hands up, hands down, hands in your pocket, holding your child, playing with your keys, drinking tea and eating Skittles. THEY DON’T CARE.
If police and the news say you, a Black man, threw a canister of tear gas back at the police when in reality you threw it away from Black children who were protesting, then guess who white people and everybody who isn’t paying attention are going to believe? Hell, if the Ferguson PD says they weren’t throwing tear gas at all, which they have done, then you’d better have video proof and have picked up some of those canisters to prove it (which people have had to do).
The entire #HandsUpDontShoot trending activism is based on respectability politics. Having his hands in the air didn’t save #MikeBrown.
Its beyond shameful and beyond unjust that Black people peacefully protesting the murder of Michael Brown also have to protect stores from being looted, put out fires, and convince everyone that they were indeed peacefully protesting while they are being outright lied on. I find it ironic, for lack of a better word, that Black protestors are forced to protect symbols of the very establishments for which they were enslaved in the first place in order to build this country just to prove that they aren’t the ones looting.
Black protestors also now have to fight against the idea that because Mike Brown allegedly stole something of course he deserved to be gun down in a completely unrelated incident (in which a belligerent cop saw him and his friend walking down the street).
What a lot of people don’t want to deal with is the fact that peaceful protesting only works as advertised when the law works as advertised. Same as the prison system.
Non-violent protest is not always going to help, and neither is all this respectability policing masquerading itself as activism. As authorities like the Ferguson Police Department and the governing officials of that city and this nation are bending and suspending the law–which they are tasked with upholding–for themselves but not for everyone else (depending on the situation) ask yourself one question: Will it really matter if my hands are up or down? What are we going to do on the day no one steps in to act as an authority over the authorities who are supposed to protect and serve but use Black people as target practice and fodder?
Are you going to stand there and be target practice?
And if you don’t know the answer, I hope that day never comes.