Stop using Gandhi to silence Baltimore. He is not our hero.
Originally posted May 1st, 2015 on Tumblr here
We are all familiar with people using MLK Jr. as a way to police #BlackLIvesMatter. Now, people have recently begun to use Mohandas Gandhi as a way to police Baltimore, because clearly making a trope out of one human being is just not enough. Doing so vehemently erases the work Black protestors are doing, while simultaneously preaching that respectability politics is always the best approach to take if you want to seek justice. The only problem is 1) Gandhi was assassinated and 2) Gandhi supported racial segregation, was homophobic, a misogynist, anti-Black, and just an all around abhorrent human being, and so any validity to your claims that his methods are the way to go are null and void.
People do not know Mohandas Gandhi. They don’t. We are taught three things about him in school: his “be the change you wish to see in the world” quote, his non-violent protesting ways and his fasting, which paints this picture that if you react to pain and suffering with the utmost decorum, then people will find validity to your claims. Only problem is, he was for racial segregation, and as long as Indians were placed above Black people, it was all good. Shoving Gandhi in our faces in order to tone-police the movement is nothing short of passive-aggressive anti-Blackness.
By valuing broken cars over Black lives, you erase Black narratives in Baltimore and prefer to tell Black people how they “should” be reacting to Black pain. It assumes there are currently and have never been any non-violent protests in Baltimore, even though that couldn’t be further from the truth. The majority of those protesting in Baltimore right now are non-violent protestors, but people would rather hyper-focus on the “property damage,” because that is what falls in line with the story that Black people are thugs. Meme-ing MLK and Gandhi to support these misinformed narratives derails the movement; it moves the conversation from talking about necessary legislation and reform that the Baltimore community has been demanding for years, to dehumanizing the community and in particular, the looters as a bunch of criminals who are just lashing out unnecessarily. People are dying. Dying. This community has been trying to get heard, but instead they continue to be stomped on. How would you react to that? Hm. I’ll wait.
And just so we are clear. Although MLK Jr. greatly admired Gandhi, Gandhi was extremely anti-Black. Ironic, huh? He also was a misogynist and was very abusive towards women. All of this information was widely known during his lifetime, but after-death, it was distorted so as to paint him as ‘Father of the Nation.’ People love cutting and pasting historical narratives in order to push forth an agenda, regardless of the degree to which they are making a trope out of an actual human being. Sounds a bit familiar, eh? Ya know, like how the U.S. media has been pushing forth this watered down narrative of MLK Jr. that puts him on this pedestal so high you’d be surprised to realize that he was a flawed human being. Great man.. I literally would not be living in this country without him..but flawed.
Spare me with the Gandhi quotes. And spare me with the MLK pictures of him linking arm in arm with others in peaceful resistance, because the truth is that though both non-violently protested, both were still jailed for their “civil disobedience” and both were still assassinated. Sit on that while you try to remember why you’re reducing MLK and Gandhi to a few pictures and quotes as you patronize Black protestors in Baltimore on how to best get the country’s justice system to listen to you.