Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Sound of Silence Beneath an Ocean of Denial

              (photo credit: Marine Mining on Investing News Network 2010)                                                                                                                         

So, I’ve had some things rolling around in my head for the last few weeks, questions that I hope to receive honest answers to.

Due to emotions running high over the latest police killings of black men, the assassinations of five police officers in Dallas by a sniper, and another three in Baton Rouge, LA (both shooters ex-military) a few days ago, I’ve been having some, shall we say spirited online conversations.

The most challenging have been with white individuals who seem to prefer in these times to defensively respond with #allivesmatter, believing that saying #blacklivesmatter is exclusionary and racist.

During the back and forth expressing our opinions and facts as we see them, complete with links to sites and memes sure to prove the other wrong, I have noticed a common thread in all of these interactions.

I asked for their thoughts about the #crimingwhilewhite phenomenon from a couple of years ago when thousands of white people took it upon themselves to share online, actions they committed over the years without so much as any rough treatment by police. One I read said they even received a friendly police escort home to ensure their safety.  This person had been drinking!   Many of these personal stories included eyewitness accounts of seeing their black friends get treated like criminals for some of the same behavior, or simply “looking suspicious”. 

Another was a Facebook friend who took it upon himself to create a mini #crimingwhilewhite list on his own page, asking for his fellow white friends to share examples of their privilege on his wall, beginning with himself.  The list was long and their empathy great.

Then I asked my discussion partners for their opinions about the fact that many police officers, public officials, and even some conservative republican politicians,are admitting that there is, in fact, a racial bias against blacks (men especially) in this country, and racism is indeed institutional and systemic to our society.  No matter how subtle it may seem or how non-existent (because they are not on the receiving end) it may seem in the minds of some.

So, in their responses and attempts to discount most of what I’d shared, (and there were many) none of them ever acknowledged the situations I’ve listed above.  
Not. One. Single. Person.

Not even a response of disagreement or dismissal.  It was as if I never mentioned those facts at all.

Maybe they didn’t see them?  Maybe they did but simply believed that those individuals made it all up.  

ALL those #crimingwhilewhite contributors, cops, public officials (one a governor) and conservative political leaders (who aren’t exactly known for being too publicly vocal about racial discrimination issues) simply LIED. For what?

What would they have to gain by going to all that trouble? When it comes to police officers releasing info about the racist attitudes and treatment they see, it means putting their jobs and possibly their lives in jeopardy.

During these chats, it hasn’t been uncommon for some to request ceasing to continue these conversations after I’ve shared the above info.   

Maybe because the facts don’t fit the narrative they’ve been conditioned to believe, they refuse to engage?

It looks as though many have convinced themselves, and attempt to do so with people of color like myself, that it’s best to just move forward, pretend our country’s racist founding never happened, (or that it wasn’t that bad) come together, and stop being so divisive.  Or, stop playing the race card.  
Tactics used to attempt to silence us.  To those statements, I ask what (or who) is really at the root of this division? Who created that deck of cards in the first place? I think we all know.

I do find it interesting that we are never encouraged to forget and move on from the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  In fact, the very slogan for that terrible day is “Never Forget.”

Why are brown and black people expected to just let go of the past and move on when it comes to the atrocities committed against us by our own country, yet not those that are perpetrated against the U.S. by others? 

In my opinion, if it’s so essential to study and remember the events in our history like the terrorist attacks of 9/11, World Wars I and II, and many others (which I believe is necessary), then we should also with just as much determination, acknowledge and work together to dismantle systems of oppression, many of which have their foundations in white supremacy. 

Pretending these problems don’t or no longer exist will ironically keep us trapped in these realms of divisiveness that many say are caused by people like myself and others who refuse to stay silent, no matter how emotionally uncomfortable it gets.

So yes, if anyone out there can present logical explanations or answers to my questions on these issues, I’m all ears. Seriously.