18 year old Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday August 9th. A rally and vigil were planned to honor the memory of Brown; however, tensions rose between tbs police and the public and a riot ensued.
Power is a strange thing. Power is never about the individual except in respect to larger group. In order for any one person to have power everyone else has to agree to yielding to the power of that individual. When a large portion of the group does not agree to the individual asserting power or the ways in which that power is asserted, there is unrest. That is why mankind has become the most volatile species on the planet: a lust for power.
Conversely, powerlessness is just as complex. To be forced to exist in the midst of a group no better qualified or worthy than you and be forced to submit to their power offers the individual no other choice than indignant rage.
Rioting and looting have been ways that the Black community has often lashed out in times of extreme duress. This is clearly evident through a review of history and taking a look at the riots that occurred during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 60s or the inner city riots that took place during the early 90s.
What we know logically is that rioting and looting do not produce results. It gets media coverage and the attention of local law enforcement and, if extreme, the higher levels of state legislators. But it never produces a revolution or any counter action to whatever ignited the riot to begin with. This is usually where the conversation remains; however, we should go deeper.
British criminologist John Pitts stated:
[Rioting and looting makes] powerless people suddenly feel powerful [and that] is very intoxicating
– John Pitts, criminologist
So in truth the riot is usually about the incident that occurred but the looting is about power. Once the rioters escalate to a certain level of anger where the entire group is incensed and determined to do whatever they want, anything becomes possible including the destruction and theft of stores around them. It is a very dangerous thing to suddenly give power to individuals who have been denied it and do not understand it.
The problem is that we are so angry. Half of us don’t even know why we’re angry and 25% of the ones that know don’t know what to do about it. So when moments like this occur we know that it is directly related to the anger that already exists inside us and we collect together and that anger is amplified and before you know it anything can and has happened. But in the current climate of the justice and equality struggle that we are in, we don’t have room for wanton destruction and blind rage. We cannot get so swept up in the pain of tragedies like what happened to Brown or get overwhelmed by our rage at the injustice of it until that’s all we got. A bunch of nothing.
This should have remained a constructive protest that have voice to the pain of injustice suffered. This moment was supposed to be for the memory of a little Black boy who lost his life for what – I’m sure will be discovered – nothing. That was a vigil in his honor that we allowed our pain and anger to turn into fiasco for which the whole damn country is shaking its head and thinking that we are indeed the savages that they make us out to be. Not to mention that it invited law enforcement to come and aggressively engage the Black community in Ferguson and further exacerbate the problem of harassment, imprisonment, and violence.
We have to learn about power and violence in a whole new perspective. I’m down for the revolution. I’ve been told it cannot happen without bloodshed, so I’m bracing myself for that inevitability. BUT I am really spending my time in preparation by learning and understanding the system that oppresses us: finding its weaknesses and how it maintains control. I am spending my time making time to do the things that I don’t always want to do but know is necessary. I am learning to channel my rage into a violent offense that will actually produce change.
The fact is that we have got to learn to channel our rage and pain into some useful energy. Often we have sat so idle for so long that our pain and anger has festered into disease that is sure to be toxic to any and everyone. Instead we should prepare for war in the time of peace. We should let our anger push us to participate in our local governments which direct the local law enforcement. We should use our anger to make us treat voting day like a national holiday and plan months ahead to take the day off and/or make arrangements to cast our votes. We should use our pain to make us take the extra walk or bus to get to a well run Black owned establishment instead cheapest, closest, most convenient option (which more often than not is not Black owned nor do those people live in the community).
So what has happened is two tragedies. The first being the loss of yet another Black child that didn’t make it to adulthood and the other was the disgusting behavior of a bunch of mindless emotional assholes who had their hearts was in the right place but their asses were not. These looting niggas shoulda kept their asses at home. If we are gonna do the better that hasn’t been done, we’re going to be the better that hasn’t existed.
R.I.P. Michael Brown and peace and light to your family in their time of grief.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man