We need to talk about racism. We need to talk about the subtle and overt actions of racism. I can’t believe it’s 2020 and that this post is even necessary, and yet here we are.
I am tired. I am sick to my soul of the racism I see every day, all around me. It’s on social media, it’s on the news, it’s in the words and actions of people. I’m done keeping quiet for the sake of keeping the peace. If that makes you uncomfortable, then so much the better. Be uncomfortable. Ask yourself why it bothers you. Is it because you recognize things that you’ve said or done? Sit with that feeling and BE UNCOMFORTABLE.
This week has been rough. Earlier this week we had a white woman in New York call the cops on a black man for having the audacity (in her mind) to ask her to follow park rules and leash her damn dog. She knew what she was doing. She knew if the police came, there was a good chance that Chris Cooper would end up arrested, or injured, or even dead. She claimed he threatened her when he did no such thing. She weaponized her whiteness. She was trying to get him killed. That is what racism looks like.
Then a couple of days ago, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police. An officer put his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck and kept it there, crushing his windpipe. Even as Mr. Floyd was saying “I can’t breathe”, this cop kept his knee on his neck until he killed George Floyd. That is what racism looks like.
The other cops who just stood there, doing nothing, while their colleague murdered a man? That is what racism looks like.
You walk down the street and see a black man approaching from the opposite direction. You cross the street to avoid him. That is what racism looks like.
You’re a woman, and you pass a black person and clutch your purse a little closer. That is what racism looks like.
Politicians use code words to signal their racism. They say things like voter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. This is coded language for “We want to keep black folks and poor folks from voting.” That is what racism looks like.
Racism is systemic. Racism is things like basing school funding off property tax rates when properties in minority neighborhoods are valued lower than white neighborhoods. Students in schools in those minority neighborhoods often have to use outdated textbooks and attend classes in buildings in desperate need of repairs. That is what racism looks like.
In Minneapolis, folks are pissed. So they fight back in the only way they can. Looting, setting fires, vandalism, all this is a response to a system of racial oppression and injustice. The news media call it “rioting” when black folks do it. But when Penn State fired Joe Paterno for his role in covering up child abuse, the white students who destroyed property weren’t rioting, they were “protesting”. White people are more concerned about the loss of things when it’s black people doing the destroying of those things. That is what racism looks like.
I could cite examples all day. Mass incarceration, the so-called “war” on drugs, the attack on abortion access – all these things are what racism looks like.
White people aren’t the only ones who perpetrate racism. Other minorities do it too. There is a lot of anti-blackness out there. But whites are the biggest offenders, and they’re the ones who need to be challenged on this the most.
I am done with letting racism in any form slide for the sake of keeping the peace. If you say something even remotely racist, I am going to loudly call you on it. But if you want to learn how to be anti-racist, please check out the Google document of books, articles, and other resources linked below, along with sources for some of the examples cited above.
White Woman Calls Police When Black Birdwatcher Asks Her to Leash Her Dog https://abc7ny.com/central-park-dog-karen-woman-amy-cooper/6211558/
‘I Can’t Breathe!’: Video of Fatal Arrest Shows Minneapolis Officer Kneeling on George Floyd’s Neck for Several Minutes https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/05/26/george-floyd-man-dies-after-being-arrested-by-minneapolis-police-fbi-called-to-investigate/
Anti-Racism Resources for White People https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/preview?pru=AAABcoTg2p8*jne1fB89p4Lntyz9gofWqQ#