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When Oppression Is the Status Quo, Disruption Is a Moral Duty


When Oppression Is the Status Quo, Disruption Is a Moral Duty

Bree Newsome

“When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets.” —Alabama clergymen’s letter to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. April 12, 1963


Bree, your words bring tears to my eyes. As a white man growing up in the South, I lived with the racial propaganda which existed everywhere (including my own family). It took some years away from this influence to truly understand what I had always felt in my heart; oppression is slavery and shows its ugly head in many ways. It is everyone’s moral duty to throw those chains to the ground and grind them to dust. Like geological history, hard, granite-like mountains continue to rise, while the soft flow of water forever wears them down and carries them away. Such it seems it is with life. But always those mountains are worn down and carried away.


Totally right-on analysis.

This is the ultimate truth:

“It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.” —From Letter From a Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr., April 16, 1963.”

As is the article’s absolutely perfect concluding statement:

“When oppression is the status quo, disruption is a moral duty.”


Absolutely spot on! Organizing, direct action, and nonviolent resistance are fundamental to any hope for political advancement.


Oh you hypocrite! Anytime i or others in these comments promote direct action and organized nonviolent resistance as necessary to a successful movement against oppression, you accuse us of promoting violence, of falling into a “Fight Back” paradigm that is favored by the oligarchy. You just wrote it here again yesterday! Yet here you are posing as a supporter of direct action and organized nonviolent resistance.


Hey, maybe you could share some inspirational examples with us Susan. Please inform us of organized anti-oppression work in your communities that you have been involved in. How goes the campaign to disrupt the power structure and end white supremacy in your home state?

Is it possible that you’ve actually been involved in absolutely zero actual disruption at any stage of your privileged life? But you just agreed that it’s your moral duty!

Or is it possible that you think being posted at Common Dreams is your “disruptive” activity?


In 2015, St. Louis remains one of the most segregated cities in the United States of America. According to Richard Rothstein’s study “The Making of Ferguson,” black citizens there have faced brutal racial and economic oppression for decades, including the following:
… zoning rules that classified white neighborhoods as residential and
black neighborhoods as commercial or industrial; segregated
public-housing projects that replaced integrated low-income areas;
federal subsidies for suburban development conditioned on
African-American exclusion; federal and local requirements for, and
enforcement of, property deeds and neighborhood agreements that
prohibited resale of white-owned property to, or occupancy by, African
Americans; tax favoritism for private institutions that practiced
segregation; municipal boundary lines designed to separate black
neighborhoods from white ones and to deny necessary services to the
former; real estate, insurance, and banking regulators who tolerated and
sometimes required racial segregation; and urban renewal plans whose
purpose was to shift black populations from central cities like St.
Louis to inner-ring suburbs like Ferguson.

In other words, the systemic racial oppression that operates to this day in towns like Ferguson, long after the Civil War ostensibly ended slavery, is still encoded in countless laws and practiced as official policy throughout the country. This is de jure segregation enshrined at all levels of government on the order of South African apartheid, not “merely” overlooked segregation practices of the slippery de facto sort.

Then we read the kicker, uh, killer:

On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old, unarmed black teenager,
was shot and killed by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in a
place where black citizens are routinely harassed by cops to generate revenue for the city coffers.

To put this in the economic terms beloved of neoliberals, the very black men and women who are “routinely harassed by cops,” even beaten, even murdered, all the while pay the salaries of those cops, keep city halls open rather than steal away their savings to the Caymen Islands.IOW, the “racial caste system” of M.L. King’s time in our 21st century now takes the form of a racial economic system. The very bullets and batons used to brutalize black citizens are in fact paid for by those citizens at the brunt of force, prison being the alternative.

Ever since Ferguson, I’ve been stewing on the particularly galling nature of such legalized criminality and acts of injustice, as outrageous as charging inmates for their room and board. Are murdered black victims being charged by localities for funeral expenses? Are the cops who are killing in broadly captured videos paid their regular salaries, collected from huge numbers of petty citizen fines that somehow escalate–?

While we’re at it, are blacks being unjustly convicted and imprisoned in order to supply imprisoned labor aka slavery for corporate America?

Newsome notes:

Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act happened only
because there were black Americans refusing to comply with oppression,
creating disruption and posing direct challenges to the United States’
racial caste system.

IOW we dutiful taxpayers are “complying with such oppression” aka state violence every day, no matter how fervent our sympathies with groups like Black Lives Matter.

Just thinking, brooding, stewing . . . . having enough time to reflect, as an invisible citizen escaping the wrath of police–for now.

What about the “fierce urgency of now?” whisper the ghosts.




“History teaches us that legislative action rarely happens without
organized protest. This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so
essential today.”

History (from the 14th amendment and reconstruction to all the hooting and hollering going on today) also teaches us that neither legislative action nor organized protests solve the problems that inspired them.
The inexcusable and endemic racism of the United States of America will never be solved by such measures. It will only be solved by a change in the human hearts of those who are the perpetrators and those who are the victims of it.
The World Series, NFL football, and the year-long melodrama of the presidential election year have yet to happen, it is August, and this does give Bree Newsome a new project to self promote. .


I know . . .of all the candidates they could protest, they choose the one who most sympathizes with the BLM cause.


Now how is it that Michael Brown has been transmogrified by white people into a “Thug”? Sure - he was a juvenile delinquent, but “thug”?? When I think of “thugs” I think of people who have multiple murders to their name like the killers of Ruben Espinoza and four other activists in Mexico city a few days ago, or the Ayotzinapa 43.

But Michael Brown? And I really love your euphemism “taken down”. Was the policeman’s life ever being threatened by him? No.

And why are white people never “Thugs”?

You are a racist.


Where is the evidence that he sympathizes all that much with the BLM movement? He (from a snow-white state) has been showing a little racism-awareness lately - and only becasue of these BLM protest actions. They need to keep it up.

Also, If Sanders is indeed “our candidate” - should we not be criticizing him so that he moves in the right direction both with regard to racism, or foreign policy or militarism? We don’t criticize the others becasue there is no point in it - it would be like trying to get a pig to sing - or fly, or make a silk purse out of one of their ears.


This video is total BULLSHIT - this guy is a self-hating black kissing the asses of white people - the racial equivalent of a Mister Block (look it up if you don’t know what it means).

I grew up a privileged clueless white suburban kid. When I was young I broke the law all the time - underage drinking, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, racing on the streets while totally-intoxicated.

Yet the cops always treated me with kid gloves - a warning or a minor ticket and I was on my way.

i would have probably been dead now if I was black.


There is a class dynamic taught in sociology. It states that those from the higher class believe it is their right to define the lower class. It goes on to say that those from the lower class wait to be defined. This dynamic whether expressed overtly or subtly is at the root of injustice and must be torn out. Deference must be shredded and thrown to the four winds.




Hateful tools like you promote division in support of white supremacy.


The axe you grind is so sharp it cuts your own axe-grinding throat.


Translate, please.


Thank you, oh you who runs the page. Your apology is deeply appreciated and much needed.

Bernie has done nothing but repeat that he is on the side of African Americans seeking justice. And for that his meeting is disrupted and he is prevented from speaking.

Maybe these two women who seized the stage are infiltrators from the police or FBI. That has happened often enough, from the Black Panthers on. Or maybe they are just stupid. Sure, disruption is sometimes necessary. But it is also necessary to win allies to your side, and not alienate those who want to be your friends.

I hope that the Black Lives Matter movement, which I totally support, will know how to discipline these two agent provocateurs. Outrage without intelligence is always defeated.