needed the government to intervene on their behalf, but not for their sakes, not for their humanity, but to cease the nation's international ridicule from critics.  

Perhaps, you'd like to think a bit more critically as to why the image of blacks fighting for racial, gender, and economic equality is so disturbing to you. Why do you feel so threatened when a rock, a gun, or a bomb is in brown or black hands? Why do images of black and brown bodies rioting scare you so much more than white bodies rioting? An even better question: why is a black man connecting eyes with a white man such a threatening event? Run black man. Kill him white man. But don't just kill him. Mangle his body. Tell the rest of them and then return his body to them, so that they may see the consequence of not subjecting your body, your mind, your heart, your dignity, your hopes. Let his story remind them, let his body remind them, of their place, beneath and under, of their power, which is nonexistent. 

Stop referencing the Civil Rights movement and its tactics as forever representative of "the way" change is evoked, especially changes in race relations. Nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement were effective because they were innovative at the time. It was a tactic that illuminated the ease of provoking great turmoil and death from whites (whose value is only found in the oppression of everyone else). I was just in Washington, DC with 600 other people from across the nation protesting, marching, and holding rallies outside. Where was the media? We had to call them. Because marching and rallying is so commonplace that unless you're doing something that breaks from the usual protest, the media is not checking for you. So regardless of how you feel, those "rioters" are why we're talking about last night. Those rioters are why you have so much media coverage about the structural problems in Baltimore. Those rioters are why your fb and twitter feeds are full of people conversing about their frustrations, their feelings, their grief. So you might say that all they are going to accomplish is death, but their greatest accomplishment is that they have reignited the conversation, which is imperative if reducing inequalities is the goal. We've been too content the last 40 years, too comfortable with the injustices that wreak our communities. People in this country have always fought. The Natives fought. The slaves fought. The colonists fought. The abolitionists fought. The laborers fought. The women fought. The gays and lesbians fought. How dare you tell these young people of color not to fight?! 

I had no idea there were so many experts on evoking grand scale change. Who knew that so many people have been sitting on such vital information? Rioting is not the way! Oh? Tell me what is then. Nonviolent direct action? Peaceful protest? Oh, I see. The ways of Ghandi, but of more importance Rev. Dr. King, are more appealing to you. Is it because of the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement? We did get the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Well, the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, but we did get it. The Civil Rights Act has helped a few, but black people still face discrimination. Women still face discrimination. LGBT folk still face discrimination. Nonchristians...yep you guessed it...still face discrimination. So peaceful protests huh? Like the peaceful protests in the late 50s and 60s that got people mamed, injured, eaten by dogs, fire hosed, beaten with batons and pipes and farming tools and guns and sticks, shot, bombed, and killed? A decade of that after a hundred years of lynching, race riots, massive rape, police brutlaity, "legal" executions and its no wonder the Black Panther Party generated such interests and grew so quickly! Black people were tired of being a moment away from death. And not just any deaths, but deaths reserved specifically for them.  

Disdain for "violent" measures intrigue me because as a social activists, I'm constantly trying to recruit people to the movement, but most people tell me its pointless, or they're too busy, or they're too afraid of being arrested. Arrested. Now that response acknowledges that nonviolent activists get arrested - they get injured and found dead too - just like those rioters using violence. What makes Martin's death worst than Malcolm's? They were both shot dead. Ghandi was shot dead. Fred and Mark? They're all dead, and it wasn't because of their tactics, but because of their goals.
It doesn't matter if we take the legal route: Brown V. The Board of Education 1954 brought a reign of terror to the South and over half a million whites subsequently joined organized hate groups. The last school in the South wasn't integrated until 1971. Instead of integration, most white parents opted to move to even more secluded neighborhoods or opted to send their children to private schools. --- Slaves were legally freed and the KKK was born from the womb of that decision. --- When Johnson signed those 2 Acts we like to reference all the time, Southern Democratic Congressmen made their way to the Republican party (& Neoliberalism gained momentum). Basically, people who benefit from inequalities will find a way to continue to oppress and exploit people (Not to diminish your optimism!) 
It doesn't matter if we use extralegal means like direct nonviolent action:  One of my favorite quotes from David Roediger (2008:43): For white Americans, the logic of revolution was that true independence would never be granted but would have to be seized, while among slaves freedom could never be seized but only granted. I love this quote because it captures the sentiments of why it doesn't matter the avenue chosen, as long as the goal is equality, or even to reduce racial inequality,the response will be the same. 

Postscript

There are too many posts expressing disdain of the rioters. Typists are writing of "better" ways to get the racial, gender, and economic justice these "rioters" seek. So many are so sure that rioting isn't the way, that violence isn't the answer, but all I keep wondering is "Why aren't you helping them then?" If you got it figured out, why aren't you helping us all? These critiques come from people who are well aware of what it takes to get racial equality. They know there will be blood. They just don't want it to be their blood, or their children's blood, but somebody's...somebody's. These people took the red pill but not by choice. If they had an option they would swallow that blue pill in a second. They would still be plugged into the Matrix where everything still tastes like chicken. Since they can't escape the real world, they try to maintain their existence between the Matrix and the real world, but there is no such place. Typing boldly about the legal and peaceful routes for blacks to seek justice requires these people to forget and remember simultaneously. They forget Rodney, Malcolm, the great Rev. Dr., John Crawford, Emmitt Till, Rekia, Mr. Gardner, Fred and now Freddie. They have gotten too good at seeing the dead as those we must forget to stay alive - because if we remember...when we remember...we remember the sadness, the anger, the disgust that creeps into our consciousness and overtakes our psyche as it reminds us that it could be any one of our names swapped out for theirs or added to the long list of names. When we remember the fears that we always carry for our sons are conjured up. For our daughters. We fear that the rioters will be killed. Those rioters are our sons. Our daughters. What happens when they die? When they become martyrs? The status quo will continue after their lives have been claimed. Lives who foolishly believed that raising hell would solidify their humanity. These people who write with disdain for the rioters fear that the life, the only life they've been allowed to live will be over - that they will have to face the truth despite their efforts to live between realities. The truth is that their attempt to choose life, by not rioting, doesn't really involve a choice, because the only choice is between subjugation and elimination. Both are chosen by our willingness to be oppressed and our willingness to die. In a scenario like this, silly fools are those who fight to be neither. Because when there are only 2 options, you're always fighting for one or the other even when you think you're not. --- Stay woke. 

 

1 comment:

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