Much of the language criticizing the tide of revolution in Ferguson indicates a curious misunderstanding of revolt, if not a double standard applied to its participants.
Revolution isn’t convenient or clean. There are no revolution business hours. Revolution isn’t akin to a parade, meant to follow a specific path and schedule. There are no revolution zones.
That’s kind of the whole point of revolution.
Revolution is limitless and boundless. Revolution stays disruptive and destructive. Revolution means fighting and persisting.
Those in disagreement with the revolt in Ferguson can and should still ask themselves this question: What if this were your revolution?
If this were your revolution, would you abide by curfew?
If this were your revolution, would you break no laws?
If this were your revolution, would you refrain from disturbing the peace?
(“Peace,” mind you, that is your society’s default state of being — a state of being that actively oppresses you and led to your need for revolution.)
If you genuinely believed your rights had been historically, systematically denied or violated, would you play nicely?
If you honestly perceived an historic disenfranchisement that showed no signs of improvement, would you continue with the status quo and merely hope for change?
If you witnessed citizens being denigrated, exploited, and slaughtered with no recourse, would you sit by and do nothing?
If you lived within a society where citizens were denied equal justice by those who created the laws, those who enforced the laws, and those who judged lawbreakers, would you be so inclined to invest faith in that same system?
How would your revolution look?
Suspend your disagreement with the protestors and revolters in Ferguson long enough to ask yourself: How is civil unrest is supposed to unfold? How are the oppressed meant to unshackle themselves? How is revolution destined to happen?
It’s one thing to disagree with the reasons for the current civil unrest in Ferguson. It’s another thing entirely to demand revolution operate within established civil boundaries when those boundaries necessitated revolution.
Hopefully, when your revolution comes, your fellow citizens won’t demand you stop fighting for your rights after midnight. Hopefully, when your revolution comes, your fellow citizens won’t insist you hold the noise at a reasonable level so your neighbors aren’t disturbed. Hopefully, when your revolution comes, your fellow citizens won’t expect you to keep your revolution to yourself so that they don’t have to see it, hear it, think about it, or be changed by it.
Hopefully, when your revolution comes, your fellow citizens won’t abandoned you and their own values simply because they aren’t affected by the same injustices as you.
Hopefully, when your revolution comes, your fellow citizens will acknowledge that it is a revolution.
Nina Simone – Revolution