About Ferguson, White Allies and Speaking Up When It Matters
A change is gon come. It doesn’t come easily and the people in power won’t let it happen without a fight. We’re watching the fight right now in its ugliest form in Ferguson, Missouri.
Tear gas, which the U.S. has banned in actual wars on other soils is now being used in our own land. A 90-year old Holocaust survivor was arrested as she was peacefully protesting. People are being shot with rubber bullets and members of the press have been detained and threatened with bodily harm (or death) for simply trying to document what is happening there.
All of this ALL OF GAHTDAMB THIS is happening because the Governor of Missouri and his fake ass one-minute men police force refuse to arrest one of their own who murdered an unarmed Black boy in cold blood, in the middle of the day in front of numerous people. Ferguson has been in a week-long war zone, with police instigating and perpetrating violence on people for exercising their Constitutional rights.
All of this is happening because as a Black man sits in America’s most valued house, Black people are being used as target practice. A Black man is in the White House and a white man can kill a Black boy because he’s the man in blue with a badge. Because every 28 hours, a Black person is killed by a police officer, security guard or vigilante.
Michael Brown was one, but we also have Renisha McBride. We got Ezell Ford. We got John Crawford. And we got… and… and. This list is far too long.
So Black people have more than earned the right to be infuriated beyond measure. But WE should not be the only ones who are horrified by what is happening in Ferguson and elsewhere in our country. And WE should not be the only ones raising our voices in angst.
I know that so many people are angered by what is happening but I want to take this time to ask that people who don’t look like Michael Brown or Me or Trayvon to speak up. The more melanin you have in your skin, the less protected you are in this country.
White allies, we need your voices. We need you to say that this is deplorable. Your silence does nothing and if you’re neutral on this, then you’re on the wrong side. Actually, your silence does do something. It says “It’s okay that this is happening.” That hurts us all. Speak up.
Everyone is not a writer, so I’m not asking for people to write essays. There are many ways to speak up (like Facebook, or Twitter) or even to your own family members. You see some of your friends talking sideways, challenge them on their wrongness. Or is that going to make things too uncomfortable? If you were comfortable before about the America you live in, you probably should be less settled after this last week.
Black people are going to continue to fight the system that doesn’t love us with or without the help of white people. That’s not even up for debate. We were manifested from ancestral excellence and we’ve overcome worse so we will overcome this. We bend but we do not break.
We’re not asking you to be white saviors BUT we could use the help of those of you who purport to be allies because it is your fathers, brothers, uncles and sons that are the face of oppressive force in the U.S. It’s your friends who spew the bullshit of “I don’t see race.”
Everyone can’t stand up the moment something pisses them off and we’re all different in how we react. Some people shut down because they don’t even know where to start. Some people need to know they’re needed before they speak. Some people just need a nudge to be emboldened to speak.
Well if you need that nudge, here it is. If you’re afraid because you don’t want to say the wrong thing, push past that fear. Because right now, your silence about the continued devaluation of Black lives is wrong. Your lack of acknowledgement is not ok. If you need tips before speaking out here’s 3: don’t blame the person who was killed. Don’t say you’re color-blind. Acknowledge the racism at play.
Speaking up when it matters is usually when it’s also the hardest. When your voice shakes, that’s when you’re standing in truth. But that’s usually when it is most needed. And when you do it, someone else might be encouraged to do the same. Do not be silent.
While white America "waits for the facts to come out," peaceful protestors in #Ferguson choke on tear gas night after night.
— Luke Harms (@lukeharms) August 19, 2014
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our “friends.”‘ – Martin Luther King Jr.
People I love and respect (journalist Aliya S. King and photographer/videographer Antonio Thompson) went to Ferguson to get the thoughts of residents there on what will happen when the media, Highway Patrol and the National Guard are gone.