OPINION: Violence has always been the answer. So what changed?
"Are we loud enough?" spray painted on wall in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, protests have sparked around the country in retaliation to his death, and also in response to the injustices Black and brown people face every single day. People of color, activists and allies are done being complacent — no longer taking no for an answer to the question of change.
People have different ways of demanding a difference. Some are organizing the protests, some are creating and signing petitions to reopen cases such as Breonna Taylor’s and some are taking a different, often frowned-upon approach: looting and rioting. During many of the big city protests, windows were smashed, corporate companies were stolen from and arguments between police officers and civilians got physical and ugly.
The people who frown upon this protesting approach are using cliches such as "violence is never the answer" and "violence isn’t going to solve anything." Nobody is saying that starting fires and breaking glass will automatically change the systemic injustices Black and brown people endure every day. Yes, there are other ways to ignite change besides violence. You can create new laws, educate people or even hold hands and sing about a better tomorrow. Sadly, all of those have been done before. Newsflash: Policy adjustments, proper education and peaceful protests haven’t changed anything either. New roads need to be taken and although I am not necessarily saying violence is the answer, we need to do what it takes.
Before you say violence won’t solve anything, step back and remember that your beautiful America is guilty of some of the most violent acts in history in which the whole purpose was to gain power. From the very beginning, this country got what it wanted through corruption.
First, there was the attainment of the colonies through the mass murder of Native Americans and their tribes. Then, the building of America on the backs of traded African slaves who were forcefully stripped from their lives to be exploited overseas.
Additionally, white people have a thorough history of using violence to get what they wanted, and this includes looting. The Boston Tea Party was when we first saw looting as a form of protest in America. White people acting out in anger is literally celebrated in our history books. Jump to Tulsa, Okla, in 1921 when white people decided to burn Black Wall Street, which was an affluent Black community that threatened the idea of white people being the only ones who could succeed in American capitalism. And my personal favorite, white people looting in 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. Superfans took it to the streets to destroy their own city in celebration by flipping cars, pushing over light poles and running around naked.
White people can cause havoc for things as simple as a football game and a few dollars out of their pockets. But when Black and brown people (and allies) protest the fact that innocent Black lives are being taken by those meant to “protect and serve,” they are thugs and delinquents? Interesting.
When white people are angry, everyone finds a way to justify it, but when Black and brown people are angry it’s “in our nature” because we are naturally “criminals.” Are you aware of how
micro macroaggressive and racist that is? Our anger is rooted in the fact that because of our skin, we don’t know if our name will be a hashtag tomorrow. Your anger stems from the fact that 400 years of privilege might be stripped from you. Who is more justified?
All of these examples don’t even take into account the violence done in modern day society by white people for them to attain and uphold their superiority. Jim Crow laws, banning interracial relationships, voter suppression, the murders of Black and brown LGBTQ+ people, police brutality, modern day slavery (also known as the prison system). The violence in this country is never ending and is embedded into what America calls justice (i.e. “protecting those the system was built to protect”).
It is most alarming to me that in this time of immense change and activism, people are focusing on buildings being burned down. To some of you, a few Gucci’s and Yves Saint Laurent’s being looted is more important than innocent Black lives being taken. Instead of focusing on how people are showing their anger, think about why they are angry in the first place. Sure, there are people who are taking advantage of this uprising to cause unneeded violence, but that is not the message organizations like Black Lives Matter and the creators of these protests are sending.
And let me remind you, Black and brown people have every right to burn down a country they built for free. None of this would exist without us. In order for there to be an oppressor, there needs to be an oppressed. In order for there to be a superior, there has to be an inferior. The difference now is that we are done being the ones who give you power, we are taking it back building by building. And no it is not about destroying our communities, it is about tearing down the country that exists off of the hope that we stay silent.
If you have a problem with that violence, have a problem with the violence this country thrives off of every single day. Look up the history and origin of looting and rioting. Find out how truly violent this country is and you will be surprised to find that according to history, Black people are the manufactured criminals while white people are the natural criminals we should truly be afraid of.
Despite your feelings on the violence, it is getting people’s attention. The George Floyd case was prioritized because of the public outcry. Our publicized anger is waking the world up to see that not another day will pass without people fighting for what is right. If a cop car had to catch fire for the world to take us seriously, then it had to be done.
A few weeks ago, my dad went to Minneapolis, Minn., to participate in the peaceful protests in the city and he sent me one of the most powerful pictures I have ever seen. It was a message spray painted on a boarded-up Bank of America. And in big blue letters it said, “Are we loud enough?”
Well, are we?
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