“The war is still coming… And I intend to fight it by any means necessary.” – Magneto, X-Men movie
Over 50 years ago, these words were spoken/written by two of history’s greatest civil rights leaders:
“We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.” – Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Over 50 years later and nearly 50 years after their assassinations, we are still dealing with injustice in the form of laws designed to unfairly target blacks/minorities, of police brutality, of disproportionate incarceration and poverty rates, of poor educational resources, of racist fears and cultural stereotypes.
It is because of the stereotypes that white people and law enforcement believe that any black man is a threat or somehow involved in criminal activity. It is the stereotypes that lead white people to unnecessarily and unjustifiably fear black people, and thus feel the need to arm and defend themselves against a threat that exists only in their minds. But it is this fear that leads them to kill without provocation or justification, because we simply exist.
And for so long, we’ve followed the example set by Dr. King in practicing non-violent resistance and protest. We’ve allowed ourselves to continually be struck down by violence and “accept blows without retaliating.” And in doing so, we continue to accept the mistreatment and dehumanization of our people. But maybe the time is coming when we’ve changed our mindset. We’ve grown tired of the abuse. And we’re growing tired of passive resistance while police murder us with no repercussions. Others around the world are fighting for their freedom from oppression, for their human right to exist. When will we make our stand?
In the words of Malcolm X, “The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself.”
We will start fighting back, as has been seen in Ferguson, Missouri over the past few days. Protests around the country on Thursday after also illustrated the unity and frustration that people feel over what happened in Missouri, New York, Ohio and elsewhere. We expect better from a country that touts itself as a world leader, as the home of democracy, and as the greatest country in the world. And if positive and satisfactory change doesn’t come quickly, this will only escalate.
The war is coming.