• Jun 4, 2020

How unequal perceptions of protest and violence shape Black Lives Matter

Daniel Nichanian, The Appeal
June 4, 2020

Daniel Nichanian and Juliet Hooker, a Black political thought and racial justice scholar at Brown University, discuss her 2016 article on the Black Lives Matter protests, the disparities around who and what are labeled violent, and expectations around respectability for protestors.

Here’s the issue: If you are asking people to engage in civil disobedience, the point of engaging in civil disobedience is to show that you respect the democratic norms of the society in which you live, but you think some things are unjust and need to be changed. But if you’re in a system where you are not afforded the same rights of citizenship even to this day, in which there have been, continue to be killing of Black people by the police with impunity, and there seems to be no way to address that either electorally, or through lawsuits, or through all the other forms of activism, then, saying that you shouldn’t protest violently—well it’s like, what other forms of redress are there? If the system is fundamentally unjust, then part of the critique is precisely that there needs to be radical transformation.

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