When You Can’t Call The Police Because They Might Kill Somebody

Here is a link to a resource for: What to Do Instead of Calling The Police, compiled by Aaron Jones

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The police exist to protect white people and respond to white fear. That is their core function. That is what white supremacy means in practical terms. So until white people say “We don’t need you, we don’t want you killing for us anymore, we are going to stop paying you to kill for us, you’re fired.” Then the killing will likely continue and escalate.

–Taj James

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I sat by my window and I watched. Across the street, a party had turned ugly. The windows had no blinds. It was nighttime and all of the lights were on. I could see into the kitchen. There were too many people in that too small space and each one seemed belligerent and trying to hurt somebody or trying to keep somebody belligerent from hurting somebody. Everyone was shouting. Loud enough to raise the dead.

Their kids had been playing in the street. Before the shouting started. Little black kids running around, racing on their scooters like I used to be.

The fighting was getting intensely physical. People were clearly real, real intoxicated. They knocked the refrigerator down and kept on going.

My heart raced. What should I do?

I knew I wasn’t going to call the police; that’s for damn sure. I knew that these people had a better chance of surviving their own drunk or drugged violent impulses than they did of surviving the police’s sober violent impulses.

I didn’t notice any kids in the rooms with the violent adults. Some were crying outside. Some were in cars waiting for their parents to take them home.

Everyone in the block could hear the shouting. The fighting was loud and public and chaotic.

I was so afraid for them. I was mostly afraid that some neighbor would call the cops. It’s the kind of situation that would inspire that kind of response. I wanted to go over there and try to deescalate it, but I didn’t know how and I was afraid. And if all of those people who were already trying to get the fighting parties to calm down weren’t helping at all, what on earth could I do, but add stress to the situation? I could go over there and warn them that someone might call the police on them and that I didn’t want them to be subject to that, because I wanted them to survive this night, but I knew that no one would hear me. No one could hear anybody over there. The cacophony of angry human voices was incredible. It seemed to go on forever.

I thought to myself, I wish I knew who to call. I wish there were someone safe to call. Someone who could help support them in this moment, make sure the kids were okay, help deescalate the situation and make sure nobody got hurt – or, well, more hurt than they already were, treating everyone with respect the whole time. Mobile mediators for angry intoxicated people. I imagine that even now, most people in the United States think of the police that way. Most white people, that is, of a certain class level.

But there have been too many people who were killed by the police for calling for help. Too many people who were victims of crime being killed because the police thought they were suspects of crime. Too many people who called for the police’s help with a mentally ill, disabled, or distressed family member – someone they loved – only to have the police kill them.

That’ll solve the problem, won’t it? When in doubt, just kill the black person.

Too many, too many, too many. Their stories ran in front of my eyes. Their images. Their names.

I seemed to recall that there had been a workshop that went by too fast for me to catch on that very topic: “What to do instead of calling the police.” I wanted that knowledge so badly just then, transfixed as I was by the human drama playing out in the street below my windowpane.

The only thing I knew clearly was that if anybody called the police, everybody would be in more danger. Everybody on the street and spilling out of the house was black. I thought to myself: “Any of them could be killed by the police tonight.”

I do not pray, but I hoped desperately that they would find a way to calm themselves down before someone called the cops.

After a very, very, very long time, they did.

I was proud of my little neighborhood for having enough care for their lives to let them hurt each other rather than calling the police and putting them in greater danger of death.

For the love of black people, please don’t call the police on black people. Please do anything you can to avoid it. The police cannot be trusted to serve or protect us. They put us in greater danger.

If you are white, please help other white people understand this.

This link contains a list of resources regarding how to understand the function of the police and what to do instead of calling the police. It is provisional and incomplete and growing. If you have additional resources, please post them in the comments and send them to Aaron Jones, the curator of this resource, at the address he provides. If there’s a better resource for this, let me know and I will update this post accordingly.

Many thanks.

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#AlfredOlango  #TawonBoyd #Terence Crutcher #Gregory Frazier

 

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An Open Letter to My Straight Friend N. In the Wake of the Orlando Massacre of Queer Brown People Like Me

An open letter to my straight friend N., who wrote: “You matter to me. Sending you love from across this country and am mourning with you.”

N., thank you. That means all the world to me. You’re the only straight person who has actually reached out to me directly to make contact with me around this. The grief is so enormous that I barely know how to hold myself together.

I was on a plane yesterday, flying from San Francisco to Pennsylvania, going from my community full of people I love who are as impacted by these events as I am to a place where I don’t have any queer community or anybody who routinely holds me when I cry. It was the loneliest feeling.

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I was so so sad. I cried in every airport and in every airplane. I was full of grief about the loss and the death and the hatred and the homophobia and xenophobia and racism and Islamophobia and I was also profoundly shaken and scared about what it means for queer people and brown people and brown queer people everywhere.

I feel afraid. This thing that has happened reminds me of how vulnerable my body is, how vulnerable my communities are, how impossible it is to stay safe as a brown queer person. My mother keeps telling me things like, if I go dancing make sure to know where the exits are. She’s so scared for me. I keep telling her it is impossible to be safe. Those beautiful innocent people who died didn’t die because they didn’t know where the exits are. They died because this country breeds hatefulness and intolerance and violence. There is no set of rules I can follow to ensure my safety from the violence that comes with hatred.

I will be marching in the San Francisco Pride parade in two weeks. Who knows when and how my life will end? Maybe it will be then.

I have felt so isolated from community – it is scary to come home to the place I left literally because it was too homophobic for me to stay and to be here when I’m dealing with this kind of colossal tragedy. I want to be with all of my people and we are all scattered to the wind, in our separate places. As I talk to some of my queer friends, I notice that that is when we become most distressed, most grief-stricken, most afraid: when we are separated from the people we feel the safest with, when we can’t hold onto each other’s bodies for comfort or for confirmation of their continued existence.

Why isn’t everybody, everywhere in mourning? Crying with me in the streets, on the airplanes, in restaurants?

It feels relieving to hear from my queer friends and to know how they are coping with all of this, to share contact and comfort and to reflect back to them that they are not crazy and that all of their feelings make sense and whatever they need is the right thing to do – and it also feels relieving to hear from my straight friends who care, who get it.

The world is full of straight people. I need to know that you care and that you get it and that you feel it and that you are with us and that the most horrible thing in the universe to me isn’t trivial to you. That I’m not trivial to you. That our lives matter, not just to ourselves.

That helps me feel safer. Less invisible, less like the colossal impact of this horrific nightmare of a situation on queer brown people everywhere will go unnoticed. It helps me feel like there are people, maybe even here in Doylestown, Pennsylvania who might be feeling these things, too, and who might be safe haven or ally.

Feeling reckless, but needing to be in solidarity with my people even when isolated and far from home (especially when isolated and far from home), I put a big button that says “Queer” on the bag I carry everywhere. I couldn’t stand to be invisible as a queer person here, even though I feel more afraid, more aware that my outness as a black, queer woman could cost me my life.

I have been having trouble making words about this situation. I mostly make tears and snot and gasps and gulps of air and racking sobs. Thank you, N., for writing to me and helping me make some sentences, even though many tears were shed in the making of them.

I hope that straight people everywhere will reach out to queer friends and family and co-workers and neighbors to check in. (It is not too late for this. It will never be too late for this. It cannot be done enough.) Let them know that they are seen and cared about and valued, that their lives matter to you. Offer them support and safety and sanctuary. Affirm that whatever they need right now is okay, that their feelings are valid and make sense. Mourn with them and stand with them and activate your resources (of heart, of mind, of time, and/or money) to help make change in this situation. Love is needed and thoughtfulness and education and effort and activism and financial contribution to a wide variety of places. It’s going to take a lot of work to care for all of the people who have been impacted by this situation and it’s going to take even more work to make the changes necessary to transform the culture and change the laws so that things like this (homophobic/racist gun violence) don’t happen in the future.

Please let us know you’ve got our backs. We need you.

White People Don’t Let White People Spout White Nonsense a.k.a. No Ignorant White Person Left Behind

I think this article “Sensible Responses to White Nonsense,” by Mary C. Joyce is kind of awesome.

Let me explain: Sometimes, I post something on Facebook about race. Sometimes it is someone else’s writing; sometimes it is my own; sometimes a combination. I seem to have the awesomest friends in the world, because when I do share about my feelings and experience about race, my awesome friends (including a high percentage of white friends) seem to listen hard, communicate respectfully, affirm my sharing of my experience or my sharing of the information I’m sharing, add in a useful way to the conversation, and sometimes share what I’ve shared with their friends.

That’s where something strange sometimes happens. I go to their pages where they have shared the same things I have just shared and sometimes I read the most hateful, racist responses to it from their Facebook friends.

I am promptly horrified, super grateful for my own awesome extended community, and unsure what to do next. I really don’t want to engage personally (because, really, racism and toxic racial ignorance is pretty upsetting for me to engage with directly), yet I want the person to be engaged with, rather than censured. Largely, I see my awesome friends engaging with the person far more patiently than I would in that situation.

I then maybe thank the friend for the hard work they’re doing and the friend shrugs it off, like it ain’t nothing and they don’t need a cookie.

Because I have ridiculously awesome friends.

So, this article: provides cogent, clear answers to common comments made by less racially savvy white people. These are generally for white people talking to white people about racism, but could be adapted for the use of POC when talking to white people.

The article uses the term “White nonsense,” as almost a technical term. I like it. It’ll work when calling it typical white supremacist racist bull$&@% won’t help your case.

We need to have ways of talking back, articulately, to the standard white nonsense when we encounter it. But, especially white people talking to other white people. Because white folks aren’t saying to me what they say to other white folks. On the whole, white folks with less racial savvy are more likely to express their white nonsense to their (sometimes secretly more racially savvy) white friends than to me. For which, I am grateful. I’d rather be talking to my white friends than my white friends’ white friends. But, I also kinda feel we need to adopt a no-ignorant-white-person left behind approach to educating our racist friends (and friends of friends).

So, anyway, here’s some talking points. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the greatest hits of white nonsense. There is a near-infinite supply of white nonsense and this only covers a few common themes. Please feel free to share more or better articles on this with me or in the comments or on your own blogs and facebook walls and twitter feeds and community forums.

Dear White People . . . Stop Killing Black People.

Dear White People,

Stop killing Black People.

If you aren’t, personally, killing Black People, stop your friends, relatives, and colleagues (ahem, police officers) from killing Black People.

If your friends, relatives, and colleagues aren’t killing Black People, stop your elected leaders from looking away while their constituents are killing Black people.

Stop police chiefs from looking away while their officers are killing Black people.

Stop your friends, relatives, and colleagues (especially the ones you don’t talk to, because you don’t agree with their politics and their views on things) from looking away while White people are killing Black people in the streets, in their homes, in their vehicles, in their stores, in their playgrounds, in their schools, in their places of work, in their cribs, in their sleep, and in their places of worship.

Stop looking away.

Stop making excuses.

Stop blaming victims.

Stop finding reasons why any of them deserved it.

Stop finding reasons why the killer did it (overwork, mental health issues, stress, etc.)

Stop failing to hold each killer accountable.

Stop keeping silent.

Stop allowing fear about doing or saying the wrong thing stop you from doing or saying anything.

Stop allowing shame and guilt and fear to silence you.

Stop telling Black people how you’re not racist.

Stop allowing this to be someone else’s problem.

There is a racism problem in the White community. Y’all need to work on that. Especially those of you who believe you’re not racist. Get your people in order.

Now, please.

Rogue Negro

P.S. The above also applies to Brown people, Muslims, and Trans people (with appropriate adjustments for xenophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia in place of and/or in addition to racism).

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎BlackSpring‬ ‪#‎CharlestonShooting‬‪#‎TomorrowItCouldBeMe‬

Please Look For The Blindfold Covering Your Eyes. Then Remove It.

Please look for the blindfold covering your eyes. Then remove it. Underneath that blindfold, there will be another. Remove that blindfold. Underneath that blindfold, there will be yet another. Keep removing blindfolds until your eyes are uncovered. Allow the eyes to adjust. Bring them into focus. See. Don’t just stop at just “seeing.” Look around at the injustice, the inequities, and the lies. Integrate this information into your understandings of the world. Help your friends, family, neighbors, police forces, and lawmakers remove their blindfolds. Help them see. Help them look. Help them understand. Put your understandings together with the understandings of others. Make change. Make a difference. Make it better.
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Cartoon by Ann Telnaes: