Dear White People,
it happened again. Another murderer got away because of white skin and a shiny badge. We drive around with our white skin and our shiny cars, mere passersby to injustice on the streets. We sit in our white houses with our shiny lives and ignore the systematic burning of a people to the ground. In both Missouri and New York, we like our white snow and our shiny presents, having the luxury of not caring that outside, it’s cold. We’ve got our white skin and our shiny privilege. We don’t have to worry about frostbite.
Look, I know. I know. I make generalizations. White people are also poor. White people are kind. White people suffer. White people care.
White people built this whole fucking country to be poor in and to be kind in and to suffer and care in ’cause we stole it from yet another people without our skin tone.
We established that this was the best country, our country, and disallowed anyone else access to that pronoun. Even when we shipped human beings over like Fedex two-week arrival packages. “Here, Mary Sue, I got you a nice black girl to help you and Ma with your dresses.” “But Daddy, I wanted the other black girl, with the different nose!”
It is horrible. It is insensitive. It is true.
Slaves could be shot for trying to run away. Apparently this is still true when it comes to white police masters. And those police will not be indicted, because after all, they were just trying to subdue their property. They know what those black skins are like. You can’t reason with them. Just gotta bring ‘em down, bloodshed be damned. It was their own damn fault for running away and resisting anyway.
Please excuse me while I go vomit. Alternatively while I go chop off my fingers, because they hate themselves for ever having to write those words.
White people, this is who we are. Maybe not you, individually. But as a people, this is what we have filled history with stories of. This is the name we have made for ourselves.
And I really don’t fucking like it.
We try to make a difference. We volunteer. We tweet. We write fucking blog posts. But none of these are going to pry the arms off the neck of a dead black man. And in the end, that’s really what we needed to do. Before the suffocation even happened.
I am a thin, white female. If a man tried to touch me and I screamed at him not to, but he persisted anyway, it would be the police’s job to come and save me, because in my case, that man’s actions would have been labelled assault. The police damn well know there are other ways to arrest a noncompliant but nonviolent person. And no way in hell do they want the upper-middle class parents of a white girl coming after them and saying one of their male officers assaulted me. Noooo way in hell would they let that come even close to happening.
Change me into a black man and apparently none of that matters anymore.
If a man held me down and suffocated me after I’d screamed and screamed that I couldn’t breathe, and the coroner fucking ruled it a homicide, there would indictments and apologies from the police department and a mass outcry at the unthinkable wretchedness of it all. I would be a martyr, not an example. That police officer wouldn’t even get to be a mall cop. He’d be in jail. Twenty-five years to life.
Change the color of my skin and my genitalia, and apparently this all isn’t even worth a trial.
This is not justice. This is bias, prejudice, flat out hatred in our goddamn justice system.
What do you do when the laws are broken?
What do you do when we are broken?
And what do you do when that brokenness causes us to break other people?
Kill them, even.
I don’t know what to do. I wish I did. Apologies stopped cutting it about twenty black-victim homicides ago. But… I don’t know how to make us better. I as an individual am trying to do the damn best I can to check my privilege and help as appropriate. I know there are others, hordes of others, who are doing the same. But apparently these hordes are not in the justice system. Or if they are, apparently they decided that the tougher incidences like these are when they should sit down and shut up and pretend like suffocating a black man who uses words like “please,” “officer,” and “sir” is a perfectly reasonable things to do.
I don’t know how to prod us all in the back, to fucking wake us up any time we’re being idiots or accomplices to murder. We’ve lost all the sticks because we made our slaves bundle them up and throw them into our hearth fires a long time ago. We, the collective we, white people, have made this a country of white people first, everyone else be damned if you haven’t made yourself as otherwise white as possible. And it’s not okay. This is so fucking not okay.
We said we were founding this country on equality and justice. We’ve got about two hundred and thirty eight years that say that’s not what we did. White people, we have failed.
Maybe it’s time we got the fuck out. Literally, metaphorically… I don’t know. But nobody else seems to either, because we’ve got a two hundred and thirty-eight year old problem here.
And when everything is white and shiny, it’s hard to see through the glare and notice that.