Birthday thoughts about the deaths of black men and women at the hands of police
Eric Olsen

Hm. Thanks for this piece, Eric. Thanks for your 'birthday thoughts’. I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically or sob because of this title. I think both.

I’m confused. In the first couple of paragraphs, you speak about the need to 'do’, but then the rest of the article just continues on about dead black people and the realization of your privilege. And? I’m going to start collecting these pieces on Medium like Pokémon, there are so many. Gotta catch em all!

Instead of posting pictures of dead black people and stating the obvious, how about contributing to a hot-button issue with some real education and a break down of systemic oppression? We keep talking about the symptoms, not the causes. We continue having televisions for brains.

We already know about your privilege as a white person. Congratulations. Everyone seems to know about white privilege and white racism but white people. For like 700 billion years already. Great. Now what?

On the other hand, while senseless murder should never be condoned, we rarely speak of the personal lives of some of the slain. Some of whom were not at fault, but also some of whom had lengthy police records and were purported to be police informants. The hood is a very tangled web as well (that sometimes provides causation for police presence). A lot of hoods actually since poverty seems to go hand in hand with high crime. Poverty knows no race and neither does crime.

Race and racial relations in the United States is an incredibly complex issue. Something like Bacon’s Rebellion, in that historians still don’t even agree what happened or how to properly describe it. The complexity goes beyond writing about how everyone needs to 'do' and 'recognize their privilege’. And then what? And then what? I ask. Give up your seat at the privilege table so someone else can sit down? I know the likelihood of that. It may hurt, but I respect when people tell the truth more.

Blacks and other minorities account for some murders and murderers, sure, but they also account for a large percentage of people who clean your homes, work in hospitals, sit at concierge desks outside of your homes, serve your food, take care of your children and disabled, drive your buses and trains, account for a large percentage of pop culture and sports teams … hm. I’d be afraid in that sense too. There’s power in that actually.

I think the question one should ask oneself as a non-minority is: what do you think would happen amongst white people and other non-blacks were there no black people anymore? No constant scapegoat? There’d be a group elected to take black people’s place, of course.

When you do nothing in the face of real injustice, what makes you think other people who likewise don’t look like you care about your personal problems? Unfortunately, the also downside of being white is that many of your problems are cruelly relegated to a bin of 'white people’s problems’. Ach. What a mess.

I want you to know that if it’s not blacks, it’s Asians, it’s Latinos, it’s all of you who are not white. A white racist who hates black people is not too far off from hating other marginalized groups. Just remember that on his birthday, folks. It’s a pity party after all.