I’m So Tired: Or How I Learned to Stop Trusting White People Who Don’t Know What It’s Like to Live on the Edge of A Warzone

This is America.

I want to preface this before I delve into what’s been happening in the past year that was last week: I am exhausted. If you want to argue in the comments about “my privilege”, that’s nice, expect to be blocked on social media. This is not up for debate. I have thoroughly researched this and it will be long. I am anti-cop. I am against racism. If you would like to do your pearl-clutching and say “But not all cops”, kindly fuck off. Pro-Trump? Read this entire thing. If it doesn’t change your mind? Fuck off.

Okay. There is a lot of good resources on the history of black culture in America. I am not going to rehash those. But I am going to highlight one in particular because some of us do not realize the anniversary of the Black Wall Street Massacre happened May 31-June 1. 99 years ago. In the massacre’s aftermath, 35 city blocks were left in charred ruins and 10,000 people were homeless. After the rampage, many Black Tulsans left the city in fear for their safety. And many Black and white residents who remained in Tulsa stayed silent about the tragedy for decades. 

Yeah, so if you think racism was solved in 1968 when the Civil Rights Act was passed. I’m undefined. There are so many black people who have died at the hands of police. And it isn’t just a few isolated incidents. This is CONSTANT. I watched the aftermath of Michael Brown in 2014 on CNN and was like “Maybe they’ll do something.” I was also naive.

Now, 6 years later, George Floyd has been murdered for being black while a white cop literally was grinning as he murdered him. In Minnapolis. On a block I frequent when I go downtown. Cops have never been my friend. My ex-boyfriend’s sister called them on me and forced me out of my home in New York City. I was forced from my home this past weekend because of the police’s reaction to the protests in Minneapolis.

Okay, so we have a dead black man. We don’t even charge the cop the minute it happens, so of course there are protests. They are peaceful until it is discovered that the police are not getting ambulances for the protesters who get injured by TEAR GAS, RUBBER BULLETS, and OTHER WEAPONS against UNARMED PROTESTERS. So what did they do? They looted Target, Walgreen’s, and Walmart in the area for medical supplies and food. Because the people who are supposed to “protect and serve them” are hurting them and laughing in their face.

George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. The officer who killed him? Didn’t get charged until May 29, 2020. FOUR DAYS. We all saw the video and oh, before you ask, no the three with him still have not been charged as of June 2, 2020.

Protests happen. They are peaceful, but then things turn violent. People from out of town and state start committing arson and looting. Not for medical supplies, but for televisions and other things. Framing the peaceful protesters as thugs and it worked. You all fell for it. I mean, even the Mayor of St. Paul explained what was happening and you all lumped all the looters in together: Mayor Carter says every single person arrested during the protests in Minneapolis on Friday night was from out of state and that while “there’s a group of folks that are sad and mourning” about Floyd, he says, “there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc.”

So what? What about people on the ground? I was forced from my home on Friday and stayed until today June 2, 2020 in a hotel because I was protecting my family. I drove by boarded up businesses. Police have always made me tense, but now? Even more so. I live in a warzone because white supremacists think it’s okay to loot while people are demanding justice. Let me show you what it’s like to be here in Minneapolis:

Devohn (27): I’m really proud of the Black and Brown youth that have been out there letting their rage be known. They saw Jamar Clark and Philando Castile and so many others be killed by the cops and the cop get away free. They grew up seeing that. But now they’re fed up in a way that is different than those times.”

Amy (21): I’ve been seeing a lot of peaceful demonstrations; the media isn’t covering the mass array of people protesting outside of looting and fires.

Miel: I’ve been at protests like this before, where the police were fully mobilized and retaliating against protests, but this was another level. It felt personal.

Devohn: Folks was getting tear-gassed and shot at while their hands were up. They’re gonna be angry after that and wanna wreck something. If anyone has agitated anyone, it has been the cops agitating the people.

Brandon: My girlfriend got hit in her backside with a rubber bullet. They just jumped out and started shooting without warning. Tear gas was all over the city. The police are jamming all live feeds, which actually made everyone communicate with each other even more.

Paige (24): People are misrepresenting these white supremacists as anarchists when, in reality, the anarchists in Minneapolis are doing community defense, mutual aid networks, and medic work. It’s a ploy to divide and conquer the people and stoke fear and mistrust.

Paige: There is a highly organized coalition of people providing jail support to arrested people and a LOT of street medics. This coalition of people are making shields out of street cones and garbage cans and using it to shield medics and shield people who have been knocked unconscious from the rubber bullets. There are all races of leftists/left-leaning people protecting minority-owned small businesses. … We had a coalition of BLM, anarchists, communists, and other lefties — as well as just some concerned citizens who live in the neighborhood — standing guard.

Brandon: I’m proud of our youth through all this. They were the main people on the front lines of the marching. From talking to a lot of them, they all seem to have the same answer: They are fed up! They realize that if this continues to happen, it’s going to be them the police are killing in the future. They are the ones that burned down the police station. Has that ever even happened before?

Brooklynn: This is a fat chapter in the history books no one will ever forget. This proves that white privilege is a thing they just need to be watched; they are like any one of us on the street, just protected with a badge. They chose to be a part of an institution that praises hurting Black people. It’s never been fair. This system was built to oppress, never to build.

I see a lot of white people saying that Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn’t approve of the riots and the looting for supplies. But his kids have basically laid that to rest on Twitter, but in case you need a refresher:

In his final book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, originally published in 1967, King wrote that “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”

Oh, hi person reading this!

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And it’s not just in Minneapolis. Other cities around the country and the world have joined us. But that means the police have also retalitated there too. “The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again on Saturday, as police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane.”

In addition: Images from these protests — including protesters dousing their faces with milk in order to temper the sting of the tear gas — underscore not only the intensity of the response, but a major contrast with the lack of force that’s been used in anti-lockdown protests at state capitols around the country, when the protesters were armed white men.

We have a right to assembly as Americans. It’s guaranteed by the First Amendment. But the police are hurting us. PEOPLE ON THEIR PORCHES. My friend in Seattle? They got tear gassed in their apartment. They didn’t even go anywhere and they were attacked by police. If you think it’s okay that the police are doing this, you are so wrong and terrible. Fuck off.

And I’ll tell you right now: Trump is not doing a good job. He declared war on his own citizens. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” is a terrible way to deal with this. Because it’s inherently racist: In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time. Headley was head of the police force for 20 years and referred to his “get tough” policy on crime during a 1967 news conference as a war on “young hoodlums, from 15 to 21, who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign. … We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”

Gross. And to all the older white people who keep telling me what they see on the news? You aren’t living it. The media is editing what you see. They are making it so that the protests look bad when they are peaceful and the police are attacking them, but sure, the protesters are the ones who are bad.

My generation is tired. We’re exhausted. We want change. We don’t need older generations telling us our time will come. I’m 33. My time is here. STEP THE FUCK TO THE SIDE. I’m not waiting until I’m in my 50s to have my time.

Oh and if you start with that black on black crime bullshit, I will screencap it and show all my friends how stupid you are. Because the police are never held accountable. They get a blank check to do what they want.

If violence is a political language, white Americans are native speakers. But black people are also fluent in the act of resistance. Attucks stood up to British tyranny. The numerous slave rebellions led by Gabriel Prosser, Charles Deslondes, and Nat Turner were all attempts to gain freedom with force. Throughout the 20th century, black Americans armed themselves in the face of white mobs and organized protection for their freedom marches. Accordingly, when George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others were killed by police, black people and their allies chose to rise up.

Oh, and antifa isn’t an organization. It stands for anti-fascist. So, if you’re cool with Hitler, you’re a fascist. If you’re not, congratulations, you’re antifa and the President of the United States just classified you as a terrorist. JOIN THE RESISTANCE.

And in case you saw Trump with a bible in front of St. John’s in Washington DC? The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who oversees the church, told The Washington Post that she found out about the visit when it was shown on television and that she was “outraged” by what she saw. She said she “was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love, and when everything he has said and done is to inflame violence.”

So there’s that too.

Oh and calling on the National Guard to take care of the problem via the Insurrection Act? That sets a dangerous precedent as well: The presence of National Guard forces is itself a foreboding development, but paired with the president’s late-night sanctioning of violence it is easy to interpret it as a direct threat to the lives of people rebelling in the name of justice. This presidential proclamation of open season on political dissidents is blood-chilling. He is attempting to frame acts of political rebellion through the lens of criminality, a move that can easily be interpreted as an attempt to justify further state-sanctioned violence against people rising up to protest exactly that — i.e., the government killing people.

Malcolm X said “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. You pull it all the way out — that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even begun to pull the knife out, much less try and heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” Trump, like so many of our leaders before him, has continued this legacy of historical silence on the knife in Black America’s back. Moreover, he seems intent on twisting the knife, on opening this wound further. The knife is very real and what has unfolded in Minneapolis this week is easily discernible as an expression of the pain it continues to cause.

So, before you condemn peaceful protesters, make sure you know the real story. A lot is going on, but if you only get your news from the media? You’re missing the bigger picture. Twitter is probably the best source for protest information if you aren’t in Minneapolis.

When we elected Donald Trump, we elected a political arsonist. The sole consolation of his presidency, in its early years, was that there was surprisingly little dry tinder. The economy hummed along, seemingly imperturbable. We faced few foreign crises. Domestic divisions remained mostly digital. This is not to dismiss real disasters or excuse cruel policies — from children thrown into cages to toxins dumped into our streams to the lethal mismanagement of Hurricane Maria — but it could have been worse.

The pandemic, fed by the Trump administration’s erratic response, has left more than 100,000 Americans dead — more than twice as many lives as we lost in the Vietnam War, and the count keeps rising. The economy is in free fall. The fabric of society has been cut and the federal government has failed to chart a path to a safe future. Then came the murders, one after the other: Ahmaud Arbery, hunted down by gunmen on a truck. George Floyd, pinned to the ground by an armed agent of the state, dying slowly and publicly. Breonna Taylor, gunned down in her home. And now, the protests and riots.

There is blood on the streets, cars mowing through crowds, buildings on fire, bodies being buried, police casually firing on the very people they are sworn to protect. And all of us, trapped at home, seeing things we can’t unsee, forced into the reckoning the country has always sought to delay. 

But all is not lost dear reader, because you can help: Don’t normalize police brutality. Put on your mask and go clean up if you live in a city that has experienced destruction at the hands of rioters. Meet your community leaders and ask how you can help. If you’re fortunate enough to still have a job, donate to bail funds for protesters, donate to civil rights groups, or donate to human rights groups.

If you can’t help directly: There are thousands of accounts of what’s happening in peaceful protests across the world; read them. Talk to your black neighbors about how their experience is different from yours. LISTEN. Be an ally. Don’t be silent. We all need to pitch in against police brutality.

This is America.

In case you were wondering.

Posted on June 2, 2020, in Cultural Sustainability, Personal Stories. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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