I admit to being hesitant to write about protests at first, because I’m either scared to say something wrong, or I feel as though anyone reading will agree with me. So I’ve just written a bunch of words that people already know.
But I am white, I have privilege, I have a voice, and I am often reminded (due to the fact that I currently live in middle class suburbia) that ignorance is still plaguing people by the masses.
To have privilege is not an insult; everybody has privilege in one way or another in some aspect of their life. To have privilege is not to have the absence of struggle in your life.
It is the ability to innovate and create change however you can.
And therefore if you have a privilege, you use it for good.
I know some people, well meaning people- who contribute to major issues in society everyday without realising it, simply by not questioning themselves.
The majority of these people that *I* know usually haven’t been exposed to much inequality, brutality, injustice in their life and therefore are negligent to the fact that it exists.
And I do get it, as much as I disagree with it and try to change that by using *my* privilege.
But through conversing with these people, I came up with the idea for this blog.
I wrote a piece to this affect 5 years ago following the murder of Sandra Bland.
The latest viral victim of white supremacy in today’s America is George Floyd, a 46 year old man who was arrested and held to the floor with a police officer’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes, restricting his airways.
Police officers are trained to hold people in arrest without restricting their airways, so this was a blatant murder.
Floyd was screaming “I can’t breathe” while being held in this position, and 4 officers stood by without intervening.
Allegedly using a false $20 note at a store.
Floyd stopped breathing at the scene but was pronounced dead in hospital later.
Peaceful protests were held in Minnesota following this event as a part of the Black Lives Matter movement, however police flooded the streets with tear gas (during a global pandemic) to break up the protest.
At this point the protests turned to riots. Looting broke out and police stations, whole cities, were set fire to.
Here is where mainstream media comes in.
There is a lot of coverage about the fires.
But fires are what’s catching our attention, and therefore the focus is being misdirected. Just as it was meant to be.
The fires were a desperate plea to be heard by the Black community, as their initial attempt of a peaceful protest was violently retaliated against and they were silenced.
Needless to say, the tear gas was not distributed justly. It was to act as a threat and to shut them up. Not to reassure them that this injustice was being dealt with.
People in my immediate awareness were very vocal on the matter of the fires.
So I will do this article as a question / answer piece.
First of all; if you struggle to get your head around this whole thing- it’s because we’re white.
That’s not an insult. It’s a fact. And it means we can help make a difference.
Stop the fires, stop the murders, stop the fighting. We can influence peace.
We will NEVER understand what its like to be a part of the black community. We will never understand the injustice and fear they live with in western society.
Instead of tutting at the fires and throwing your hands up- ask yourself why has it come to this.
And then ask yourself, what are you doing to contribute to lessening this issue in society?
Because if you’re more repulsed by the fires and the REACTION to injustice- you are siding with the oppressor.
That is taught behaviour, that is a negative aspect of your privilege which has been conditioned into you, and it’s not who you are.
So now you have an opportunity to choose love over learned behaviour, and you have the opportunity to UNDERSTAND.
Do not shame people that you havent tried to understand and ally with.
The police brutality, white supremacy, the MURDER is all far more repulsive than what has happened as a result.
In fact, it is point blank what has happened.
If you don’t understand the fires, don’t focus on it.
I’ll explain it to you now.
There is only so much you can kick something down before it bites back out of defence.
There is only so much you can silence something.
Peace was the initial reaction.
Police, institutionalised racism- reacted with violence.
So if peace is not heard, a war will be.
Black people want to be able to peacefully walk down the street.
Raise their children without having to raise them to be hyper cautious of an encounter with the police. Without teaching them how to walk down the street. Without teaching them to not wear a hoodie, not be too visible
We are white.
We will never experience that. We will never know that. We will never know how many people that have opened doors for us did it purely because we’re white and they feel like that makes us any more similar to them. We are able to escape the police easier, we are statistically less likely to be randomly searched or stopped. We don’t know how many uncomfortable encounters we have avoided because of the colour of our skin.
We have our own issues, we may even have our own areas of inequality (such as being part of the LGBTQ+ community, or being a woman) but we are still white.
And therefore, instead of hopping to defence, we need to understand what black people go through and listen. Understanding is how we get to peace.
The rioting is desperation. It is to catch people’s attention so that the reason behind the rioting is broadcast, and therefore the rioters gain alliance. It was never a first resort.
The reason behind rioting is the racist narrative and internalised white supremacy in america.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve felt oppressed and ignored? For a really long time?
Have you felt in danger everyday of your life?
Do you know what that leads a person to do in order to be heard?
If you have read all that and STILL don’t understand the rioting, I assume by now you’re a little more caught on to the actual very prominent issue of racism in society today.
So don’t focus on the rioting. The rioting is happening because of racism.
So the issue is racism.
An outdated need for change.
Don’t focus on the riots.
Talk about the inequality. Correct people when they reinforce a racist narrative. Use your voice,use your privilege.
Because as a white person, we aren’t silenced when we talk about issues of racism. We aren’t at risk of being KILLED for speaking out about racism. Our lives and families are not at risk. We sacrifice nothing.
And that is why George Floyd didn’t fight back.
Once Floyd was put under arrest he likely already knew how that was going to end.
You cannot call judgement on a situation you have never been in and will never be able to understand. You cant critique a murder victim for not resisting arrest.
Because minorities have been conditioned and manipulated to believe that obedience will set them free.
Which is why we need to use our privilege to be DISOBEDIENT on BEHALF of those who can’t afford it.
Because obedience costs lives. Unnecessarily.
Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting recorded.
And imagine all the cases that happen a day that aren’t recorded and are therefore swept under the rug without a second glance.
Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean its not happening.
People want peace but are forced to fight back for it.
If you dont know enough about an issue, you are always allowed to say “I don’t know enough about the issue at hand to form an opinion”.
Because blindly forming opinions when you have privilege can be damaging and cause deaths without you realising.
The reaction to racist narratives now need to be zero tolerance. The older generation aren’t to be excused, casual racism in conversation isn’t to be excused.
We need complete reform.
You’re not *just* saying that the riots are bad and counterintuitive.
You are selfishly sitting in your ignorance and therefore contributing to more racism being swept under the carpet.
This will happen again if you choose to be ignorant.
You deal with the root of the problem, not the symptoms.
If you, like me, are white; we will never understand. But I can see that the Black community aren’t being heard, and therefore I will help them. Because I can.
It’s not just a problem for a country, it’s a problem for humanity.