The Turning Point: From "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" to "You Shoot, We Shoot"

OPINION: Hands Up / Shoot Back? Paris Makes A Case.


The views expressed inside this editorial aren’t necessarily the views of or its employees.


by Paris

We’ve voted.  We’ve marched.  We’ve trusted in the System.  Joke’s on us.  But it’s all fun and games ’til somebody gets hurt.

Well, the inevitable just went down — a grand jury in Ferguson, MO opted to not press formal charges for the August murder of Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.  What we collectively witnessed was a textbook case of white privilege and racism at its most insidious.

Mike Brown, Rest in Peace.  Let’s get that stated out of the gate and for the record, since many of the conversations surrounding this tragedy only reflect concerns about the pig that killed him.  The sad fact is that although this was about Mike, it was also about the larger ongoing issue of police brutality and unchecked white rage in America during the era of Obama.

As hashtagtivists jockey for something profound to say on twitter and the diseased racists on the Right fall over themselves to defend pigs and declare us savages (Hello Giuliani, Coulter and Nugent), we have to look at the facts.  And the facts are that America has been desensitized to black death for far too long — so much so that the knee-jerk response of many to our collective outrage is to question why we supposedly aren’t as concerned with the problem of black on black crime.  But know that we are concerned, and every community has problems.  What we don’t need is the police adding to ours.  

Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Harding, Rekia Boyd, Sean Bell — pick any name — the common denominator is that they all died at the hands of law enforcement unnecessarily.  And there’s no end in sight.  By now it should be apparent to even the casual observer that there is a problem, and that problem is based in systematic racism and white supremacy.  It’s institutionalized, and it’s reenforced through negative stereotypes of often corporate-endorsed media images of black-on-black violence, glorification of drug culture and the degradation of our women — to the point where, to many, we look like animals.  No wonder the police are empowered to terrorize us without consequence.

We’ve often seen the efforts by the media to create sympathy for those who get caught beating and killing us by portraying the victims as thugs and the perpetrators as heroes.  But we’re not all thugs, and all cops aren’t heroes.  The blanket assignment of that term insults those who actually are heroic by placing them alongside cops who shoot unarmed kids.

But fighting this perception is hard.  It’s especially hard in an era where the 1-2 punch of state-sponsored news/propaganda and the lull of mindless entertainment keeps the public serenaded and sedated into passive acceptance of the status quo.  I reject that.  And many others do too.  So what’s the proposed solution?             

Armed resistance against unwarranted aggression.

It’s the elephant in the room and needs to be seriously considered by those of us who value our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  Malcolm X said that self-defense is common sense, and that’s a credo we should all stand by.  Can’t take cops to court?  How about court in the streets?  We’re dying anyway.  And I’ve said it a thousand times — the only language America speaks and understands is violence — especially as it relates to people of color and those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.  Maybe we should talk.

I know some will criticize this stance as reckless and irresponsible, but guess what?  Allowing unchecked aggression to remain unchecked is reckless and irresponsible.  They’ll say this message is crass and controversial, and that we can’t win — and that’s fine.  We don’t need to win, we need to be felt.  The only time mainstream America ever pays attention is when we assert ourselves the way she does.  Police brutality and its increased militarization is crass and controversial, too.  Maybe police will understand that there are real life consequences to their actions if there are real life consequences to their actions…

People who feel as I do have been told for some time now that our views are extremist because we firmly believe in meeting force with force, and that an eye for an eye is the only real justice in these matters.  Are we wrong?  You’d be a fool to think so now, after bigoted white America adds yet another dead n#### notch to its kill belt.  We’ve been told that the System works, to be patient, that we live in a “post-racial” America, that Obama cares but that he’s the President “of all of America and not just Black America” (as his administration’s bombs drop on countries where people of color live), and that change is a comin’.  But when?

It would have sent a powerful message to have seen charges filed against Darren Wilson. We would’ve been all for that, with the proper application of due process of law.  But we were denied that satisfaction again, just as we’ve been denied countless other times in similar situations.  We simply don’t live in a society that’s set up to respect black life — and especially if it’s not the black life of a celebrity or athlete.

So DIE SLOW with that bootlickin’ pacifist apologist b#######.  F### your permit for a protest.  In fact, f### your protest altogether, since it no longer seems to do much but make us engage police on their terms.  That’s been the problem for a while now — actions we take have
rarely been on our terms, and arguments and discussions surrounding current events that affect us are usually framed in media and on platforms we don’t control.  We’re constantly told how to act, how to show our collective outrage, and urged to remain calm.  We march and shout, tweet and blog, and gab on cable news — all to no effect — as people of color continue to be murdered by police and cop wannabes seemingly at will.  

But maybe we can write our congressman.

Maybe Obama will sing Al Green for us.

Or maybe we can snipe guilty pigs at random and get paid administrative leave from our jobs too, while ya’ll “sort it out.”

Just’ sayin’.