There’s a Riot Going On

James Baldwin said “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” I keep this in mind as riots break out throughout the country in response to police killings of brothers.  Maybe we should ask not why they continue to happen though nothing changes, but why they don’t happen more often? The differential fatality rates of Covid 19 among racial groups has laid bare the results of racism in the health care system. The underlying racial (yeah I know there are other ways of looking at this) economic and social inequality is staring us in the face. When you add the stress of police brutality and killings, the “Karens” who try to use the inherent racism in the system to get their way, and the obvious different treatment of white and black protestors, is it any wonder that black communities explode like raisins in the sun? 

I have read many of the impassioned pleas from parents of black children with sorrow in my heart. Every black person killed by police was somebody’s child. Many were somebody’s loved one or parent. We all have given “the talk” to our children, not the one about the birds and the bees, but the one about what to do if you are stopped by police. We also realize that this is not protection against the wrong policeman at the wrong time in the wrong place. We do it not because we think it will keep them safe, but because we think it’s all we can do and we must do something. If nothing else moves you I beg you to see the problem as a parent. There is no excuse you will accept for a policeman killing your child. 

When will it stop? Not until whites stop ignoring the racism in our society and do something about it. Oh, people of color have things to do too, we must keep reminding you of the need to do it whether we are in elected office, on the streets, or in the ears and eyes of those in power. However, given the white dominated power structure and what will be our minority status in that power structure, white folks will determine how it plays out. In short, white people must end racism. Right now that couldn’t seem further away. We have a white supremacist would-be dictator in the White House, put there by racists and those willing to tolerate or even ignore his racism, his ignorance (of basic science, the Constitution, the law and the American system of government,) his corruption, his childish behavior, and his narcissism. His reign too shall pass whether in November or four years from now and we will still be stuck with the problem of racism. There will always be  sizeable numbers of people who consciously or subconsciously believe in white supremacy. There will always be people who do not realize that they benefit from racism and think themselves non-racist.

 Whites must realize that racism not only limits people of color, it does not protect white folk as they think it does. We have seen that many white people (certainly not all) are more likely to do things out of self interest, not ethics or altruism. Trump rode into power on the backs of whites who feel that the “system” is more concerned with people of color than it is with them. The protections accorded racist white policemen are because too many whites feel that such behavior keeps them safe. Racism will end not when whites realize white superiority is a myth (many never will), but when they realize that it is in their self interest to do so. It is not cynicism to say so. Yes, during that golden age of the civil rights movement enough whites and people in power realized that segregation and second class citizenship was wrong, but if you look at the long history of America you understand that this was an aberration. Racism never went away. There were enough people who believed in the tenets of racism to limit how much progress was actually made.

We have both the necessity and the opportunity to do it again. I am calling for a new civil rights movement that does not let the American conscience ignore the problems of racism any longer and beats back the forces of racism. I am calling for frequent peaceful demonstrations, letting politicians know that they will not get our vote unless they are anti-racists (i.e. working against racism not just claiming they aren’t racists,) and the calling out of racist acts no matter how small and accepted. BLACK LIVES MATTER. We must make sure everyone believes they do.

 

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