The Black Lives Matter Movement started after the acquittal of George Zimmerman who murdered Trayvon Martin. The Civil Rights Movement gained momentum after the acquittal of the two men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, who murdered Emmett Till.
In both instances the evidence was clear, the murderers should’ve been found guilty but in both cases (and hundreds of other cases) killing a Black kid whether for walking at night with a hood, while eating skittles or supposedly whistling at a white woman, the law has and continues to make sure that Black death is always justified.
When a Black person is killed. White people first try to look for any and every possible reason to justify Black death. From the simple blame, “if only he/she would’ve...” to the deflect and change subject which sounds like, “But what about ‘Black on Black’ crime” to the “All this talk about race just causes more tensions” finally to the “I’ll just pray that it stops”.
All of these tactics are an attempt for white people to ignore racism and avoid having to talk about race in order to go back to our own lives.
I mean white people will spend hours trying to find one Black person sitting in their car or some other random location recording themselves saying something to the effect of “racism is a thing of the past” so we can feel good about doing nothing about racism. Only to keep on living our lives afraid of Black people (even though we claim not to be) or blaming Black people who may be struggling by saying things like, “I (or my family) was poor once and look at me now”, ignoring the institutionalized privileges whites receive.
It was Dr. King who said that , “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is...the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.”
How many of us white people would rather have “order”? Having “order” sounds like; “The courts will show if he/she is guilty or not” or , “I’ve never had issues with the police those Black people must be guilty of something” or “If they would just work harder”. Ultimately, “order” comes down to “Stop messing up my happy privileged life”.
White people as a whole do not feel comfortable talking about race so we will do anything to avoid it. We have this thing called White Fragility, where when we are confronted with issues about race we feel guilty, think all other races hate us and then instead of trying to educate ourselves we just resort to the ol’ “deflect the issue to go about my life” mentality. Especially recently, following the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterlng white people are sick of hearing about race. Instead of imaging how tired people of color are living with the threat of racism daily, we simply choose to ignore them and devalue their claims.
We white northerners think that just because our families have lived in the north that we can’t be racist. We think that if we quote King we can’t be racist (even though in the north is where King saw a whole new level of racism). We think that an act of racism is limited to using a derogatory slur. We are living in the 1950’s (or earlier) with this definition.
Let’s create a new definition of white racism. First let’s define Blatant White Racism in 2016- Every time you become aware of an injustice against Black people whether it be (police brutality, lead in water, governments cutting budgets to city schools, etc.) you search the Internet for anything to prove why that death, sickness, or cut was necessary, valid or reasonable. An anti-racist approach would be finding ways to understand the real issue, once successful at this you would then educate other white people and take action. Now we need to define Camouflaged White Racism in 2016- Every time you become aware of an injustice against Black people you find any excuse to ignore the issue (I don’t get it, I’m too busy to do anything about it, I don’t like confrontation, I don’t like politics, I don’t see color, I don’t live there, I love everyone, I have Black friends). It can also look like acknowledging or validating the issue then simply saying you will pray for everything to be okay and then go back to life as normal.
I know these definitions will not sit well with many white people. But what’s more important is that our own discomfort and embarrassment at trying to decide what level of racism we use will not take away from your lifestyle, but it will change you. Admitting there is a problem and working to solve the problem will create less racial tension, not more.
If you’re white and you’ve made it this far you are likely angry. Acknowledge the anger, figure out why you’re angry and then try to move past it so you can listen and grow.
When my two sons are grown, I do not want people trying to make the same ridiculous arguments to try to discredit the next movement for Black equality. I don’t want there to be a reason to even have a “next movement”.
I want us white people to realize that Black people are not scary and do not hate us. I want us to realize that many Black people have been simply waiting for us to actually give enough of a damn to do something.