We must support, listen to, and learn from our fellow black and brown human beings during this state of emergency. We know racism is deeply rooted in this country. We must publicly acknowledge institutionalized violence against people of color and support positive change.
I’m not writing to explain why “all lives matter” is an offensive response to black lives matter. Look it up. Figure it out.
I’m not writing to explain why “staying neutral” during these protests essentially endorses police violence and the execution of black people.
We can’t look away. We can’t stay silent. This is why people are demonstrating and protesting: We must acknowledge that cops are executing people based on the color of their skin, and we must find ways to end this injustice.
I’m not suggesting everyone I know needs to protest in the streets. It is dangerous, and we all must decide for ourselves how best we can educate ourselves and others, and how we can support positive change. That’s what I’m asking you to do.
Raise awareness of what’s happening
I know many of us—and our friends, family, and neighbors—are being fed disinformation or a politicized view of current events. I want everyone to be aware of what’s happening right now, so please make others aware:
- The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful. Police in cities across the U.S. have responded to peaceful demonstrations by attacking protesters, using military equipment: tear gas, rubber bullets, flashbangs, drones, and more. Protests against police brutality have been met with police brutality.
- Journalists have attended protests to record these events, and police have attacked journalists (the ACLU is suing).
- Medical volunteers and bystanders have also suffered from the police’s use of excessive force and tear gas.
- William Barr instructed D.C. police to attack peaceful demonstraters, to clear the way for Trump to make a sacrilegious photo op, in front of a church where he is not welcome.
- Trump has threatened to use the military against U.S. citizens. (Even the military thinks this is a bad idea, by the way.)
- U.S. police officers have played a roll in the deaths of over 1,000 black people per year for the past 20 years (28,139 as of May 27th), with the current 2020 death toll over 800. (The Guardian has an interesting article, to get a grasp of that number, in comparison to other countries.)
In short, the current administration and police departments across the U.S. are attacking U.S. citizens for protesting against police violence and racially motivated murder.
“Not all cops are bad”
Let’s acknowledge the real problem most white people have: We’re afraid to suggest that cops are bad people. We’re afraid of upsetting police officers or those who have friends or family who are police officers. But why are we more afraid to offend a cop than to speak out against a violent and unnecessary murder? I’ll tell you why: Because U.S. police are armed to the teeth and dangerous, and we’re afraid of the police.
If a cop is a “good person,” then they should be upset by the murder of George Floyd; they should be upset that police are attacking peaceful protesters. Any “good cop” knows police departments across the U.S. are filled with aggressive, racist assholes who have something to prove, whatever the cost, no matter who gets hurt or killed.
You don’t have to hate all cops to acknowledge that we have a problem with racially motivated police violence across this nation.
Local and federal governments have also effectively transformed the police into a paramilitary force. If we arm police departments with weapons of war, what sort of people do we imagine will be attracted to become police officers and control police departments?
What can we do?
Countless resources are being posted on social media apps and sites (I’m more active on Instagram), encouraging people to read, watch, and listen to black writers and speakers; and to donate and support organizers who actively proposing solutions (I’ll list several below). I know there’s a LOT to process right now, but I encourage everyone to please listen to black people. Don’t ask them what to do—educate yourself.
Here’s one great place to start: learn about Black Lives Matter‘s Week of Action in Defense of Black Lives. If you find me on Instagram (@wilperegrine), I’m happy connect you with Portland and/or national organizations, so you can learn more.
What I most want to communicate here is that turning a blind eye only allows racist violence to continue and worsen. Please, it isn’t difficult as a white person to support this movement. If you voice your support of Black Lives to friends, family, and neighbors, it will help combat propaganda and misinformation from the White House and by other white supremacist individuals and organizations. There’s much more to say and do, but if you haven’t already, please start by supporting these protests.
We must envision and demand a better future.
Sign the petitions:
- Black Lives Matter – blacklivesmatter.com
- Black Visions Collective – blackvisionsmn.org
- Minnesota Freedom Fund – minnesotafreedomfund.org
- Charity So White – charitysowhite.org
- Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – stephenlawrence.org.uk