When those meddling first responders to white racism and anti-Blackness — whom I did not call — chastise victims, I quickly assess their spirit and their credentials to judge and demonize someone else as a sniveling victim.
I understand and accept that in the court of public opinion, and in the school of psychology, a victim mentality is one to avoid.
The victim mentality believes it is powerless; it has no responsibility or course of action, and it sees itself as a victim without cause or proof.
That is not what Black people do when they finger white racism and anti-Blackness as a system of oppression.
White America has wronged Black people. There is no debate.
The initial and ongoing harms and hindrances justify the victimized. The victim is not wrong for being victimized. The victim is not wrong for pointing to the harms and the harmful. The victim is wrong if they charge the wrong party.
Often when people say a Black person has a victim mentality about white racism and anti-Blackness, their end goal is not to end racism.
Their end goal is to silence the person. Their end goal is exactly what white supremacy wants — a steady status of silent victims.
Black self-determination is — Black self-determination.
In her book, Killing Rage: Ending Racism, scholar-activist bell hooks penned an essay about refusing to be a victim.
According to bell hooks, besides its ability to disempower, a perpetual state of Black victims fluffs the comfy pillows of whiteness, and it keeps the mind of whiteness at ease.
Bell hooks writes that a self-determining Black identity intimidates. And she says, a self-determining Black identity doesn’t gather the sympathy, the visibility, and the platforms that victimhood can.
To bell hooks, victimhood “pays homage to white victimizers” as the all-powerful holders of every solution.
She also writes, “if only white people need to change, then Black people can avoid the process to undergo radical politicization.”
The world needs both.
Fighting back and taking action.
A person can be a victim while refusing victimhood because the victimized person can take action. The point is not to stay a victim.
Action is agency. Taking action is the refusal of a steady state. Taking action — however possible, limited, and possibly thwarted — will end victimhood.
Resistance is action, and there are many ways to resist. When a Black person indicts white racism and anti-Blackness — that is action, and it’s actionable. It’s the same action Black people have used for centuries to seize justice.
When a Black person presses charges against white racism and anti-Blackness, they immediately move from being a victim to a plaintiff. As a plaintiff, they stand in the courtroom of humanity. Their change in status is everything.
When people fight and keep fighting, they change their status and the status quo. If a person fights an assailant, we call them a fighter. The same applies to fighting white racism and anti-Blackness.
Antiracism is not shadowboxing. It makes an impact. It’s inaccurate and demeaning to call someone a victim while they’re fighting. The battle isn’t over yet.
Plaintiffs demand justice.
Racial justice turns victims into victors. If someone has an issue with victims, the solution is justice. The solution is to end the crimes and make restitution.
With the Movement for Black Lives, the six demands are clear: reparations, economic justice, invest-divest, community control, political power, and ending the war on Black people.
White racism and anti-Blackness violate the law of humanity. They are not victimless crimes. That’s why plaintiffs demand justice, and they seek damages.
Justice-seekers snatch justice.
Faced with racial injustices, that white America routinely dismisses, the targets of white racism and anti-Blackness have a right to self-defense and self-reliance.
As a justice-seeker, that means refusing to be anyone’s definition of a defenseless victim. Justice-seekers are not defenseless. They have counsel. They have advocates and allies, and they can represent themselves.
But if justice isn’t there, the seekers must take the law of humanity into their own hands.
As expected, the do-nothing judges — who appoint themselves — will say the justice-seekers are out of hand.
Let them. It’s always better to be out of hand than in someone’s hands.
No one hands over justice. Justice-seekers get out of hand, and they stay out of hand.
There are millions of us, and the gloves are off. We counterpunch!