The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the following essay belong solely to the author, Kevin Lau, and not necessarily to the other members of CRPWrites.com.
Hot Take: Star Wars isn’t about spectacle, lightsabers, jedis, daring pilots, space princesses, blowing up planets, being the chosen one, or the questionable racist undertones of the prequel trilogy, it’s about promoting love over hate. Even though the series invents an entire universe and is a technical feat itself, it’s the third film (or sixth, depending on your viewing order), Return of the Jedi, where the overall thesis of Lucas’s vision comes to fruition: love is stronger than hate.
The reason I am writing this essay now is in response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Or, to be more accurate, the response to those against the Black Lives Matter movement. What are the protestors asking for? Why should we stand with them? More on that in a bit.
Like I said above, Star Wars has the lightsaber duels, space fights, John Williams’s score, and more, but it’s when Vader reveals his true identity to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back where the battle between good and evil shifts in ethical perspective. Luke is no longer fighting a being of pure evil, he’s fighting his father who had potential to be one of the greatest jedis to ever live. The fight between good and evil becomes more complicated, more morally gray, as Luke lives by the ideals of unconditional love for his family and friends. Then, later on, he feels through the Force that there is still good in Vader, that it’s just a matter of showing him to the light.
And then we eventually get to the final confrontation in Return of the Jedi when Luke is brought to Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine orders Vader to kill Luke and Luke plays the defensive, not wanting to kill his father and give him a chance of redemption. It’s only when Vader says that he will also try to turn his sister, Leia, to the dark side where Luke loses his cool and starts to fight back.
He overpowers Vader, knocking him to the ground with a saber pointed at his neck, but stops. He realizes that he’s become what he hates, giving into Palpatine’s demand to strike in anger. He powers down his saber and tosses it aside, directing his attention to the real opposing power, Emperor Palpatine, and refuses to give in to the dark side.
Of course, Palpatine doesn’t take “no” for an answer and begins to torture Luke, shocking him to, if not submission, death. Vader watches as Luke cries out to him, asking for help, unsure what to do. Then his love for Luke overpowers his loyalty to the dark side and he tosses Palpatine over the edge, killing him in an explosion. It wasn’t an act of violence, but rather an act of self-defense and love for his son.
Rose Tico of The Last Jedi echoes this message as well, stating to Finn that being part of the rebellion isn’t about fighting what you hate, but saving what you love. And sometimes, to protect what you love, you must stand and fight the force antagonizing them.
I’m writing this on June 7, 2020, while the riots have died down but the protesting continues on across the globe in response to the unlawful murder of George Floyd on May 25th. However, stating the riots as a response to George Floyd would be a disrespectful understatement. It is more of a retaliation to the oppression Black members of the world have been enduring for literal centuries. Not only facing oppression from white supremacists themselves, but also systemic racism in our laws and media, passively creating prejudices in our society (and this is just the tip of the iceberg).
Now, I’m not saying I support the destruction and theft of property, but I definitely don’t support racist ideals and murdering innocent people just because of racial prejudice. Imagine stating that you should be treated like a human being and your country’s leader calls you a thug? It should be noted that protesters protest and looters loot, not two sides of the same coin but instead two separate groups. However, when you have a government that sends everyone nationwide only $1,200, whether some states open back up or not, with no mandated rent or mortgage freeze when most of the country is unable to work now nor taking into account the variety of living costs, well… You’re really setting yourself up for something, and the “accidental” eight-minute forty-six-second asphyxiation of an unarmed Black man was the last straw.
Black Lives Matter isn’t about sticking it to the white man, nor is it about white erasure, black supremacy, crime immunity, or even an excuse to loot, riot, and attack cops.
It’s about protecting humanity.
When we fight against racism, it’s not because we hate racists. It’s because we love humanity.
When we fight against anything threatening the lives of minorities, it’s because we want to preserve life.
And to reiterate why Vader killed Palpatine, Rose saved Finn, or why any rebellion exists: It’s not about fighting what we hate, it’s about saving what we love.
SPECIAL THANKS to Ryan Davis, Guillermo Pineda, and Zacary Wright!