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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I Am Not Your Rent-A-Negro

expecting marginalized peoples

Source: CisHits                                                                                                                                             .

As much as I am personally invested in daily discussing race, class, sexuality, and gender honestly, openly, and as generously as I can, I still do not do it on demand or even on request.

Because I do speak very openly about race in particular, I receive a lot of inquiries to help or to teach or to give guidance to white people (in particular) about how they can improve their hiring practices, their dating mojo, their etiquette, or their organization’s racial skillfulness, among other things.

This is extremely challenging emotional and practical labor which I do not enjoy nor wish to volunteer for. Furthermore, I often experience requests for that kind of assistance as an experience of entitlement that is, in itself, racially loaded. These days I don’t want to even respond to these requests with a conversation about why the answer is no. It is hard to hold my boundary around it and explain it all skillfully, compassionately, and empathetically to some dear friend or well-meaning acquaintance when I’m feeling triggered. That is tricky, complex labor that I am not volunteering to do.

When I am speaking across difference to someone in a position of greater power than myself about the particular experience I have as a person in a more marginalized position with respect to that particular power, it is complex, intricate, nuanced, and often wearying work. I do it when I wish to and when I am in a strong place and/or when I am feeling generous and willing, and mostly, I do it on my terms. Love you as much as I do (and I do), I do not do it to benefit your business or your sex life or your conscience.

I imagine there are people and books and organizations and websites that are devoted to helping folks develop these skills. I hope that you will kindly pay good money to some individual whose chosen work it is to do this labor, and not just reach out to me (or others) as your one black (or whatever category you’re looking for support with) friend to ask all the questions you are wanting to know the answers to.

I am afraid this message sounds unfriendly. I think my tone may be sharp when it comes to this, because I think it isn’t understood what the cost of the interaction is. The cost is significant to me. The reason you may be met with silence when you ask this labor of me is because I have not found a friendlier way to talk about it. My silence is friendlier than my words about it would be.

Sometimes it comes up in another context – with myself and an intimate partner – and here it is more complicated. My white friends, lovers, and partners have asked me to let them know if they say or do something that is triggering on the basis of race, in particular. Sometimes, I am going to be able to do this. Oftentimes, I am not. Even when I would wish to. Sometimes, it is just too hard or too slippery to talk about or I’m feeling alienated or unsafe and the safest thing I can do is to pretend that nothing happened while I regroup and try to remember that you are not a stranger and are not an enemy but a friend who, like myself, is the product of profound amounts of conditioning. I haven’t succeeded in overthrowing all of my conditioning, so why should I be expecting you, dear beloved human, to have overthrown all of yours?

This explanation is in lieu of an apology for my silence.

Thank you for listening.

Recite it the Way Black People Can Recite White People’s Stories Like The Back of Our Hands

Please read: Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman, by Dominique Matti

I am sharing this powerful article by Dominique Matti with you, because I could have written it myself. Because I share so many of these experiences. Because instead of the parts about having a child, I could tell you similar stories about not having a child. Because I feel grateful that I don’t have to figure out how to raise a beautiful black child within conditions of white supremacy. Because I feel grateful that I don’t have to worry every day that my beautiful black child might be killed or abused by the police or have freedom taken away or suffer the same daily indignities and invisibilities we black people do. Because this is my story and our story and because it needs to be told over and over and over and over again until people who never lived it can recite it the way black people can recite white people’s stories like the back of our hands, stories about freedom, about democracy, about opportunity, about liberty, about justice, about happily-ever-after, stories that were never, ever for us.

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.

This is a Snuff Film, Courtesy of Your Local Police Department

I just watched the police body cam video of the shooting of Sam DuBose. I am not posting it here. You can google it.

Do as you will, but my recommendation is: If you’re black or brown and you already know in your bones that this is what life in our country is like, you might want to sit this one out. Not because it is extra graphic, but because watching our people be killed violently in real life every day can provoke feelings of fear, anxiety, and agitation that make it hard to go about the business of living. Obviously, I watched it. Maybe we all need to. I don’t know. But take care with your hearts, my people.

Do as you will but my recommendation is: If you’re white, I encourage you to google it. I need you to understand that this is happening. It is too easy for white people to look away or disbelieve the daily realities of racism as they are played out on the bodies of black and brown people. Because it is not happening to them and because it is often happening out of their sight, it is hard to really believe in it.

We must confront this reality and if we are horrified, we must not seek for excuses, but instead seek for justice, seek for the cessation of state sponsored violence against people of color, seek for the end of white supremacy.

As for me…

It is disturbing for me to watch black people (myself, a black person) be killed over and over again. It is horrifying and it is frightening.

Watching the murder of this man, my heart pounds and my breathing gets quicker. My body turns on its fight flight reaction, as if it is me who is in danger.

I am in danger and every part of me knows it.

Who hasn’t left the house without their drivers’ license? Who hasn’t done something the police might pull you over for? Who hasn’t done something you’d rather not have the police know about?

I watch this video and am aware that so many of us have watched thousands of people die violent deaths. We have watched in graphic detail as the hero apprehended the bad guy, as our favorite 007 character does whatever it takes to get out of a jam, as Quentin Tarantino conducts the bloody killing of whole movies full of people. I believe that we are becoming inured to the reality of violence.

It is easy to dissociate from violence we witness on a video screen – or to identify with the one doing the killing. There’s a way that we have been trained to believe it isn’t real. Because so much of what we see isn’t. There’s a way we’ve been trained to identify with the one holding the gun, because that must be the good guy, the hero in the story.

This isn’t television. It isn’t the movies. This is a snuff film, courtesy of your local police department. This is people like me being gunned down in the street in real life. In real death. This isn’t good cop versus evil criminal. This is racism and white supremacy acting on the bodies of the murderer and the victim. They act in different ways, because one of those bodies is white and one of those bodies is black. One of them is alive and one of them is dead.

I know that tomorrow, it could be me.

#tomorrowitcouldbeme

 

Forgiveness is Not for the Forgiven, but for the Forgiver

http://the-toast.net/2015/06/23/misunderstanding-black-forgiveness/

I really liked Mallory Ortberg and Carvell Wallace’s commentary “You’re Not Off The Hook: The White Myth of Black Forgiveness.”

I really appreciated someone speaking about this right now. As we read about the ways in which families of the Charleston massacre victims are forgiving the white supremacist murderer who took their loved ones’ lives, it seems to me that there is some confusion of forgiveness with absolution. In this humorous interview, the differences between those concepts are spelled out and the pernicious re-interpretation of the concept of forgiveness as absolution are called out. Forgiveness is not absolution. Forgiveness doesn’t make this whole thing nice. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we stop fighting with all our might to stop this from ever happening again. Forgiveness is not for the forgiven, but for the forgiver.

Forgiveness is for the soul of the person doing the forgiving. It is not an absolution of the person who has done you wrong, by, for example, massacring people you love. Forgiveness is an act that allows a person to free their heart from some degree of rancor towards the one that did them harm so that they can set about focusing on the grief and the healing that is necessary and do whatever work they may want to do to make sure that this never happens again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean, ‘That’s okay. You can even do it again. I don’t mind.’ It more means, ‘I’m going to choose not to hate you, because I have to carry my hating you around inside myself and my hating you hurts me more than it hurts you and I don’t want to have to hurt like that inside myself while I’m dealing with the carnage you have created.’

As they say here, we must “forgive and fight at the same time.”

For the Love of Black People, Stop Posting Confederate Flags on Articles Appealing to Remove Confederate Flags From Public Places

So, now, my social media feeds are full of confederate flags. This is happening ostensibly because people are trying to get other people to see that the confederate flag is a problem and shouldn’t be flying about where people like me might be terrorized by it and where it might incite other people to racial violence.

I am a Black person. I do not live in a state that was part of the confederacy. Suddenly, in the privacy of my own home, I am surrounded by confederate flags. I imagine it might be something akin to a Jewish person suddenly having a newsfeed full of swastikas (for days).

This is a problem.

For the love of black people, stop posting confederate flags on articles appealing to remove confederate flags from public places.