Life is full of contradictions. The existence of African Americans in this country is one itself. How does a group of historically mistreated people believe the same system responsible for the oppression will ultimately give birth to their equality?
Most civil rights movements have asked for equality and not separate existence, retribution, or revenge. Dr. King’s central message was to play on the founders’ words to attempt to have our people partake fully in the country’s ideals.
This summer’s post-George Floyd racial revolution was glorious but short-lived. White folks were as friendly as I’d ever seen them. I like to sit in my car from time to time and take in the scenery. For the first time in my adult life, a white woman fearlessly approached my car and started a conversation. I’ve spent the majority of my life soothing the fears of white women in the public. It was odd to have a white woman(an older one no less) come into my space. She droned on and on, but her heart was in the white (I did that on purpose)place.
But as they always do, the colonizers regrouped. They attacked Floyd, the protestors, Breonna Taylor, and any other attempt at progress.
Pushing back against colonizers attacks isn’t to say that George Floyd’s past is problematic, or some protesters’ actions aren’t inappropriate, or the Breonna Taylor case isn’t complicated.
It began with a viral video of “exposing” the criminal past of Geroge Floyd by Candance Owens. As it made the rounds, the attacks on Floyd’s character grew. The key to fighting and revealing the nature of those that oppose racial justice is breaking down their counterargument.
Whether or not he committed a crime or resisted arrest, George Floyd’s criminal record isn’t a justification for what happened to him. That’s what they do. They throw a mix of truths and lies until somehow we forget an officer of the law knelt on a human’s neck for eight minutes while his co-workers watched on. If Floyd worked in a soup kitchen every night after work, would his life be more valuable? Is that the job of our legal system? Weighing crimes based on the purity of the victim?
Every citizen is entitled to equal protection under the law. Police officers operate under the rules provided by the Constitution. Laws are only as strong as when they are when applied to the most marginalized.
It’s tough for a white person to stay neutral. The difference between this iteration of the civil rights movement and others is its refusal to allow whites to remain quiet. Silence is violence; you must be anti-racist. These slogans challenge and shame whites to choose a side, revealing how deep the white supremacy rabbit hole goes.
America’s latest racial reckoning is a traumatic event for many blacks. A trigger(in the non-snowflake sense) brings back a lifetime of slights, discrimination, and outright trauma. Post Floyd, I won’t be quiet just to be accepted and assimilated into the white majority. I won’t ignore the residue of white supremacy or accept injustice. I can’t, and I won’t. It was never ok, and I refuse to take it ever again.
What do we do now? We’ve exposed the inequalities and cruelness of the system, we’ve given the facts, we’ve shown over and over again how ingrained white supremacy is into the fabric of American culture. How do we deal with white people who aren’t allies? How do we relate to white people at all? For the first time in the history of our nation, the two races see each other. No one can hide behind friendliness and apathy.
I’ve lost several friends during this period. I ask myself, were they always like this? Did the movement trigger their fragility? Was I blind to it all, or worse yet, did I accept it? Do I ignore all the beautiful moments and memories, cut off everyone white who says something racially ignorant or insensitive?
I’m struggling with it, but here are a few conclusions. White supremacy is such a foundational piece of the framework every citizen must unlearn. I’m not here to absolve white people of their ignorance, but I am here to extend a little grace. The beneficiary rarely identifies privilege on their own. Every race in America should examine their beliefs about the other and explore its origin.
I’m willing to take it on a case by case basis. For some, there’s no way in hell I’m going to be forgiving. For others, I’ve established relationships, and I feel that it’s not their intention in their heart; I’m willing to have conversations and educate. White supremacy isn’t just the enemy of blacks and other minorities; it’s all of our enemies. It stops our country from living out its highest ideals. It hinders us all from seeing the diversified beauty of humanity.