George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery—say their names.
Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin—say their names.
We could dedicate entire articles to names and stories of our brothers and sisters of color that have been killed by cops and white supremacists. And yes, we should continue to remember their names and stories. And yes, it is our responsibility to stand up in these times—to donate, to call representatives, to sign petitions, to post affirmations to Black Lives Matter—but we need to be on the streets as well.
We need to be physically present at protests, put our bodies in the front lines, and walk alongside our Black neighbors. We need to see with our eyes and hear with our ears. We need to experience the system of racist oppression that white America has inflicted on the Black community. We need to feel it and know it to fight it.
History (albeit obscured from our national story) proves that the institutions of prisons and policing adopted racist systems to control and enslave Blacks after the Civil War and the “emancipation” of slaves. And even today, these institutions are not broken; they are working as they were intended.
Over the years, the rules have changed to fit the times so that white supremacy could inflict as much racist persecution as the most liberal, white person could stomach. So here we are, my fellow liberal, white friends, this is what we can stomach: mass Black incarceration, illegal police search and seizure of Black peoples and property, police brutality, and the murder of Black people.
Why hasn’t this made us sick sooner?
The excuses are many. Our liberal, white privilege assumes our fear takes precedence over the lives of Black people. We move to the suburbs and vote for schools to be based on property taxes for the protection of our children. We avoid “those neighborhoods” as if there were a pestilence. Even the most benign middle-class Black neighborhoods are feared. We have allowed the media to frame Black victims as aggressive or deserving of violence, and influence our self-righteousness or apathetic reactions.
We have become like codependent wives of an abusive husband, putting the blame on the victim so that we do not have to leave our comfortable bubbles and see the cruelty that we have sanctioned.
It is time for us to puke out our inner Karen. It is time for us to bend the knee. And it is time for us to be accountable to the Black community.
Join Black Lives Matter on the steps of your city hall. Demand that your city prosecutes police brutality and murder, defunds the police, and ends mass incarceration (beginning with the closure of all private prisons). Please read more articles on all of these topics; it’s essential.
Follow Shaun King and his podcast, “Break It Down,” on social media platforms because he will educate and give you action steps to promote change.
Let’s get out of our houses, meet our Black neighbors, and invest in their communities.