I get this question all the from non-black pocs, coons(which I will discuss later), and racist-white supremacists: “Why do Black people need to riot? They should calm down because there are better ways to get what they want.” These are words that any black activist will hear from someone whose comfort had been interrupted. I also get this from those who are still asleep. I’m going to break this down as best as I possibly can.
Like I mentioned before in my previous posts about history in other people of color, a lot of people attempt to compare social movements and oftentimes push down black activism in pursuit of lifting other oppressed people up. This is not okay. While we do need to be aware of the plights of other Othered peoples, it is not right to pit two movements and pride one movement for being more civilized in the eyes of our oppressors. That kind of defeats siding against your oppressors when you side up with your oppressors to put down another oppressed group of people. If we are both fighting against the same oppressors, then instead of trying to go through the Opression Olympics, we need to stick together and focus on building each other up instead of breaking each other down.
Anyone who has been in activism for awhile, or even if you are simply a poc, has come in contact with fake allies, which I have addressed in earlier posts. They come in all shapes, sizes, and even races, which goes into the subcategory of people who are still asleep and coons, which I will address in a different post.
Activism, especially if you’re someone who gets extremely involved and passionate about systems of oppression, like me, is a day in- day put job. I study this in college, and even when school isn’t in session, I’m reading up on other things that pertain to my plight as a black woman. It’s something I psychoanalyze, because it has taken up so much of my life and I still don’t understand. I know that my studies are the only way that I’ll eventually come to peace with this.
So it is frustrating to no end when people ask me this question and try to explain about how the solution is so simple, because it means not only has someone failed to read and gain the appropriate knowledge to not have this conversation, but it also means that they ignored at least twelve years of learning about civil disobedience and white racism-white supremacy in the country and in the world. Which is a damn shame.
Throughout American history, there has always been elements of civil disobedience present, like Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion, or the Pueblo’s Revolt of New Mexico, or the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence itself. Most of these measures have been accepted by the sphere of whiteness, especially American whiteness, because in the majority of these examples, white people were the actors of civil disobedience. But when civil disobedience is utilized by a group of Othered people, that is where we begin to see a turn in approval. From runaway Black slaves to the protesting going on today, Black people have been vilified for their fight for freedom against the ugly reign of racism-white supremacy.
Civil Disobedience: The refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines
Civil disobedience has been used before, as has protesting, as I have laid out above. But used by the black population and it is wrong, no matter how justified, meanwhile we continue to see predominantly white groups of people who do just as much damage as black people and other people of color, but they don’t get the same negative connotation. Let’s also look at the reasons that black people “riot” compared to white people. We see white people protest for winning at sports, for losing at sports, pumpkins, and more recently, in support of the Confederate Battle Flag and the uprising of the KKK and other white supremacist groups. People of color are seen as the villains for wanting the right to come into establishments that banned them because their skin was too dark, for wanting the right to vote, for wanting the ability to walk in the streets without being harassed about their race or getting shot by the police or having someone think that they can take the police’s job for themselves.
The disenfranchisement of black people has been far from easy, and despite the desires to wish history away, the effects of the enslavement of black people in this country from the 1600s until 1865 are still there. And for someone to come after me and attempt to tell me and other people of color otherwise, you really cannot deny our personal experiences of being Othered.
And for people to say that they are destroying their own neighborhood, they are wrong once again. Baltimore was already one of the places that has been hit with segregation measures and other systems that were put in place to keep people of color down, so the black people own next to nothing over there. And for the few businesses that were owned by Black people, is a building worth more than a human’s life?
People are fighting for actual human life, like yours and mine, and you get upset because they tore up an inanimate object? Instead of policing black people’s feelings and trying to tell them how to go about their revolution, I would suggest to take a minute to figure out what is more important to you: corporations and businesses, or lives that were cut too soon and unfairly.