Throughout history, violence has always been the harbinger for revolution and change. Human beings for thousands of years have never quite figured out how to maintain peace and equity together. The scenes in the US right now are both frightening and satisfying.
Frightening because it’s hard to control the monstrosity of riot and chaos borne out of supreme anger and frustration. It’s frightening because in the midst of this, though I’m thousands of miles away, I have loved ones in the US who could easily get caught up.
Frightening because something just doesn’t sit right with me seeing people of my own skin tone being painted as hoodlums, outlaws and troublemakers, when they dare speak out or fight back against the injustices they’ve faced.
Frightening because up until 1965, just 55 years ago, this kind of treatment was LEGAL. Frightening because in 2020, what was once legal is now illegal, but the authorities pretend it is not happening and, when faced with the truth (as seen on social media), choose to justify it by assassinating the victim again, this time, by his character.
Frightening because black people will also be victims of these riots conducted by…black people. Even their businesses will burn, innocent people’s businesses will be looted. Is this the epitome of the old adage “the good must suffer for the bad”? Does the good have to suffer for the bad for meaningful change? Casualties of a necessary war? One thing is for sure, it’s an uncontrollable monster.
It’s frightening because in the end they won’t be looked at as a people hurting, but simply criminals. And it will come from the highest office in the land and spread by the media, who is made up largely of the skin tone being protested against.
It’s frightening because even in my own country, we are not devoid of our own extrajudicial treatment from law enforcement, which are often times borne out of prejudice of class/status and skin tone. People may say that what’s happening in the US and what happens in Jamaica, are not equal, and I’m inclined to agree. But while I’m not trying to equate the two, I would be burying my head in the sand, if I didn’t admit to the similarities in the motivation behind it – that one skin colour/tone is superior to another and with that, privileges handed out and rights denied accordingly.
It’s satisfying because I see black people as warriors and change agents and not victims and criminals. I see people who are ’fighting back’ after being ‘provoked’ for centuries, I see unity in chaos in unspoken fashion. For the first time, this generation is seeing an actual UNITED black states of America.
It’s satisfying because the message is being spread and people are responding. It’s satisfying because I see parallels to one of the first and largest uprising in black history, that happened right here in Jamaica – the Christmas Rebellion. On December 27, 1831, Led by Deacon Sam Sharpe, plantations all over the western end of the island were able to unite against the common enemy in unusual circumstances. It was so grand that it sent shockwaves back to Britain only for a few years later, slavery becoming abolished (in Jamaica).
The suffering of black people has been long, it has appeared with many faces, but despite it all our spirit remains unbroken. I don’t know what the outcome of this will be and we may not know until decades later, but I hope it brings the kind of change that black Americans deserve.
We should all stand up and place our proverbial fists in the air and side with our black brothers and sisters in America.
Written by: Jason McPherson