Those Who Do Not Act On History…

I have spoken to a number of people this weekend who have expressed something like this:

“I’m upset and heartbroken that things have gone this far and gotten this ugly. The violence and destruction undermines their message. Because of the violence, it will erase this chance for conversation for change.” [1]

Yeah. Um, no.

Because it’s hard to believe change was ever going to come.

This level of police violence against Black people has been going on my entire adult life.

Hell, this bit (copied and pasted from Facebook, but it’s good) gives over twenty chances to have that conversation.

I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice about it and without being killed:
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery).
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothamJean and #AtatianaJefferson).
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark).
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis).
I can sell CD’s (#AltonSterling).
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
I can go to church (#Charleston9).
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant).
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford) .
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott).
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
I can run (#WalterScott).
I can breathe (#EricGarner).
I can live (#FreddieGray).
I can ask someone to put a leash on their dog when it is required in the public park we are in (#ChristianCooper).
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED. (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a black person’s experience today
#BlackLivesMatter

We had a national conversation after this peaceful protest…

Colin Kapernick kneeling

…which only got us to whether or not kneeling was “appropriate”.

This is our society. The society you participate and interact in. Like it or not, your silence is considered approval.

Our society has made it very clear that no kind of protest would be “okay“.

Our society has made it very clear that we are okay with police violence against Black people for over thirty years.

That is the default.

It’s not enough to be quiet and pretend people assume you are anti-racist.

Swanson had a real conversation with some folks in the crowd, saying, “This is the way it’s supposed to be … police working with the community. When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them.”

https://www.tmz.com/2020/05/31/police-in-flint-join-protesters-george-floyd-michigan

It is possible for things to change. But it’s not by doing the same things we’ve done for decades.

We will only be distracted from the reason for the protests if we choose to be. If we try to silence the protests. If we choose to stop talking about the reasons for the protests.

If we keep saying and doing the same things we’ve done so many times before.

Civil disobedience must shock and break norms.

Otherwise it’s just obedience.

Featured Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

[1] Aside from my normal disclaimer that I’m not talking about you, I’m definitely not just talking about you. That “quote” is drawn from five conversations, and it could have been more. And the weekend isn’t over yet.

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