Prof at Hillary Clinton's alma mater makes the case for political violence

Kellie Carter Jackson is a professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton’s alma mater.

"Slavery is sustained by violence. So slavery will only be overthrown by violence," the professor says.

As riots and looting desecrate America’s cities, one professor is defending political violence, claiming that it is sometimes necessary, and suggesting that it is racially biased to criticize African Americans for violent acts. 

During an interview with Slate, Wellesley College Africana Studies professor Kellie Carter Jackson made several claims regarding American social change, including that violence is often necessary to solicit desired societal outcomes. 

Slate shared the interview on Twitter, claiming that “Non-violence is an important tool for protests, but so is violence.”

Jackson claims that modern-day riots are rooted in the American Revolution, saying that in such a situation “violence becomes the main way that people can communicate their political, social or economic grievances.” Jackson goes on to compare John Adams’ support of British soldiers from the Boston Massacre to supporting troops and cops today. 

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Jackson makes similar arguments in her book, Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, in which she expands upon her argument that “slavery is sustained by violence. So slavery will only be overthrown by violence.” Jackson also differentiates between “protective violence” and “self-defense,”  and says that protective violence is “about the collective” and “not just defending your home, but your community, your kin”.

“I have to tell my students all the time that fleeing required fighting like no one was going to let you walk off the plantation,” says Jackson. “And so slaves always had to arm themselves. And abolitionists and people who were leaders always had to be ready to defend themselves.”

In the last few minutes of the interview, Jackson says that she is upset by people’s comments about the violent riots that quickly swept across America after the death of George Floyd. 

“I get annoyed when people talk about, you know, looters and look at these protesters and look at these, you know, punks or whatever you want to call it,” said Jackson. “But to me, I’m like, look at the people in power. Look at what they have access to. Look at. Look at the tools they have. And then ask yourself, is this a fair fight?”

Jackson also published a piece in the Atlantic, with a similar sentiment, discussing the “double standard of the American riot.”

Again, Jackson compares today’s political violence to the American Revolution, arguing that, “since the beginning of this country, riots and violent rhetoric have been markers of patriotism. When our Founding Fathers fought for independence, violence was the clarion call.”

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Jackson claims that the “philosophy of force and violence to obtain freedom” has been used primarily by whites and “explicitly denied to black Americans.” 

“Freedom through violence is a privilege possessed only by whites,” Jackson claims.

“If violence is a political language, white Americans are native speakers,” Jackson concludes.

Jackson is a professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College, the alma mater of Hillary Clinton. Carter Jackson holds a doctorate in American History from Columbia University.

Jackson did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time of publication.

Follow the author on Twitter @claynrobinson