Peaceful Protest: Thoughts on Race in America
Regardless of what the subject is, no positive social change is enacted through violence. While I understand how a protest, which is driven by intense emotion directed towards a specific action or ideology, can escalate into a violent clash, the outcome is never good.
I should say that I am referring to violence by the protesters. If the violence is enacted by emergency responders, that’s a different matter and is equally wrong. Yes, police brutality exists, but that doesn’t mean that every cop out there is racist.
That doesn’t mean “an eye for an eye.” I can see and understand both sides of the story — I’m pretty immersed in the law enforcement community and I have a better perspective on police affairs than most people do. And I can certainly understand the outrage towards racism; I’ve been to protests, written literary pieces decrying the injustice.
There is a serious race problem in this nation. It’s justified. But not by violent means.
Social change is brought about by peaceful and outspoken protest; not by violence induced by anger. There is rampant cultural racism in this country; of that I will continue to honestly and sadly lament. Things needs to change.
However, declaring war on law enforcement officers isn’t going to do anyone any good. I was at a protest at UMass where about 100 people fell down and pretended to be dead in protest of police brutality to the sound of a single voice singing in a mournful tone.
I was impressed by the singularity of mind expressed by the masses and the boldness displayed by the protesters themselves. Emotion like that will affect cultural change. Events like that need to happen more often. But not violent outbreaks that erupt from anger and ignorance.
There is a deep river of racist tendencies that flows underneath the red-white-and-blue soil of our land. Some of us, who are blessed to be born in this righteous nation, cannot see or understand what the disagreement is about.
Or perhaps we think that the disagreement is unfounded and based on ridiculous notions that were put to rest back in the 60’s. But I say, that we are still a racist people, and that brutality in civil government is the head of the snake.
When The United States separated from England, King George was figuratively crucified in the name of revolution. In reality, he didn’t have much say in the decisions made by the country England, but he was a convenient and easy target that the people could revolt against.
Police brutality is also an easy and highly visual platform on which to portray the unfair and prejudiced conceptions some of our citizens still hold; the system is still broken. Police brutality is being used to shine light on the hidden racist cogs within our social construct.
Stories influence cultural change; in this case, the stories of people who have been unfairly punished based on their skin color.
The gears that turn are still rusted with prejudice: our education system is still highly bigoted against poor minority populations; our justice system still turns up its nose towards skin that is other than white; some of our law enforcement officers still unjustly enact civil laws based on racist ideology; the poor are still oppressed on all sides.
We need laws to protect citizens from elected leaders and law enforcement officers. We need cultural change. We need people to stop saying that there isn’t a problem; we need people to recognize that they are the problem. And That passive attitudes are the problem. And that Peaceful protest is the answer. We need people to understand that violence will not accomplish anything.
And that its every-day people doing every-day things that will bring about social change for the better.