‘In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.’
-The United States Declaration of Independence, July 4 1776
On August 20, 1619 twenty Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia aboard a Dutch ship. They were the first Africans to be forcibly brought as slaves to what would later become the United States of America. In the nearly 400 years that have followed, this nation has inflicted unconscionable levels of violence upon black bodies: Rape, castration, lynching, beatings, whippings and a never ending cycle of murders. This violence has been continuous, sustained, and state-sanctioned. Over the centuries, the only thing that has changed, is the method: the gun has replaced the noose and the prison has replaced the plantation. America has proven over and over again that Black life is worth less than a white persons right to bear arms; That black life is worth less than white innocence.This nation that we built has at every turn sought to undermine us and has never hesitated to use violence as the means to that end.
I am convinced that people who don’t understand the anger I am feeling are living in an alternate reality. If you can understand that a battered woman has the right to apprehend her abuser why can’t you understand that 400 years of abuse is bound to provoke a heated response? We have let you gun down our sisters, our brothers, our mothers and our fathers in streets that our tax dollars paid for. We have let you hack away at our voting rights. We have given you our blood, our tears and our lives. We have turned the other cheek and allowed you to beat it bloody. We have allowed you to wage war on us while we paid for the bullets that had our names on them. Centuries of anger are bubbling just below the surface of our skins and I can only hope that our anger– in whatever form it takes– is strategically directed.
I cannot justify unprovoked violence. I cannot justify war. But I can justify revolution.
It is foolish to expect peace and non violence when 400 years of history show you that your opponent cares for neither.