As a veteran of protests, riots, displays of civil disobedience, outright joyous looting and everything in between, I know better than most what it’s like to have an agenda that doesn’t exactly sync up with the general atmosphere of the gathering.
Whenever there’s a mass of people brought together under any umbrella of action, there’s always going to be differing levels of commitment.
Some are gonna be all about the message. Others, about personal gain/priorities.
What’s curious is that whenever Black people take to the streets to demonstrate against injustice, any fringe element actions are going to be taken as a representation of the whole provided those actions are contrary and retrograde.
I saw a clip of a young Black dude at the Charlotte protest kicking an older white dude – dude looked like he might have been homeless – and I’m thinking, how does the young brother know that the white dude’s not out there protesting?
People at #CharlotteProtest beating up homeless white man OMg.
— Nomy Sahir (@NomyPti) September 22, 2016
And that’s the trap we fall into. We start to see skin color as not only synonymous with perspective, but also allegiance.
Meanwhile, I’d bet that a full 50% of white people support Colin Kaepernick and oppose police brutality.
But when we start to see America as a “white” country – despite the fact that we live here – and the court system as “white” justice – despite the fact that our tax dollars pay everyone’s salary and we could, through a willful reappropriation of funds, shut this whole shit down – then it’s easy to wholesale dismiss white people as necessarily “the enemy”, on the side of the police, and Republican, racist, Nazi assholes.
This, of course, is as bad as their wholesale dismissals of us because of our lowest common denominator.
Still, let’s not lose sight of what’s important here.
We come together to protest because of wrongs that have been done. Two days ago in Charlotte, an unarmed Black man named Keith Scott was killed while or perhaps even for reading a book. And while that fact alone is not a reasonable enough justification to form a protest, a repeated history of just such events happening across the country at the hands of the police and at the expense of the Black community is certainly more than enough.
So, simply, there’s actually no further justification needed for burning the city of Charlotte, North Carolina to the ground if the sentiment of the crowd turned in that direction.
That would, indeed, show em.
And I, for one, am never one to call for restraint from people reacting when the initial actors haven’t shown restraint.
However, the problem with broad actions is that they punish the innocent as well as the guilty. And the most unfortunate thing about being Black in America is that we have to be so much better than the people that hate us.
Due to our own rigid, twisted and psychotic senses of morality, we (usually) find it nearly impossible to hate simply due to skin color.
And we must use this weakness as an apparent strength now, hoping that as far as the riots and the looting goes, the city of Charlotte has gotten the picture about just how hurt we are at the shameful lack of respect our lives have been and are being shown, and hopeful that should another senseless, callous and indifferent murder of an unarmed Black person occur, that by then we’ll have figured out how not only to fleece car dealerships of their entire inventories, but to change all the corresponding VIN numbers as well.