Um…ok, I give up. I thought I was done posting on anti-racism, because it’s time to stop enabling. I’m not the white fragility whisperer. It’s not my job to entice or cajole you to do your own anti-racism work, white peers–and especially white female peers. My words clog up the space that rightfully belongs to Black thought leaders. But Certain predominantly white narratives just deserve a response.
I am not responding to any one person with my words here…I am responding to themes I see in my social media feed. If I am seeing your feed, or hearing your words, then I accept that as an invitation to dialogue.
I hear many, many (predominantly white people) saying, “The Data Just Doesn’t Pan Out.” Well, please consider…
Every single story of an unarmed black person killed by police REALLY HAPPENED. If we were so brazen as to stay on that topic without wiggling out of it and changing the point… Why wouldn’t we, across the board, be able to say that those specific lives were unnecessarily lost and unequivocally mattered and that this deserves attention and care and love and accountability?
And why can’t we admit that the circumstances that led to their deaths, and the acquittals of those officers, mattered?
And what might keep us from supporting a movement that focuses on those very specific lost lives?
***These are the questions to ask.
What is it about us, that does not allow us to get behind this singular problem and message?
What is it about the agencies or organizations or corporations we work for, that does not allow us to get behind this singular problem and message?
Now, the rest is about me. You can stop here and this will have served its purpose.
Now, I rant.
In full transparency, I want to share how I found my way to Black Lives Matter. In 2012 I asked a close friend in law enforcement to teach me about Trayvon Martin. I said, “I would like to hear what you think about this,” and I was shut down hard, cop style.
And I was confused. And I wondered…what could make one of my dearest friends snap my mouth shut like that? I’d never seen him flex on me like that. (Friend, if you are reading this, I mean no disrespect. *That was the exact moment that raised my curiosity about what the hell exactly WAS going on?)
I started reading more. And more. And more.I sat with the confusion and I sat with the confusion and I sat with the confusion and I watched the world go by for a long while. And I grieved all that happened next.
BLM was founded in 2013. That is when I started having a relationship with fact checking on memes and calling bullshit on anti-BLM propaganda.
My conservative community was making and sharing what very clearly looked like shitty, dramatic lies–no facts or sources to validate the source of these earliest, overly simplistic memes. Just any of a number of pictures of “black men breaking things,” with anti BLM messaging pasted onto them. You’ve seen them.
One clear motivation. I was embarrassed by my own people. (Not to mention the anti-Obama memes were so clearly racist they made me sick.)
I stared at those and all I could see was a sick white pride, and I was ashamed. And I thought, how dare you?
And I saw people systematically getting to work digging up dirt on the kids and adults being killed, sharing pictures of them with guns and efforting to smear their characters, and sharing that, as if anything made their deaths ok.
And it didn’t make sense. Pictures roll through my feed year after year, of white kids shooting things with automatic weapons, posing with rifles, 9 mm’s and other pistols. And guess what? We think they’re fucking cute. #likeaboss, baby. (No shade for my gun people…truly, *it’s just that the discrepancy is so glaring it’s like a scream I have no place to put.)
I used to be a conservative Republican. This is why when people call me a Liberal, I bristle. My jaw clenches, because I don’t have nice things to say about our bullshit identity politics or the audacity of people labeling anyone else based on what? Vocal support of Civil Rights? You’re kidding, right?
Some of you, if I love and deeply trust that you aren’t a fragile conservative snowflake, have touched that nerve and I’ve unclenched my jaw to go there with you. Some of you are still friends. Some of you have unfriended me.
Racism became noisier and noisier, and I didn’t want to be associated with it. I registered Non-Partisan. **Any of my Republican friends who stayed in the party, I am not talking about you right now. Don’t make this about you, because I don’t care what you did or did not do. My life doesn’t afford me the luxury of policing what you do or judging you for it. I can barely take care of my own. I am talking about my experience and what my eyes saw and what I was compelled to do about it. If you are crawling into defense mechanisms, you are not listening. #listening101
Treyvon Martin’s death in 2012 and the world’s response to it was a turning point for me. And it just kept happening. Philando Castile’s death galvanized my heart *forever in 2016.
My heart was already broken, by my own people’s calloused, cruel, self-protecting hearts in the face of these deaths, and Philando Castile’s death ripped the rest of it wide open.
It wasn’t just the deaths–which alone are horrifying. It was the acquittals. And the people who cheered them.
Again, I ask, why can’t we simply say that these lives mattered?
And that the killers’ acquittals mattered?
And say, yes, to the Black Lives Matter movement, you have a good fucking point?
The data doesn’t pan out?
Well, these deaths really happened. The acquittals really happened. And that fucking pans out.
I’m done with the data arguments. Any datastician knows that data can be manipulated to fit confirmation bias and is only as good as the identified limitations allow it to be. And every study has limitations.
We can cherry pick data to make our arguments look more valid. Every industry does it. Any American knows our various databases are heavily influenced by lobby and riddled with fraud and that we have to be very, very careful. And those deaths still happened. And that’s either a problem for you, or it’s not.