My Fellow White People, We Need to Talk

 Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile

Following is an article by FogCityJohn.  I have posted it because I absolutely agree.  I remember reading this quote by James Baldwin in 1965 when I was registering black voters in rural South Carolina.  It touched my heart then, but I was sure that the situation would improve if people of good will met the challenge.  It no longer touches my heart.  I am enraged that the quote is as appropriate now as it was then.

Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke eloquently about many things.  Two of his quotes are appropriate in regard to this article by FogCityJohn.

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it.”  James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)

“My fellow white people, we need to talk. Those of you who know me know I don’t write many diaries, and I put off writing this one because I’m not sure I’m the best person to start this discussion, but damn, do we ever need to talk.

“We need to talk about that thing we never seem to want to talk about — our own racism. And I don’t mean the “look over there at that guy with the Confederate flag” kind of racism, or racism in the abstract, disembodied sense. I mean the racism in each and every one of us, me included, that allows us to tolerate things like this happening in the 21st century.

“We white people need to ask ourselves some hard questions. Here are some that occur to me:

  1. Why is it that a black person can fully comply with the orders of a police officer and still be shot dead in the space of one minute? Why is it that they can be killed even if they’re breaking no laws, and even if, like Philando Castile, are doing everything they’re told to do? And how can a jury have watched the video above and still found a way to acquit Officer Jeronimo Yanez? Could it be because the jury was almost all white? (Wait, that might be the one question we can answer.) What is it about our thinking that leads us to find that the officer in the above video reasonably feared for his life?

As if all that isn’t awful enough, can somebody please tell me why it is that after gunning down an innocent man, the police felt they could do this.

“Why do we permit police to treat the loved ones of a slain man like this? Why do we allow them to treat the victims like criminals? Wasn’t it enough that Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter had just watched Philando get shot to death in their presence? Did this distraught mother need to be handcuffed? Have we really been so brainwashed, so trained to think of all black people as dangerous that we find it acceptable to shackle an entirely innocent, grief-stricken woman and her small child in the back of a police car? What will this little girl’s life be like after witnessing this?

“My fellow white people, do you understand that your black co-workers, friends, and loved ones have to live every single day knowing that they, too, can be the victims of this same kind of state-sanctioned violence and murder? Can you conceive of how they must feel? To those of you who have children, have you tried to put yourselves into the shoes of black parents, to imagine the sense of dread they must experience every time they watch their kids leave the house?

“And perhaps most important, have you asked yourself what kind of people WE ARE that we permit this to continue, that we so often excuse this kind of murder? How many more times will we look at the grief of mothers like Valerie Castile, shrug our shoulders, and tell ourselves there’s nothing we can do? How many more times will we rationalize our system of white supremacy and the lethal force needed to keep it going?

“I don’t know about you, but I feel disgusted and ashamed seeing all this, because I know that I’m complicit. I sure as hell don’t have all the answers, but I know for damned sure that until we white people start asking the hard questions of ourselves, these unspeakable acts of violence and injustice will continue.

“[Rant over]”

My rant isn’t over.  If this is an issue that troubles you, and it should, please read A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes.  Chris Hayes explains WHY killing black Americans for nothing is necessary today.

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