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If you don’t think violence is the answer then you haven’t been paying attention to the question. Let’s go back, shall we, to 1776. The American Colonies took up arms against the British Empire and waged a shooting war that killed tens of thousands of people. We celebrate that war. We glorify the action taken. It made us free. Well, not really all of us. There were many black people held as slaves at that time who were not free. The War for Independence was not their war.

Most of the African colonies, were brutal, savage, and profitable affairs, at least for those doing the colonization, and most of those countries became unfettered through violence. Over in India  that was an exception, mind you, and there’s lessons to be learned from how they were able to not start a war and still start a country. At the end, however, there were many Indians who were murdered by the British, yes, those same British, in order to be free. The IRA fought a guerrilla war against the British, yes, dammit, those same British, for years. Violence is a useful and convincing tool that commands attention and it has been used in the past very effectively.

The orgy of violence that occurred during the America Civil War is a very good example of how violence can be used to transform a country, yet not solve underlining problems. Before we start there, let’s step back and step away from the topic of violence, and talk about the real issue here; racism.

I’m going to stop the conversation with some fairly gory talk, and it might be something that makes you flinch, but it’s time. We’ve been taught in history classes that our Founding Fathers, Great Men All, might have owned slaves but they weren’t racists. We’re told times were different back then, and they didn’t consider black people to be fully human, and that’s the excuse for keeping blacks as slaves, because the Founding Fathers, Great Men All, were not raised to consider the possibility that someone who looked very much human, except the color of their skin, might actually be human.

 

But this is a lie.

 

If they truly believed black slaves to be nothing more and nothing less than livestock, then why weren’t slaves on the menu like all other farm animals? They Founding Fathers knew these people were human and they knew what they were doing was wrong. Using slaves, stealing people, kidnapping people, beating people to make them work, was wrong, but it was profitable, and there was no one around to try to stop them.  Seventy years later, when slavery became an issue, the people who had stolen and enslaved other people were willing to fight a war to keep their profit.

 

Remember this also: During the time in American history, when black people were being kidnapped and their lives, their children’s lives, and entire generations were kept as forced labor, the white Americans were systematically and very deliberately committing genocide. The native people who lived in America for thousands of years were being killed off and hunted into extinction. They didn’t eat the natives, either. At some level, they knew those people were human beings and they knew what they were doing was wrong. But the idea of free land, in the land of the free, overrode their civility.

 

Any argument of moral ambiguity is lost when the facts are repeated out loud. They knew what they were doing and they knew it was wrong. They just didn’t care, so people were killed and people were enslaved. They simply cared more for material goods than they did human life.

 

Here we are today. It’s been over one hundred fifty years since slavery has been outlawed, yet those years have been fraught with peril for people who are not white. They own less property, are less educated, have inferior health care and substandard housing, and are incarcerated in for profit prisons at a rate that staggers the mind. Black people are killed at over twice their demographic percentage than are people who are white.

 

Video after video after video shows unarmed black men being shot by police, and in some cases, for no good reason at all. In some cases, it is clearly murder. Yet the conviction rate for policemen who shoot black men is practically zero.

 

There was, and still is, a lot of White Outrage because black athletes refused to stand for the National Anthem. This White Outrage is both unfounded in reason, and based on the kneejerk Facebook type of public discourse where there has to be an immediate, and therefore thoughtless reply to everything, and it is more often than not polarizing. That’s making things worse, and it’s not addressing the real issue here, which is this: If you truly believing violence is not the answer, then why didn’t you react the way you are reacting right now, when black men were being murdered?

 

A black man gets shot right in front of you, and you don’t react but the sight of a burning building causes you to get angry? You have the same mindset as a slave owner at that point, you do realize that do you not? Property over human life, is where your emotions are. How did you get to be that type of person? Don’t you care?

 

The answer to this question is the same answer to the same question so many years ago, when slavers were raiding Africa and kidnapping people. The deaths of black men do not affect the average white people no more than a family being broken apart and sold to new owners affected white people in 1851. We white people are indifferent to the suffering of black men, the beating and imprisonment of black men, and the murder of black men, until we see a building being burned on videos on YouTube.

 

Why don’t these people give peace a chance?

 

You now, I hope, understand why that question might not go over well, especially with the family members of murdered black men.

 

 

What you see is what you get. White people have been silent and apathetic. They’ve secretly wondered if these black men were thieves, rapists, murderers, and the police were just doing their jobs, ma’am. We’re a divided and segregated society in our hearts and in our minds. Our souls are segregated.

 

What you’re seeing is civilization being stripped away. People who have longed for justice have reached the point they no longer believing it’s possible to achieve through social media and bumper stickers. What you are seeing is rage, and there is more where that came from, Brothers and Sisters.

 

Violence is the answer. It’s the only way to find a signal strong enough to reach people who still aren’t reacting to the incredible racial divide in America. Violence is the answer. Rioting, burning, looting, killing, and widespread destruction is the answer. It will continue to be the answer to the question: Why aren’t white people doing something about this?

 

When we white people get off our sofas, log off the laptop, stop binge watching Friends on our widescreens, get into our SUVs, drive down to the local protest, and get out into the streets with our fists and our voices raised, black people aren’t going to trust that violence isn’t the only thing that won’t wake us up. They aren’t going to trust that we believe in America. They aren’t going to trust we believe in liberty and justice, for all.

 

We can do this without violence. We can do this without hate, without death, and without destruction. No violence is not the answer, because Martin Luther King taught us it wasn’t, because Gandhi taught us is isn’t, and violence begets violence, we’re sure of that. We know better than to believe violence is going to make the world a better place because it never has, and it never, ever, will.

 

But as long as white people allow violence against black men, and as long as white people sit in silence when there is injustice, and as long as we care more about our convenience than we do the lives of other human beings, violence will continue.

 

If we white people do not speak against violence in our homes, in our churches, in the schools, and in the voting booths, until we take to the streets in peace and with our voices raised, violence is going to be the answer to our silence.

 

Violence is the answer to the question, “Why is it the white people do not care?”

 

Search your hearts, white people, for the answer to that question. And if you believe, truly believe, that you do care, get out there, get out there right now, be surrounded by black people in a protest and tell them you believe, and trust me, you’ll be welcomed. They need you, they want you there, and nothing will make the protestors happier than to see what Martin Luther King could only dream about: people together making a difference. Without violence.

 

I’m asking you to care. That’s the answer to violence. It’s what will shut it down.

 

Mike Firesmith

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