Starhawk's Response to Current Events:
A cop murders a man in cold blood, in an icon of humiliation, knee on neck, a man who is bound and pleading for his life, and all this happens not just in front of other cops who do not intervene, not just in front of a live crowd, but is videoed and shown to the world.
It’s a public murder, a lynching, a display of brute power.
And this murder is one in a long string of murders, black life after black life, and in the majority of cases, the perpetrators have walked free.
And we wonder why our cities are in flames?
We are surprised when a cigarette butt sparks a raging fire in a tinder-dry forest?
I am a life-long advocate and practitioner of nonviolence, but I’m not going to preach it to those who have the knee on their neck. Not until I first send out a larger call:
I call for nonviolence from the cops, whom we as a society entrust with the right to carry weapons and to use force, and who therefore must be accountable and responsible when they abuse that trust.
I call for nonviolence from the president, who has condoned and advocated violence on every level, stoked racial fear and hatred, supported white supremacists, egged on armed, white protestors, and so much more that I can work myself up into a froth just trying to list it. And from all the other power-holders who aid and abet him, who ignore their duty to govern fairly and accountably.
I call for nonviolence from the media that focus on and glorify violence and too often ignore peaceful protest, from the media outlets that spread misinformation and outright lie, from the social media that provide platforms for lies and hate to spread.
I call for nonviolence from any folks of privilege, whether that’s vanguardist leftists or, far more prevalent, organized white supremacist groups, who are using the protests to advance their own agendas instead of taking the lead from those whose lives are most directly impacted.
I call upon us all to acknowledge that racism is violence, continual and nonstop, like a low-level inflammation that saps your energy and occasionally erupts into agonizing pain. And occasionally sets the world on fire.
We live steeped in and surrounded by violence, shaped by it, entertained by it. Violence is outright force but it is also neglect, appropriation of resources, lies, stereotypes, devaluation, unwillingness to acknowledge and reward the beauty and creativity and gifts of those who are deemed not to matter. It’s our reluctance to let someone else determine the norms, set the rules, be the center of the story.
So if we are shocked, shocked by broken glass and burned-out cop cars, then we have a responsibility to change the climate that is stoking the fires.
Nonviolence isn’t something to preach. It’s best put into practice, by actively working against the inherent violence that pervades our system.