Friday, May 29, 2020

No Justice, No Peace - Minneapolis Riots

Its a hard video to watch, but George Floyd begged and pleaded with an agent of the government - who is charged with protecting life and property - to let him breath.

The cop kneeled on his neck casually, with his hands in his pockets. Like he was waiting for the city bus casually. And several other officers sat there and watched it all happen. Not a single one of them did anything to stop the officer.

Its murder by cop - and the other officers are accessories.

How many stories have we seen of the black man, in custody, killed by a cop now? I've lost track. Seriously, its that many.

Understandably, the riots started shortly thereafter. And now middle America and Trump supporters are wagging their fingers about how wrong the looting and rioting are.

Equating loss of property or a business to loss of human life is not only stupid beyond words - but its certainly not a "pro-life" stance by any stretch. 
The death at the hands of a police officer, a person in a position of public trust, is by no stretch of the imagination the equivalent of looting, rioting, protesting, or civil disobedience. 
A man was killed at the hands of an agent of government charged with keeping communities safe. To steal a line from Pulp Fiction of an iconic scene between Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield - “it ain’t the same ballpark, it ain’t the same league - it ain’t even the same fucking sport!”

Jules is right.

And a lot of people can't understand why people riot when they see injustices happen. You know why they don't understand?

Because they don't understand what its like to be shot because you're jogging. 

They don't understand what it is like to be tortured and then lynched, because you looked at a white woman. 

They don't understand what its like to have the cops called on them because they are on a university campus where they are a student, having a cook-out in the park, being black in a Starbucks, playing Los Tigres del Norte in a park, or bird watching in Central Park. 

Now that I think about it, white people don't seem to like any of us in parks...

But as a friend reminded me today...

I can't help but think back to Spike Lee's reaction to the question of why Mookie grabs the trash can and smashes the window of Sal's Pizzeria in "Do The Right Thing." 
Lee himself has said that in the 20-plus years since the films making, no black person -- or any person of color, quite frankly -- has ever asked that question. 

Only white people ask it. 

They don't get it. 

They never will. 

They have no experience of marginalization and oppression to draw from. They don't know what it's like to repeatedly see you and yours be kicked, demeaned, and killed. They don't know that rage that has to be targeted at someone's ownership of what you and yours probably don't have.

And this unrest and sometimes violent reactions...thats in our country's historical DNA. Looting and destruction of property...The Boston Tea Party is celebrated and called an act of patriotism now. 

The years of systemic and institutional racism felt by people of color in this 
country is what leads to acts of frustration. White people protested all over this country because the didn't want to stay at home anymore. They showed up to state capitals armed with assault rifles. That was their frustration from not being able to golf, play tennis, or go to NASCAR races. 

Now imagine the level of frustration they would feel if they lived in a county where they were born with two strikes against them, that had ever institution in the country treat them differently from healthcare, to education, to the justice system. 

Imagine what that frustration would feel like. How quickly it would build. 

No white people were harmed in those protests over opening up the economy where they showed up fully armed. The president asks the governor of Michigan to go easy on those protesters. Meet them, get to know them, etc. 

Meanwhile he tells black people that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". 


Louis M. said...

You are correct; 100% correct. I cannot draw on feelings of marginalization or oppression. I am white. I am a white male, in my sixties. If I was worried about my ancestry being an issue, I could change my name to something more anglicized than my current Sicilian name. People of color can't do that with their skin.

What I can do is be an ally to all who still do not have an equal seat at the tables of power. All Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter; bullshit. Until black lives matter, no lives matter. I don't know how this will be received, but you asked commenters to sign their name, here you go.

Louis Mondello, Jr.

C.D. said...

You know what it’s like to shot in the back?

How long was your recovery?

C.D. said...

Seriously, when were you shot in the back? What did it feel like? CD