8th Ward Independent Democratic Association Meeting causes controversy.

When the pen and the voice are more powerful than the sword.

by Katherine HawkerSelf

October 16, 2015 – St. Louis, Mo.

Last night a local Democratic party invited Jeff Roorda to be their guest speaker. And the meeting was...well, it wasn't.

Roorda is the business manager for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s  union and an outspoken supporter of ‪‎Darren Wilson‬, the Ferguson Police Officer who shot Michael Brown. Roorda is also the violent bully that attacked a black woman who simply happened to be standing in the aisle he wanted to charge at a public meeting in St. Louis City. Despite her injuries, despite the melee that his action caused, despite innumerable eyewitness testimonies, the city would not press charges. Now he's published an incredibly offensive and incendiary new book and he's on a local book tour.

As one elder Black man said, “Any thinking person would know that inviting Roorda was a bad idea.”

There were many pieces worthy of reflection. The room was filled but most in the audience were folk present to express outrage. Some were in the audience with prepared questions and playing the part, others were holding signs outside. Many of us outside came in to make visible our disapproval of the speaker selection.

When one young Black man entered with bandana and hoodie, emotion charged the room. I am left to wonder what it is about pieces of fabric that so terrifies white folk. I too had a hoodie, and as I stood beside the young man, the moderator couldn't challenge the hoodie without challenging the old white lady. Instead he said, "That bandana is too far. You have to take it off." A bandana banned in a public meeting in 2015 in America? Really? And the hoodie just squeaked by. This from the wanna-be-called progressive Democrats.

Perhaps the comment most reflective of the gordian knot that is ‪#‎whitefolkwork‬ was the speaker who stood up towards the end (after Roorda sat down) and said that "we would be on your side, but." And then he talked about the challenge offered by those in opposition and said that he and the others felt "threatened".

And there it is.

When Black folk and white accomplices move outside of the prescribed rules for "polite" and "civil" meetings, the charge is one of presumed violence. In other words, when Black folk speak up, white folk in power are oft to say they feel threatened. Let's break it down: Black voices are threatening to white people.

To be fair, there were two different times when fists were clenched and blows imminent. But in both cases, it was WHITE MEN who were aggressing against Black men. But the man who spoke of presumed violence was not speaking of his comrades who charged at Black men, he was speaking to and about Black women who's voices were loud and clear.

#whitefolkwork is gathering the cousins for essential conversations about what is and is NOT a threat. A police officer shaking a baton or (worse) a stun gun or (even worse) a loaded pistol at you is a threat. A Black woman speaking truth to power is not - unless and until we are ready to admit that this truth calls for a shifting of the power paradigm. The white rush to label and dismiss the challenge is perhaps indicative of its veracity.


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