Observations from Inside the Leftist Bubble: Hypocrisy, Ignorance, & Woeful Denialism in the Wake of the 2016 Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Shootings
We Must Do Better.
I am appalled by all the “what has happened to America?!” . . “what has become of our country?!” posts in my feed. Newsflash: this has ALWAYS been America for black people. I can’t think of a more privileged response to what has happened in the last two days than utter denial. The only thing that has happened to America is that now we all go around with devices attached to our palms that enable us to record these atrocities and live feed them to our Facebook and Twitter followers. Black parents have been coaching their black sons on how to submissively interact with the police since Jim Crow. And before that??
Gun culture is pervasive, yes, and concealed carry everywhere certainly makes all of us more on edge and absolutely makes it harder for good cops (the vast majority) to do their job, but we are just as racist a society as we always were — despite electing Obama, despite worshiping Oprah, despite listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates on NPR (admit it, you never actually read the reparations piece) or retweeting John Lewis or FB sharing Jesse’s Wiliams’ BET speech.
Well, actually, another thing has changed. Now we have a party embracing and on the verge of officially nominating a blatant racist to the presidency and all that dormant (and explicit) hate is officially sanctioned and all those hateful racists now have a platform and a candidate that makes them sleep better knowing that they are not alone in wanting to make America great again. Sure, they can hide behind his trade policy proposals and say that is why they like him, not because he will ban Muslims, deport 11 million “illegals”, build a wall to keep out Mexicans (who are pretty much leaving more than they are coming these days), tweet Mussolini quotes, refuse to disavow David Duke, mock a disabled reporter, etc., etc. NO, they like him because he’s gonna bring back American manufacturing jobs! (Sorry, that ship has sailed and FYI his trade talk sounds a whole lot like Bernie’s so maybe you’re actually a socialist).
They say they don’t believe he’ll actually build the wall or forbid Muslims from entering the country. I don’t either, but they’re missing the point. They say that those aren’t the reasons they support him and they aren’t racist, he’s just not Hillary and that’s all that matters. I call bullshit. His unlimited and free media coverage and massive crowds can be attributed to those very incendiary things he says so please don’t say that you support him — despite all his flaws, despite all his idiosyncrasies — simply because of her emails. Hillary’s no angel but she’s hardly the worst inside the beltway and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen “carelessness” and dishonesty before — aka Bush and friends’ manufacturing of Saddam’s WMD and the subsequent invasion and occupation of and debacle that is Iraq. (That was worse. Like, Way. Fucking. Worse)
And, all this hate of the “other” coupled with an armed to the teeth society a la Wayne LaPierre et al. is obviously not working. If an armed society is, indeed, a polite society than Alton Sterling and Philando Castile would be alive. We have enough guns for every man, every woman, and every child in America so, once and for all, let’s reject the absurd assertion that more guns make us safer. The NRA vision of everyone carrying everywhere has helped drag us to this pathetic place and we need to reject and dismantle that vision. For the conspiracy theorists, before you get your cammo in a bunch and shout false flag, go turn off Fox and Alex Jones and pick up a book because that slippery slope would have to be greased with pure oil for a rollback of concealed carry to ever lead to 2nd Amendment repeal. They are lying to you to make more money and while you drink their kool-aid and they exploit your ignorance the death toll rises and the polarization deepens and the hate solidifies and becomes OK.
But, again, this isn’t new for black people. And it didn’t start when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, or when Jordan Davis was shot because his music was too loud for another Florida white supremacist or when Eric Garner was chokeholded to death by cops on Staten Island or when Freddie Grey was mysteriously killed in police custody in Baltimore or when police left Michael Brown’s dead body uncovered in the Ferguson, Missouri, streets for hours for the entire neighborhood to see or when Sandra Bland allegedly committed suicide in a Texas prison or when 12-year old Tamir Rice was shot by police for holding a toy gun in a Cleveland playground or when Akai Gurley was shot by a rookie cop while walking in a dimly lit hallway in Brooklyn or when Rekia Boyd was shot by an off-duty cop for being in a Chicago park at night with other black people or when Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times in 13 seconds, also in Chicago, by an officer who knew he had only a knife and that taser back up was on the way or when Walter Scott ran — his back to the officer — and was shot dead in North Charleston OR when Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman at age 14.
This is not new and these are not isolated incidents — this is standard operating procedure in this country for black people. So save the “How did we get here?” narrative and do something tomorrow to make it stop. Like, get off social media and have a face-to-face conversation with someone who looks nothing like you, make eye contact with them, speak in sentences rather than emojis. And do it fast because we cannot hashtag our way out of this.
This is a unique American moment. In the midst of a racial crisis we can begin to peel the layers of white supremacy and race-based inequality away and condemn our original sin and every ripple effect it has spawned — from mass incarceration to systemic bias to police shootings of unarmed black men. A gun obsessed, over-armed society and militarized police — absolutely. But, racism and hate are the prevailing threads woven through the fabric of America right now. The denial must stop.
If you are white and this all makes you sad, but mainly uncomfortable, or if you are white and cannot believe the downward spiral that is America, then you probably don’t get it.
If you argue that all lives matter and trot out the black-on-black crime trope then you most certainly do not get it.
You hear their cries, but you aren’t listening to their message. You watch, but you aren’t seeing what is happening to them, now and for generations.
As Michael Eric Dyson wrote in his op-ed in the NY Times today, “Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.