If you're not on the streets and you rely on mainstream media,
you may have a different impression.
by Katherine HawkerSelf
August 2, 2015. Like most of St. Louis, I am keenly aware that it is August. It is hot and humid, the flowers are gasping for one last hurrah, and the police are preparing for their worst.
Recently a protest friend was in a community meeting where someone warned of coming violence. She pointed out that the only violence we've encountered this year was at the hands of police. And this is truth.
If you're not on the streets and you rely on mainstream media, you may have a different impression.
It is true that someone(s) started some fires on property that was already in a scheduled redevelopment zone; perhaps it was somebody related to the protest family, but not anyone that anyone I know knows (and that's a lot of people.). Occam's razor says that the simplest answer is usually correct, and the most obvious culprit is corporate sponsored arson in preparation for redevelopment. It's highly unlikely that protestors would target properties that will make the rich richer. But these are unsolved crimes. (Is anyone even looking for answers? That may be a huge clue.)
And on two different evenings (after more than 100 on the streets) I did hear of fights breaking out amongst folks who were friends of friends of protestors, in both cases on the very edges of the crowd. But in neither case were those engaged in the drama protest family and to my knowledge in neither case was anyone hurt. Twice, in 100 nights.
Also true is that there is sometimes yelling. Last night just drumming, dancing and sage. But sometimes there is yelling, name calling, public lament. Legitimate raged expressed with the only tool safely available: voice. Sometimes I join the chants, sometimes I stand in quiet solidarity; always I am moved by the presence of authenticity in the struggle for justice.
To be clear, I have seen MUCH violence on this year. But in EVERY single case the perpetrator has been in a uniform and heavily armed. The brutality witnessed is simply stunning. While not exclusively acted out on Black bodies, the police have consistently reached around white bodies to arrest and exploit Black ones. I have been tear gassed and pepper sprayed on multiple occasions, I have even been arrested. But though I have watched others beaten, heard blood curdling screams and seen heads dashed on the ground, I have only been a witness to this level of interpersonal brutality meted out by those sworn to protect and serve. They do neither.
What I would urge white Americans to consider and share is really a very simple question. What are Black Americans supposed to do? If not protest, then what? Black Americans are arrested, beaten and executed routinely in America and then, just as routinely, their reputations are trashed as any possible indiscretion at any point in their lives is trotted out as an example of unworthiness. Even Jesus, himself a brown-skinned man, would be introduced as a run-away from 'that' side of town with an unwed mother and thereby somehow deserving a less than human treatment.
Perhaps the more pertinent question for white folk is why all the "not racist" white folk are not also outraged and pouring out into the streets. We need to be examining what is happening in our whiteness that allows us to sleep at night in the face of such incredible and overwhelming violence. What lies have we adopted and at what cost to our souls? Clearly we have #whitefolkwork still to do.
It's August in St. Louis. Which side are you one?
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