There’s No Such Thing as a Pretty Protest

Critics of riotous rallies are missing the point

Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

Linking looting to the canard of Black-on-Black crime is meant to further limit the various forms of protest available to Black people. Setting ablaze the businesses in your own neck of the hood may be ugly, but it’s no less legitimate a way of criticizing American greed.

Interrogating the ways we protest has become a fervent dialogue on social media, but blind criticism does a disservice to the reality of revolution when it draws distinctions between “bad” protesters and those who opt to march, kneel, or even dance. To argue over the means when the ultimate end is disruption — as Malcolm X said, by any means necessary — obscures the end itself. For those clinging to the structures being dismantled, all activism looks ugly.

African from Texas• Staff Writer at LEVEL • Black politics, Celebrity interviews, TV & Film Criticism • Previously: MTV News, San Francisco Chronicle