Kathleen Cleaver’s visit to the College was very fruitful and her presentation covered the history of the Black Panther organization. Cleaver was very intentional to try to unravel the misconception of the Black Panthers as a group that promoted violence. The Black Panthers did believe in the right to bear arms and one of their famous tactics was to follow police officers active in black neighborhoods and prevent violence by being present with guns. However, this tactic was in response to police brutality from racist police officers.
Cleaver stated that protestors wanted the Black Panthers to supply guns so they could retaliate for the death of MLK and ongoing police brutality. When the Black Panthers refused to support them that way, two carloads of protestors, including Black Panthers Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton, decided to act out in violence. In this act Bobby was killed and Eldridge Cleaver was to be arrested. Ultimately, the movement lost access to some of their leaders because of violence, so it makes sense that Kathleen Cleaver would be opposed such tactics and labels.
In the wake of the Florida school shooting just over a month ago, a lot of people have begun speaking out against the loose gun control in this country, and many others have started to really listen. The marches organized by the Parkland students, specifically, gained a lot of media attention and started a bit of a snowball effect in terms of protests and school walk-outs. However, as an article for Huffington Post by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman points out, the fast success of this anti-gun, anti-violence movement can bring into question why a relatively small group of white students are being listened to more than black victims fighting against gun violence. This is a very complicated issue, then, because the topic of gun control is finally being addressed very vocally nationwide, but why it is only now being addressed in this capacity when groups like Black Lives Matter have been trying to talk about it for years? This all comes back into class discussions of anti-black violence and demonstration to get political progress, but this time comparing the effectiveness of the demonstration based on the group’s race. Granted, this new anti-gun movement the Parkland kids kick started is very new and has hardly had enough time to make any lasting difference, and considering how popular in media coverage the Black Lives Matter movement was when it first started, so I’m a little hesitant to fully compare the two movements just yet. Still, there is clearly the sense, from my perspective, that many people see the Parkland kids’ movement as the first real protest against gun violence, which it definitely is not. And while I am glad that this issue is being addressed, I, too, am more than a little disheartened at the fact that it was ignored for so long simply because of who was presenting the issue.
Today was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. People around the country were honoring what he’s done for the United States and the black community.
Today, there was an email sent out at around 4:40 PM stating that there would be a gathering in honor of remembering MLK at 7:00 PM. If diversity is so important to the college, why were students just now hearing about this event at 4:40 PM, the day of ? I would like to point out the black community as well for always talking about how we (black students and Wooster at large) have to stick together, but as I walked up to the event, there were about 12 people there and only 4 were black. I think it’s a shame for the community and college to contradict themselves on what their values are and what actions are actually being taken to accommodate those values.
This article made me realize how deep the roots of white supremacy ran in the world. America was already home to so many race issues, and beyond America, the same race issues were present. White people from Europe were trying to claim parts of Africa as their own, invading and colonizing. On a large scale, the struggle was between the workers/oppressed and the controllers/claimers. White people in the working class who suffer similar oppression under the privileged community were STILL siding with the upper class. In this case, lower class whites aligned with other whites in the name of sticking to their race. This idea of white supremacy was evident globally and in America. Racial separations at this time were stronger than class separations, even though class separations directly disadvantaged people of all colors in the working class.
Reading the Civil Disobedience article made me think about how normalized white southern violence was during these times. It seemed like basically the author was saying if the black community acted out in civil disobedience, then they know what’s coming to them. The author seems to say “We all know how the south can be”. This enables white southern violence instead of condemning it. Instead, it appears that the black community is being condemned for trying to stick up for themselves in the face of white violence.
White violence was pushed under the rug while the black community was criticized for wanting to do something to fight it.