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  • Writer's pictureMona Ray

Political Violence & False Identity

identity #violence #abuse #power #stop #discrimination #FBI #blackpanthers

Last week I wrote about false identity based on labelling as one of the possible reasons for political violence I also mentioned interactionism. This week I’d like to continue the topic while still focusing on the history of discrimination and self-defence of black people not so long ago when the laws were different for Whites and Blacks. For example, black people paid the same price for bus tickets but were allowed to sit only at the back of buses and only when no white person was standing (Olsson, 2011). As a result of the situation M.L. King started a boycott and Blacks stopped riding the buses. The result was positive, but still, it was not enough for a younger generation of Blacks who were inspired by Malcolm X to want a military revolution. Thus, a military organisation, the Black Panthers Party was founded in Oakland, California in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The Panthers put on leather jackets, berets, and guns. The Panthers were a response to a lack of understanding of needs and desires for equality and no compromise from authorities. The Panther's quote was: "If you don't attack us, there won't be any violence; [but] if you bring violence to us, we will defend ourselves" ( reviews/seale/). This joint political action shows a classic symbolic interactionism structure, where political violence occurs through the indication and interpretation of own and opponents' actions. Black people were unsatisfied with present conditions and indicated this to white authorities, but the violence of authorities could be interpreted only as a lack of opportunities for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

What is the source of the lack of opportunities for a peaceful solution?

Joint actions have a predictable career that makes them regular, stable, and repetitive, still, with some obstructions due to a lack of pre-established pathways that needed to be constructed along new lines (Ruggiero, 2006). The pathways of political actions of the Black Panther Party were shaped by the relationship dynamic of violent authorities and suppressed black communities. Discrimination, racism, and police violence led to violent self-defence, which authorities criticised. The Panthers' goals were to guard against police brutality in black neighbourhoods and provide social services and capture the imagination of the black community so that they could better organize them into a political electoral machine. Still, they were criticised for self-defence, and this is not a rational response but rather a simple idiotism (Olsson, 2011). The Black Panther Party's violence was a reaction to the violence administered by the police. Black people were refused their rights for self-defence, human and civil rights or even the right to feel (Olsson, 2011). The approach of white authorities was very dehumanising. So, it was a natural reaction to eventually respond against violence with violence. However, white authorities felt they had a right to use violence to protect their positions while disapproving of others' right to self-defence based purely on differences in the colour of their skin when the real essence of who you are has nothing to do with your skin. You are just a living being in a body that you drive. Besides, this is human nature; if you are poked and poked and poked eventually you will bite. The paradox of this situation is that when you are poked and react then you are blamed for your reaction, and this is a very twisted form of abuse.

There is a deeper aspect to this type of conflict. The false identity and labelling that leads to prejudice. There was a psychological experiment in which participants were assigned to different groups based on eye colour. The result was that participants developed prejudice and hostility toward the false segregation based on eye colour. This experiment shows the humans’ tendency to identify with a group. However, we as human beings possess a higher consciousness and intelligence so supposedly, we can understand what is right or wrong, so why we do not understand and accept or at least tolerate that we are different and yet in essence the same? It is a bit like identifying yourself with a car and as a red car, I will only talk to those in red cars. Just because someone is of a different colour, nation, religion, sex, or sexual orientation does it make that person a lesser person? Does it give anyone a right to feel better than, subjugate, discriminate, or abuse others just because they are different? If, you are different to me and you do not cause any harm to me, what is the problem? Poking and abusing may only lead to one thing, a rational dynamic reaction to evident discrimination and power abuse. Yet, events do not just happen they occur in a series of steps due to interaction between political actors that lead to ‘secondary deviation' where violence is presented and leads to even more violence (Ruggiero, 2006, p.115). The American authorities who should represent democracy, freedom and equality used a scapegoating method to remove opponents. For example, they accused Angela Davis of cooperation in a murder during a court trial because the weapon that was used to commit the crime was registered in her name. In California, this destined the death penalty. Davis was the third most wanted woman by the FBI and eventually was imprisoned (Olsson, 2011). Davis had a strong influence on society, women, and every black person because she represented their needs and was telling an uncomfortable truth about the past and present reality of life and relations between black and white Americans. She pointed out the history of abuse of black people since the first black person was kidnapped from Africa. The genocide of red people and slavery of black people along with racism, inequality, poverty, and lack of education and health care. She spoke out about historical and present intentions, acts and facts of violence of white governments against coloured people of America. Every person like her was a big inconvenience for authorities and was aimed to be removed. For example, M.L. King who also was raising similar issues in his political speeches was killed. Kennedy, who was standing for black people's rights also was killed. Those events prove that all social revolutionists aimed to be eliminated. When you see events like that it makes you think, why? Thus, let's dwell deeper into the issue. Who are you? There is research that shows that every 8 years all the cells in your body change, thus, every 8 years you have a new body. But who are you, who is the one who has a new body every 8 years, who can notice the changes? First, you are a baby, then a child, then a teenager, an adult, middle-aged and old. Still, there is one unchangeable entity, who experiences all the change, and that is you, the unmaterial living being inside the material body. Thus, if you are not your body but the owner or a passenger of the body then why do you fight for changeable labels? Of course, there is a difference between self-defence and attacking. Everybody has the right to self-defence. Perhaps if we could find our real identity then maybe we could change our views about the world and its habitants, who are different but in essence the same as you or me. I leave you with that question in mind, and I will continue the topic next week.

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