Friday, 8 July 2016

Dear Fellow Whites: So Disappointed

My Dear Fellow Whites:
I am so disappointed in you. I thought that we had finally collectively got it, that we finally understood that Black Lives Matter, no strings attached, no quid pro quos, no caveats. Yet when cops fall to bullets in Dallas, our first knee-jerk reaction is not to call for patience or to wait for details before rendering decisions. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that Black People carried out that shooting in Dallas and started preaching about how it is ok to care for the lives of cops, and how we can't respond to violence with violence.

That last wasn't even intended for ourselves. We were being preachy. We were falling back on our deeply entrenched habit of assuming that rather nasty trope of Black People being inherently violent and of quoting famous Black People only when it suits our comfort. Our first reaction to a disruption of a peaceful protest in Dallas was to selectively seek comfort and affirmation from Black People and then throw validation for that comfort-seeking back in their faces with an I Told You So.

We don't know who the Dallas shooter was, or why that person shot. Obviously, it doesn't take much to distract us from our support for Black Lives to return to our old habits of propping up our own comfort.

The police have little to fear from Black People. The numbers bear this out. Police have little to fear from protesters. The numbers bear this out, as well. In fact, as reported on Democracy Now this morning, police have not been safer than during the Obama presidency, during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet the first thing that we whites did when cops got shot in Dallas was to limply drop the Black Lives Matter banner that we had FINALLY picked up and to carry on with our self-reassurances that it is ok to love cops and that Black People shouldn't be so violent.

There is something else born out by statistics and data: Black People and other People of Colour are the least safe at the hands of law enforcement officials. They are targetted disproportionately for action by law enforcement in comparison with their white counterparts; and they are murdered disproportionately by law enforcement in comparison with their white counterparts.

How is it that we whites were so easily distracted from Black Lives Matter? How is it that we once again demonstrated that we think our need to be comforted, especially comforted by Black People, more important than the very lives of Black People? I really am disappointed in us, fellow white people. We are supposed to be made of better stuff than this. Please let's stop, and let's demonstrate that we really can throw ourselves unswervingly behind folk who are systematically marginalised and disenfranchised.


No comments:

Post a Comment