Are you sick of seeing me write posts like this? Wonderful! I am sick and tired of writing them. But #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile both deserve to have their names heard. They do.
Just like Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and sadly the list goes on and on and on. Each one killed. Each one having their life taken by a police force which refuses to accept the fact that it has issues. Each one blaming it on an individual case as opposed to the systemic issues.
But here is the thing, there are people out there, besides the police, still defending the officer’s actions. This happens time and again, in a disproportionate amount to individuals who appear and identify as Black or Latino/a. But we, as a society, prefer to blame it one someone else.
Wait, let’s say that how it really plays out. We prefer to blame it on someone who is not White. This is why, as many have noted on social media, that when a Black guy is pinned to the ground and shot multiple times at point blank range because he reacts involuntarily to being restrained, his police record is the first thing we drag up. Compare that to the Stanford Rapist. He was caught in the middle of his act, found guilty, and guess what his punishment was? I’ll tell you this, it wasn’t death. Welcome to the world of Privilege, which we so often attempt to ignore.
And I can hear it now, the calls of my being a bleeding heart liberal and all that jazz. Because naturally, acknowledging a system and encouraging equality makes me that. Expecting human beings to be treated as such makes me that. Expecting a murderer to be held accountable for their actions makes me that. but as I’ve been told too many times to count, I should get over this “political correctness thing.”
Then we come to the protests. Each of these deaths has raised protests for the media and justice systems mishandling of cases (yes, they have been mishandled). But guess who suddenly becoems at fault? Not the system which led us here. Not the judiciary and police forces which could make a difference but fail to time and again. Not the media for their way of portraying things in order to sustain a racist system. Not even the legislature who have been voted in by these people to create laws which protect their rights. No, the protesters are blamed. But Why? Why blame a protester for doing exactly what we as a nation refuse to do?
Inevitably, someone will hold up the example of MLK. Don’t get me wrong, King was a powerful man and a leader. But he was not this whitewashed version that the media and legislature continue to hold him up as. He was disruptive, which is a point of protest. He challenged. He got arrested!
But here is the thing. We need to stand. I can respect a cop and still hate the system. I can appreciate a point of view and still disagree with it vehemently. But what I can do that large portions of the nations seem to be failing on is realizing that we do not live in One Nation, United. No, we live in a land divided. Divided by race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, education, and much much more. We live in a land where you are reading a White guy’s blog to learn about these cases and racism in the US. Don’t stop or start here. Please just pass through. Read about what others have said. Read what you can do.
I’m calling you all out. Don’t assume your “Black friend” speaks for the entire race, just as, thankfully, we are not meant to assume one White person speaks for me (cough*Trump*cough). It is time to grow up. Make a change. Get involved and take action. Please continue to react to posts on Facebook, re-tweet things on Twitter, but don’t stop there. Comment, call others out, get involved in a campaign in your hometown. Sign petitions.
Do not expect someone else to carry this for you. Don’t just show some appreciation on social media and expect that to be enough. We have been doing that for years and guess what? IT IS STILL HAPPENING!!!!!
I woke up today and I cried. I read about Philando, just a few hours after hearing about and watching the video of Alton. As a White person, I could have walked away and gone on with my day. I could have said none of it mattered and left it at that. I could even have reacted to a few posts on social media to say I was appalled. But that is not enough. It wasn’t before and it is not now.
When does this stop?
When we, White America, get off our collective rear ends and act in the world as we pretend to be on social media. When we get over the fact of the existence of privilege. When we work to come together as a nation and quite treating our fellow men and women as second class citizens.
Can you do that? I’m really beginning to wonder.