Yite Folks Responsibility

An unapologetic reminder from the core leadership of Black Lives Matter Louisville, a chapter of the BLM Global Network organizing in Kentucky…

There was a community meeting at a church on Saturday, October 27th, 3 days after Maurice Stallard, Jr and Vickie Jones lost their lives at the hands of a white male terrorist. The scene that night wasn’t unlike most we’ve attended. Folks gather together, talked about how they were feeling, and tried to make some sense of whatever is “happening”. The events that transpired in a Kroger in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, specifically the murder of two Black people in cold blood, were a different conversation all together. Still, the crowd huddled in front of news cameras looking for the next hot story and did what they could to talk through grief and frustration.

I commend them for their honesty and spirit that night. One of the reporters shouted “What’s the solution?” and, admittedly it is an actual logical question to be asked.But... asking a bunch of grieving Black people to solve this problem for you, the media, is probably not the move.

Black people globally suffer indignities that are often so horrendous that the scars have been left on the genetics of the children. Generational trauma isn’t the newest and hottest topic to rove around schools of anthropology and psychology. The intentional wholesale slaughter of Black people is not only historical truth but cultural and economic tradition that we protect with laws and bullets. Whatever happens should probably be formed by the experiences of a group of people who have historically been maligned and murdered, without a doubt. Black people should have a lot to say about what it means to eradicate white supremacy and you should definitely hear it with open ears and a shut mouth.

But while freedom from this plague certainly should come for everyone who suffers underneath it, the problem doesn’t belong to Black or Brown folks. White people have benefitted from the fruits of this oppression and, due to those benefits need to steel themselves for the long toil of removing it. We must be honest about the state of this union. The state of this union is a state of hate. The foundation of this State is hate, and it begins with the dispossession of Indigenous peoples and lands, the physical and cultural genocide of the First Nations, the forced displacement and enslavement of African peoples, anti-Blackness and the white supremacist cishet patriarchy. It is not hard to see how these foundational building blocks inform the current social conditions and levels of hate we are living in the wake of.

Over the course of this State’s existence, hate has been transmuted many times, its flavor and texture change, but at its essence the insidious nature of it remains. This apparatus of Anti-Blackness has operated through slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, the rise of the prison industrial complex, the CIA’s campaign to introduce crack cocaine into communities and the subsequent War on Drugs, to the most current conditions of police terrorism and white folk criminalizing Blackness for daring to exist (see #PermitPatty and #BBQBecky.) Precisely because of this apparatus, the work of Black Lives Matter and Black Liberation must persist. We are under the stress of constant surveillance, criminalization, fear of death and institutionalized racism which limits our abilities and access to equitably housing, jobs, clean water and environments in which to thrive.

There should be ZERO expectation that Black folks will carry any of this load WITH you, white people. Some folks might be down to help, but you should see that as a bonus you consistently repay yet never expect. White supremacy can remain protected enough to stay gilded in words like civility and phrases like “rule of law” if White folks are willing to hide behind them. But what is civil about what that grandfather [Stallard] experienced? What his grandson witnessed? What’s civil about a governor who has embraced the political leader who called for violence while demanding it of a justifiably wounded city? When the rule of law only protects one class and race is it truly protection? Is it really law at all? Yaw, praying ain’t gon cut it.

Instead, embracing words like abolition and healing are tools we can use to understand what we’re fighting for and what our communities actually need for what is coming. Everything from the rise in climate-related disaster to the destructive power of a militarized foreign policy come at a disproportionately heavy price for Black and Brown people, particularly along class lines, and all signs are pointing to a desperate grab for power by those that willingly take advantage of disaster. We’ve already had centuries of this destructive nonsense and the results were clear long before two Black folks were slain in a Jeffersontown Kroger.

So, as someone else said recently, how long will White folks wait to see their role in this story? Will they save their own lives? After all, the only thing the fascist Right loves more than harming Black people is harming those that refuse to convert to their perverse ideology. To them, race traitors are more dangerous than anyone else… and they aren’t just defined by those that go to a rally or commit money to GoFundMe for someone.

Supremacy or accountability. You choose.