Protests and The Movement Should Watch Out for These Traps: Opinion
First, let me start by saying there is no reason for you to listen to what I have to say. The movement of change is well underway with protests all around the country on a continuous basis. There are great leaders in every city who have organized and mobilized people to speak and march against injustice. That said, I’ve protested right along with these leaders, and I have a few thoughts on what traps exist and if not careful could undo the movement. At this moment everything looks ever promising, but we cannot discount our adversaries and the opportunities they will use to dismantle what is being built. I’m not saying these will happen but we must be ready.
1. Forgetting the True Cause
One thing I’ve observed while attending protests in Providence, Rhode Island, and watching many others through TV and social media, is that there are many reasons people are in the streets. There are many just causes from gender and LGBTQ discrimination, anti-authoritarian protestors, anarchists who want to burn it all, defunding police, and countless others. All these groups have something to say.
However, we need to maintain the focus on the root cause of the protests: the undoing of systemic racism and oppression in this country. Systemic racism is at the root of a system of oppression built by those who seek and wield power for more power, rather than the greater good of humanity. This system is the train that brought us here, and we need to make sure this is the last stop.
All the other sub-causes are spokes of the same wheel. If the movement continues in a positive direction, these issues will hopefully be addressed. Let’s start with the center axel, and go from there.
2. The Politicization of Systemic Racism
Let’s be clear, one of the most dangerous things that can happen to the movement is if victory is declared when and if, Joe Biden wins the Presidency. No. No. No. No.
This is not a political issue. We’ve gotten to this point by the ineptitude of 45 U.S. Presidents to honestly address the sins of America’s past. Thousands of members of Congress and the Senate couldn’t get it done either. Equality and justice is not a concept exclusive to Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Green, or any other political party. This is a human rights issue and needs to be treated as such. The real leaders of change are in the streets.
My other concern is there is a contingent of protesters that are more Anti-Trump than they are pro-Black Lives Matter. Take time and reflect if you’re in this camp. If you feel unsure, educate yourself, LISTEN, discuss with people, ask questions, etc. Joe Biden is not a savior for this issue that has plagued our country for over 400 years. Don’t declare victory in November if he wins. Remember there is a lot more to be done to change the hearts and minds of people.
3. Corporate Pandering
We’ve all seen it over the past few weeks. From NASCAR to Aunt Jemima, corporations are taking a fresh look at their brands. While these changes are long overdue we need to be aware of a few things.
First, corporations in and of themselves are not a biological entity. They do not have a heart or feelings or a brain. Their objective is to maximize returns for shareholders. Second, in order to take any action, there is calculus that takes place to determine how that action will impact all future cash flows. This is business 101.
For example, corporations didn’t suddenly make efforts to “go green” out of the goodness of their hearts (they don’t have one). It was a precise calculation of the difference between NOT taking the action of “going green” versus the amount of potential future losses and costs associated with things like infrastructure rebuilds, improving efficiency, cost of removing waste, future fossil fuel costs, fines from future regulatory scrutiny, etc. The math showed that it was better to act now than wait; so many have.
My point is the same approach is being taken today (ahemm, NFL). I’m not saying that CEOs and corporate leaders speaking out are not genuine. They are after all the human managers of the corporate infrastructure. Simply put, corporations and those with a monetary interest in their success are very adept at knowing which way the wind is blowing. And more importantly, how the wind can impact returns in the future.
The support is welcome. The movement can trust the sincerity, but always follow up.
I recently attended a protest and was disappointed to see a group of young activists verbally attacking and bashing the credibility of another activist organization. Part of the complaint was this rival organization was taking credit for what the youth was responsible for and even posed in a photo with the Governor when they weren’t involved.
Now listen. I have no idea about the intricacies and nuances of this beef but let me start with: fuck a photo op with the Governor. This is much bigger than that.
Now that’s off my chest, let me say this was bound to happen. All movements have many organizations, with different agendas, and different methods to get things done. They certainly will not always see eye to eye.
However, we must stay united beyond these differences. See the bigger picture. This revolutionary super-highway has many lanes and we can all get there together. We don’t need a video of in-fighting being circulated on Fox News as propaganda claiming we are failing.
5. White Appropriation of The Movement
I’ll say it. I’m white and I have a problem with how some white people are acting at protests. So let me speak to them directly. This is not your time to shine. This is not the time for an IG photoshoot or a TikTok live stream. This is much more serious.
Granted, I’ve taken pictures and videos at protests to document history. And yes, I have posted some pictures on social media. Maybe part of my motivation IS to show that I’m down. Maybe it’s because I listened to too much Public Enemy and Ice Cube when I was in my formative years. I truly hope it’s the part of me that has been reading, writing, and rapping about these issues well before I married a black woman.
Also, Seattle. I’m not sure what to make of “CHAZ” or “CHOP”, the autonomous zone. ANTIFA and anarchists can play in the streets all they want, but if you’re not helping the Black Lives Matter movement then STFU.
I’m not perfect. No one is. I hope white America doesn’t start to “take credit” for undoing the injustice and oppression that we have perpetrated and benefited from since the day we were born. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. We all are.
I’m sure a lot of you thought I would say one of the traps of the protests is the destruction of property. Hell no. Revolutions aren’t clean. These things are unfortunate but in some ways necessary to get people’s attention. I truly hope protestors are safe and smart. But when I say that, I mostly mean safe from the police forces around America who blatantly demonstrated their inability to deal with their communities peacefully in the first few days of the protests. Tear gassing, rubber bullets, attacking people for yelling. Yeah, great job guys. Go whine about it while waiting for a McMuffin.
In the meantime, Target, Auto Zone, Wendy’s all have great insurance plans and will be fine. My only resentment of these actions is that the opposition uses these video clips to distract from the real movement that is being built; all the positivity, unity, and love. That is the powerful shit they’re really scared of.
This is just how I see things while reflecting on a Sunday. Please let me know in the comments if you agree, disagree, or if I should STFU (even though I won’t).