C.S. Sherin, 01 June 2020, updated 06 November 2020
The organized hate of white supremacy (that is being encouraged by an irresponsible, unfit, and immoral President and VP–with Republican backing) has demoralized us all, and the breaking point is at hand.
In the last week, I have thought of little else…George Floyd, and the understandable reactions, protests, and political action due to his wrongful death.
It is an abomination that Black (and Indigenous, and all people of color) should live with the daily terror and subliminal fears that they do, and have, for far too long–for as long as the USA has been a country. Yes, there is a problem with hate, white supremacy, and racism around the world. Yet, the corruption of our country is hinged on these specific dynamics. And we, who are not people of color need to comprehend this.
Many white people are surprised and outraged by the corrupt police officers who have been videotaped murdering innocent Black people. Yet, they express a feeling of things being worse or out of control suddenly. What white people need to recognize is that the same systems that racially profile and lynch Black people in 2020 are the same systems that have sought to make us white people feel safe, content, and unaware of the underlying issues/toxicity.
We have had to admit to ourselves and everyone else that we fell into many different kinds of embedded systemic racism and reactions that we have to overcome through learning, experience, and accountability. This means there must be an ongoing dedication to being aware and observing many inner and outer dynamics at work that we take for granted.
As white people (no matter what traumas, discrimination, or difficulties we face(d) in our lives) we must develop our perception and empathy to the degree that we lose our ability to stay comfortable, and we allow ourselves to become broken and triggered–in a way that ensures we are becoming more true and effective allies. We need to be broken and triggered in certain ways–not in order to perpetuate suffering, mental health issues, or low self-esteem–but in order to wake up to the systems and habits that seek to make us complicit to this ongoing genocide.
Racism and white supremacy hasn’t gotten worse—it has become more visible to white people–due to the ability to record and share what is happening. And, voting for the status quo has re-enforced this systemic racism.
The only way any justice can be sought now for Black Americans (and all people of color, including Native Americans), is with video evidence that goes viral, combined with protests and media coverage on many fronts for months after the fact. And even then, the norm has been that the police officers do not face criminal charges. There has been a void where justice and accountability of leaders, like police officers, belongs.
Can the white family understand or relate to this? Justice will be done, for them. They demand it for their loved ones. That privilege, that assurance for justice and protection, is not afforded to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and all people of color). So, we must be, and remain, demoralized and activist about this. Anti-racism demands that we be pro-active, that we actively face and help to dismantle the structures that ensure that systemic racism continues.
We must wake up to the fact that we cannot comprehend the pain, damage, and lack of justice that surround African Americans and Native Americans–no matter what hardships and discrimination we have experienced. We must commit to recognizing privilege, and using it, on behalf of those being discriminated against (and murdered), in as many aspects of life as we can.
Part of the problem that we find ourselves in–is that police forces have little to no accountability, and there are few ways for us to make them change, except through protest, petitioning, voting, and political careers. What recourse do we have in such a sick system?
The lack of flow to timely justice leads to protests, destruction, and violence. It is a natural course of action when nothing else works. Positive change in this country has always come from protests, political action, and demonstrations. It isn’t a right or wrong. Peaceful action is occurring along with just and unjust actions of violence and destruction–in response to the peaceful protesting.
What will it take to end the corruption and embedded hate and racism in our country? Peaceful movements have power, but are resisted. For example, Colin Kaepernick’s completely respectful, patriotic, and peaceful protest against systemic racism and police brutality–kneeling during the National Anthem at football games–was met with insane amounts of racism and intolerance. He was fired, for pete’s sake! That is insane!
And then, there are those (white supremacists, police, and others), stepping in, creating violence and destruction to undermine and distract from the just protestors. Those are the active enablers and participants in white supremacy and systemic hate. Those are the ones taking the focus away from George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, to name a few innocent Black Americans, who were wrongfully murdered in just the past few months.
Antifa are people against fascism, which, in itself, is a good thing. However, some antifa embrace anarchy in its most chaotic and violent forms. Regardless of approaches, being antifascist is always a good thing. And, it is unfortunate that methods of destruction and anarchy-driven chaos take away from the peaceful protests in George Floyd’s name, and for his life, which was stolen.
Again, largely, the police forces themselves are inciting and committing violence against those peacefully present in rightful objection to ongoing, largely institutionally-allowed lynchings. In addition, organized white supremacy groups are also causing destruction and violence to undermine the cause.
For the protestors gathered peacefully, the pain and outrage at the lawless hatred that is embedded in our society is justified and sane. With no justice, with no accountability, there can be no peace.
Something to keep in mind, there was no riot gear for the white men who were armed with guns protesting the COVID-19 lock down in Michigan at the end of April. The difference in how white men with guns are treated while protesting, or how white mass murderers (domestic terrorists) are treated after murdering countless people, is self-evident proof of the horrific levels of white supremacy that have been established in our systems, communities, and among those who take the oath to “protect and serve.” Of course, there are beautiful moments of the police joining and standing with protestors over the past days. But, unfortunately, they are in the minority right now, and do not represent real change on the systemic level.
This is an interesting thread on Reddit, regarding the perspective of various police officers…
Police Officers Respond To George Floyd Protests On Reddit, response by Amalchemy
Since the wrongful death of George Floyd–an innocent man who was killed by four police officers–was captured on film in Minneapolis on May 25th–protests have continued across the country and around the world.
Will there be justice? Why does it take so much? Why are the police arresting and harming others who protest the criminal murder of George Floyd? It seems like the police are at war with us. This should be deeply disturbing for white people who have not been exposed to this reality of our systems before.
It is essential to remember: if the wrongful death of George Floyd hadn’t been witnessed, filmed, and shared, and then protested: the four police officers would have reported it as an underlying medical condition, and would have never been exposed or held accountable.
In addition to the many article links above, here are some formal resources:
- ACLU: Know Your Rights
- NMAAHC: Being Antiracist
- The King Center
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- Human Rights Campaign
- Black Lives Matter
- NAACP: Issues
Other Articles & Individuals To Follow
Besides the many links in this post, please do check out the following as well:
- J. Drew Lanham, writes a compelling account about racism as a Black birder on the National Audubon, “The United State Of Birding” reshared by Audubon in light of Christian Cooper’s recent harrowing experience in Central Park
- “75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice,” by Corinne Shutack
- Azie Dungey on Instagram
- Linda Black Elk on Instagram
- BerniceKing on Twitter
- Indigenous Rising on Instagram
- Lakota Law Project on Twitter
- Leah Thomas on Instagram
Regarding Videos Of Police Joining Protests
It is important to look at what good is happening, and to appreciate those who authentically step forward in solidarity. There are good cops. But, in too many cases, they aren’t able to change the corruption of their peers and/or supervisors. Their motions for solidarity and change are important. Good cops understand the protests and want to uphold that right and need.
However, there is a danger in looking at the police officers who are doing the right thing by joining the protests as a solution and resolution. It isn’t. And, it isn’t enough. Until there is accountability and systemic change, the actions of good cops joining protests isn’t enough. It can be healing, important, and encouraging, but it isn’t justice. There has to be timely follow-through of justice. No justice, no peace.
This is a stressful and uncertain time for our country. In so many ways, people were hurting and have been hurting; and are hurting more now. As we stand as allies and commit to Anti-Racism, we must continue to educate ourselves, to learn, and to use our privilege for acts of kindness, justice, and solidarity.
In addition, it is essential that each of us take care of our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Taking breaks from social media and news is most likely necessary. We must do whatever we can to find balance and strength while navigating this huge time of change, upheaval, processing, action, and growth.