Is This War? Recently, I stood in a crowd and chanted “No Justice, No Peace.” It felt good. I had wanted to show out, to help, and here I was showing out and helping. And now I’m sitting at home thinking about those words. What if we aren’t given justice? What if there is no peace? What happens next? My social media feeds are flooded with calls to action - get out and protest the police. Justice for George Floyd. White Silence is White Violence. Calls for white bodies to get to the front lines and protect black bodies. These are the calls of people who have been abused and oppressed by an entire country’s history of racist actions and racist leaders and racially targeted violence, and they are right to demand action from us now. As someone who can pass for white more often than not, I hear those calls, personally. They make me want to act, to help, to Fight the Good Fight and Give Power to the People. I have seen the videos of violence instigated by the police against peaceful protestors-they sicken me. For every ignorant post I see decrying “violent protests,” “riots,” “angry mobs” and “thugs,” I know that the police have initiated 1000x the violence on protestors and POC’s than we have on them. Yet at the specific protest that I went to, on those few hours on that one day on that one specific street, we were the instigators. Protestors had brought packs of Dasani water bottles that were freely distributed amongst us. The water was for drinking, and for rinsing the eyes in case of tear gas. However, around 8:20, a SMALL MINORITY of the protestors started hurling water bottles at the police and national guard who had been cordoning off the CNN center. These weren’t the eerie masked white men I’ve seen in some videos who go around methodically smashing windows and gathering kindling for car fires, but they seemed to be random individuals of every race. The police and national guard responded by firing tear gas and advancing in a line towards the protestors, dividing us into three groups and keeping us divided until curfew. My point isn’t that the protesters shouldn’t have thrown water bottles. My point isn’t even that they should stop. I see the violence that some protestors initiate, while perhaps unfortunate, is the expected result of the aforementioned histories worth of racial atrocities. You can’t continually beat down one race and expect them not to be angry, and not to express that anger, and sometimes things break when anger is expressed. This is natural. My point is, what if the cops didn’t fire tear gas? What if they didn’t use rubber bullets? Even using the weapons that they used, there were children amongst the protestors. One misplaced bullet or gas canister easily could have killed a child. I picked up a gas canister. It was hot, and heavy. It probably could have killed me. They definitely would have killed me if they’d used real weapons. I ask again - what if we aren’t given justice? I haven’t even heard a group consensus on what justice is, and how we want to achieve it. I have heard that justice is getting the other three cops present at George Floyds murder to be convicted. I have heard that justice is the deconstruction of the police force. I have heard that justice is the fall of capitalism and the rise of humanism. I have heard that justice is all of these things and more. I’ll stand for all these things, although I’m not a practicing anarchist and I do believe we need SOME sort of law enforcement agency, if for no other reason than to rain in the free market capitalists and pussygrabbers of the world, so if most of the protestors are anarchists than I don’t know where I stand. Regardless, I feel that we are vaguely in the right, or rather we are definitely in the right but what specifically we are right about depends on who you ask and on what day you ask them. The point is, if we aren’t given justice, it sounds like we are going to war. That’s what “no peace” sounds like. I know what side of that war I would be on. I’m with the people every step of the way. But I don’t want to die in vain. And most causes without concrete plans seem to end in tragedy. America is one of the most advanced nations in the history of the known universe. The United States military has drones that can fly so high they’re invisible and can drop block-busting bombs at a second's notice. A single shot from a 50 caliber machine gun, the types of which are mounted on military vehicles, could easily pierce through three human beings standing in a row. The point is, they have bigger guns then we do. I don’t even have a gun. I’m scared of guns. It is my eternal hope that we can reach societal change as non-violently as possible. When I speak of societal change, I don’t just mean the prosecution and absolute intolerance of racial injustice, but also the redistribution of wealth, education for the people, and free lunch. I hope this because I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to watch my friends die, or watch poor people or POC’s die, because they will always be murdered first when society changes. I’ll keep showing up to protests if they keep happening. Or rather, I’ll show up to one, wait three days then get a COVID test, and show up to another one if I’m clean, but I have to say, if a war starts, the odds scare me. If the protests continue to escalate, it feels like we are going to be shot in the streets. Power almost always chooses violence over justice, when justice means the loss of power. Are we truly prepared for what comes next? I mean, I’ll keep showing up to the protests. I’ll chant and donate to bail funds. I’ll do this knowing they can shoot us. But right now, it all feels so dark. If this is a war, I want to be led. I want someone to tell me that they have a plan for how to survive against countless big guns and invisible dots in the sky that can rain hellfire. I want someone to tell me that they have a plan for if we win, and how we will rebuild. I know mine isn’t the type of voice people want to hear raise criticism or offer leadership, so right now I’m just begging for a vision. If I’m being called to the front lines, I want to go knowing there is a vision in place and that if I die, if my mother has to cry over my body with my blood mixing with the water from a cheap Dasani bottle someone threw at the cops, I want to have hope knowing someone on our side has thought of these things and has a shining vision for the future of America, or whatever we become. Because right now, it feels a little hopeless.