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“Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.”—How obsession with “nonviolence” harms the Palestinian cause | Electronic Intifada
“A boycott is a passive act. It is the most passive political act that anyone can commit...no sort of antagonism. Dr. King's policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That's very good. He only made one fallacious assumption. In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none. ”—
Stokely Carmichael, 1967
Black Power Mixtape
“In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience.”—
Self-defense, in terms of how Malcolm X said it, has been ridiculously misinterpreted and misunderstood.
Malcolm believed in being nonviolent with people who are nonviolent. He did not believe in being nonviolent with people who are violent. He made a clear distinction. He believed in nonviolence as a method for as long as it is feasible. This is a flexible approach that is not dogmatic.
When he said “By any means necessary,” he was speaking about whatever means is necessary whether it involves nonviolent action or self-defense.
He taught us that we are within are rights to defend our lives and our property seeing as though we live, and still do, under a government that is either unwilling or unable to protect the lives and property of people of color. All you need to do is look at history and you will see that this is a strong argument.
“I don't mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence. I'm nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you've made me go insane, and I'm not responsible for what I do.”—Malcolm X
“Nonviolent” political movements weren’t nonviolent for the participants.
People got beaten, arrested, had dogs, horses, and firehoses turned out on them, their vehicles set on fire, their houses bombed, they got shot at in crowds, gassed, they got killed and castrated and hung from trees.
When we talk about the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., or Gandhi’s work, the standard narrative is basically, “These people were very brave and noble so everyone was impressed and they got what they wanted.”
But actually it was more like, “All this scary shit happened, and they didn’t back down, so all the people in charge started to really worry about what they were going to do.”
White people in the 60s and 70s were terrified of a race war, another civil war. Every time there was a “race” riot, a riot involving POC, they just about lost their shit. Seeing Panthers with guns terrified them even if the Panthers were mainly just feeding school kids lunch and cleaning up litter in the neighborhood. Concessions had to be made because white people were terrified shit was about to go down. If killing and bombing and hosing and beating folks wasn’t going to make them stop, they had to do something in a hurry to appease them before they started responding in kind.