This is not the blog post I want to write today. It’s not the blog post I want to write, ever, but things are bad right now, and I want to share some resources so each of us can work toward solving the problem.
First, a recap.
We’re in the middle of a national emergency due to COVID-19. Some states are opening up, but a lot of people are still sick, more people are getting sick, and it looks like some people are going to suffer the results of COVID-19 for the rest of their lives. Some people have been stuck at home since mid-March. Oh, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says,
current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.
On May 25, a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the cops on an African-American man, Christian Cooper (no relation between the two, I’m supposed to say here) who asked her to leash her dog in an area of Central Park where dogs are required to be leashed. Mr. Cooper began recording Ms. Cooper. According to CNN, Ms. Cooper approached Mr. Cooper and he asked her not to come any closer to him. He
asks her again not to come close. That’s when Amy Cooper says she’s going to call the police.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says.
Once she reached emergency dispatch, she told the dispatcher,
“There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet,” she says. “He is recording me and threatening me and my dog…”
“I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble,” she continues in an audibly distraught voice . “Please send the cops immediately!”
Later that same day, an unarmed 46-year-old African-American man named George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. You can read the whole story on the WCCO 4 CBS Minnessota website.
Over the weekend there were protests across the country, buildings burning, looting. A report by CNN mentions demonstrations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Los Angeles, New York City, Denver, Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia.
So how are these events related? Trevor Noah of The Daily Show made a video explaining the connections better than I ever could. Please, if you don’t understand what this national crisis is all about, please watch this video where Trevor Noah connects the dots between the COVID-19 emergency, Amy Cooper calling the cops as a means of threatening an African-American man, the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent protests and “looting.” This video is definitely worth watching.
If you don’t want to or don’t have time to watch Trevor Noah’s video, let me make something clear. Neither white folks calling the cops on black people and other people of color (POC) nor cops killing black people and other people of color (POC) is anything new. It’s been happening for a long, long time. Here’s a list CNN published on December 28, 2018 called “Living While Black.” Author Brandon Griggs says,
…police across the United States have been urged to investigate black people for doing all kinds of daily, mundane, noncriminal activities.
In the CNN article “Peaceful Protesters and Violent Instigators Defy Curfews after George Floyd’s Death” authors Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan report,
One community activist said while many protesters don’t condone violence, nonviolent pleas have “gone unnoticed for years.”
“This is what happens when people have experienced the deadliness of racism … over and over again,” said the Rev. William Barber, the Co-Chair of Poor People’s Campaign. “What we are seeing is public mourning.”
Have you seen this content that’s been going around on Facebook?
I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean 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 CDs (#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 BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.
This is what I am talking about today: white privilege and Black Lives Matter. Today I’m saying that we as white people need to learn about our privilege, check our privilege, and work to undo the racism the United States of America was built upon.
The number one thing I do NOT want you to do in order to learn more about white privilege and undoing racism is to ask your POC friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers or acquaintances how to go about this task. People of color have enough on their plate without having to educate while people. Do your homework. Use Google. That’s what I did to find these resources for you.
I found several reading lists online which share books which may help folks learn about racism and dismantle it too. Charis Books & More, an independent feminist bookstore in Decatur , GA offers Understanding and Dismantling Racism: A Booklist for White Readers. Bustle (an online American women’s magazine) shares 17 Books On Race Every White Person Needs To Read, an annotated list by Sadie Trombetta and K.W. Colyard. The New York Times features An Antiracist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi. Even BuzzFeed News got in the act with An Essential Reading Guide For Fighting Racism by Arianna Rebolini. Certainly you can find some resources from these lists.
If you feel like you are already an ally but want to do better, read Katie Anthony‘s essay “5 Racist Anti-Racism Responses ‘Good’ White Women Give to Viral Posts.” While this essay is (obviously) aimed at women, there’s no reason men can’t read it too and learn some things.
If you want to learn more about police brutality and how to work against it, start with the Teen Vogue (for real) article “11 Things You Can Do To Help Black Lives Matter End Police Violence” by Lincoln Anthony Blades. One resource mentioned in the above mentioned article is Campaign Zero, a group working towards ending police violence in America.
What I’ve giving you here are starting points. Start here. Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep learning.
Black Lives Matter.