I am a white transgender Jew. Through all of these BlackLivesMatter (BLM) protests, riots, and demonstrations, I’ve been doing my best to keep my opinion out of it. I’m going to do my best to put my thoughts into something coherent while interjecting a lot of (mostly Twitter) voices of color. This is their story to tell.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
This post was written over about a week, so please forgive that some of the information may be out of date now.
As of right now, there are BlackLivesMatter protests in at least 140 cities, and it’s growing constantly. There are protests in my city routinely. I wish I could participate in the ones in my city. Instead of protesting in person, I have created this blog, spread the word, donated, helped elevate voices, participated in education.
This isn’t going to end soon. Yes, Minneapolis is dismantling the police department and brought charges against the people who killed George Floyd, but that is only the beginning. The police brutality isn’t the only problem, it’s the catalyst that was the final straw.
All Cops Are Bastards
I saw on social media somewhere, someone making a reference that “a few bad apples” shouldn’t be allowed in certain professions. If you were about to board a plane, you wouldn’t want to hear “Yes, we have had a few pilots crash planes into mountains, but I’m sure your pilot is one of the good ones.” We trust our police to keep us safe.
While “good” cops can stand by and watch injustice being done by other cops and not do anything, I have a hard time saying “not all cops”. Frankly, it should be “not any cops”.
As I am writing this blog, another black man has lost his life to police.
I grew up around people of various ethnicities. It exposed me to a lot of different cultures but I never really learned a lot about any of them. It left me on the outskirts of these different communities but never really participatory in any of them. I don’t remember ever specifically having any conversations about racism with anybody.
Since I was little I would always stand up for somebody being picked on, no matter who they were. Standing up for myself is hard for me to do, but standing up for somebody who can’t stand up for themselves is easy.
Oddly enough, I don’t really recall ever experiencing much racism in spending time with my friends. Maybe it’s because I’m not “out and about” with people much, or that I am very careful about who I choose to spend time with.
I thought I grew up pretty open-minded, but my life really expanded as an adult. Learning about the struggles of other people, how I grew up different than other people. Even though I grew up without seeing much in the way of racism, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, or that it wasn’t that bad.
I grew up with a white-washed education system that glossed over the history of racism in our country. An education system that suppressed the achievements of pioneers of color: educators, scientists, doctors, inventors. It has become my responsibility to educate myself and not allow this white-washing to continue into other generations.
It is hard to think that war isn’t impending when you see pictures like this. The BlackLivesMatter protests are no longer just isolated events in certain cities. They are all over the country, including in our nation’s capital. This isn’t going to be calmed with a couple of arrests, tear gas, or the conviction of the disgraced cop that killed George Floyd. This picture was taken on night six of the protests.
Our country was built on racism. From capturing lands to building our commerce on slavery, we have hundreds of years of systematic racism and injustice to work to undo.
Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.Winston Churchill
It’s so weird to think, if this sends us into a civil war, we have repeated history. This will be twice we would have split the country to the point of war over black rights. Even just the thought of it makes me question how exactly far we’ve really come as a society in the last 155 years.
The Civil Rights Act was passed 56 years ago. It took 100 years for us to decide that not only is slavery bad, but maybe we shouldn’t discriminate against black people either. But seriously, did we *really* take that to heart if we as a society are still discriminating?
Pride Month & BlackLivesMatter
It is now Pride Month as I write this. This year it doesn’t feel very exciting. I am not joyful about celebrating today. After COVID canceled most of the pride events, it seemed pointless to celebrate anything, hiding in my bedroom away from the community. Now with the protests continuing and the focus on protecting our PoC brothers and sisters, we have to remember that none of us are free if all of us are not free. There is nothing to celebrate until the protests stop. We can’t forget the progress the LGBT community has made. We also need to remember that we have LGBT family involved in the protests. There are still LGBT people who are being murdered for the color of their skin.
During the Stonewall Riots, civil rights advocates were side by side with us, risking their lives for our rights. The BlackLivesMatter protests are going on during Pride Month, and we need to be there for them too.
I’ve said before, being an ally isn’t easy. It isn’t about making the ally feel better. You can’t stop being an ally because it’s inconvenient, or no longer the popular thing to do. When it comes to racism, black people can’t just get away from it. It’s not something they can forget about. As allies we have to put that on our shoulders.
Don’t let this just fade into the background to be forgotten about. Change your behaviors forever. Register to vote; be the change you want to see in the world. Support your friends by listening to their voices.
Support Black LGBT Lives (google doc)
Learning to Combat Racism (Shamanom Twitch Videos)
Books by Black Authors to Read
How to Respond to “Riots Never Solve Anything”
Things to watch, read, and listen to, educate yourself
Register to Vote
3 commentsAdd Yours
Hi Lukas, this was a good read! I was not up to date on some news until I ran into this. I didn’t know another man was shot by officers. This is so terrible. The police force is on a really hot seat right now, wow! I also love the Baine Bloodhoof quote. As a white person I don’t think I have much say in this, but I really do get it. Why they’re rioting and all that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the black community has endured at least 200 years of oppression. It’s astounding that this is still a problem in this day and age.
The rioting is complicated. *Part* of the rioting is a response to the police brutality happening at the protests. *Part* of the rioting is happening simply because 200 years of oppression has led to a breaking point. Black people are exhausted in a way sleeping can’t cure. The last part of the rioting is from white supremacists and undercover cops co-opting the BlackLivesMatter protests to further their agenda to show how “bad/animalistic/criminal” the black protestors are because of all the damage. If you sift through the rioting videos, you’ll see that a lot of it is being done by white people who appear to have little/nothing to do with the protests.
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