Monday, 1 June 2020

How Should White People Respond to the US Uprising?

I'm a white person who is tired of other white people's racism. So fucking tired. Is it so hard to listen to the needs of the black community?

When black people are protesting so passionately, and yes, even destructively in some instances, the first thing you must consider is what is the biggest crime here - the breaking of windows and the looting of property? Or the murder of civilians by police, the continuing harassment, the lack of opportunity for so many to have anything material or even enjoy basic freedoms in a consumer-driven society?

When the middle-class are telling black people this is the "wrong way to protest", you need to remember your own response to black people politely kneeling. You need to consider your indifference to footage proving one black person after another was needlessly murdered. You need to consider why no action was taken to change the brutality, why the police were allowed to continue killing with impunity. Why prosecutions against police are so rare and convictions rarer still.

Once you consider that, the only reasonable conclusion is your indifference allowed this situation in the first place. When white middle-class people get mad, things change. When the black underclass are crying for help alone, their voices are ignored. You are the reason it has come to this.

Why weren't you protesting the murder of Philando Castile? Why weren't you demanding the reform of a police force that shot 12 year old Tamir Rice dead? Why did you make excuses when Willie McCoy was killed while sleeping in his car? Why do you think the appropriate response to such murders is to dig into the victim's past to see if they've ever made a mistake?

Have you never done wrong? You don't have any stain on your character? Nothing? Really? Okay, you have made a few mistakes? So you agree you deserve to be executed by any cop who feels like it? After all, you must be the wrong sort too! But the difference is, you don't have the excuse of social deprivation and systemic oppression. You weren't the product of poverty.

But of course you know the chances of you being shot dead, whether you are doing nothing wrong or committing a serious crime are extremely low. And you know why too - it's the white privilege you deny exists.

You cannot act like black communities are to blame for their poverty when you elect leaders who won't reform the system to provide them with opportunity. You cannot tell yourself that "Blue no matter who" is the solution when the Democratic presidential candidate has defended white supremacists. You are supporting the status quo because the idea of making the effort to change scares you. The status quo is easy for you, so just find any excuse, any rationalisation to not take action, then comfort yourself by calling yourself a liberal, and say your disagreement is that these protesters are not behaving like Martin Luther King jr, ignoring that he said "rioting is the language of the unheard".
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." 
Martin Luther King jr
Instead of lecturing black people on the correct way to protest, how about demanding the changes which would take away the need to protest? How about listening to and respecting black voices, instead of whitesplaining? 

The first thing you must do is say police brutality must be addressed. Bad cops must be fired. Killer cops must be imprisoned. The good cops can be retrained to a higher standard to reduce the risk of mistakes. To make these demands is not anti-police - it's anti-bad police.

The second thing you must do is demand action on poverty and bring an end to big money in politics. Create a society where basic needs like education, healthcare and a living wage are met, rather than labelling people as authoritarian for demanding them - that's some projection by the way.

The final and most important thing you must do is listen to black voices and respect them. Lecturing a black person on protesting police brutality is like lecturing a rape victim on rape avoidance - it's obscene and insensitive. The victims never have it coming. And you can never appreciate their lived experience, even if you're "not racist or anything".

Listen to the black community.

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