Dear White People
Are you white and interested? Here’s a session to check out.
What Does Anti-Racist Solidarity by White Folks Look Like?
Sunday, December 14, 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Greater St. Mark Family Church, 9950 Glen Owen (at Chambers) 63136
The Way I See It
Published in the St. Louis American-December 4, 2014
This communique is not for the white trolls who lurk in the social media shadows, throwing racist, anonymous potshots, or the white people who’ve been publicly expressing that African Americans are savages who deserve to be shot down in the streets.
This column is for white people who are genuinely bewildered as to why people have been in the streets for 100-plus days in Ferguson and around the globe since Mike Brown’s death. This is for whites who are desperately trying to figure out how they can fit into the transformational shift for racial justice that is now being recalibrated.
Race has been made complicated, but it’s a sociological construct, designed by the white ruling elite generations ago for the main purpose of exploitation and control. Your racial isolation has been intentionally choreographed to minimize racial understanding that could lead to multi-racial unity.
You have been fed an unhealthy diet of white supremacy that requires you to embrace the belief that all non-white peoples are inferior—the darker the being, the more subhuman they are. Such a belief system is inherently problematic and unsustainable for peaceful coexistence. You have been manipulated over the centuries.
If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. Non-whites have been twisted into self-hatred and manipulated into pursuing a path of whiteness, a perverted journey whose destination one can never reach. Yes, we’ve all been put in a trick bag. Let’s acknowledge this and move on to the real challenge of building the kind of society where all potential is fully developed and all life is valued.
You need to know that your interaction with law enforcement can be dramatically different from that of black and brown people. For us, the distrust of police has a long and brutal history. Accept the preponderance of evidence of this fact or you can Google “police brutality videos.” This is our reality: any black person could be Mike Brown.
In a recent article by Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author states the current “rate of police killings of black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.” Wilkerson points to FBI data (undercounted) that show a black person is killed by a police every three or four days in the U.S. Because I’m black, this means I’m five times more likely to be killed by police than my white counterpart.
A report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) a couple of years ago took this phenomenon a step further. According to the report on extrajudicial killings, every 36 hours a black person is “executed” by police, security guards or vigilantes.
Both Wilkerson and the MXGM report underscore that people of African descent can be killed without due process, that a white person can be both judge and jury and their deadly actions are almost always justified. In order to make this justification stick, all black people must be criminalized and their deaths blamed on their own actions. Black people have a serious problem with this broad racial calculation, i.e. if you’re black, you’re dangerous and thereby a threat.
The loss of a child brings unspeakable grief for any family, but it just keeps on happening. The latest is the unwarranted shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, whose toy gun obviously made him a target of overzealous Cleveland police. We cannot stomach yet another cop killing of a black child with no accountability. The weight of the human carnage is too much to bear.
It is these incessant acts of terror by police in our communities over decades and without impunity that has ignited a spontaneous outrage in black people and justice-seeking allies. The righteous outrage is rooted in our countless, negative encounters with law enforcement and the courts. That is why you see millions across the nation responding to the refusal of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown. Over 170 U.S. cities hosted a variety of actions, from shutting down a highway in Washington, D.C. to St. Louis Rams players doing a hands-up-don’t-shoot gesture before the game.
So, you need to understand the source of our legitimate outrage – the unabated humiliation, assaults and murders of black humanity with little or no accountability or impunity. And while we demand justice for Mike Brown’s family, the issue of police violence transcends this single family and the City of Ferguson.
Police violence and corruption is a national problem, and that’s why the reactions quickly went national. The entire system is guilty and must be reformed, transformed. You must acknowledge this in order to be an active part of its transformation.
Lastly, understand that black families want the same things that white families want – good health, happiness and success. We want a good education for our children and employment opportunities that bring them dignity and decent wages. We expect our civil and human rights will be fully protected.
Ferguson and St. Louis city and county are now synonymous with corruption and incompetence. It is painfully clear that we cannot depend on elected and civic officials for leadership or to ensure justice. They have been silent in providing vision and long-term solutions.
I encourage you to join the legions of humanity in the region who will be working to say no more business as usual. Join in this movement to challenge racism in the streets, in police departments and in the courts. The social justice movement is as much about changing hearts and minds as it is changing laws and policies.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest. If we work together in a respectful and disciplined way, a new Ferguson is possible.