Raised black clenched fists, no physical threat

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

The media has highlighted several displays of African Americans manifesting clenched fists into the air symbolizing unity. The major two events were Beyoncé and her group during this year’s Super Bowl and a recent picture of 16 Black uniformed female cadets posing during a pre-graduation picture from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Historically this symbol was used by the Black Panther Party to symbolize unity to combat racist and unprecedented violations by law enforcement officers who were terrorizing their communities and killing Black people. It was a physical way of showing unity and advocating resistance to violence. Today’s youth manifest the sign to show unity, pride, strength, and accomplishment. Why build more into it than what it is? It does not promote anything negative such as hate or violence toward others. The gesture isn’t used in many situations as political. It is used to show unity, pride and accomplishment such as in the case of the Black female cadets at West Point.

Unfortunately, many Whites have taken it upon themselves to identify and associate usage of this sign in any form as a sign advocating hate and violence toward Whites. In fact, the media is being cited as fueling these outward displays as being disrespectful and provoking violence, especially against law enforcing agencies—contrary to those in the Black community who can see this as nothing further from the truth. This symbol has always been manipulated by some agitators as being presented as an ominous and threatening symbol toward the system. Now if the system is irreparably corrupt, maybe this is why some may see this sign as menacing and threatening towards them.

If anyone were interested in interpreting the truth from an African American perspective, they would find it is a much-needed sign that solicits unity, pride and strength. In a time when numerous disparities affecting Blacks are at an all-time high with racism blatantly raising its ugly head, why wouldn’t Blacks need to make a stronger effort to empower themselves? Today the raised clenched fist is a sign of pride, hope, and promise that we have persevered. Our strength can be found in coming together despite all the divisive tools used to keep us from working collectively in unity.

Since when did a symbol representing unity and solidarity become a radical and threatening sign for a group seeking equality, justice, and respect? That is the question being raised in the African American community on the recent public displays by African Americans manifesting the unity of Black clenched fists raised in unity. Why the apprehension and backlash generated by the media? The Black community feels that much ado is being generated over nothing.

In fact, the Black community sees the displays as endearing and showing a sense of empowerment and love for each other long overdue in our nation. Better yet, with the senseless slaughter of several young Black men and women by law enforcement agencies—raised Black fists may be the best symbol resonating that Black lives do indeed matter. Why would anyone be upset in the African American’s quest to lift the veil of second-class status, often cast on us by economic, social, and political barriers by those seeking to keep us oppressed?

Sorry if our reality keeps us from bowing to attempts engineered to further isolate us as a people. The raised clenched fist is only a threat to those who seek to keep African Americans in the dark to their true worth and relevance. All other groups in America whether they be Asian, Hispanic, Irish, or European work together as united groups and don’t apologize for any vestiges of solidarity. Unlike African Americans as a whole, they work together and have established financial bases that give them respect and independent leverage.

African Americans are for the most part financially at the mercy of other self-supported parties. We are dependent on other parties for everything (jobs, food, cars, housing, etc.). Is it self-hate and distrust that keeps us from uniting and working together to better our own lot as a people? We are not encouraged to see ourselves as an independent party like other groups but as a subservient part of a larger party. We are dependent on the larger group for everything, even on how we define ourselves.

It is time to stop letting others dictate how we feel and what is best for us. It is time to unite and work to form our own financial base and solidify our bond. If raising our fists is a sign of recognizing our mission, so be it. Who is harmed from African Americans acknowledging love for each other and their goal for empowerment?

Regardless of what the media says about Black clenched fists being raised during these times, the message should resonate unity, pride, and strength—unapologetic that Black lives matter. Is the real fear simply that those seeking to keep us oppressed are losing their grip? When all Blacks are truly liberated, it will be for the good of the whole nation. Stop trying to promote the raised clenched fist as a sign of hate and violence.