So let me get this straight.
This country was founded on genocide, stolen and colonized by European settlers who oppressed the land’s indigenous peoples into nearly mass extinction, shoving them onto reservations, intentionally waging biological, psychological and military warfare on them, and introduced them to alcoholism. Those same colonialists did so in the name of securing freedom for themselves, in order to escape the yolk of their own oppression across the pond.
Soon enough slavery followed — the rape, murder, and bartering for human beings in lands a world away — followed by the horrors of the dark, middle passage, compounded by the atrocities of American plantation life, where even more rape, murder, oppression, cultural genocide and every other depravity you can dream of reigned for hundreds of years.
And when slavery “ended” what did black folks and people of color get but slavery without the official label. Bitter racism in a free-for-all state. Lynching, rape, murder, the same old same old, only now they were allegedly “free.”
Flash forward nearly 100 years later of living in that ambiguous, fraudulent and violent “freedom” and where did people of color find themselves, but in the midst of the Jim Crow era.
Now, supposedly recognized not as 3/5ths a person but as whole human beings, only if they tried to exercise their rights as citizens they would likely be met with – you guessed it – lynching, murder, severe beatings, church burnings and bombings. People lived with separate facilities, back door and back-of-the-bus service (if any), fire hose diplomacy, rabid dog “justice.” Oh! And the Klan had been tromping around instigating God knows what since 1869 – only a small handful of years after slavery allegedly “ended.”
It’s also known that our modern police force began largely out of slave patrols and night watches, so the U.S. police force is not far off from the Klan in many regards. Both formed in response to keeping the order of slavery, and both have terrorized the black community since their inception. Both also exist up to this modern-day, though slavery is allegedly a thing of the past (if you don’t count modern prison labor – AND I DO).
So you see, understanding that the violence, the bigotry and indifference toward black humanity has always been a very ugly aspect of this country, even in our system (yes, that systemic racism you’re always hearing about), part of which is made up of our good old police force allegedly present to protect and serve (at least until the Supreme Court reminded us all that that is actually not the case), it should be clear to even the most intellectually challenged that there is a reason we see so much violence in the American police state today.
It should be obvious why the “justice” system is so lopsided against people of color, despite the fact that white folks commit just as many crimes.
And it should d*mn well be obvious why, with the modern advent of smartphone cameras and social media showing us all the reality of what’s been happening across the country since forever – all that ugliness so many white folks, and even many institutionalized people of color have been in denial of for so long – that enough of us have finally begun to recognize the real state of affairs out there and the country has reached a tipping point.
It should be understandable why people protest. It should be understandable why people are standing up for themselves, their families, their neighbors. It should be understandable why an overwhelming majority of demonstrators are peacefully doing what they believe will help bring about change in the country.
It should also be understandable that a violent impulse of outrage will lurk in the hearts of many people out there who have been awake the entire time, or who are just now wiping the sand from their eyes. People are fed up of being murdered in the streets by the racist police for no reason for well over 100 years. Well over.
Yet demonstrations have been predominantly peaceful all across the country. When violence has erupted, it has always been at the hands and instigation of police. Always. And people ask, “Where is our Constitution? Where are our rights if we cannot protest and demonstrate in times such as these?”
And to get to the point after giving context to all of this, it should be no surprise that one, or an incredibly small segment of the population, will be angry enough, fed up enough, and misguided enough to wage horrific violence like 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Abdula Brinsley did against these two NYC police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
What do you expect could happen after all that history above? It’s amazing actions like Brinsley took don’t happen a lot more often. That is a testament to the good in people, truly.
And it should be clarified here that there is a vast difference between defensive and offensive violence. Defensive violence is natural. It’s a matter of self-preservation and survival. The Black Panthers are an example of that, which is why, despite the guns they carry, they are actually a peaceful organization. No one blames another for defending him or herself against an attacker. But offensive violence, being the attacker, is deemed reprehensible behavior and is largely indefensible in society’s eyes.
Yet the police and the racist system has been waging offensive violence against people of color since their inception. Doesn’t that make it more understandable that some small group of folks out there, some few individuals might eventually reason themselves into thinking offensive violence against an organization such as the police might, in fact, be a form of defensive violence, thereby justifying it in the eyes of that potential attacker? Sure it does. That’s not hard to imagine and understand — so let’s stop acting like it it is.
This is not to say that the murder of those officers was right or honorable. It was a terrible and tragic event. But so has been the war on people of color since this country was allegedly “founded.” Thousands upon thousands of lives have been taken by these racist institutions over hundreds of years. Once in a great while, someone says enough’s enough and lashes out, pushes back with a rash of violence and a few members of the racist system die.
Again, thousands upon thousands on one side, a few here and there on the other hand. Yet propagators of the racist system like Pat Lynch (dig the IRONY of that name – and yes, that is really his name) – racist propagators like the president of the largest police union in NYC, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, go on camera and have the nerve to say the protestors are the ones with blood on their hands. We’ve already seen the maturity of that organization be called into question by circulating that pledge for officers to request de Blasio’s absence from their funeral should they lose their lives in the line of duty.
It has not been the citizenry waging bloody and deathly war on these racist institutions for more than 100 years. No, it’s been the other way around. You can’t rape and stab someone who then slaps you in the face for it and cry that they assaulted you. That’s what Lynch is essentially doing. That’s what these a**hole cops wearing their “I Can Breath” and “Breathe Easy, Don’t Break The Law” t-shirts are doing. They are the instigators. They are the bigots so steadfast in denying their blatant bigotry, racism and violence that they do not stop for a moment to reflect and assess their own role in the racial divide that is growing daily in this country.
And it is their refusal to do so, that alone, that is the reason tension keeps growing in this country — and the reason why such a terrible act has fallen upon them now. The blood of those officers is on the American police force’s hands and the hands of that one man who did the killing. That is all.
And these protests are not going to end any time soon, especially with people like Lynch mouthing off on television misplacing blame while allowing his own colleagues to stoke the racial fire.
And all the while, backwoods conservatives are out there using this one singular instance to try to whitewash all of history and to claim that everything is black folks’ fault. The murder of these officers, in their eyes, justifies every ignorant, bigoted, racist assumption they’ve had about people of color all along. Forget the hundreds of years of history of their own dastardly role in all this. No, they cherry-pick this one instance so they can righteously exclaim, “You see!? Do you see!? THIS is what we’ve been saying all along!”
And that highly ignorant, blind and racist response, if anything, is one extremely strong reason why nonviolence is the way to move forward. Defend yourselves by any means necessary should the unfortunate time ever present itself when you are being outright physically attacked. We all have that right. But in every other situation, peaceful resistance is the answer. It is not that old Martin King or Malcolm X dilemma. It is, and has always been, both at once – Martin X and Malcolm King.
Defend yourself if ever necessary, but always wage peace. Wage love by any means necessary.
Featured image: Flickr