We Can’t All Be “Radicals”, But We Should All Support Them.

| Resist!

Above Photo: From racebaitr.com

“Violence is never the answer” is a sentiment I often hear parroted by people who celebrate the 4th of July in America, a holiday commemorating a violent and deadly rebellion. People have a habit of glorifying violence in history, while condemning violence in modern times.

I’ve seen people who claim to love Malcolm X denounce modern day revolutionaries who embody the same principals that made X who he was. It seems that there are many people who only like the idea of revolution if they’re reading about it in a history book.

History has shown us that, when dealing with oppressive systems, a violent rebellion is the most efficient way to gain freedom. In the words of Assata Shakur, “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” Whether you’re looking at the Haitian Revolution or the Boston Tea Party, substantive change is always attained when people who are considered “radical” decide to fight back. True revolution requires there to be people willing to attain their freedom by any means necessary.

In the wake of the Korryn Gaines incident, in which a black woman was shot by the police in her home over traffic tickets, this conversation has become more necessary than ever. I’ve seen people who are the beneficiaries of the work of radicals during the 60s now actively disrespecting the work of radicals today. I’ve seen people go from “Assata taught me” to “she should have just complied” in a matter of days.

We need to understand that during the time the Black Panther Party was patrolling the streets there were people then too who thought it wasn’t necessary. Fast forward to today, and those same people reap the rewards of the Panthers’ labor.

There are no successful revolutions in history without radicals taking the movement to the next level. Nat Turner did not politely request that he be freed. Harriet Tubman did not barter with slave owners to free black people. No, history’s heroes went against systems created to oppress them. They stopped respecting the boundaries placed by their oppressors and sought liberation by their own means.

We are not dealing with an entity that can be reasoned with through morality alone. Radical resistance is necessary. And those willing to be radicals know that they will likely not live to see the fruits of their labor. They put their lives on the line for your future, and for the future of your children.

During his time, Martin Luther King Jr. was considered a radical. He actively went against the law to expose the injustice of white America. Even in his completely non-violent approach, he was a radical extremist. And as much as white people today applaud his peacefulness, they love to forget that they still killed him anyway.

Remember that while MLK was alive, many people of all races were completely against him and his radical ways, and those same people today all say they supported him. You are at a crucial point in history where you can choose to be the person who supports the radicals while they are still alive, or you can be the person in 50 years lying to your grandchildren about how you loved what Korryn Gaines stood for, even though today you just posted a dissertation explaining why she deserved to die.

This is not a call for anyone to become the next radical. Rather, this is a reminder that the next radical is doing the work necessary to free you, even if you don’t realize it at the moment. If you can’t join them in their action or voice support, then, at the very least, you should be silent.

You should not use your voice or your words to demean their efforts. Whether you believe that politics are a better conduit for liberation, or whether you think an economic revolution would be best, one thing we should all agree on in this fight is that we’re on the same side. So, to paraphrase a famous refrain, if you don’t have anything revolutionary to say, don’t say anything at all.

  • Gil Scott

    Pretty obnoxious to tell people who disagree with you to shut up, “we KNOW we are right, so you others just shutup!”
    Free speech is for ALL buddy. I don’t agree with what most peiple say but I do agree they can say it ~ even bastard hypocritical d@#kheads.

  • parywinkle

    Your point about free speech is valid,and we must remember to safeguard all of the freedoms we currently have, responsibly, while we are fighting for a better world; but there was a WHOLE lot more being said in this essay: Violence will likely and very sadly become necessary, to at least some degree – it is already happening; all the folks who have died in recent mass killings and in police encounters, especially those whose deaths have been seen over social media, I see as unintentional martyrs. They were not activists for the most part and did not choose to die or be brutalized (unlike the Rev. MLK who foresaw his death and those souls who willingly went into unarmed battle in Selma and Birmingham for example), but their deaths have awakened those of us who were asleep and oblivious, creating momentum to push forward a mass movement. I honor their memories in acknowledging their contribution in this way. “This is not a call for anyone to become the next radical. Rather, this is a reminder that the next radical is doing the work necessary to free you, even if you don’t realize it at the moment.”

  • Gil Scott

    Didn’t say the story was wrong, just obnoxious to tell others their point of view has no right to be spoken ~ in fact that is a characteristic of tyranny so I sure don’t want this author EVER in a position of power, ever.
    Violence is happening and will worsen most likely. Who suffers that violence? People who deserve it the least most assuredly so the perpetrators better aim good.

  • DHFabian

    Before you can have “radical change” (by any other name) you have to figure out what, and for whom, this change is about. Then understand what you’re dealing with. Keep in mind that we’re 20 years into a hell of a class war, middle class vs. the poor.

    Broader scale: We looked at the policies and programs implemented from FDR to Reagan (with its focus on poverty relief/reduction and corporate/financial restraints and regulations), and chose to reverse course, doing just the opposite. The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and we ignore the consequences. Our own 20th Century history is a record showing how and why it’s impossible to save (much less, to rebuild) the middle class without legitimately addressing our poverty crisis. We don’t want to. Now what?

  • DHFabian

    Another lesson from history: We know what happens in comparatively prosperous nations when a large enough portion of the population no longer has anything to hope for, anything left to lose.