I deeply support the rising national movement to challenge racism and defund the police. I also believe in the importance of one of its central themes: Ending White Silence.
Many of us who are white have been silent for so long because we've been stuck in feelings of guilt and shame. For a while, I struggled with those things as well.
But then I realized that racism is not indicative of some inherent harmful nature within me that is simply natural. Rather, it has been given to me and my ancestors by some of the most powerful people in our society; and they have used it as a tool to divide and rule.
The politicians that they finance have told us that black and brown people are "super-predators," "thugs," "dangerous illegals," and "terrorists," and we've then gone on to vote those politicians into office.
Though the ruling class has consistently given white people various economic concessions throughout history in order to maintain our allegiance, when these business-backed politicians legislate, they primarily direct money in two directions:
1. To the pockets of the corporate elite through the suppression of unions and wages, tax breaks for the rich, cuts to vital social programs, inaction on curbing fossil fuel emissions, and much more (this hurts everyone, including us, even while it hurts folks of color the most).
2. Toward a police state and military industrial complex that is particularly oppressive towards people of color here and around the globe (to protect their ability to plunder while acting as if they are protecting us).
Over the last 40 years, this has largely been a bi-partisan effort. Democratic politicians of this era have mostly acted as "Republican-lite" with regard to their racialized political strategy and their stances on policing, incarceration, war, and the economy.
The results of all this? Countless black and brown people live in a state of siege and extreme oppression while the vast majority of us all live under deepening economic insecurity, the looming threat of climate collapse, and a system of policing that criminalizes poverty and turns against anyone who resists the status quo.
While those of us who are white are comparatively advantaged under this system of racial capitalism, we also have a life or death stake in ending it.
Today, thanks to decades of black-led organizing and consciousness raising, we are in a moment that perhaps offers greater potential for change than any before it. Masses of white people are finally hitting the streets and proclaiming that we will no longer buy into the lies that we have been told. We will no longer go along with this. Instead, we will join together with our siblings of color to create a society that invests in human well-being rather than state-sanctioned violence and corporate greed. We will begin by defunding the police and reinvesting their bloated budgets into truly effective forms of public safety, good jobs, education, health care, mental health services, and community uplift.
As Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor recently wrote,
"Police should not be armed with expensive artillery intended to maim and murder civilians while nurses tie garbage sacks around their bodies and reuse masks in a futile effort to keep the coronavirus at bay.”
To white folks who have not yet gotten involved in this struggle, this is a call encouraging you to do so in whatever way you are able.
It is also a call to deeply understand that our own survival in this increasingly unequal world depends on the success of this movement, too.
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