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How to respond to “riots never solve anything!”

Clutch your pearls less and speed up your efforts for racial equality if you’re so offended by property damage.

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A quick roundup of things to say to Saltine Americans clutching their pearls over rioting and looting:

1) “Rioting never solves anything!”

This country was founded on rioting (and looting). The colonists didn’t politely ask to be independent — they started a war. Gays threw a brick. Black people rioted all over this country. Please let go of that falsehood and pick up a history book.

2) “Rioting just gives people a reason not to support your cause.”

Only if you equate property damage to human lives, and in that case, were you really supporting our cause anyway? If all it takes is people stealing from Target for you to say “well…now I don’t care about dead Black people” then why are we even speaking?

3) “The rioters are criminals and they don’t even care about police brutality stuff.”

There are criminals among us in every group, whether peaceful or violent, but the reasons riots break out are varied and complicated. Look at the pictures of Minneapolis before anyone ever threw a rock or started a fire or stole anything — the police firing rubber bullets and cans of tear gas into crowds of people who WERE peacefully protesting. What do you do when you’re frustrated and upset and no one is listening to you? Better yet, what do you do when they’re not only refusing to listen but actively trying to cause you physical harm to shut you up? Do you go home, stand there peacefully, or get mad and try to hurt them back? Does it really matter who you hurt at that point? Would you try to hurt someone in full tactical gear holding a weapon or would you try to hurt something like a multi-billion dollar business with insurance that probably contributed to the decimation of Mom & Pops in your community? Do you want to actually DIE in that moment or are you just upset and frustrated and at your breaking point and you want to smash something?

4) “Being frustrated is no reason to be violent.”

Everybody reacts to stress differently. I have no desire to riot. That’s not how my frustration at the world takes root. It doesn’t manifest itself as a roiling mass of energy that needs to be released, but I can understand how it could in others. Look at the situation.

— We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and many of the people on the front lines (making sure YOU can be comfortable at home) are Black people risking their lives for minimum wage, dealing with entitled white folks every single day.
— The virus itself is affecting Black people to a higher degree because we’re denied access to health services and we’re forced to WORK during it.
— Even in the middle of a pandemic when most of the country sat at home for weeks, civilians being murdered by police did not see a downward turn AT ALL. We’re on track for the same number of deaths we saw last year.
— All week, every day, a new video of Racism in America. From white women using the police as their personal security service to elderly women being tackled by cops with guns drawn to another Black man who can’t breathe, murdered by a cop who should’ve been fired a long time ago.

How do you feel about your country when people who look like you have to work through a pandemic, are dying in larger numbers from the disease, have the police called on them over a dog leash, are told they’re trespassing on property they pay rent for, are brutalized by armies of cops, and are killed in broad daylight for the crime of jogging?

How do you feel? How would you react? Regardless of how you would react, how can you tell someone else how they should? People are ANGRY. They have a right to be angry. And I can’t tell someone else how their anger should manifest. Because they are grown and TARGET HAS INSURANCE! I promise you Target will be just fine!

5) “Attacking an elderly disabled woman is a step too far!”

That woman is 30, she can walk just fine, and she went to Target armed with a knife to stab Black people. That’s why WHITE PEOPLE unloaded a fire extinguiser at her — because she was a violent maniac. On one side, people stole stuff from a big box retailer. On the other, someone STABBED PEOPLE UNPROVOKED, and yet your concern is whether anybody successfully stole a TV?

6) “There are better ways…”

Keep working on those better ways. Don’t let the riots stop you. Fight for criminal justice reform, fight for income equality, fight for universal healthcare, fight for free education, fight for higher taxes on the 1% — fight for all those things that would make rioting less likely. And while you’re fighting the long, slow war toward Black people having a fair shot in this country, the same war we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, there will be times when some people directly affected by the war see your actions as futile and they just wanna break some stuff. Clutch your pearls less and speed up the war if you’re so offended by property damage.

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History

Take this Jim Crow era literacy test for Black people.

I have a master’s degree, and I failed on the first question.

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I know what a literacy test is, but sadly, I’d never looked one up to see what the questions were like. During Jim Crow, they were used to keep Black people from voting. Some poor and illiterate whites got caught in the net as well, and that makes sense for a country who, when founded, only gave voting rights to landowning whites, but the purpose was to keep Black people from being heard. Former congressional candidate Gary Chambers Jr. posted a literacy test today, and you can’t pass it. I can’t pass it. No one can pass it.

This particular test from Louisiana in 1964 was to be administered to anyone who could not prove they had finished 5th grade or higher, which would overwhelmingly apply to more Black people. We had less access to education and were more likely to quit school in order to work the land and help our parents keep a meager roof over the family’s head back when so many Black people were sharecroppers.

And there’s no uniform key for this test. The white registrar reads the answers and decides whether you answered correctly or not. I’m sure this test, on the rare occasion it was given to white people at all, was graded more leniently when the hand turning it in wasn’t colored.

So. Take it and see if you would be able to vote in Louisiana in 1964, less than 60 years ago.

Ten minutes to complete 30 questions is about twenty seconds per question, and you have to get every single one correct. If this was an actual literacy test, I would pass with flying colors, because I can read well enough to know that some of these questions are unanswerable, but it’s not about literacy. It’s about creating a standard that no one can meet and then applying it unfairly to Black people. It’s giving Black people additional burdens to be perfect that white people don’t have. It’s disparaging Michelle Obama for showing her arms in her White House portrait even though Melania has nude photoshoots online. It’s arresting Black people for marijuana at 3 times the rate of white people, even though the same percentage of Black people smoke weed as white people. (x) It’s Black college students being just as likely to find employment as white people who didn’t even finish high school. (x) It’s cops shooting unarmed Black people and taking a white mass shooter to Burger King. (x)

A lot of Black kids heard this refrain from our parents growing up: You have to be twice as good as the white folks to get half as far. However. When the judge and jury of your achievement is White America, you can still fail the test they never even have to take.

 

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Race

A moment for Gwen Berry

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It’s so funny to me that Conservatives think we care what they have to say about Gwen Berry being unpatriotic when those same people don’t care that the Capitol was stormed and vandalized.

One of these is a protest.

The other is a crime.

**Black lady turns away from the flag.**

WHAT A DISGRACE TO AMERICA!

**White people break into the Capitol and erect a gallows to hang elected officials.**

awwww economic anxiety 🥺🥺🥺🥺

 

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Race

France is giving the United States another Statue of Liberty.

Another symbol of liberty to a country that’s still oppressing its people.

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NYC has another Statue of Liberty on the way. France is sending us a smaller version to be placed on Ellis Island just across the water from Liberty Island where the original stands as a beacon to freedom…or something.

This new bronze statue, nicknamed the “little sister,” is one-sixteenth the size of the world-famous one that stands on Liberty Island.

“The statue symbolizes freedom and the light around all the world,” said Olivier Faron, general administrator of the CNAM [National Museum of Arts and Crafts]. “We want to send a very simple message: Our friendship with the United States is very important, particularly at this moment. We have to conserve and defend our friendship.”

(cont. CNN)

If you want to put a symbol of “freedom and light” anywhere, it shouldn’t be in the United States.

If you want to give the Statue of Liberty to the United States all over again anyway, give it in the spirit with which it was originally intended in the first place — as a gift to celebrate Black Americans.

I grew up with the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of hope and freedom for immigrants. “Give us your tired, your poor…” and all that, but Lady Liberty had been there for twenty years before those lines by Emma Lazarus were inscribed onto a plaque and installed at the pedestal. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of immigration (the voluntary kind, not the shackled and chained way most Black people got here) for two reasons. One, immigrants latched onto the massive sculpture, which is understandable because she was the first image of New York for most European immigrants arriving by boat on the way to be processed at nearby Ellis Island. Two, the creator, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, pitched the idea to raise funding from Americans in the most general terms of “liberty” without specifically referencing Black Americans. His plan worked since the United States did indeed agree to pay for the pedestal if France paid for the actual statue, but it was a pivot away from the original idea.

Édouard de Laboulaye was a French abolitionist and it was he, along with his social circle of abolitionists, who conceived of a massive gift to present to the United States after the Civil War — once slavery was outlawed. The proposal of Lady Liberty initially held broken and shackles to signify the broken chains of slavery instead of the tablet she holds today. The chains eventually made their way into the final version down around her feet, the original significance lost to most people and barely noticed.

The years immediately following the Civil War were filled with promise for Black Americans and de Laboulaye wanted to recognize that. We made great strides in education, civic engagement, and politics, but the South regained its footing and struck a compromise in the 1876 Presidential Election that saw federal troops removed from the Old Confederacy. Black people were back in chains, invisible shackles placed on our communities through coalitions built between lawmakers and law enforcement, private businesses and private citizens. When Bartholdi finished Lady Liberty, there was no way to “sell” the idea to the United States as a celebration of slavery’s end. Black America hated the idea, because we were being oppressed, terrorized, and murdered, and White America would’ve scoffed, because they were doing the terrorizing. She was pitched as a symbol of liberty, immigrants saw her as the first welcoming image of the United States, and then the government solidified that feeling by using words from Emma Lazarus.

Today, it’s more important than ever to remember why the Statue of Liberty was conceived in the first place, not a symbol of general liberty and freedom, but as a symbol of Black liberty and freedom. We are still fighting to have our history accurately taught in schools. We are still fighting to be the country de Laboulaye thought we were becoming when slavery ended. And we are still fighting to live up to the promise Lady Liberty has symbolized to millions of immigrants. This little sister will probably be all over the news as we get closer to July 4th, so whenever you see her, make sure you remind somebody that the Statue of Liberty was supposed to be a gift to celebrate the end of slavery, but the US put Black people back in chains too quickly for her to actually symbolize liberty and freedom for us.

 

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