The Power of Direct Action: Why Student Protests & Walkouts Are Necessary

The critical importance of direct action in challenging systemic issues, like racism in schools, and the tactics that those in power use to silence dissent. Why we must choose protest over pacification. The post The Power of Direct Action: Why Student Protests & Walkouts Are Necessary appeared first on Kansas City Defender.

The Power of Direct Action: Why Student Protests & Walkouts Are Necessary

When we talk about fighting for change, it’s crucial to understand why direct action, like walkouts, can be more impactful than sitting down for a meeting with authority figures like a school superintendent.

This concept may seem counterintuitive because we’re often told that the best way to bring about change is to engage in a respectful dialogue with those in power. So why would we choose the path of protest over peaceful conversation?

Let’s break this down.

Imagine we’re in a boat that’s taking on water. Now, we could sit down and have a discussion with the captain about the best way to plug the leaks. But, the boat is sinking NOW, the water is rising NOW. We don’t have time to wait for the captain to mull over our suggestions and make a decision.

We need to take immediate action.

Similarly, when confronting issues like rampant racism, hate crimes, and unpunished white supremacy within our school, the urgency cannot be overstated. These are problems that demand immediate attention, not bureaucratic dilly-dallying.

Superintendents and others in positions of power have a vested interest in maintaining stability. Massive change can be uncomfortable and even threatening to the status quo. Therefore, they might engage you in “listening sessions,” offer sympathetic nods, and promise to take your concerns into consideration.

But we must remember that a commitment to listen is not a commitment to act.

If we already have a set of student demands, and we’ve made it clear what we believe needs to change, why then should we settle for anything less than a commitment to action?

It’s like going back to that sinking boat analogy. You wouldn’t be satisfied with the captain saying he’ll think about fixing the leaks. You’d want him to start plugging them immediately.

Direct action, like walkouts, sends a clear, unequivocal message: We are not requesting change; we are demanding it.

It shows those in power that we are serious, that we are not willing to be placated with empty promises or meaningless platitudes.

A walkout demonstrates our collective strength. It’s an assertion of our fundamental human rights, and a refusal to accept anything less than what we deserve. And most importantly, it’s a powerful reminder to those in power that they serve us, the students, not the other way around.

We hold them accountable for their actions, and their inactions.

We must be cautious of not falling into the trap of endless dialogue without action. While discussion is essential, it is not a substitute for tangible change.

To comprehend the gravity of the situation, we must understand how power dynamics work in instances of systemic issues. The potency of direct action lies not only in its ability to apply pressure on the authorities but also in its capacity to attract attention, both locally and globally.

Take a moment to think about the role of the media in the age of information. The news, social media, every shared story or hashtag – they wield the power to transform local concerns into national dialogues, and even global movements. A walkout, by virtue of its disruptive nature, is more likely to catch the eye of the media, bringing much-needed attention to our cause.

Such visibility is essential, for sunlight is the best disinfectant. It’s harder to ignore a problem when it’s on the evening news, or trending on Twitter.

Contrast this with the alternative: closed-door meetings and listening sessions. While they may sound constructive, they are often just tactics employed by those in power to quell the rising tide of discontent. By inviting us to the table, they give the illusion of progress and cooperation, all the while diluting the militancy and urgency of our demands.

They’ll suggest forming task forces, or meeting with Black Student Unions, or even instituting new policies. All of which may have their merits, but too often serve to merely pacify rather than genuinely address the issue.

Remember, the aim of such maneuvers is not to facilitate change but to restore order and quell dissent. The outrage we feel is valid, it’s justified, and it shouldn’t be suppressed or pacified. It should be channeled into tangible, meaningful change. In such scenarios, the boldness of direct action becomes not just an option, but a necessity, for it is the most potent way to counter these pacification tactics and keep the urgency of our demands in the forefront.

Remember, power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.

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