Well, you don’t exactly have to be a scholar to know that the world is in a bit of a tumult right now. Maybe more than a little bit, to be honest. With the news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of some obviously corrupt & evil police officers last week, Coronavirus has finally taken a backseat. I’m writing about this today for a variety of reasons & I hope I can be at least somewhat eloquent as I rush to finish this while my daughter is napping. Here goes . . .
First off I want to apologize to the black community for any hand I, as a white person, may have had in racism over the years. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been as sensitive as maybe I should be. Furthermore I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times when I was more vocal about my anger over rioting & looting than I was about my anger over police brutality or other injustices wrought against African Americans.
I’ll also freely admit that I’ve always had mixed feelings about Colin Kaepernick & the kneeling protest he started. On the one hand I’ve always felt like it was their first amendment right to free speech & that the matter they were protesting had merit. Yet on the other hand I was always taught to respect the national anthem & the military & since so many people saw the kneeling as disrespectful towards them- though in my heart of hearts I’ll admit I’ve never been sure WHY- I confess it left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized the REAL reason why it left a bad taste in my mouth. The real reason is that I didn’t want to face the inconvenient truth that our nation is still struggling with systemic racism, particularly in the police force. I was always taught to respect LEOs but the cold hard truth is that there are some seriously corrupt & evil folks hiding behind a badge, & it’s our responsibility to stand against the injustices wrought by them. If we don’t- & if good LEOs don’t- we are complicit with the problem.
I want to sincerely apologize for all of this because I realize now how insensitive & wrong I was. I realize that so much of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe we aren’t as “color blind” as we like to think we are. As white people, it’s very easy to think “Well, I don’t hate black people, I’ve never been overtly racist, so I’m ok.” But the truth is that if we don’t examine our own internal prejudices & speak up against police brutality & other racial issues, these injustices will never go away. And the rioting that follows won’t go away either. There is a reason people are rioting- it’s because THEY AREN’T BEING HEARD!
Secondly, I’d like to say that I don’t think rioting & looting is the answer- especially when it’s directed at random people or businesses that have nothing to do with the police. But let’s be real- most people don’t. We don’t all need to constantly talk about how appalling this is. I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of race. Violence begets violence- it breeds a vicious cycle that never ends & rarely- if ever- causes people to be sympathetic with the “other” side. But truthfully I think most of us get that. We just aren’t the ones on the news getting all the attention right now.
Thirdly- & this is really my most important point- what’s more appalling to me than rioting is that so many white people seem more upset by the rioting & looting than they are by the murder of George Floyd. Or Ahmaud Arbery. Or Breonna Taylor. And the list goes on . . . They are more upset by black people stealing a TV than they are by the fact that police have been caught dispersing tear gas on PEACEFUL protesters. There have even been white people caught inciting violence & rioting so that black people can then be blamed for it. Y’all, something is seriously wrong with this entire picture! Yes, everyone has a right to be upset by the violence that has erupted over the weekend. But if you’re bothered by that kind of violence, shouldn’t you also be bothered by the unnecessary violence that was wrought against Mr. Floyd & so many other black Americans? The answer is unequivocally yes. If you suddenly think that the case against police brutality is completely invalid because of the way SOME people are reacting, then frankly you need to examine yourself.
So before you post about how terrible the riots are, please stop & think about how that comes across to your black friends & neighbors, especially if that’s the ONLY thing you’re posting about in regards to this whole situation. Please stop & think about WHY people are angry. Please stop & think about the fact that no matter how black people protest- even something as simple & peaceful as taking a knee- they are always told they’re wrong. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it means admitting that maybe your parents & grandparents were wrong about some things. And, yes, that is HARD. But the truth of the matter is there is still systemic racism in our society today- perhaps most notably in the police force- & if we as white people don’t admit that & work on it, the violence & injustice from all “sides” will never end.
I hope that this has come across as compassionately as I intended it. I hope that anyone who reads this can see that my heart is bleeding for all of those who are hurting right now for so many different reasons. Most importantly I hope that we’ll all take a moment to react with love, compassion, & empathy rather than with judgment, hate, or anger.