(Following up on yesterday’s promise) I don’t wanna be the Black Reporter for Balloon Juice, but I think there’s unexpressed importance in the recent Alabama Asswhooping.
For those unaware: When a Black riverboat worker asked some White people to obey the laws of the place he worked, they chose violence. A very racially-charged brawl ensued.
Responses have ranged from the pride in self-defense among a number of Black folx (and White supporters), to…well, selective editing and outrage in the people you’d expect.
There’s a lot here. So I’ll focus on those eager with the “violence isn’t the answer” prompt. Those uneasy with how easy so many seem to be with the asswhuppin’. You’re right! Violence isn’t the answer to all the issues plaguing Black folx in America — much less, the issues around Reproductive Justice, or attacks on LBGTQIA+ folx, or the treatment of people with disabilities.
And yet. If we don’t all work together to resolve these issues, and the issues of so many others. If we don’t start to recognize the source of so many challenges in America…well. I mean, Dr. King said it, a few months before White violence took his life:
First, is the guilt for riots exclusively that of Negroes? And are they a natural development to a new stage of struggle? A million words will be written and spoken to dissect the ghetto outbreaks. But for a perceptive and vivid expression of culpability I would like to submit two sentences that many of you have probably heard me quote before from the pen of Victor Hugo. “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin but he who causes the darkness.” The policy-makers of the white society have caused the darkness. It was they who created the frustrating slums. They perpetuate unemployment and poverty and oppression. Perhaps it is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes, but these are essentially derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
(Emphasis mine – MD)
It’s also important to understand that “enjoying” this moment, in the Black community, isn’t carefree. It’s with the background of the weight of centuries of oppression, and the very real issues of the present moment that reflect in this brawl. In the people who almost certainly chose violence against a Black man because — in the American South, yes, but elsewhere as well — his life and liberty isn’t worth the same as them. And that some Black folx aren’t about losing any more liberty, without a literal fight.
As Joy Reid put it:
[Back in the day] There were no consequences for [White Folx] and deadly ones for us if we tried to fight back. Well that era is done and it ain’t coming back, no matter how many sundown-town fantasy songs their country singers make. Seeing Black folk come as a community to that security guard’s rescue, one guy even swimming over like Aquaman to help him, was a ‘Wakanda Assemble’ moment, in which a group of old school southern bullies effed around and found out.
Those “greater crimes” are not things that a whole group can ignore, forever. You cannot say that one side gets all the Stochastic Terrorism they want, and expect the attacked people to bend over and take it, forever.
I don’t know who needs to hear this. But I hope they do, and do so with a quickness.
I don’t wanna be the Black Reporter for Balloon Juice. I cannot be the Marginalized People Reporter for Balloon Juice. But Alabama might be a sign of things to come, if we aren’t real damn careful as a country.