I sit here tonight with my heart so heavy. As exhausted as I get trying to explain to other white people what is going on I cannot imagine how Black people feel. Today I watched several of their lived experiences be invalidated, as if white people some how know better. Please, check your privilege.
Years ago I had the most patient Black man debate me, ask me probing questions, and lead me to opening my mind. He didn’t owe me that patience. I am so grateful he chose to grant it to me. I came across his profile the other day and got to speak to him for the first time in years.
It was that moment years ago that led me to go off on my own and study more about the lived experience of Black people, and I never thought or expected Black people to teach me. I can Google, I can read, and I can watch videos. So, that’s what I did. You can do it, too, if you really care to be informed.
Call me crazy, but I like to be informed on a topic before I take a side. What you will never find me doing is straddling a fence, afraid to upset the apple cart. I’ve lived my evolution as a person very publicly. There is nothing you can shame me for that I haven’t already shamed myself for, and since forgiven myself for. Give it your best shot.
You will find me changing my mind with new information and not apologizing for it. That’s what we should all do. Yes, I’m wrong sometimes. I am not afraid to admit it. Still won’t find me cowardly sitting on some imaginary middle road where I say with my lips I believe in justice for all, but then scold those who have never had justice for the ways in which they seek it. It’s not my place to tell a people how to get what is long overdue them.
Some of you will know that currently I’m a low income woman living in subsidized housing. You will ask me “What privilege do you have?” When I was married to a white man he could have gotten pulled over, even been rude if he wanted to, and likely lived to tell about it. My white children were never likely to get shot walking home with skittles or playing at the park.
As a mother, I worry every time my children leave the house, but it’s never been because of the color of their skin. Our system isn’t racist against white people. Not once have I ever had to talk with my children about how to act if the police start asking questions. Not once did I ever fear when I was married that my husband would end up dead at a traffic stop.
I could go birding without losing my life unlike Christian Cooper. I could go for a jog and arrive back home safely unlike Amaud Arbery. I can relax in the comfort of my own home unlike Bothem Sean and Atatiana Jefferson. I could ask for help after crashing my car unlike Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride. I can be on my cellphone without dying unlike Stephon Clark.
I can leave a party to seek safety unlike Jordan Edwards. I can play my music loud unlike Jordan Davis. I could get way with selling CD’s unlike Alton Sterling. I can sleep in my own home unlike Aiyana Jones. I can walk to a corner store unlike Mike Brown. My kids can play cops and robbers unlike Tamir Rice. They could walk home with skittles safely unlike Trayvon Martin.
I could go to church without a crazy white man believing the myth of Black men wanting to rape white women and killing me and 8 other people; unlike the Charleston Nine. I could hold a hairbrush while leaving my own bachelor party unlike Sean Bell. Party down on New Year’s unlike Oscar Grant. Get a normal traffic ticket unlike Sandra Bland. Lawfully carry a weapon unlike Philandro Castile. Shop at Walmart unlike John Crawford.
Break down on a public road having car trouble unlike Corey Jones. Have a disabled vehicle unlike Terrence Crutcher. Read a book in my car unlike Keith Scott. Be a ten year old walking with my grandfather unlike Clifford Glover. Decorate for a party unlike Claude Reese. Ask a cop a question unlike Randy Evans. Cash a check in peace unlike Yvonne Smallwood.
I can reach for my wallet unlike Amadou Diallo. I can go for a run unlike Walter Scott. I am alive unlike Freddie Gray. Could be arrested without being murdered unlike George Floyd. I can breath unlike every Black life you just read about, and many more I haven’t mentioned.
When we say to you that Black lives matter we are not asking that Black lives matter more. We are demanding they matter TOO. Until the system stops arresting and murdering Black people in disproportionate numbers they aren’t going to feel their lives matter. When you say all lives matter you prove they do not to you. That you prefer silence of the truth to live a comfortable lie, where your privilege allows you to deny a people’s lived experience.
I like the house fire analogy a lot. If your house is on fire and mine is not both houses still matter. It’s just for that moment your house matters more. The fire should be put out, and then both of us will feel as if our homes matter. If that fire isn’t put out it spreads; eventually your house is going to catch fire, too.
Have you read about the real history of America? We have never gained rights and equality in this country without rioting for them. A peaceful protest has never solved a damn thing. Besides, when they tried to peacefully take a knee you had an issue with that, too. Burned your Nike's and broke your Keurigs.
In 1773 the Boston Tea party led to the Revolutionary War in 1775. This led to us becoming the United State of America in 1776. In 1836, Abolition Riot in Massachusetts led to the 1843 Liberty Act, which prohibited the arrest of fugitive slaves in Massachusetts.
In 1855, Lager Beer Riots in Chicago led to new mandates on taverns and the reorganization of the Chicago Police Department. In 1884, the Cincinnati Riots were over public outrage regarding the verdict of manslaughter in what was a clear murder case and overall corruption. Those riots led to the removal of two corrupt political bosses.
1886 we saw the Haymarket Affair in Chicago which led to the 8 hour work day. In 1916, we saw the Everett Massacre (Bloody Sunday, WA). This led to labor rights and increased wages. In 1932, Ford Hunger March in Detroit led to the unionization of the auto industry.
In 1934, Minneapolis Teamster Strike eventually helped lead to further unionization of the auto industry. In 1957, Little Rock Integration Crisis paved the way for international integration within the public school system. And in 1962, Ole Miss Riot was considered a major victory against white supremacy. The first Black student enrolled and graduated from the University of Mississippi.
The Harlem Race Riots in 1964 began after a police officer shot fifteen year old James Powell. This led to Project Uplift that employed young residents of Harlem to give them skills and break the chain of impoverished citizens.
We also saw the Rochester Race Riots in 1964 in NY, the Jersey City Race Riots in New Jersey, Elizabeth Race Riot in New Jersey, Dixmoore Race Riots in Chicago, and the Philadelphia Race Riots, which all confronted severe police brutality. The racism is literally baked into the system.
In 1965, Watt’s Riots led to the reinstatement of the Rumford Fair Housing Act. In 1966, Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in San Francisco was the beginning of the LGBTQIA activism. This led to the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, the first support and advocacy organization in the world.
Remember 1967? The Long Hot Summer, where 159 cities across the country, including Buffalo, Newark, Plainsfield, Detroit, Cambridge, and Cairo, displayed race riots that led to an increase in Black positions in the work force and fair housing? It shed light on the broken system and gave Black Citizens a voice within their communities. They were voted into positions of power.
The Washington DC Riots in 1968 broke out in 110 cities across the country after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Our own FBI wrote him a letter telling him to kill himself. It goes much deeper than the police. This did lead to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act.
In 1968 we saw the Democratic National Convention Riots, which led to the McGovern-Fraser Commission enabling better representation for minorities and other underrepresented people. It established more open procedures and affirmation action guidelines for selecting delegates.
In 1969, we find the Stonewall Riots in NYC. Gay Activation Alliance was formed. Gay Pride Marches began on the first anniversary in 1970. It’s known as the most important event leading to LGBTQIA liberation and the modern fight for LGBTQIA rights.
We had the Kent State Massacre in 1970. This led to the National Guard’s re-examination of crowed control methods. In 1971 we saw the Attica Prison Riot. Prisoners demanded better living conditions and political rights. Some were met, which reduced tensions and prevented further grievance.
In 1979, the year I was born, we saw the White Night Riots in San Francisco. This was in retaliation for the lightest possible conviction over the murder of the first openly gay elected US official. This led to the election of Diane Feinstein, who appointed a pro-LGBTQIA chief of police to ease tension and recruit more gay people to the force.
Ever heard of the New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot? In 1980 it led to systemic prison reform that developed the modern correctional system in New Mexico. In 1992, we saw the Los Angeles Riots. I really do remember those. Four LAPD officers were acquitted for the use of excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King.
This was one of the first widely broadcast displays of excessive police force. The riots led to a temporary truce, federal civil rights were brought on, and two of the officers were federally charged while the other two were acquitted a second time. Rodney King was awarded $3.8 million in damages.
In 2001, the Cincinnati Riots were over police killing an unarmed 29 year old, Timothy Thomas, over a non-violate traffic citation. This led to police reform. The city worked with community and police to improve training and procedures concerning racial profiling. They even created a Citizen’s Complaint Authority to independently review all serious use of force by cops.
In 2014, we see Ferguson, Missouri erupt in riots over police brutality and the murder of unarmed Michael Brown. Twelve rounds were fired and he had six bullet wounds. The police chief and officer Wilson both resigned. The National Bar Association revoked his Police Officer License. $75 million were federally allocated to body cameras for all officers.
A task force was created with mandated external and independent criminal investigations of use of force resulting in death, officer involved shootings resulted in injury or death, and in-custody deaths.
The Baltimore Protests in 2015 were over police brutality again. While Freddie Gray was in transport he sustained a neck and spinal injury over the in-custody abuse. It led to a coma and eventually his death a week later. It was later determined he had never committed a crime. His death was ruled a homicide by excessive police force and negligence.
Here we are in 2020, Minneapolis, Minnesota Riots over the excessive police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd. People all across the country see this for what it is. There is a pattern. We are outraged over centuries of civil inequalities and unnecessary police force being used on Black Americans. And very rarely are the murdering cops ever held accountable.
From ending slavery, to women’s right to own property and vote, to rights for the LGBTQIA community nothing peaceful ever did work. It’s only when the ruling elite, who the cops really protect, feel threatened that they give an inch. We’re tired of inching along. We’re done with mediocre change. Yes, I need change in my life, too, but until Black people, Immigrants, and other minorities have at least what I do I stand with them first.
It’s absolutely about class, but if you forget it’s also about race that’s on you. The system keeping us divided and fighting each other is how the rich white man stays in control. If we’re busy protecting “blue” lives, not questioning their narrative, they don’t lose their power and control.
I will never forget the day I left Blue No Matter Who behind. I was speaking to some white women and they said they hated Bernie Sanders and I should, too. They suggested if I wanted to know why I should listen to Black women. I said, “Well, Nina Turner is a Black woman. Doesn’t she count?”
They laughed and said “No. No, she doesn’t count”. See, only the “right” Black women count to them. Never mind Bernie had the most Black support all along. To people like that they are allies in name only. They pay lip service to equality while sipping martinis at private parties where it costs $1200 a plate to get in. They do not give a shit about Black women, but I see you.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to have the normal stress and worry that a mother has and then add to that the possibility your child could die from an accident of birth. From something none of us choose. The same thing responsible for the different color of our eyes is responsible for the color of our skin, and no one chooses either. I feel your exhaustion in my soul and still know I will never fully understand. I stand in solidarity with you.
Also, to those of you upset over Target, they have put out a statement:
A Note From Brian Cornell to Our Teams and Communities in the Twin Cities and Beyond
We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities-it extends across America. The murder of George…
You haven’t seen anything yet. So, stop telling them to settle down. Why is looting only bad when poor people or minorities do it? This video will be followed by several tweets you should check into, and then I’ll be sharing some reading material and ways you can actually help.
They do NOT care about Black lives. If you are an ally and you can take part please take part. I am high risk if I were to catch Covid, otherwise I’d be on the front-line, same as I was for the separation of families at the border.
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I hope you read this and it woke you up. I hope it got your attention. The goal is to divide and conquer. They do this by oppressing minorities and convincing white people it’s minorities who are the problem. Meanwhile, the rich elite are looting everything and the workers who make them rich are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table.
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This is not the time to sit out. If you’re going to sit on your couch and preach at people to be non-violent, to not riot, and try to convince us that civility is not an old time tool of the oppressor you’re preaching to the choir. People have nothing left to lose; especially Black people. Who do you think lost the most wealth under the housing crisis? Who did the government bail out?
So at the very least, if you aren’t going to join in solidarity be silent. I can’t force you to, but the internet is forever and history is being written today.
Here are ways you can help:
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Your silence makes you complicit, but it’s far better than your opposition. Please choose wisely the words you use going forward. The world is on fire. Global fascism is on the rise. Just go read Trump’s latest Tweets. He is a dictator. This isn’t over by a long shot.
They cheated Bernie and took away people’s only hope. I’m just grateful Bernie brought together such a diverse, huge, global movement of people in solidarity. We have to take it from here, just like he knew we would have to do from the beginning. Nothing else has ever brought change.
Don’t be afraid to speak up because you may say the wrong thing. Get educated and speak up. If you say the wrong thing you will be corrected. There is no shame. Your heart will be in the right place, and it’s all a learning curve. Do the right thing and use your privilege for good. Don’t hide behind it.
I couldn’t sleep tonight. I have watched for days as fellow white people invalidated the lived experiences of Black people, Black women in particular. That is about as privileged as it gets.
I had someone ask me why I hate my own race. I don’t. I just don’t feel it makes me superior to anyone else. I feel the best use of my position is to stand with those being slaughtered to uphold a white supremacist, capitalistic system that couldn’t care less who among us dies. One of us is definitely brainwashed, but I’m not the one falling for the age-old divide and conquer.