When It’s Time to Swing

(Content note: I’m going to be using a racial slur here.  A lot. And no, I will not be entertaining any bullshit discussions on whether it’s right or wrong or who can say it. Take that basic shit somewhere else)



There’s this video that has gone viral about a black teen punching a white teen for calling her a nigger.

I’ve sat on this for a few days, trying to organize my thoughts about it before I spew them on the Internet.  I’ve considered my usual stance of non-actual-violence. I’ve considered my stance on what I would do if I were to be called a nigger to my face.

The conclusion came to me in the wee hours of the evening: I want to shake Ms. Aleeyah’s hand.  The exact one she used to knock this girl to the ground.

“But, but Niki!” I can already hear you tickity-tacking on your keyboard. “What about turning the other cheek and not answering violence with violence? Doesn’t this reaffirm the stereotype of black people being violent? No one should be hit for saying something froggy!”

And to you I say: Fuck. Off.

No, really.  There is some nuance in this case.  See, people bold enough to use a slur to a person’s face is assuming that nothing will happen to them.  They have the power, they can call the police and the usual result would be the puncher getting arrested.

Sometimes, you have to let a person know you’re not going to stand for that shit.  That their power isn’t going to make that sore cheek go away any faster. That they may want to think twice before being so bold as to drop that slur again. Sometimes, that reaction is a glare or a verbal confrontation, and sometimes it’s getting knocked the fuck out.

…and it wasn’t like Aleeyah didn’t give this girl a chance to walk it back or walk away.

For too long, minorities of all stripes have been expected to be on their best behavior, to be the bigger person to turn the other cheek so much that they’re turning around in circles.  Circles that get us nowhere. If we respond to injustice with a civil unrest, then we’re automatically in the wrong. If we ‘bash back’, we’re in the wrong.  If we stand up for ourselves in any way, we’re in the wrong.

Just be cool, we’re told.  Just wait our turn. Just be the bigger person. Sometimes, this advice is even given to us by our own people.

And to that I say: Fuck. That. All of the fuck that. Hell, I’d even go so far as to consider any slur against a minority to be ‘fighting words‘. And yes, I’m making that distinction so that no, you can’t swing on someone for calling you a cracker, Basic Beckies reading this.

In 2016, black folk can’t even go to a Trump rally without getting harassed and/or assaulted.  We’re still having to explain to people that we’re humans and not rabid animals that can be just extrajudicially killed in the streets by those who have been sworn to ‘serve and protect’. We have to keep reaffirming our humanity.  And that can get real tiresome.

So if one of us, a few of us, respond to someone bringing that dehumanization to our very face with a punch, I can’t condemn it. It ain’t something I would do, or even could if I wanted to, but I understand.

When It’s Time to Swing
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

18 thoughts on “When It’s Time to Swing

  1. 2

    Great post, Niki. Some racist ass shit like that happened here on Arizona on Saturday in Tucson. A black man went to a show, and a racist white couple disrupted the show. The girl was wearing a freakin Ku Klux Klan hood ! and the guy was waving a Freakin sign with a dann confederate flag on it in people’s faces. The black man apparently had enough of their bullshit and punched confederate flag sign guy in the face. I really don’t blame the guy, sometimes people just have enough of the racist bullshit and have to do something about it. Of course the racist police arrested the black man and the racist asshole was free to leave and whine to the media. We still,have a long way to go in the way our society treats people of color,. We are only gonna get there if people stand up for themselves.

  2. 3

    Of one punch is ok, then how about 2, 3, 4, 5?

    I was working in a bar in Australia and somebody used a racial slur and they guy ended up being knocked out cold then had his head stomped on. Ended up in hospital for 3 weeks with a fractured jaw among other injuries. Is this acceptable.

    One punch can cause some serious injury, and even death. If two people are subject to racial abuse and both respond with one punch, are both acceptable even if one of the punchers caused serious injury?

    Where would you draw this entirely arbitrary line?

      1. Drawing a line of where violence is and isn’t acceptable is not “getting bogged down in semantics”. Can we start with the fact that a line must be drawn? I, as you put it, have used my brain and and think violence should be a last resort i.e. defending against physical attack or in response to continued and harassing provocation.

        I am asking you where you draw the line. As much as I would like to use my own brain, I do not possess psychic powers that allow me to determine your opinion on this matter.

        1. Fine.

          The line is drawn at the exact fucking moment people stop feeling like they can get away with throwing a slur in someone’s face and expect no reaction.
          We’re talking about the last word someone might hear before they’re killed by bigots. We’re talking about words cops freely throw around when they don’t think anyone is listening. I care a hell of a lot more about THAT than picking nits about “1-2-3-when it is enough?” punches. It must be so nice to be able to treat this like some sort of fucking mental exercise.

          And that is my final answer. Take it or get the fuck out of my comments with this bullshit.

          1. “Nice to be able to discuss this as a mental exercise”. And you assume I am not a POC for what reason?

            And I note you refused to answer my question for a second time. Obvious as to why.

            And nice to see that “agree with me or GTFO” is the level of discourse at The Orbit.

          2. I never said I want you to agree, so quit lying
            I don’t want your agreement, I don’t need your agreement, I didn’t ask for your agreement.
            You asked your bullshit question, and I answered it. If it’s not the answer you want, too fucking bad.

            Also, I’m not all of The Orbit, so please miss me with that noise.

          3. I never said you wanted me to agree with you. Now who’s lying? I said it’s “agree with me or GTFO”, that means either you agree or you’re told to leave. No dissenting opinion allowed. That’s say nothing of you wanting me to agree with you. Not sure how you managed to read it that way to be honest.

            And, no, you have noy answered my question. If you think violence is an acceptable response then, unless you think any and all violence can be an acceptable response then you must draw the line somewhere, and no stage have you addressed where that line is despite being asked numerous times.

            You have, of course, said the line is when people stop using slurs withou expecting a reaction. However, that doesn’t speak to the level of violence that would be acceptable. Unless you think all violenc is acceptable until that point is reached. If so, I proffer this alternate question, if that line can’t be reached without grievous violence, i.e. stabbing them as a response. Is that an acceptable response assuming that line is reached?

          4. “agree or GTFO” doesn’t mean anything like “agree or you’re told to leave”?

            Okaaaaaaay. And for a blog where dissenting opinions aren’t apparently allowed, you sure have been dissenting on this blog a whole lot. So again, stop lying.

            And you may want to reread both of my responses, because I’ve already told you I’ve answered your original question. You’re not getting another answer no matter how much you push. I would suggest you find somewhere else to be. Not because you have a ‘dissenting’ opinion, but because you’re getting very dull, I’m not giving you what you want, and you’re wasting MY time.

          5. In what planet does “gtfo” not a synonym of leave. It means get the fuck out, that literally means leave…….
            Saying you’ve answered my question and actually answering my question are two very different things. If you think you’ve answered my question could highlight where you discuss degrees of violence and where you draw the line? (you won’t be able to because you haven’t).

            And again, saying you draw the line at where people stop expecting no reaction after using a slur isn’t an answer unless you think no degree of violence is unacceptable until that point is reached.

            So in short, you haven’t answered my question but both you and I know why you haven’t answered it. And so any readers who possess a modicum of intelligence.

          6. Speaking of readers with a “modicum of intelligence”, you don’t take a hint well, do you? Because even after telling you to go somewhere else, you seem determined to overstay your welcome and insist on making me answer a question that I have already given you an answer to.

            Since you haven’t figured out that this conversation is over, maybe it’s being shown the door that you actually want.

            Off you go, then. Don’t worry about coming back. You won’t be able to.

  3. 4

    Given the context of U.S. race relations (i.e. the historical likelihood that a white person repeatedly and pointedly yelling that at a black person will follow it up with violence), I would personally put it somewhere between ‘fighting words’ and ‘an open threat’, weighted towards the latter. It’s not quite the equivalent of saying “I’m gonna kick your ass in a second”, but it’s pretty damn close. And, if you go around saying things like “I’m gonna kick your ass in a second”, you don’t get to complain when someone preemptively kicks yours instead. I’m not saying I would, I’d prefer the flight option, but I can’t really blame anyone for taking a swing in a situation like that.

  4. 5

    I’ve had people attack me with racial slurs. I’m hit them very hard for it. I’m not saying that’s the best response, but I’m 100% understanding it. That’s an attack on someone’s status as a human being, and it is difficult to let that go unchallenged. That white hit got bruised. If that black girl had stood and took it, her injuries could have been much deeper.

  5. rq

    Me, a fan of violence? No. But when someone is clearly attacking you (even if ‘only’ verbally), you have a right to some self defense.
    Take the high road and walk away? Or the old ‘just ignore it’ advice? These would be more viable options if the particular racial slur in the OP didn’t have such a horrible, violent history. Being polite in the face of oppression never got anybody anywhere. So no, I will not condemn Aleeyah’s punching the other girl in the face. Not.at.all. Or, for that matter, your desire to shake her hand. And if this sounds too much like me giving my approval, I’m sorry, that’s not my intent, please read it as support, because you (both) sure as hell don’t need my approval.

    Caveat: I am white.

Comments are closed.