Self-defence is never an offence. Even a cursory glance at history, if we’d ever bother to study it and learn from it, would show the provable, demonstrable effectiveness of violent resistance.
The Chartists, Suffragettes, the Stonewallers, Freedom Riders, Black Panthers, the Levellers and every other marginalised and oppressed group, anywhere in the world, throughout the entire span of human history, only ever succeeded once all peaceful and legal means had failed. When, exhausted and all out of options, they were forced to rise up and kick off. A simple shining historical truth that, tragically, has escaped far too many of us.
Black people have marched, peacefully protested, lectured, organised, petitioned and lobbied for longer than we’ve been alive. They’ve prayed, they’ve pleaded and they’ve begged and still they are oppressed, still they are victimised, still they are murdered. Holding hands around the campfire, singing Kumbaya, never prevented a single lynching.
I cannot even start to imagine the indignity, the humiliation, the sheer outrageous injustice of having to justify my life; to fight for my right just to exist free from discrimination, abuse and violence. Year after year. Decade after decade. Generation after generation.
And when finally they explode what do we do? We presume to know better; we condescend, from the purified planes of our moral white ground, to define the limits of their resistance. We, breathtakingly, arrogantly and ignorantly, dare to tell the victims to fight their oppressors in a manner we deem acceptable.
We should be embarrassed by our historical illiteracy; discomfited by our appalling arrogance; disgusted by our wilful ignorance. And utterly ashamed of our crushing lack of empathy.
Someone once said something like those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. Sad but true. And it looks like that “neo-fascist gangster in the White House” – to quote Cornell West – is absolutely determined to learn this the hard way. Well, he can’t say he wasn’t warned.
If you are offended by how black people are protesting, rather than why they are protesting, then you, dear reader, are part of the problem. Don’t be. Be part of the solution.