“There is nothing more dangerous than a large segment of people in society that feel that they have no place or stake in it, who feel they have nothing to lose. People who have stake in the society perpetuate that society, when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”Unknown
As a culture, we are told how to act, think, and speak among other things. We are taught to do what is considered “right” and if we choose not to, we are punished, ridiculed, and considered a menace to society. We are considered thuggish and belittled and put down for living in an alternative way. Don’t get me wrong, there is some good in having a controlled society because it brings some order and stability within our society.However, the questions at hand are, could there be a way for those who do realize that we’re being controlled to free themselves from the power and control that causes them to become oppressed? Could it be that we are bound and constrained and unable to have some type of agency in order to be free? If we can free ourselves, what type of agency is used?
These questions are the basis for my paper. I plan to present examples of control and oppression through the film Panther that shows the struggle of the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. The film takes place in the 1960’s and it shows the struggles that the members had to go through in order to form some type of agency to free themselves from the control and oppression that the government had over their lives and their community.
Huey Newton and Bobby Seale were two African-American men growing up in the ghetto of California where they saw and experienced racism and police brutality. There voices weren’t heard when it came to their communities and it took three young children to die by car crashes, and a peaceful candlelight vigil that turned into a fight between a neighborhood and the police (In which the police covered up their badges so that no one could report them to the police department) for them to want to make a change, to free themselves from control and oppression.
In my opinion, I think that when it comes to control people accept it, reject it or assimilate without knowing that they are controlled. For instance, there was a black FBI agent that knew he was being controlled and he commented that, “The United States was built on Capitalism and democracy and in democracy, the majority rules”. He didn’t reject the fact that he was being controlled, he accepted it and just decided to deal with it because he felt like he was a part of government that does the controlling.
In the case of the Panthers they first recognized it and rejected it. In one scene Huey states, “They think they don’t have to respect us because they think they can brutalize us and lock us up without a jury of pleas because we’re ignorant to the laws. What we need to do is organize and keep our shit correct. Exercise our constitutional rights as citizens to defend ourselves and arm ourselves (Panther, 1995).” This was the basis of their agency.
In a flyer passed out to prospective members they stated that they “want an end to the robbery by capitalists of our black community.” And they wanted others to think about “how long they were going to cry about their oppression without standing up to do something about it.” A police officer stated that they were “undermining the United States of America.” That comment made it clear that they are controlled and controlling and that anything that isn’t being controlled is considered insubordinate.
After the Panthers recognized that they were being controlled, their main agency to free themselves from oppression was knowledge. They began to study and learn the laws of their state, and that way, they had power. For example, there is a scene in the movie in which they were on Panther Patrol, meaning they were the neighborhood watch for the black citizens in the community. They came across two police officers beating up a black man