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May 30, 20

Black Agency, Black Revolt, and the Continuing Danger of the ‘Outside Agitator’ Narrative

Editorial on rejecting myth of  “outside agitators” along with online disinfo.           

As a white person who lives in the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered I just want to say quickly that I’ve been very concerned by the narrative I’ve seen many white people spreading online about the protests and riots being sparked by white outsiders, whether anarchists, right-wing provocateurs, or cops. Please stop this immediately.

I gather that people spreading this often mean well, but this is in fact extremely dangerous. It’s racist and patronizing, resting on the assumption that black people can’t decide for themselves how to resist police violence. Perhaps even more concerning, this narrative actively endangers the black people who have from the start pushed this uprising forward. The more people at home who believe that white outside agitators are driving the ‘violence’, the more freedom the police have to attack everyone, especially black youth.

From Ferguson all the way back to the Civil Rights era the label ‘outside agitator’ has justified brutality against black people who stand up against white supremacy. I swear to you that whatever videos or photos you’ve seen of white people doing riotous shit represent a tiny tiny portion of the explosion of mourning, defiance, and rage that has consumed this city over the past days. This rage has been given voice by people of many races, but this has overwhelmingly been led by black and brown youth. I say all of this based on personal experience at the precinct every night of this rebellion as well as from watching many hours of the live-streams.

The only other thing I should acknowledge is that I have seen some POC spreading these narratives online as well. I don’t feel it’s my place to engage in those conversations other than to say that my experience has not reflected this, and so that is why I have addressed the above specifically to other white people.

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