We’ve seen the players in the past: John Brown and abolitionists, Nat Turner and slaves rebels, Malcolm X and civil rights revolutionaries. They stood for something. They also stood against something. These people not only had justice on their mind but had an image of how to go about bringing it to fruition. After hundreds of years spent in mental and physical bondage because a continent of white supremacists said it should be that way, you would think anything would be condoned by blacks for the sake of justice.
We had a great discussion in class about the use of violence and when it would be justified to counteract injustices being brought to a group of people. John Brown and his actions, discussed in detail by Thoreau, led us to believe that yes, indeed violence against slave-owners and slavery in general was legitimate. Students were expressing that it was morally wrong to hold someone in captivity against their will and force them into labor and a lifetime of servitude. I would agree. Students said in hindsight, we know slavery was a bad thing so whatever brought down slavery had to fly. I would agree with that, too. But what I suggest as legitimate goes much further than what slavery brought upon blacks centuries ago, and brings to light the injustice we see every day in this country.
Malcolm X and his compatriots did not see something that wasn’t there. They did not fight for rights that were not being stripped from them. Blacks in America did not feel the need to be militant because they were living amongst modest inequality. No. The damage had been done. Our entire country had been built and supplanted with a social order in which some people were inherently better than others, with no contemplation of what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and ill-matched, what separates a nation from natural inequality and xenophobia. All of which John Brown fought for before the Civil War and subsequent black leaders fought for during Reconstruction and an entire century following, stems from wretched abuse and deplorable exploitations of a group of people who were powerless. An entire race had been paralyzed by the actions of the very people we say built our country.
Look at the streets and prisons now, and tell me your race doesn’t not play telling part in your fate in this country. I think that non-violence only separates people further from the matters which need to be dealt with with as strong of force as what pulverized the very core of a people. Yes, Malcolm X was a radical. Yes, John Brown took the lives of other people. But not in the name of savagery, but in the name of morality. There are severe consequences to taking up in arms and serving the greater cause of humanity for the people for whom you live. If you aren’t running with it, you’re running from it, and if violence and barbarity are the only things that can solve the issues which confront us as a people, so be it.