The Hierachy of Violence


As the country debates whose lives matter, the prisons and cemeteries are filled with the ones who don’t. White armed men continue to commit arsons and mass shootings, seizing land with their weapons never to be labeled terrorists. This, along with a government that is suffocating the non-white world, filling their skies with drones that in a moment’s notice can be made to hone in on whomever has been labeled an enemy combatant or a terrorist.

Amidst the silence of white Western nations exceptionalism rings loud and clear. Flags fly at half mast, profile pics become homogenized, and the world weeps when a Western country is met with violence. Award shows take a moment of silence, humanity is questioned by millions, and we wonder how someone could be so cruel. Religion is blamed, a whole mass of people condemned, and praying to Allah will cast blood on your hands.

Yet white people since colonization have been conducting mass murders throughout the planet all in the name of gold, god, and country. And that’s the handy thing, when you control all the institutions, when you govern the governments you get to decide what is just, what is lawful, which evil is necessary. But why should the State be the sole perpetrator and arbiter of what “just” violence looks like?

Death and murder, innocent lives, necessary casualties, terrorists versus freedom fighters, violent extremists versus trained soldiers, become lost verses juxtaposed against the rhetoric – the propaganda game that never ends when it comes to spinning the wheel on who deserves to be killed and who gets to do the killing. American exceptionalism isn’t just ignoring the bad that American and other Imperialist countries have caused, it is criminalizing, victim blaming, and punishing how people respond after they have been attacked.  We expect those who have seen their countries invaded, their loved ones murdered, who live in fear of the next drone attack, or rape from a station soldier to just pray for peace and bestow forgiveness.

The same is true for black people in America, we are supposed to just sing, clap, and march for our freedom. It is expected that when a police officer decides to pull you over, whether they have a reason to or not, then we better not dare talk back and instead lay with our hands behind our back while we are beaten, choked, shot at, and/or raped. We are told that when police officers kill it is because they felt their lives were in danger, but when we feel that same fear our only option is compliance – hands up, don’t shoot.

After juries that don’t seem so grand exonerate murderous police officers of any crime, of any guilt, of any penalties, one has to wonder how long we are going to uphold the laws that are used against us. In Ohio, an open carry state, Tamir Rice, a twelve year old kid, was murdered by police officer Timothy Loehman for being black while playing with a toy gun. In Ferguson last August, on the anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown, The Oath Keepers, a group of armed white men, assisted the Ferguson police in terrorizing the black residents. After students of the University of Missouri successfully forced the school’s President to resign, they were followed by armed white gangs who rode around the university and the city threatening black students and community members. There are countless examples of where the Second Amendment has failed to apply to us.

We’ve seen white militias, bike gangs, and teenagers brawl and riot, threaten police with their weapons with no arrests made. Right now in Oregon a group of white heavily armed men have taken over a federal building in defense of their fellow white brethren. So when talking about a conversation on the monopoly of violence and therefore also a monopoly on self defense, it must be acknowledged that in this world white people are at the top of the hierarchy of violence.

We must ask ourselves, Why is it that white supremacy exists? Why is it that genocides happen, and continue to? Why is it that in a world where murder is committed everyday, in a country that is continuously at war, that we are not constantly in mourning? Why is it that I have seen gifs, vines, and full video clips of black people being murdered, pictures of dead Palestinians, and Sudanese and Syrian refugees but no pictures from the Paris attacks.

This is because white supremacy is global, when we look at the top arms dealers and producers of weapons in the world it is America, Russia, Germany, France and the UK that stand above. These countries sell weapons, train armies, and then create enemies to justify the need for war. Just look at Israel who is also a huge arms dealer, who sold weapons to the then South African Defense Force during the apartheid era. Not only do they sell weapons to help maintain white supremacy in other regions, but they use these weapons to help maintain their occupation against the Palestinian people. With the use of chemical weapons, bombings that have led to the killings of Palestinian children, and a open air prison, it is nothing more than the hierarchy of violence that allows for Israel to justify the use of their brutal force.

I’ve been talking a lot about direct physical violence, but there is also the violence that is happening against the planet and indirectly to humans as well. This relates to white human supremacy and its current dominance over resources. In California we’ve had oil and methane spills. This affects everything in our environment, these acts of violence continue to happen in California, America, and other places throughout the world, with little if any repercussions to corporations that continue to profit off of harm. If we were to talk about the destruction of these companies in the name of self defense of ourselves and our planet then that would be considered eco-terrorism. Strange isn’t it? That the people causing the pollution of our oceans, air, and water supplies aren’t considered eco-terrorists, but instead the very people trying to stop it from happening.

It’s all truly ridiculous, what has me even more dumbfounded is that we’ve allowed for the state of things to continue this way for so long. We have the right to defend ourselves, we have the right to exist, not more than anyone else, but for damn sure not less. And that’s the thing, we have and are existing in a world where our life is valued as less than. This is true amongst various intersectionalities once we really deconstruct them, all in contrast to blackness and leading back to the top, where the rich white oligarchs sit.

We see rich white men and women go on tv all the time and say that “we” need to defend ourselves against some non-white country who also conveniently has something they need to exploit. We spend millions of dollars on the police so that they defend themselves while they use those weapons against us, but there is no conversation about how we defend ourselves against them. These people who have the power, resources, and the ability to jail, to torture, and to kill you if you dare think about fighting back.

If you are white you benefit from white supremacy, you benefit from the military industrial complex, you benefit from genocide, and the police state. You benefit from the violence that is required to maintain white supremacy. The thing is, white supremacy doesn’t exist because of some inherent greatness in white people, ha, god no, that’s what they would like for us to believe. The reality is that white supremacy exists because of our current power structure, capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, and the internalization that we have all suffered, or adopted into our worldview.

This is why in maintaining white supremacy, violence becomes the main tool, we become saturated with the images of dead black and brown bodies, the reason why for even a small protest the police will still show up in full riot gear, why groups of white armed men are not called terrorists, and why when a police officer shoots and murders a twelve year old boy it’s not considered murder. It is meant to make us feel small, it’s meant to make us afraid, for violence to not only become normalized but internalized as something that is right, just, as something to be deserved. We’re are meant to blame Sandra Bland for “talking back” to the police officer, to question her motives on why she didn’t just comply. We’re supposed to submit.

In the end, we get this one life, and if you’re lucky it’s a long one, filled with more joy than pain. If you’re lucky your heart doesn’t stop every time you see a cop, or you weren’t forced to flee your land and start off anew somewhere else, where you are put into camps so that the rest of the world can play white man’s burden and decide whether or not you should be let in. If you’re lucky you weren’t born in a country with oil, minerals, or any other natural resources that these Western powers want to get their hands on. If you were, you are sure to see nothing but war in your lifetime, and you will spend your whole life cringing every time you think you hear a drone flying, a chopper cutting into the air, an ICE checkpoint,  or a police vehicle roll by, and if you dare, dare to even think of picking up that rock and throwing it back, well then you were nothing but a terrorist or a criminal who deserved to have gotten shot up.

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