6.3.20 Black Lives Matter. Readings, Reflection, and Listening.
NOTE: My original statement contained misstatements and misinformation. This has been corrected as of 11:06am, June 3, 2020.
Black Lives Matter. This needs to be stated over and over again. We can see the entire system of white supremacy embedded in our society mobilizing to suppress this truth, right up to the President, tear-gassing peaceful protestors for a cynical and disgusting photo-op. There will be no accountability for this from his own party. This should be a time of solidarity, reconciliation, restoration, and justice, but instead we see closing ranks in desperation, as white people lament the destruction of corporate property more than the loss of human life, more concerned about anything that will disrupt their own power or access to resources than they are about the deaths of black people, indigenous people, or people of color (BIPOC). George Floyd is not even the most recent victim of white supremacy. Police officers shot and killed David McAtee in Louisville, Kentucky only days ago. What we see now is not a flashpoint of isolated civil unrest, we see a mass rejection of the entire, intentional system that has poisoned generations of BIPOC through slavery, physical displacement, lack of access to quality education, housing, resources, job discrimination, physical violence, cultural erasure and appropriation, all to the economic and social benefit of white people.
And nothing could drive the point home more clearly than the difference between the treatment of astroturfed white protestors demanding that states prematurely reopen in the middle of a pandemic, despite bringing AR-15s into government buildings, physically and verbally abusing police officers, and the treatment of protestors of police violence. Peaceful arrests versus unprovoked attacks on protestors, destruction of protestor supplies to counteract tear gas and pepper spray, assaults on reporters and news crews, and further deaths at the hands of police. It all sounds about white.
I speak as a white man to my audience that is overwhelmingly white. You have power. Use it for good. Share that power with your BIPOC siblings. Examine your privileges and powers and see how silence is complicity in a system that inflicts every kind of violence upon others. Some of this work may take coming to a point of actually recognizing your fellow BIPOC citizens as siblings - the exploitative poison of white supremacy is so finely diffused into our upbringing, education, conditioning, media, entertainment, and art consumption, and social association - centuries of white supremacist policy have worked to criminalize and dehumanize poverty and non-whiteness, and to create a world in which whiteness is the unnamed, de facto standard to which all others must aspire. We must name our whiteness and work to dismantle this system which means death, poverty, and exploitation for millions.
I also speak as someone who is limited in my own qualification to facilitate this work, but can point you towards a few resources about the current situation and about anti-racist self-examination that can help you in your own journey, as well as a few places you might want to use your resources to help the fight for justice.
Because I am a musician, I would also like to share with you some of my favorite music by black artists.
Red Garland - Red Garland's Piano (this was one of the first CDs I ever owned)
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (Lamar's album "D.A.M.N." was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, to much horror and indignation by swaths of the white-dominated field of classical music)
Black Lives Matter. Say it again.