A pattern of outrage management

There’s a reason the white world has tried to censor Black anger: anger is a revolutionary emotion. When the oppressed are fed up with their mistreatment, they become more likely to organize their outrage into sustained resistance against their oppressors. That’s why powerful institutions and people invest immense resources to manage public outrage. 

Social scientist and activist Brian Martin has written extensively on this topic. In his book Backfire Manual, he explains that oppressors use a common set of tactics to avoid upsetting the public: they cover up their crimes, devalue their victims, reinterpret their actions, use official channels to give an appearance of justice, and – if all else fails – intimidate or bribe their victims into silence.

Black America has watched this pattern of outrage management about Black suffering for years. We’ve seen police plant weapons on their victims, as they did in the case of Walter Scott (cover-up). Media outlets tell us drugs were in someone’s system when the police murdered them, as they did with George Floyd (devalue). White people constantly try to reframe police brutality as a problem of “a few bad apples” instead of a systemic problem (reinterpret). When the grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, that became the end of the story for eager racism deniers, though the report also showed racial bias in the conduct of the Ferguson police department (use official channels). And there isn’t room for a full list of the times protesters of these injustices were met in the streets with flashbang grenades and tanks (intimidate). Oppressors have perfected these tactics so well, they stop revolutions before they start, on a daily basis, without us ever noticing. 

From “All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope – And Hard Pills to Swallow – About Making Black Lives Matter” By Andre Henry