"I have had friends bear witness to white people at a rally for Mike Brown in LA this past Sunday co-opt and erase antiblackness and lead chants of “We are all Mike Brown” when they will never be Mike Brown." via owning-my-truth
That is how white supremacy works. The misdirection…
Wait im trying to understand this post. Are we criticising our allies for using the same chants we are using at rallies, protests, etc?
I don’t know what you don’t understand. I think my post was pretty clear. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to make it clearer for you and the people telling me they are confused and don’t understand.
1. White people who center themselves in discourses and protests against anti-Blackness or when Black people are murdered are not allies. It’s not about them. I’m not fond of the term ally, but being an ally means offering support and solidarity. It doesn’t mean becoming the people you are supporting and standing in solidarity with.
2. The first thing a white ally should do is decenter themselves and decenter whiteness. You don’t do that by claiming to be just like a Black murder victim. Only Black people are like Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. Black people are the ones who are the victims of anti-Black extrajudicial killings.
3. A true white ally would understand why they are not Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin. Extrajudicial murder for whiteness does not happen at the hands of the police and vigilantes. Certainly not at the level of extrajudicial murder for Blackness at the hands of the police and vigilantes.
4. When Black people are murdered by the police and vigilantes, we always witness the collusion of white supremacy by the police and the media who work hard to smear the Black murder victim in death. This doesn’t happen to white murder victims. It doesn’t even happen to white murderers. The humanity of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin is neither respected nor acknowledged because those dedicated to anti-Blackness work hard to justify the slaying of Black people. Reasons for why they were gunned down will be trotted out. “He wore a hoodie!” “He stole cigars!” “He smoked marijuana!”. There is always a reason.
Meanwhile, actual white mass murderers and terrorists like Anders Breivek, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will still be afforded their humanity. These are mass murderers and terrorists, but their whiteness affords them humanity. The humanity of scourges of the earth and white dregs of society like Breivek, Holmes, Lanza, Loughner, Tsarnaev etc will always be acknowledged despite their heinous crimes, while the murders of Black victims will always be justified. Hell, Tsarnaev was presented to the nation as a sexy dreamboat, complete with a Rolling Stone magazine cover, like he was the 6th member of One Direction. Tsarnaev is a murderer and a terrorist. This murderer and terrorist got more favorable press than a Black teenager executed in broad daylight whose corpse was left lying on the street in the hot summer sun for hours, before an unmarked vehicle took his body away. Not even an ambulance. If Black people don’t protest, there would be no investigation for these murders. From Renisha McBride to Amadou Diallo to Trayvon Martin to Jordan Davis to Aiyana Jones to Ousmane Zongo and the long list of unarmed Black people murdered. Black people have to protest and take to the streets for justice, or for even an arrest or charges to be brought up. Who else has to beg for justice? White people certainly do not have to do this. This is why white people are not Mike Brown. This is why white people are not Eric Garner. White investment bankers aren’t getting choked to death on the sidewalk by the cops. In the event that it should ever happen, their killers would not remain free and uncharged, even after the medical examiner rules their death a homicide.
5. White people are not and will never be victims of anti-Blackness. White people chanting that they are Trayvon Martin is absurd. Trayvon was deemed suspicious, followed, confronted and ultimately murdered because he was a Black kid. White kids aren’t followed, confronted and murdered for walking home while white, after buying skittles and iced-tea. A white person saying that they too are Trayvon is not how you show support. That is how you erase the reason why he was murdered.
I cannot get any clearer than this. If you still don’t understand, then I can’t help you.
You’ve hit on a lot of great points that I agree with. However I can’t climb aboard the alienation of or allies.
In this case I think, “I am Mike Brown” could actually be used by allies. I don’t see what would be wrong in them being concerned about the excessive use of force becoming an acceptable police tactic across the board. As long as they recognize that race is a large factor in these issues and are willing to speak on it.
There’s nothing wrong with people seeing themselves in us. It’s actually a brilliant strategy to garner sympathy from the masses.
Before you say anything allies aren’t people who say: “this isnt a race thing, it’s an American thing. Why do we have to make it about race” Those people are shit heads who refuse to believe race is a factor in anything.
re: the bold
I think that if you’re going to call something a brilliant strategy, you should be able to back that up. Did white “allies” claiming to be just like Trayvon Martin do anything to improve Black humanity in the eyes of the white masses? Did it garner sympathy, and more importantly, action from them? If yes, how so? I want you to point to the previous examples of when white “allies” claiming to be just like Black murder victims worked out to the benefit of Black people and brought them sympathy and justice. I’ll make it easy for you. Cite only 3 examples. If you can proclaim something as brilliant, then there has to be a proven track record of that said brilliance. Show it to me.
Furthermore, you do understand that white people can be concerned, speak out and protest police brutality without usurping the victim’s identity, right? That is entirely possible. Anytime you have someone who is not the victim, assume the role of the victim in order to humanize them, then you have a problem. The victim is already human and that alone should stand. Someone from a privileged group usurping a marginalized person’s identity to garner sympathy misses the point of allyship entirely. Many allies act this way, which is why I’m not a big fan of the term ally. It’s too self-congratulatory. Who told them they were an ally in the first place? Too many people who refer to themselves as allies are self appointed. They gave themselves that title. Either you’re standing in solidarity and helping the marginalized, or you’re not. It’s not about the ally. All this talk about alienating white allies and white feelings is irrelevant.
Let me give you a parallel situation. Can I speak out about violence against women and domestic abuse as a man? Can I support organizations that help abused women? Of course I can. I can do all that without actually saying I’m just like a woman who survived domestic abuse. I am not and I will never be. That should be evident. The humanity of women should also be evident. I should not need to transform myself into a woman to garner support or sympathy for victimized women like they are aliens and that people will only understand their plight when me, a man swoops in to assume their identity.
What I see instead with white “allies” who proclaim to be just like Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin is white people centralizing themselves and sanitizing the reason for why these Black boys were murdered. If a white person truly understood why those Black boys are dead, then they would never claim to be them, regardless of their intentions. This is about white supremacy and injustice. White people cannot be just like the Black victims of extrajudicial murder in a system of white supremacy. I am stating this as plainly as I can here.
Your talk of garnering sympathy from the masses while admirable and noble, is naive. Black people have been here for 5 centuries now. Nothing you are suggesting is anything that hasn’t been done. Nothing is new under the sun. Black people have been appealing to the sympathies and have been pulling on the conscience of the white masses for centuries. That collective sympathy from the white masses hasn’t arrived. There has always been resistance from the white masses. The actual white allies are the minority. That is the story of America.
A Black boy was executed in the street by a cop in broad daylight. His corpse was left on the street for 4 hours in the summer heat before it was taken away in an unmarked vehicle. They couldn’t even respect him enough to take his corpse away in an ambulance. They showed him no dignity or respect, even in death. Meanwhile, white people have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few days for his killer, Darren Wilson in 2 separate gofundme drives. This is the uncomfortable truth you will have to reckon with. At some point, you will have to realize that the white masses aren’t sympathetic to Black suffering, and that many of them revel in it. They will collude to defend, protect and support (emotionally and financially!) those who exterminate Black life. If white people collectively wanted to end this, it would end. See this always relevant Malcolm X quote. A white person masquerading as a Black victim won’t trigger the hearts and minds of the white masses into recognizing Black humanity. It never has. They are vested in not recognizing Black humanity, which is why those who murder Black people are financially supported.
Lastly, this is about dead Black bodies, not white people’s feelings. Why is not alienating white people so important? Why is it even a concern? They don’t need to be coddled. If white people are alienated by the truth, then so be it. They weren’t in this to help in the first place if their conditions for justice rests on their feelings. Those white people who are earnest and are sincere will remain in the fight for justice because they know it’s not about them.
Something is wrong when even with Black victims piling up, the conversation is about alienating white people who are our alleged “allies”. Why is that important at all? This is an example of what I call The Centrality of Whiteness. Even when a Black boy gets executed on the street by a cop, the conversation is about making sure we don’t alienate white “allies”. Are you listening to yourself? Do you understand how perverse that is? I know you mean well and I am by no means being confrontational, but I want you to understand how perverse that is. You might not recognize or understand that now, but I hope you will in time. Your first sentence after saying you agreed with a lot of my points was about how you don’t want to alienate allies. That shouldn’t even be a sentence at all, much less your first one. Sit on that and think about it for a bit. I mean it.
What actually makes me mad about media coverage of the Brown shooting
Every cell in the body is continuously changing. Thoughts and emotions rise and fall away unceasingly. When we’re thinking that we’re competent or that we’re hopeless - what are we basing it on? On this fleeting moment? On yesterday’s success or failure? We cling to a fixed idea of who we are and it cripples us. Nothing and no one is fixed.
"The Places That Scare You" by Pema Chodron (via eccentriceats)