There is one universal subject that cannot be ignored when explaining history, dissecting the status of marginalized people around the world, or pursuing any understanding of society, culture or politics. It is an unavoidable component that must be factored into any academic or intellectual examination of civilization, social order or government.
That subject is violence.
However, when discussing African Americans or anything related to blackness, one must delete all mentions of it from the conversation. Even though it is as old as humanity and has been the driving force of every movement that ever existed, when mentioned in conjunction with the history of black people in America, bringing up the subject of violence is forbidden. Unless one wants to be accused of promoting it or rabble-rousing or simply dismissed out of hand, violence is a universal no-no.
Take Texas A&M University professor Tommy Curry, for instance. According to Mic, Curry has recently experienced death threats, harassment and professional admonishment after conservative outlets dug up old statements by the philosophy professor in which he brought up the absence of a discussion of violence in black intellectualism.
The vitriol surrounding Curry is not because of beliefs he espoused to students in a classroom setting. The breakout of right-wing butt-hurt surrounding the educator comes from statements he made outside the university setting, on a podcast five years ago. Compounding the uproar’s stupidity is the fact that Curry made a valid point:
What we have today is a situation where the symbols of [Dr. Martin Luther] King and peaceful white progressives have become the hallmarks of the black civil rights struggle. ... What I’m surprised about is that I’ve seen no black public intellectual come out and actually address the issue of violence or social revolution or radical self-defense by black people historically.
Although the quote seems innocuous enough in posing an academic question, when someone dug the interview out of the archives, right-wing outlets like the American Conservative and the Washington Examiner escalated the Africana-studies professor to the title of “anti-white hatemonger,” who made “genocidal comments.”
In response to the outbreak of white butthurt, Texas A&M’s president issued a public statement condemning Curry for his comments:
As you may know, a podcast interview by one of our professors that took place approximately four-and-a-half years ago resurfaced this week on social media, seen for the first time by many of us. The interview features disturbing comments about race and violence that stand in stark contrast to Aggie core values—most notably those of respect, excellence, leadership and integrity—values that we hold true toward all of humanity. ...
We wish no violence or harm even to those who espouse hateful views under the First Amendment, a sentiment that by its very nature is one that they would deny others.
Here is the thing: No matter how many pearls white people begin clutching, an institution of higher learning should never condemn a professor for advancing academic thought. The consideration of radical thought is almost the textbook definition of philosophy.
Texas A&M likely has a history class that teaches how the American Revolution was kick-started when a radical group called the Sons of Liberty boarded a ship and threw the tea overboard. I’m sure there is a class that discusses how brave souls are reshaping the political and economic climate in the Middle East with the citizen-driven Arab Spring. Even the invisible deity, the idea of whom conservatives love, but whose words they conveniently ignore, believed that he couldn’t save this cruel, corrupt world unless his son shed some blood.
But for black people? Not so much.
In all of this white-knuckle hand-wringing, Curry’s larger point has been lost:
There has never been a major change movement in the history of the world that hasn’t involved violence.
America has brainwashed both blacks and whites into believing that African Americans gained their rights by behaving obediently and observing the law. We have allowed them to white out from the history books the Black Panthers, Deacons for Defense and all the groups that advocated for self-defense. They conveniently forget that the only people who acted civilly during the civil rights movement were the people whose skin was ripped by water hoses and whose bones were shattered by batons.
The civil rights movement was not a movement of nonviolence. Ask Medgar Evers. Ask Malcolm X. Ask the mirage of whitewashed history that white America posthumously made a saint and a martyr after snuffing out his fire: Martin Luther King Jr. could confirm all of this if white violence had not splattered his brains across the balcony of a Memphis, Tenn., hotel.
Now that we have uncovered the serious and introspective parts, there are two more parts of this debate that are simultaneously infuriating and hilarious:
- Texas A&M is the same school that recently allowed Richard Spencer—the poster boy for the filtered lumps of diarrhea remnants who call themselves the “alt-right”— to speak on campus and spread his message, which includes ethnic cleansing to make a whiter America. This is the same Richard Spencer who led a group of torch-bearing protesters reminiscent of a Ku Klux Klan mob in a Virginia rally for Confederate monuments last week and ...
- ... this is the incredible part. In the podcast interview, Professor Curry was talking about the inhumane violence against whites and the results it produced ... in a movie!!!
Oh, white America, you will never stop being funny.
The movie thing aside, silencing someone who actually studies the issues (Curry teaches a class on critical race theory) in favor of Caucasian emotions is the antithesis of education. It is what the hypocritical conservatives talk about when they lament the rise of political correctness. It is the privilege of discussing the musket bearers who fought for slavery while suppressing the mention of black freedom fighters. It is white fragility.
There are some who will say this piece of writing advocates violence, just as there are people across Texas and the country calling for Curry to be fired for 5-year-old statements about a Jamie Foxx movie. Because everyone in America deserves the right to self-examination, freedom of speech and a safe space to openly examine their intellectual ideas ...
Except black people.