This message is for white people.

policearrestingpeacefulblackprotestorImage via The Love Life Of An Asian Guy.

I am ashamed to admit that in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Alva Braziel and the police shootings in Dallas I have felt so overwhelmed, angry, sad, helpless and unable to concentrate long enough to write coherently about them or the larger context surrounding them. I say “ashamed,” because I am aware that my reaction is a speck of dust compared to the universe of pain, rage, injustice and fear in which black people are forced to dwell in this country 24/7/365. No matter how much I may be reeling, I can always check out, post goofy shit for sale on the Internet, cry into my cocktail and generally go along on my merry way. There is no fucking escape for them.

I felt some measure of relief when I read this post by my friend Dana Hunter. It’s a compilation of practical actions that all of us can take to help turn this sorry state of affairs around—and turn it around we must. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to process grief by doing something specific that is asked of me by those more directly affected, even the smallest action, even if I am pessimistic about it making any difference at all. The fact is, it’s worth doing not only because it makes me feel productive and useful, but because all great movements for change require countless small actions by countless people, most of them unseen and unsung. These things add up. Mere drops in the ocean form the great wave.

With Dana’s kind permission, I am sharing her post here in its entirety.

__________

What We Must Do

It’s been a horrific week for police violence. Alton Sterling was murdered for the “crime” of selling CDs. Philando Castile was murdered for the “crime” of exercising his Second Amendment rights and driving while black. Castile’s slaughter was so egregious that even many of the white folk who typically find some infinitesimal fault on the part of the black man that excuses his extrajudicial execution have to admit this one was pure, undeserved slaughter. Not that they haven’t tried. They always try. It can never be the police who are to blame.

And as protestors peacefully gathered, a sniper in Dallas shot down cops and protestors alike, in a city that was trying to get it right. This will be all the excuse some people need to declare war upon people of color in this country. Not that a clandestine war wasn’t already being waged. Black folk in this country might as well be living in a war zone, see. They’re certainly dying as if they are.

And you may be feeling helpless right now. You may have no idea what to do with your rage and sorrow and pain. If, like me, you’re white, you may not know what do to with the power invested in you by the color of your skin.

Are you ready to listen? Because people of color are telling us what they need. This is what we must do.

Ijeoma Oluo has an entire list of the things you should find out about your local police departments, and what to do with that information. Click it now. Go down it, step by step. Do not stop until you reach the end.

She’s also asking for volunteers:

I need a web developer.
I need grantwriters/fundraisers.
I need researchers.
I need whatever the fuck I can’t think of right now.

If you have skills and time you can donate, sign up here.

Here are 15 ways to end police brutality. Let your local, state, and federal politicians know you want them implemented. Don’t let up until they are.

If you see a person of color being confronted by the police, stop and record.

Be a better ally. Here’s how.

Don’t share images and video of black bodies being brutalized. Humanize the murdered people. Share details about their lives. Show them as the living, breathing, complex, wonderful human beings they were.

Unfriend your racist relatives and friends. Your friends and family of color deal with enough racist bullshit without having to put up with it on your wall. Also, it’s time for those engaging in racist behavior to face the consequences.

Demand police be held accountable for their brutality. You don’t leave the bad apple in the barrel. You get it the fuck out of there. The same thing needs to happen with racist, corrupt, law-breaking, brutal cops.

Listen to the cops who are telling you what’s broken and what needs to be fixed about policing. Listen to them when they talk about the dysfunction of us-vs-them thinking that’s rampant in the ranks.

Educate yourself on race and racism.

Educate yourself on ways to combat police brutality. Learn ways to increase police accountability. Encourage your local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to implement these ways to combat bias and reduce racism.

CampaignZero-1024x770Image courtesy Campaign Zero.

Don’t shoot the police. That won’t solve this. It’ll only make it worse.

Raise a fuss about police executing people with drones.

If you want to save police lives as well as civilians, get rid of guns. Maybe even disarm the police. And resolve the us-vs-them mentality that is driving the current waves of violence.

Acknowledge it’s not just black lives that are devalued by the police: anyone with brown skin, or a disability, or a mental illness, is at risk.

Absolutely stop with the All Lives Matter bullshit.

Do you still need to be convinced there’s a problem? Someone in your life who needs some evidence stuffed in their face? Here you go:

A Multi-Level Bayesian Analysis of Racial Bias in Police Shootings at the County-Level in the United States, 2011–2014

Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates

There’s more. There’s so much more, but you are now equipped to find it. Go seek out the voices of people of color. Shut up and listen. Raise your voice to the people in power. Call. Write. Vote. March. Do everything you can. Because if we don’t pull together, it’s going to get so much worse.

__________

I’d like to add one more thing to Dana’s list: reach out privately to black friends (online and in real life) to offer your condolences and support. Don’t make it about you.

I’ve written before that racism is 100% whites’ problem to solve. Our black sisters and brothers are telling us what they need us to do. Let’s get to work.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Iris Vander Pluym. Bookmark the permalink.

About Iris Vander Pluym

Iris Vander Pluym is an artist and activist in NYC (West Village), and an unapologetic, godless, feminist lefty. Raised to believe Nice Girls™ do not discuss politics, sex or religion, it turns out those are pretty much the only topics she ever wants to talk about.

One thought on “This message is for white people.

  1. Thanks so much for all the linkage; I visited several of them, and submitted a form to Ijeoma Oluo’s Accountability Project. I’m also a person who needs concrete actions to feel like I’m making a difference.

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