This period of time is very telling for the future trajectory of America. In the last decade, we’ve seen the murder of countless unarmed, innocent Black men and women in cities all over the United States. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit. We’ve lost the precious lives of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Devin Brown, Amadou Diallo, 7 yr old Aiyana Jones, James Deon Lennox, Imam Ameen Abdullah, 73 year old Bernard Monroe, and recently, Trayvon Martin.
All of these created some local buzzes, but seldom brought about the widespread outrage to demand justice, value or respect for Black communities and families. The case of 17 year old Trayvon and the shrouding in White silence of alarming. Let’s continue to encourage our fellow people to be brave, to have compassion, and to speak unapologetically against the toxic nature of racism and its impact on our society.
Why do issues in America matter only when White people choose to popularize and commodify them?
Whether it is the outrage surrounding “KONY 2012” demanding justice be brought to a “brutal African warlord”, the disgust with “savagely inhumane Japanese merchants” killing dolphins in “The Cove”, or lynch mob-like cries against the “vicious worthless animal killer” Michael Vick, racist Whites in America (disguised as liberals and progressives) influence the public discourse by taking obsessive interest in issues of injustice. Even the 99% movement is an example of how White voices can sway public opinion, especially when the Black voices surrounding these very issues have been ignored for generations.
Whites in the mainstream social media world know how to take on an issue and popularize it. With professionally produced songs, high budget videos, wristbands, shirts, shoes, portrait campaigns, the works. The problem with this fad-like obsessive interest is that it is most often emphasized and popular only when the alleged perpetrators are Black, Brown, or from other communities of color. My partner shared with me this morning that racism is just as much a product of inaction as it is an action. The silence of our White friends, colleagues, family members, and partners around issues perpetrated by White people is not going unnoticed. It is the smothering, dead silence around such issues that gives platform for these types of atrocities to happen all around us.
Now this isn’t a blanket statement for our White brothers and sisters, rather a challenge for them to rise to the occasion in support of their fellow human beings, a welcome to find what their unique contribution will be to the struggle for justice. White People: speak out not only when it is popular. Tell Trayvon’s story and the countless faceless and nameless Trayvons in your towns, whose spirit, bodies, and minds are murdered all around you. Your silence is complicity. Take a stand.
Enjoy a video that highlights White voice, power, and privilege by an anti-racist white scholar, Tim Wise. Share widely, especially with your White peers: