Why Self-Defense is a Part of Revolutionary Black Love
History reminds us that Black people in this country are consistently under attack. There’s been countless examples of white terror, from racist police and vigilantes participating in extrajudicial killings every 28 hours, to the bombings of NAACP offices, (we face unrelenting racial terrorism from Amerikkka). The continuous acts of violence upheld by the American (so-called) justice system make peace impossible. If white supremacists are going to attack peaceful organizers working for change, we all are under attack. If our unarmed youth playing at a park are going to be gunned down within 1.5 seconds, we all are under attack. If the American government can assassinate the peaceful revolutionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are all under attack. Furthermore, in preparation for the release of the grand jury indictment in Ferguson, the KKK released statements saying “we will use lethal force” and made it known to protestors that that “they have been warned and woke up a sleeping giant”. Additionally federal investigations have also ousted KKK member’s within police forces. Malcolm X warned us that KKK members would take off their hoods and trade it in for a blue uniform. We must realize the true state of nature we are in as Black folks in America. And the state that we are in, is a state of war.
As JFK once said, “those who make a peaceful revolution impossible, make a violent revolution inevitable”. The hands of white supremacy continue to take the lives of Black people in this country. America has reminded us time and time again that a peaceful revolution is impossible. As a result, it is time we have a much-needed conversation about self-defense.
First off, I want to live in a world where love and peace are the fundamental principles of human beings. However, America consistently demonstrates that love and peace are not its values. There is nothing peaceful about systemic state violence. As Malcolm X once said, “it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” Self-defense is necessary in order to survive in the United States, and self-defense is rooted in self-love.
A true revolution is rooted in radical love. And the foundation of love starts with loving one’s self and one’s people. If we truly love ourselves and our people, we will defend our lives and humanity by any means necessary when our lives are under attack. If we love ourselves, then we shall honor our people with the same love because Afrikan people have always had a linked-fate. As Black people, we share a common struggle under the beast of white supremacy. It’s simple: if someone we love is under attack, we must protect them from the aggressor. For instance, if I was walking down the street with my mom, and someone attacked her, I would attack the aggressor by any means necessary. Most people in their right mind would attack whoever is hurting their Mother. I would not want to be around a person who would not attempt to fight off this aggressor, because that means that they don’t have love for themselves and others. Revolutionary love is protecting each other and oneself by any means necessary to stop the aggressor.
Self-defense is an ideology rooted in revolutionary love. And ideally we want peace, however, we live in a society where state violence against Black people is a daily occurrence. Who are we to call for help when those who are killing us work for the government? Who are we to call for help when we are protesting police brutality and the KKK makes threats? We owe it to Assata Shakur to love and protect each other, not just in theory but in practice.
Protection is of utmost importance as we continue to live during a time of racial bloodshed. Our ancestors were lynched in the late 19th and 20th century at a rate of 2 or 3 times per week. These images were published and redistributed on postcards. Now we are murdered in extrajudicial killings every 28 hours and killed again and again our misery is told through constant news cycles of Black death. Recently, activist Shaun King stated that “The deadliest hate crime against Black folk in the past 75 years happened THIS YEAR in Charleston”. We must wake up to situation we face, and begin to protect ourselves from white supremacy.
If we are to dismantle segregation, economic & political disenfranchisement, and systemic oppression in creative ways, history has shown us that we will be subjected to violent and strategic backlash at the hands of white supremacists. Just like our ancestors defended themselves, we too must defend ourselves.
We must practice revolutionary love for ourselves and protect each other. Whether it is from the police killing us, or evil individuals like Daniel Holtzclaw sexually assaulting us, or transphobic murder, or Klansmen riding around a university threatening Black Students with violence, we must say no more. We must radically love one another proactively, as love will unite us against our common enemy. As Assata Shakur said, “we have nothing to lose but our chains”.
In struggle and solidarity,
- Brotha B
(originally published in 2015)