I don’t do much politics on this blog, usually because I’m insufficiently informed to write anything particularly illuminating. But the ongoing protests, which I support, must not be ignored. I wanted to avoid performative posting, which seems to permeate social media, but I suppose I’m failing, so at least I’ll keep it brief.
I wish the abuse and murder of Black people would stop. I am White; I am trying to listen/read and learn, and I help out with donations. Battling deeply ingrained systemic racism is an ongoing issue, one that takes empathy, constant vigilance, and continued education.
I don’t have much original to say, and this isn’t about me anyway, so here are some links that might be of interest/use.
And a couple slightly more uplifting links:
OK, I checked out the Emmanuel Acho tweet, to see what I can do to help. I listened for 9 minutes to history that I actually know; I’ve been reading about police abuse in ACLU newsletters and libertarian magazines and whatnot for nearly 20 years. I donate to organizations that engage in lobbying and court battles to try to address this. I have supported the work of people who investigate police misconduct. I never, EVER vote for a former prosecutor in judicial races. I basically never vote Republican.
But that video doesn’t tell us about anything tangible that we can actually do. It just recounts things that are so easy to learn about that I managed to do so 20 years ago without ever going to an “allyship workshop” or whatever is now trendy. It doesn’t actually suggest anything concrete to _do_ beyond acknowledge the obvious: Cops treat black people like shit and get away with it.
Yet I see too many people listen to a video like that and they come away being all “It’s SOOOO important for us white people to be allies. You need to acknowledge and listen and yadda yadda.” And I’m thinking, look, I can listen and acknowledge, I can use whatever lingo you want me to use, but cops don’t care. The reality is that while my white skin definitely does cause cops to avoid hurting me, it doesn’t cause them to listen to me. They don’t give a shit. I can say the word “systemic racism” all day long and the DA still won’t charge cops for obviously wrong shootings, and the police union will STILL ensure that they are back on patrol with no bad marks on their records.
If the question is whether, in the presence of a black person, I should be nice and listen, well, yeah. Duh. In the presence of an individual I can, for their comfort, listen and say only what will make them most comfortable, and we’ll leave aside for now whether I can pull that off in a way that doesn’t come across as patronizing. But guess what? The cops don’t care. The cops only care if they get in trouble. I’ve been donating to all the right causes for nearly 20 years, and encouraging others to do likewise, and the cops still don’t care.
So I’m tired of all these white people on the internet going on about how we white people need our consciousness raised. I’ve been conscious of this shit for 20 years. I’ve been donating and whatnot for 20 years. It doesn’t matter. You can say it isn’t about me, you can say that I should just shut up and listen anyway, but if it really isn’t about me then how does it matter if I am unimpressed, or if I don’t choose to adopt whatever new lingo and say “Thank you so much for sharing that” to people who want to talk about raised consciousness?
TL;DR Enough listening. What else can we actually DO?
@Alex Re: “What else can we actually do?” I don’t know, man. Maybe just try to not be in the way of those who do seem to be making strides? I admit I don’t see what the endgame is at the national level or if there is one, but I’m not a particularly astute political observer.
I’m not in anybody’s way. And I don’t know what strides are being made by the scolds telling me to think differently.
The only strides seem to be made by the people in the streets. Maybe I should make time to join them. Politicians seem to listen to people packing the streets more than they listen to people saying that we need to change our lingo.
I am not scolding anyone. Do what you feel is right. I hope the protests do indeed make some strides before the movement runs out of steam.
I know you aren’t a scold. I’m just expressing frustration with the stuff out there.
Those McSweenys articles are amazing.
In terms of what to do, there’s an infinite amount. Start with giving money to a bail fund. Work on all the things you can do to make sure the next election is free and fair because we need to sweep the racists out. 5calls.org is one place for scripts and phone numbers. Celeste_p on Twitter (celeste pewter) also has up to date actions and scripts. Get on mailing lists for special interest groups—they will periodically email you with concrete actions. Write letters to voters with votefwd. Once postcards to voters gets its next campaign, sign up with them (blm spillovers meant lots of volunteers so they ran out of addresses). There’s so much. You can stop by our blog on Saturdays or read the comments section to find out what we’re doing.
Btw, moderation is on for this post, because I have no idea what types of comments I can expect and I don’t want the thread to go completely off the rails. Apologies to regular commenters for whom the moderation might result in a small but possibly annoying delay.
update: postcards to voters has more addresses loaded now
Slightly tangent, but Twitter, particularly Academic Twitter, is quite performative (a word I don’t use that often, so thanks for forcing me to look it up 🙂 ), especially with broadcasting one’s latest journal article, which seems almost obligatory to some PIs and is often not engaging, easily pushed down in the feed. Will the woke calls for justice suffer the same fate?
Goddamn it x, there you go making me cry again. Thank you for mcsweenys links. On point as always.
I don’t know if Alex will see this, but in reply to what one can actually *do*
Connect to some advocacy groups in your area. Get on their email lists, follow them on facebook, whatever. And when they put out an announcement like “Call/email the city council and urge your city council member to do X, here’s the script,” do that.
In the past two weeks I’ve called and emailed my city council members, the city council members of the city right next to me [City A], the school board for for City A asking that they take cops out of schools (they voted a couple of days later to do exactly that), the Parks Board for City A asking that police no longer staff park events (and a day later at their meeting they voted to stop hiring cops), my school board asking that they take cops out of schools, my governor asking that the AG prosecute a local case instead of the DA, etc
I posted the letters I wrote to FB and a couple of my friends liked them and used them as templates to write their own letters.
Examples I see in my city of people taking action to improve the safety of their institutions for people of color include
– 2 museums & 1 music venue said they would stop hiring off duty cops for security
– the student body president of our local state university wrote an open letter asking the president of the university to stop hiring the local PD for security, within one day that action was taken
– one of the local pizza institutions stopped their police discount
Think about what you could do from where you are and within your community. Hell, KPop twitter protected lives when they flooded police info lines with KPop (https://mashable.com/article/dallas-police-app-iwatch-spam-kpop-fancams-protests-black-lives-matter/). See how you could be the person saying “lets hire a Black owned vendor for X.”
Research what local people of color are trying to do and how they feel, and do what you can to support their effort.
Also, a huge one, ***donate***
Alex, reading your comment in more detail, I want to be more specific in my suggestions.
“The reality is that while my white skin definitely does cause cops to avoid hurting me, it doesn’t cause them to listen to me. They don’t give a shit. I can say the word “systemic racism” all day long and the DA still won’t charge cops for obviously wrong shootings, and the police union will STILL ensure that they are back on patrol with no bad marks on their records.”
This is partly why the effort to move money from police departments to community programs is gaining a lot of traction. Lots of reform efforts haven’t works, so a lot of people are now moving to use City Councils (and whoever else controls police budgets) to make change via the budgetary process. (City Council politics are hyper local and generally more responsive to the community.) Instead of funding police, we could fund things that help prevent crime and programs that better respond to the needs of the community.
Thing that prevent crime include affordable housing, mental health resources, addiction recovery services, youth services. Things that help make sure people are able to meet their economic needs and have strong relationships within the community.
Better responses than having cops show up: domestic violence response team, sexual assault response team, etc. We have kinda farmed out every discomfort and apprehension to the police, and they can’t deal with all of those problems well.
Also, I specifically asked my city council to:
– Suspend use of paid admin leave for cops under investigation
– Withhold pensions and don’t rehire cops involved in excessive force
– Require cops to be liable for misconduct settlements
– Cap overtime accrual and OT pay for military exercises
– Withdraw participation in police militarization programs
I hope that is helpful in some way.