protest fire

Protest minus disruption or violence equals failure

After I posted about boycotting the beverage industry, the question was posed; "What does Coca-Cola or Seven-Up have to do with police killings". Nothing and everything.

Pepsi was one of the companies that spoke out in opposition to a North Carolina law that would have restricted a person to using the bathroom designated for the sex they were born, rather than the sex they identified with. I was shocked at the corporate response to such a relatively new issue.

Since the 1600s, there has been a long history of police brutality and police have abused and suppressed the rights of black people. In the 1960s, Malcolm X addressed police brutality conditions that still exist today and the Black Panther Party was created in response to police brutality. Two days ago, Alton Sterling became one of the latest victims of police brutality that was captured on video. How many more incidents  of brutality exists for each one captured by video?

Over my 50-year life span, I have probably spent tens of thousands of dollars on beverages purchased from grocery stores, restaurants, vending machines, amusement parks, and other venues. If Pepsi felt the need to speak up about bathroom rights, shouldn't it also feel the need to speak up when people are being murdered! What's more important, the right to use a particular bathroom or the right to live? 

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I thought about simply boycotting just Pepsi, but then I'd be giving Coca-Cola and all the other beverage companies a pass. Collectively, black people spend billions each year on beverages. I can't ever remember any company speaking out for us the way several corporations spoke out for bathroom rights. I'm not hating on the LGBT community, but I do demand that Pepsi and other companies pay us the same respect and speak up for us as well.

I don't expect a mass movement to happen because of my post, but consider if just one percent (1%) of black people in the country gave up soft drinks. There are about 46 million black people in the U.S., one percent equals 460,000 people. Let us assume on average each of those people spends five dollars per week on soft drinks; that's $2,300,000 dollars per week, $9,959,000 per month or $119,508,000 per year. Now imagine two, five or even ten percent of African American boycotting soft drinks; do you imagine they might take a stand against police brutality?

History favors disruption

"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue." – MLK, Letter from Birmingham Jail 

Historically, the only effective protests have been disruptive or violent. There are not many examples of successful peaceful revolutions. For example, the Occupy Wall Street Movement gain national attention and support, but what did it ultimately accomplish? Nothing. The Occupiers were so peaceful, they didn't even block the entrance to banks or the streets leading to them. Had the Occupy Wall Street leaders simply suggested opening credit union accounts instead of using the major banks, that would have caused disruption on Wall Street and some changes might have occurred.

During the Montgomery bus boycott; the City of Montgomery, AL didn't integrate buses because they suddenly felt guilty about Rosa Parks' arrest, the revenue of downtown merchants and the bus company were negatively impacted (disrupted) and that led to a change in policy.

The peaceful civil rights demonstrations of the 1960's gained attention, but it took violence; four little girls killed in church and scenes of dogs and water hoses used against women and children in Birmingham, AL, the murders of three civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner, beatings on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL,  beatings and killings of countless others before public sentiment rose high enough to pass the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.

In 1963, Jefferson Bank operations were disrupted by protesters for about a month. Jefferson bank had previously been located in an African-American neighborhood but moved south. After the move, the two black tellers that had previously worked there were gone. By the end of the protest, Jefferson Bank had hired at least six black employees.

In 1964, Percy Green and Richard Daly climbed the construction rigging of the Arch and stayed there for five hours halting construction. The Arch protest prodded officials of the National Park Service into pressuring construction companies to hire more African-American workers and contractors for the Arch project.

In 1999, protesters in St. Louis shut down highway 70 in both directions because of a lack of minority contractors and construction workers on the repair of I-70 through North St. Louis. That shutdown and threats of future shutdowns resulted in more training of minority youth for construction trade jobs and more contracts to minority contractors.

The Ferguson protest resulted in rapid change because of the high policing and property damage cost and the threat of protests in other areas such as Clayton, MO. Even though the peaceful marchers gained national and international attention, it took burned buildings and the threat of continued disruptions for meaningful changes to occur in St. Louis area courts and policing. 

The peaceful Mizzou protest might have been ineffective if the football team hadn't threatened to boycott a game which would have inflicted serious economic harm. 

The obvious initial response to disruption from those in power or with influence will be negative. No one likes disruption, but disruption is necessary if anything is to ever change.

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am and admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King who preached and stood for non-violence, but just as nations have diplomats for peaceful resolutions and armies to apply force when neccesary; I believe true freedom will call for both violent and nonviolent methods.

Although, I have no doubt about Dr. King's belief and committment to nonviolence, some speeches he gave as he neared the end of his life indicated that he might have had a change of heart or at least was open minded about different strategies.

MLK – "My Dream Has Turned Into a Nightmare"

Dr. King, "I'm Black and proud"

Also, see Dr. King's statement about Federal Subsidies for White Land Owners on our reparations page.


The root of racism is money!

Slavery didn't occur because of hate, slavery was profitable and fueled the wealth and independence of the United States. Hate was a by-product of the economics of slavery. Even during slavery, it was commonly understood that no one wants to be a slave. But the profits were so great and the institution continued and tried to justify itself by spreading lies that slaves were happy and were better off. 

Jim Crow created a new system, very similar to slavery, that was also profitable. In urban areas, racism continues to ensure that whole groups of people are economically depressed ensuring an available workforce to fill what others may consider undesirable jobs. Those same groups are then targeted by predatory institutions such as payday loans and rent to own outlets because it's profitable!

There are some who may try to argue, slavery and Jim Crow was a long time ago, forget it and move on. The legacy of those institutions, crimes, lack of education, poverty, self-hatred, prison systems, and broken homes are still with us today. 

"It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you that you should forget about the oppression that they inflicted upon you."

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