From Anthony Robinson to Anthony Hill, we're all too familiar with the story by now. As reported by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a Black person is murdered by the State every 28 hours. The aforementioned are merely the latest names to grab the recent spotlight shining on systemic racism. What these (and most) victims of police terror each had in common – aside from melanin – is ironically the same thing that all but guaranteed their execution. They were unarmed.
This point is critical. Not only in the outcome of these confrontations but also in our perception of them. With each instance of State terrorism, great emphasis is placed on the word ‘unarmed’. Now, it’s understandable as a way of highlighting the egregiousness – not to mention the cowardice – of using deadly force against someone who does not pose a deadly threat. But there also seems to be this subtle connotation of the word ‘unarmed’ with the word ‘innocent’; thereby equating the word ‘armed’ with the word ‘guilty’. When the most forceful outrage is reserved for the defenseless, for the unarmed, then not only is a human life lost, but an essential perspective is, as well.
POLICE KILL ANOTHER BLACK MAN. HE WAS UNARMED.
“We want justice! Black Lives Matter!”
POLICE KILL ANOTHER BLACK MAN. HE WAS ARMED.
“Well why did he have a gun on him?”
This is counter-productive, to say the least. Armed does not mean guilty. Armed does not mean criminal. Armed does not mean dangerous. Armed, in my mind, means prepared. And for Black people in North America living the ongoing African Holocaust, being prepared, being armed is a damn good idea.
The resolute declaration #BlackLivesMatter is also a good idea; one that must be acted upon by Black people. In reality, how does one stop a person from shooting at them? By shooting back. From Reconstruction to Civil Rights, our predecessors internalized this concept. And it would serve us well to heed their example.
After all the protest, after all the marching, the prayer, the voting and begging the State to stop killing us . . . Imagine Black people trading the slogan #HandsUpDontShoot for #ArmsUpShootBack. Picture an armed Black person defending themselves against an aggressor who happens to be wearing a badge. Imagine hundreds and thousands and millions of Black people ready and willing to follow suit, if necessary. Revisit an historic paradigm, where Black folk exercise our rights as human beings, including that of self-defense. Then, and not a moment sooner, we can honestly proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter.