Black America's Most Important Right

Miles Brinkley, Stanford University

As a Black person of any diasporic background living in America, you have never been safe. You have never been afforded protection by the Constitution of this nation, nor were you ever intended to reap its benefits and guarantees. This is old news, and I won’t waste time re-intellectualizing it because we all know this to some important degree (or at least, I hope you do by now). Knowing this, though, we do have to recognize something: we live in a time where we can legally exercise our rights, and to a fairly significant degree, our ancestors have paved a legislative path that opens those doors and keeps them open. And in these times, knowing your rights and amendments is very important to fighting the good fight and, more importantly, staying alive. Specifically for the latter, you need to know, and actively use, the 2nd Amendment.

Let’s get away from theory and philosophy for a minute, if we may. Think about what just occurred in Charlottesville two weeks ago. Think about not only the rallies that have been occurring and the massive increase in hate crimes since 45’s election, but also about the rallies that are planned and will continue. None of this is a new phenomenon, but it will not stop and will only grow in frequency. Lastly, I need you to think about the lack of protection that the police forces across the nation will collectively provide us when faced with these insurrections, especially with an open white supremacist sympathizer in office. The Black Panther Party specifically championed the idea of taking up arms and “policing the police.” This was a self-defense movement in which leaders were trained to know the law of arms intimately and carry them actively to guard against police misconduct. And it worked like gangbusters. 

Armed Black Panthers.jpg

While you may not actively be going out in the street and brandishing your weapons in front of the police, the principal idea of knowing firearms law and your right to have them still carries in application to civilian protection. In a world where we’re descending further into fascism and a resurgence of open Neo-Nazism, you really don’t know what’s going to happen. People are bold. Insurrections are happening across the country, and the senseless white violence against black bodies is becoming more severe. Owing a firearm says nothing about you more than you want it to, and at bare minimum, it can stand to be as simple as a legal, and highly effective, tool of self defense. 

This piece isn’t meant to be hysterical, sensational, or carry any unintended tones of masculinity through violence within its message. I know this topic is a very nuanced discussion. I also know the increasing absolute nature of our times, and furthermore, I know where I come from. Outward and overt racial tension and violence in the South is a fact of life. I’ve run into Klan rallies before and felt the piercing fear that stops you in your tracks when you’re surrounded and defenseless. My cousins have ducked on school field trips when faced with the same. Night Riders have firebombed my grandmother’s house repeatedly in St. Augustine. Fifty years later, nothing has changed. My grandfather and uncle have been teaching me to be multi-class weapons proficient since I was nine; not out of fear or even so much as recreation, but primarily to have the ability to effectively defend myself and my family if something ever happened. They’ve been through Charlottesville scenes in their lifetime. They know what this can turn into.

The time to march nonviolently and turn the other cheek is long gone. Bull Connor is now in the oval office and things are heating up. If being Black in America was dangerous before, our generation is now seeing just how lethal it can be. Consider arming yourselves and knowing the firearms law of your state. Seek out resources on training, ranges, and purchasing. Be aware and alert. We can’t count on anyone to protect us but us.