Why Are You So Uncomfortable With Black People's Self-Defense?
An essay about the Mongtomery Riverfront Uprising of 2023
Black people have the right to defend themselves" should not be a controversial statement, but in America, a nation inundated with racism, Black people engaging in self-defense are often seen as violent. Empathy and racism are like oil and water; they don't mix. For instance, in a 1968 memo, America's first FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, described the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." Despite Black people promoting self-defense, agents painted the city red with propaganda, claiming they were a violent organization. Why does this double standard exist? Because Black people defending themselves challenges the status quo that we should silently endure White violence.
Malcolm X suggested, "We should be peaceful, law-abiding," but engage “in self-defense whenever and wherever he is being unjustly and unlawfully attacked." This advice, despite making many White Americans feel uncomfortable, is sound. Self-defense is an unalienable, incontestable human right. Whenever someone causes Black people bodily harm or threatens to do so, we have the right to stop the attacker and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. And yet, whenever a Black person engages in self-defense, White people characterize their efforts as violent and barbaric.
What happened in Montgomery, Alabama?
A Black co-captain was simply doing his job when he asked a group of White people to move their pontoon boat to make room for the big Harriot to dock in Montgomery, Alabama, last Saturday. Sadly, the White men responded violently to his request, leading to an event that’s been given many names: The Alabama Brawl, The Battle of Montgomery, the River Boat Brawl, Bloody Saturday, or my favorite, The Montgomery Tea Party. Initially, one White man attacked the Black co-captain. However, when it became apparent he would lose, a group of White people jumped the Black man, punching, kicking, and knocking him to the ground. This is what white privilege looks like in action, thinking you don't have to comply with the same standards everyone else does. All they had to…