Breonna Taylor, India Kager, Tyree Crawford, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Jamar Clark, William Chapman II, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant III and now George Floyd, are just a few of the hundreds of people that have fallen victim to police brutality. The killing of George Floyd has left the nation weeping in anger, despair, anguish, and disgust. Amid all this havoc, many conversations have been on the topic of protesting. Some believe that peaceful protest is better, and others believe riots are needed during this time of despair. While the debate of protest has sparked the conversation not only in America but throughout the world, one thing is for certain: Protest is needed.
Protest in the U.S.
Protest comes in various forms; it can be seen in the form of kneeling during the national anthem or rioting in the streets. Black people have been protesting and revolting the systematic structure of racism since slavery rebellion. Nat Turner’s Rebellion was one of the more well known slave revolts, where Turner and a small group of slaves killed their master and family. The idea of speaking out against inequality followed suit throughout the 60’s and 70’s with the Civil Rights Movement and other movements during this time period. In the Civil Rights Movement, you saw an amplitude of diverse protests, from bus boycotts to marches on Washington. Fast forward to modern day, Black people have participated in numerous protests to speak out against brutality against black people.
Violent and Non-Violent Protest
Although protest is a form of expression led by a desire to make change for an unjust society, others feel the methods of protest can be extreme. Violent and nonviolent protest have been highly critiqued in their implementation. Recently, due to the death of George Floyd riots have exploded across all 50 states. The riots were met with an explosion of backlash from people across the country. President Trump has threatened to call the military to settle the “unrest” in some American cities .
However, there has not been that much of a difference between the criticism over non-violent protest either. People forget the marches during the Civil Rights Movement were met with even more violence from the police and backlash from society. Fast forward to modern day society, this is no different. For example, kneeling during American football was met with huge backlash and deemed inappropriate in 2016. Other nonviolent protest by Black Lives Matter was met with the same criticism.
The late Martin Luther King Jr. once stated protest “ the language of the unheard”. While this quote has been repeated a lot in the last few weeks, it is a statement that holds much truth. Black America is TIRED. They are tired of being treated as a constant target strictly based on something they cannot control – the color of their skin.
Far too many times society focuses on the act of protesting instead of the why. Although acts of racism are prohibited, minorities are still 2.5 more likely to be killed by the police than whites. Basic human treatment is not a courtesy; it is a human right. A mother should never have to fear for the life of her black son from the people who are supposed to serve and protect.
Protest gives black people a voice in a world wanting to suppress it. No matter which type of protest is chosen to fight the fight against unjust action, protest is the language everybody needs to adhere to, or else social unrest will keep being present.