After talking to Bishop John Selders, of Kinloch, Missouri, and pastor at Hartford’s Amistad Congregational Church, I realized he was making some excellent points: People who express surprise or dismay about the protests surrounding the mysterious death of African American men at the hand of some police officers really should read their Declaration of Independence.
You can read the column here.
I’m wondering what Cornell Lewis would describe as “revolutionary talk.”
I’m not sure I agree with the analogy. Colonial aristocrats in America fomented a forcible overthrow of British imperial government in favor of a completely new system of government. (American history prefers to call that a “revolution” even though the socioeconomic system remained essentially unchanged.) Protests in Baltimore, Ferguson and elsewhere, organized by folks who, for the most part, are far,far removed from contemporary bourgeois aristocracy, are demanding justice through selective reform: wide-reaching change in the way our our existing justice system works or is organized. While both actions might be correctly described semantically as “revolution” or “revolutionary,” there ‘s actually a big difference between the two…in these times.
Reformism is not Revolution. Some might say that’s the problem.
You make good points. The purpose of that column — short though it may be — was to introduce the topic that protesters are well within their rights to protest, and that one burned CVS is unfortunate, but not a reason to dismiss outright the long-term effects of institutional racism. You and I both know that, discussions of revolt or reform aside (and no, we shouldn’t put it too far aside) that the reform of capitalism is not going to result in any long-term and needed change. It’s going to be business as usual. And for a lot of people, that’s precisely the desired effect. I see t-shirts about the rebellion/protest/call it what you will, and I cringe. Don’t commodify this dissent.
Everything in America is a commodity. Everything. People. Places. Things. Even dissent…especially public protest.
Is the American public ready to break free from that kind of oppression?
Does it even matter what the American public wants? History, over the last 30 years or so, would indicate no.
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