No one isn’t seeing this.
Reporting on the Minneapolis protests is focusing overwhelmingly on rioting and destruction, largely without consideration of how aggressive policing of peaceful protest heightens the potentiality for violent clashes between civilians and agents of the state. This reporting does a disservice to the frustrations of people trying to be heard amid the deafening silence of a government complicit in the destruction and marginalisation of black lives.
The protesters in Minneapolis have a constitutional right to peaceful protest. That same right was exercised by demonstrators during the Women’s March earlier this year. Only one of these groups has been met with the preemptive threat of militant state force. Hint: it’s not the (overwhelmingly white) women wearing pink hats. The officers being placed in the path of demonstrators in full riot gear are actively obstructing peaceful protest in an already singularly incendiary situation, and it has escalated. We have seen video evidence of the police escalating confrontations and repeatedly firing the first shot.
Inaction from non-black people in the face of racial injustice of this monumental proportion is nothing less than complicity in a global system that serves and protects YOUR white privilege. We continually witness how that privilege emboldens some to call the police as a weapon against black bodies (see Amy Cooper in Central Park), and others, to kneel on the neck of an unarmed black man until he no longer has the air to say ‘I can’t breathe’.
It is very easy to think about how far away meaningful change feels, how gargantuan the actions needed to get there, and to wilt in utter despair – speaking from the sun-soaked English suburbia I’m currently living in which feels like a parallel universe to the teargas-filled, smashed up streets so many Americans are fighting and surviving in right now. Watching videos of protestors being attacked in my bed at 2am until I cry will help no one. I have felt a world removed, as though my hands are literally tied. But they are not.
It is okay to not know how to act or where to start. As long as you engage with empathy and in solidarity, anything you have the power to do is a good thing. If you have white privilege – use it. Use whatever privilege your race, gender, religion or sexuality affords you to lift those that you see oppressed.
You can donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, raising bail for those arrested for protesting the murder of George Floyd. Murder is a word we need to get used to using in these situations. Not manslaughter, not tragic death, not unlawful killing – m u r d e r. It should make you at the very least uncomfortable.
You can also donate to the Black Visions Collective or Reclaim The Block, organisations suggested by the MFF that are working to lift up black communities and end police brutality. Donating to Black Lives Matter supports their global network spanning the US, the UK and Canada.
Remember that it is not the job of people of colour to educate us. No person of colour is obliged to be your teacher. You can educate yourself widely about racial injustice. Sign petitions, read books, watch films, consume culture created by people of colour. James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison. See the world and their communities as they do and let their anger consume you.
Read. Learn. Donate. Advocate.
Educate yourself and put your money where your mouth is if you can.
I don’t have any answers and I don’t feel qualified to comment on this moment. I have never been persecuted because of the colour of my skin. But my ignorance does not absolve me of the duty I feel to wield my privilege in solidarity with those that are suffering.
We can but try, and try we fucking must. This cannot go on.
#BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd
Some preliminary actions, readings + resources I have used, for folk wanting to learn and assist:
See links above for organisations and funds you can donate to in aid of those arrested for protesting the murder of George Floyd
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad – order and support a northern community-run bookstore at the same time
Rough Draft NY has compiled a good preliminary reading list
Maragang are donating 100% of profits from sales of their Hot Summer Nights tee to BLM from tomorrow. The kind of localised vocals and support we need to see.
Some educators and activists you can find on Instagram:
Mona Chalabi – I refer to her infographics a lot
^^ These educators utilise their space and disseminate their resources on their terms. If you cannot respect that, please don’t wade into their comments with your take on how there must be a ‘better way’ (with regards to rioting and looting). Civil, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights have all historically progressed from similar moments of unrest. Their virtual space is not yours to whitewash or wage a war of civility.