OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
I am in a state of total heartbreak, shock, and fury at what’s happening across the country, as I know you all are. I would love to be able to write something helpful, hopeful – something that would make sense of the total chaos we’re seeing everywhere. But none of this makes sense.
Remember when we were all united in our total and absolute condemnation of the cops who murdered George Floyd? What happened to him was inexcusable. And while we may not like the speed of our justice system, those cops were fired, one has been charged, and the investigation will continue. Protests about what happened were expected, and I’d say largely supported. It’s absolutely justified to protest what happened to George Floyd. And in Indianapolis yesterday, a large group gathered downtown to do just that. But when night started to fall? That’s when the opportunistic terrorists come out to do nothing but cause mayhem, chaos and mass destruction. And they are UNFORGIVABLE.
Unless, of course, you’re a celebrity like Chrissy Teigen whose way of helping is to BAIL THEM OUT OF JAIL.
The amount of white virtue signaling I’m seeing on social media is absolutely disgusting. Many people I know personally are excusing the violence – essentially saying it’s the logical result of systemic racism and the only way that protesters would ever be heard. Really? Tell that to Martin Luther King Jr., who’d be rolling in his grave right now. He never burned a building. He never looted a store. And yet, he changed the world.
One past co-worker of mine who was debating this entire issue with me and my sister on FB posted an 18 minute Trevor Noah video which has gone viral, in which he talks about the reasons behind the violence, and asks us all to understand it. My sister and I both reacted similarly – namely, we pushed back against that ABSOLUTE NONSENSE, because it offers NOTHING productive. My sister asked:
I can only do what I do in my corner of the world; vote for representatives who actually REPRESENT, call out racism when I personally see it and shame the hell out of anyone who exhibits it, treat others with fairness and respect and equality. I’m surrounded by a diverse group of people who do the same. I genuinely want to know what else I can possibly do, personally, to change the tide. It’s patently clear we’ve had a shit-ton of failed policies and rhetoric, with an equally useless string of BLM catchphrases and protests. When/where can we start to effect meaningful change? Literally and specifically? I ask that rhetorically but also interested to hear suggestions. Because frankly I have no idea what I can personally do, besides just continue to be a decent human, embrace integration and perform my civic duties. What else would you have me do? WHAT DO WE DO?!?!
And do you know what our co-worker’s response to this was, in part?
…I can only tell you what has worked for me. I grew up side by side with African Americans. As kids, we played together in the school yard. I was about 10 years old before I heard the first inkling that other people thought of blacks as an “other.”
I was blessed to go to a junior high and high school that was over 50% African American…
I had black friends and black boyfriends.
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I got to know them. I am still friends with them now.
Keep being friends to as many minorities as you can. Ask them what you can do?
Read a James Baldwin book.
See a movie with black stars.
What in the holy hell?
Have more black friends and see more black movies, y’all. As if my sister and are somehow sheltering ourselves from black people.
What a monstrous insult that was.
My black friends are speaking out against the violence. I don’t know what my co-worker’s black friends are doing – I’m assuming they’re rioting, since she’s so quick to give cover to the rioters’ behavior.
Let me give you an example of what my black friends are saying.
That post is from one of my best friends in the whole world. He’s the one who took me to Vegas to see Robbie Williams for my 50th birthday. He’s one of the smartest people in the universe, and I love him beyond words. He’s basically part of my family, and my sister and I would do anything for him, just like we know he’d do anything for us.
That’s from my friend and co-worker Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. I’ve known him since 2009 and he’s been my co-worker since 2013. We don’t agree on everything, but I respect him SO MUCH. And he’s a fantastic hugger. 🙂
I have to wonder – do their voices not count to the former co-worker who told me and my sister to get more black friends? Does the fact that they also condemn the rioters and the violence not mean anything?
I could post a zillion videos here from other black voices who are rightly outraged at what happened to George Floyd AND outraged at the violent response to it. Why anyone would excuse or try to explain away that behavior is mind-boggling to me.
Trevor Noah and my former co-worker want us to empathize with the protesters. And as I told her, I DO empathize with them and with their righteous cause. But they aren’t the same as the rioters, the looters, the terrorists. NO ONE should empathize with those people.
You know who I empathize with? This man, from after the protests in 1992.
And I empathize with this man:
If you watch one video about these protests please let this be it. This made me cry.
I have said since day one that this is nothing but a ploy by white liberals, which will destroy another generation of black youth. These #AntifaTerrorists are targeting black kids & neighborhoods pic.twitter.com/F5eykXOw8X
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) May 31, 2020
And this woman:
When you riot, you ruin the lives of innocent people. pic.twitter.com/hMi2RRNlsS
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) May 31, 2020
The white virtue signaling right now is almost as disgusting as the riots. Dismissing violent behavior is the same as encouraging it.