For the first time ever, I had people message me and ask if my next post was going to be about a certain topic.
Yes, they were all asking about the protests and riots.
But I didn’t respond immediately.
I looked at the messages and then closed out of Messenger. I went and did other things. I ate. Spent time cuddled up with my dog. Relaxed with my S/O. Engaged in some self-care.
Eventually, I opened Messenger back up. I read each one. I rolled my response back and forth in head. I was overthinking. Already forming my next post in my head.
I sighed deeply.
And responded to each message with a simple yes.
I wasn’t upset about the questions, but it has been a long week. LONG. I’m tip-toeing on the edge of utter exhaustion, anger and sadness. And I knew, days ago, that I HAD to write about this. It didn’t matter that I originally intended to write something else; my hands had a mind of their own. Every draft I created, where I foolishly addressed another subject, ended with me writing about this.
So, here we are.
And I suppose I should start with where I stand. I 100% support the protests and couldn’t care less about the riots or looting.
You might not agree with my stance and I don’t really care. Keep reading.
It seems that many Americans have short memories. While the abhorrent murder of George Floyd was the catalyst, the spark that lit the fire – the protests aren’t solely about him. The protests are about all the Georges, Ahmauds, Breonnas and Trayvons. They are the culmination of 404 years of injustices.
Injustices, that are all too often forgotten and dismissed. But today is not the day to turn your head away from a damn thing, so a history lesson is in order.
The “big” one, or the only injustice many people will concede to is, of course, slavery. Chattel slavery, where Black people were only considered property; allowing slave owners to maim, abuse and kill at will. Where Black children were ripped from the arms of their screaming mothers and families were separated. Where Black women were forced to raise and care for white children, who would ultimately grow up to rain down the same abuse.
But slavery didn’t last forever, instead, a new form of injustice took its place; Black codes, which would eventually turn into Jim Crow laws. Black codes, the state and local laws formed immediately after slavery ended, restricted the movement of Black people, where they could live, work and how much they were to be paid. They allowed for Black children to be taken and forced into child labor, for Black adults to be forced into indentured servitude and as always, it allowed violence. It’s no surprise that this was the blueprint for the era of Jim Crow.
With Jim Crow laws, segregation was the norm, as was violence against Black people. Lynchings were ever-popular and often attended by neighborhoods and families, as everyday entertainment or something to enjoy during summer picnics. Massacres, like the one in Tulsa, would take place. Black leaders, who would come to be revered for decades, were born and died (killed) during this time. The Civil Rights Act, Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed in this time period. And yet, the passing of those acts only replaced those injustices with others or set them in new directions.
The 21st century rolled around, and with years of experience, it mastered the craft of “smart” oppression. It fine-tuned its system, utilizing both bold and inconspicuous attacks. Creating a way for the police to not only go unpunished for killing us, but justifying it and making it normal for society to turn a blind eye. It sanctioned racial profiling, housing discrimination, the school to prison pipeline, job discrimination, judicial bias, targeted voter ID laws, harsher sentencing, less access to and lower quality healthcare and an overall lower standard of living; under the guise of justice and progress.
And for all the years that Black people have been under the thumb of this country, have bled, sweat and died for it; one thing that we’ve consistently done, that’s consistently made an impact (to whatever degree)is fought back, aka riot.
Does that mean that all Black people riot or approve of it? No. But its effects aren’t to go unnoticed.
During slavery, there were over 250 known insurrections and riots, with many more surely lost to time. There were consequences for these riots, but success for many Black people, held in the grip of slavery, was to make slaveowners afraid. To show that there WAS recompense to be paid for their sustained mistreatment. We’ve always matched energy.
During the early Jim Crow era, race riots or the “Red Summer,” were in full swing. It put the kind of fear into white people that we were so accustomed to. That, was the success.
In the Civil Rights portion of Jim crow, riots were commonplace. The Civil Rights Act, which was signed specifically to address the riots, happened after a 6-day long nationwide riot over the murder of MLK.
The LA riots of ’92, after Rodney King was beaten, led to reform in the LA police department. Did this eradicate the problem? Hell nah. But there was change. Not nearly enough, but it would not have happened at all, if it wasn’t for the riots.
Riots are the physical manifestation of being fed up. They happen when too much, becomes too much. They don’t need to be organized or tactical, they are an expression of raw emotion. Of over 400 years of abuse, murder and oppression, with NO end in sight.
They make waves, tsunamis when need be. They often spur change. They make people feel a modicum of the absolute horror that is levied against our community and THAT’S the point.
To use force to force change. Because so many people don’t care, don’t get it and uphold the outright corrupt entity know as the United States of America.
An example of this, is the way in which many non-Black people have responded.
Yeah, it’s wrong what happened to George, but destroying property is just as criminal.
The destruction of material possessions (often insured)is in no way comparable to the destruction of Black lives. That above comment shows what you value more, and it isn’t us.
George shouldn’t have tried to pass off a fake bill. He was a criminal.
Whether he even did that or not is speculative, but what isn’t, is what you deem to be the appropriate punishment for Black people. Death, no matter what the crime is (if it was even committed.)
What would MLK say? Follow MLK. *throws out cherry-picked and often the only known MLK quote*
It is interesting that only one Black revolutionary is evoked during times like this. As if MLK himself didn’t talk about the reason people riot and how it has its place. As if his memory has not been watered down and whitewashed to make him more docile than he actually was. As if his “peacefulness” could prevent the violence that ultimately took his life. And as if reactionary violence, due to his murder, wasn’t the ONLY thing to get shit done.
Maybe you should instead ask why you only listen when destruction is taking place? Or why you impose harm on a community, at all.
If we all came together and just talked it out, we could find a better way.
Black people have talked and negotiated, often with their last breaths, just to receive crumbs or nothing at all. Just to have the way we’re oppressed change form, and force us to start this whole process of speaking out, saying “this is an injustice,” convincing you of our humanity, having it go ignored and ultimately having to resort to anarchy, all over again.
I know I’m not Black but you all should only react in “XYZ” way.
Let me be clear, the opinions of the oppressor and those who benefit from our oppression, are of no importance to the oppressed. It takes an enormous amount of entitled gall to tell people how they should react to their abuse and systematic disenfranchisement.
I’d support if it was done differently.
No, you wouldn’t. You scoffed when Kaepernick kneeled. You were offended when NBA players or average citizens wore political messages on T-shirts. You guffawed when you heard Black Lives Matter.
Admit that you never had any intention of correcting the issue. You don’t care. What you do care about is order. And us Black people better fucking fall in line and do as we’re told. Order>Justice for some of you.
ALL LIVES MATTER.
Except they don’t and never have. There is no point in the 400+ year history of Black people being in this country, in which we have actually been considered equal and our lives valued. The all lives matter slogan didn’t exist until Black Lives Matter did. It was/is a way to dismiss the inequalities and suffering we face.
Your slogan should be “All Lives matter *restrictions apply.”
If you can’t understand the all-encompassing despair and rage that exists after the compound effects of a lifetime (read centuries)of abuse, you never will and you aren’t trying to.
Did the recent murders (or any of them) not move something in you?
What about the coordinated assault of protestors (the ones you’d call peaceful?)
Have you not thought about the trauma of having to relive the murder of our people every time “that” video, or the other one, or maybe that other one is shared?
Is the constant reminder that our lives mean nothing, not enough?
So, tell me, AT WHAT POINT is an uprsing warranted, if not now? WHEN do we get to make it known that enough is enough? How many more DEAD Black bodies need to lay at your feet or on your screen before you hear us? After another 400 years…of this?
Absolutely fucking not. You gon’ hear us. And you gon hear us NOW.
You need to have honest conversations with yourselves, where you decide what you stand for. TRULY stand for. What(who) you value. You need to pick a side.
When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.