Photo by Elizabeth Flores of Star Tribune via AP

“Black people need some peace, white people need some peace, and we’re gonna have to fight, we’re gonna have to struggle, we’re gonna have to struggle relentlessly to bring about some peace, because the people that we’re asking for peace, they’re a bunch of megalomaniac warmongers and they don’t even understand what peace means.”

Fred Hampton

I am 21 years old. Not a single year of my life has gone by where I haven’t witnessed the worst of atrocities perpetrated against my people in every aspect and venue of life. 

I have watched as racist police and self-deputized whites have made it their personal mission to impose their authority over Black people, ordaining themselves as judge, jury and executioner over our lives. I watch them get away with it time and again. 

When I was 13, it was Trayvon. I watched as the U.S justice system failed him and let his killer go free. 

When I was 15, I watched cowards with badges approach Eric Garner from behind and choked him to death. I listened to his cries, “I can’t breathe,” as he pleaded for his life. A brief warning: this video may contain graphic images.  

Even as I sat down to write this article, I learned of George Floyd. I watched him die on my timeline; heard him repeat “I can’t breathe” just as Eric Garner had in his last moments. I watched as the murderer stared into the camera as he crushed Floyd’s windpipe, confident that he would never face justice. 

 I struggle not to become desensitized. It often seems that desensitization is the media’s goal. This country has a way of televising Black pain and death. 

 James Baldwin once wrote “to be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” 

History has shown us that we have every right to be infuriated, and to say otherwise is revisionist.  

 For over 400 years and counting, we have been denied peace and equity.  

During that time, this country has stolen from us, kept us in bondage, raped our bodies, minds and souls, and stole breath that they did not have the authority or agency to give in the first place. 

Throughout these many years, we have had to fight every day for the right to live unapologetically and to the fullest point that is deserved by every human being. 

We will not play down our righteous anger for a country that has blood to answer for. 

White America tells us to wait on justice, that peaceful protests are the “right way, the only way for change, and that violence invalidates our cause.”  

 How can one be at peace when violence is visited upon them daily simply because of their skin color? 

No, we have exhausted every recourse of peaceful protest and reality has shown us that justice is impossible if not demanded, if not taken. 

John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” 

When we are denied a peaceful existence – when we have exhausted the last drops of precious ink from our pens and our pleading voices continue to be choked out, when every appeal to  human decency fails and every mode of nonviolent resistance is met with deadly force – what option is left to us but to take up the sword?