I am repeatedly hearing and seeing comments like “What happened to George Floyd was awful, BUT- insert-statement-about-rioting-good-cops-or-something-else-here.” Please let me explain why ANY “but” in that statement is not okay.
(To clarify, this is specifically written to white people because it is our duty to be supportive. People of color that are affected by racism & police brutality have the right to speak on whatever aspect they want because they are living it. White people are not. So , we just need to be supportive.)
For centuries, people of color, especially black people, have been mistreated in both outright, and subtle, ways. Time after time, white people have thought they were superior, and used that to justify their actions. Even in modern society, where we are taught all about these atrocities, and should know better- it’s still happening.
Even in the age of technology where things are caught on video, and STILL justice isn’t served. Every single time, something is able to be argued about the situation, (or at least, people perceive there to be, whether there is, or not.) This time, an officer had the audacity to commit this crime with people taping him, the man pleading for his life, with witnesses telling him to stop. All that, and it took DAYS to charge the man who actually did it, and the other officers who stood by and did NOTHING– still have yet to be charged.
If this exact situation had happened with the officers being black, and the victim white- those officers would have been charged within a day. Otherwise, white people would have started a riot, maybe even before attempting a peaceful protest. This alone should be enough to get you to see how wrong this whole situation is, but lets go ahead and consider the decades of modern equal rights activism, marches, peaceful protests, attempts at legislature to improve things, & everything else they’ve already done to TRY to end racism, and be on equal footing as white people, able to live without fear of being discriminated against.
None of it has worked how it should have because white people haven’t been standing up with them like they should be. Racism, both outright and passive, are still accepted, when they should not be at all. While I understand that some of those who are passively racist have been so until now without really recognizing it, and think themselves not to be racist- it has now come to a time when it’s necessary to choose to be vocally against racism, or you have to consider yourself on the wrong side of things.
Your words matter.
Phrasing matters. Every time you use the word “but” after a valid statement against racism, or a racist situation, it takes away from that statement. Equating your valid anti-racist statement with rioting, or any other perceived negativity, implies, even if it’s just the slightest, that the racism is somehow justified. We can’t let those phrases happen anymore. It’s been too long that we’ve been “respecting opinions” that are actually just hate.
While you should be outraged, and condemning racism to anyone you encounter- I also understand that not everyone is comfortable with 24/7 activism. You can, however, make it known publically that you condemn all racism, and be the one who speaks up when someone you are interacting with is being racist. You can also make sure you are being aware of what is happening in your environment, and do things to better it. Like, not addressing the rioting because the reason for it is so important.
And that’s if you believe that most of the rioting isn’t really just peaceful protesters defending themselves from being attacked for protesting, because much of the pictures I see aren’t people attacking the police, or doing property damage. Most of the ones I see are people running from, or simply standing firm in front of, officers. Either way, how do you reasonably expect any other outcome when people are clearly not being heard when they are peaceful, and nothing ever changes? You can’t.
We just had white people protesting over being told to stay at home to minimize the death toll from a brand new deadly virus. With guns. You REALLY think white people would have been as peaceful as people of color have been, if they were being treated the same with never any change or justice? You know better. When we didn’t like how we were being treated- we started a revolution. You can’t tell me white people would ever put up with this for themselves, and that means we shouldn’t put up with it for any other human being either. If you want the world to be a better place, you have to make it that way.