Is Protesting Effective? Is Protesting Obsolete?

Onyx Contributor:  Johnny Silvercloud (@JohnnySilverclo)

At the time of publishing this article, protests continue to occur around the United States.  These protests concern police brutality, police extra-judicial killings, police corruption and a severe lack of police accountability.  These protests also include the flaw in media coverage in how mainstream media NEVER engages in investigative journalism, and always takes the police officer’s word as if it’s 100% accurate, as if they never have a reason to cover their tracks or lie.  These issues concern black people the most.  Black Lives.  When I was trying to write an article on Sandra Bland — who police murdered in Texas (with white supremacist impunity, mind you) because she was a black socio-political activist — A fellow named Sam Dubose was murdered in cold blood by a police officer in Ohio.  I can honestly say that I have been paralyzed by these events, following back to back.  As U.S. police forces run across Ferguson like a series of storm troopers in a Star Wars flick again, I’ll tell you that we have a lot to talk about.

Folks are still protesting.

And while we are still protesting, there are a great amount of us who question the logic of these protests.  People like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie are mocked sometimes as “professional demonstrators”, especially when they are being harassed and monitored by authorities.

Looking at the concerns of those who don’t support protesting, I can see their point.  All the protesters ever do is get either:

  • Brutalized by U.S. police forces (I’m going to start calling them “USPs”)
  • Locked up for nonsensical charges
  • Harassed
  • Threatened by white bigot bystanders, many who are dying to shoot a black person

You can also count on the U.S. government to engage in spying on you, with Homeland Security ironically, finding “threat” in those who are terrorized.  The list can go on.  A lot of people really don’t see the point in it all.  But, for some reason I do.

Protesters have a place.

A lot of us black folks out here think in singular terms.  For example, a ton of black folks who want to make a difference (read:  have the same end goals) in a smug sense, wonder why these folks are not opening businesses, allocating funds in important places, talking to politicians, consolidating money, etc.  While I can say they are all actually doing all of this behind closed doors, I’ll point out this:  protesters have a place on the field.   In the past I’ve consistently argued that protesting is a first stage occurrence that we should not be stuck in.  Now looking at it, I believe that was inaccurate.  Currently I assess that the “protest” isn’t a first phase event; it’s a persistent, ongoing occurrence, and it’s necessary that it exists as such.

Football taught me about placement.

I see parallels to a football field.  If you know anything about football, you’d know that there’s a ruthless, dirty position that is probably the most under-appreciated in the whole game:  the offensive lineman.

The offensive lineman is the most under appreciated player on the field.  Yet at the same time, without them the game cannot and WILL NOT exist.  Without an offensive line, the quarterback will get tackled within mere seconds, and after a few plays that guy is injured.  Without the offensive line, there would be no runs, no passes, no touchdowns, no field goals.  It would be impossible to score without the offensive line.

The protesters out on the street are the offensive linemen; people who weather the storm, who hikes the ball to the quarterback in the backfield.  The quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, or running back never wonders why the offensive lineman isn’t the one who throws, runs, or catches the ball.  They just know that that fucker is important, right where he is, and without them we wouldn’t get this far down the field as we are right now.  The rest of the offense, who people adore the most mind you, are deeply appreciative of the offensive line… or at least, the best offense is appreciative.

So overall, we writers, bloggers, podcasters and other free thinkers need to have a healthy relationship with the protesters, and quit questioning what they do, and how they do it.  Quit wondering why they are out there.  Quit demanding that they do something else; that’s someone else’s role on the field, maybe yours.  Trust me when I tell you that we are getting down the field, making touchdowns happen, and if you don’t see this, then maybe you haven’t been paying attention.

Protesters — they know their role.  So the question isn’t in their role, the question should be, “do you know yours?” 

What is your role?  That’s right; it’s something to think about.

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