It happened again. Another Black man shot and killed for being Black.
I’d heard about police killing Black men from the time I was 13 or 14 years old—in sound bites from the local news, in a southern, mostly white, capital city. I lived in a nice suburb, adjacent to another “rougher,” city. A city at the butt of many “it’s dangerous” jokes. I knew nothing.
Actually, I was indoctrinated with all things American. If only they valued education, I thought. If they stayed out of trouble. If they didn’t have a gun. If they stayed out of gangs. If only they didn’t run. If they made different choices. I never assumed their innocence.
I was wrong. I didn’t know better. The only side I heard was the white one. And since I was indoctrinated with all things American, I believed it. I agreed with it.
But after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, and his murderer acquitted, reality struck me. Innocent people have always been murdered by racist individuals and police.
Two things cause change tangible in this country: violence and money.
The United States separated from England through violence. Slavery ended because of the violence of the Civil War. And money (free labor via slavery) got all this sh*t up and running—and keeps it running.
There are white supremacist organizations—right now—willing to use violence to get their way. We’ve seen them marching on city capitals with guns.
But I don’t condone violence. I’m a pacifist. Not everyone feels that way though.
One thing this pandemic should have made abundantly clear for all Americans, is the only thing that makes this country run is money. The President and the majority of Congress only cares about keeping businesses running and keeping their pockets full.
They want us to go back to work, not so we can pay rent, but so they can keep making money. Because if they cared about our rent, minimum wage would be a living wage.
The President said, we don’t keep people from driving cars because people die in accidents. Why close the country?
His words exactly:
“We have a very active flu season, more active than most. It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths — deaths, not cases. 50,000 deaths — which is, that’s a lot. And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we have to do things to get our country open.”Donald Trump, March 23, 2020
People dying is an acceptable risk. Closing the country is not. Meaning: money is more important than lives. Especially the lives of the working poor/middle class: the people bearing the brunt of the exposure.
In terms of the plight of Black folks, this is what the wealthy people in power think: Why should we care if Black people are getting killed? They aren’t going to cost us any money. We aren’t going to lose anything if a Black person gets shot and killed every week. Or every day. It’s been happening more frequently than that for more than 400 years, and it hasn’t hurt our pockets.
What do Black people not have? Money. We don’t have enough money as individuals, companies, or lobbies to bribe enough politicians. We don’t have enough money to buy influence to change things. Money changes things in this country.
I could remind you how Black Americans spend one trillion dollars a year in the United States. Collectively, we have money. If every one of us stopped spending all at once, they would notice. If we stopped spending for a month or six, they would notice. If we boycotted every business that didn’t actively speak out against the killing of Black people, they would notice.
If you are posting pictures of Ahmaud Arbery…. from your iPhone, paying a hefty bill to AT&T each month, and buying pillows and flatware from Target you have no right to complain. It’s the same as saying “That’s unjust,” and then turning and walking away. You are giving money to corporations who will remain silent while your family and friends are killed.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.Desmond Tutu
There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.Martin Luther King, Jr.
Even I can’t complain: typing from my HP computer, buying summer outfits for my toddler from a big baby boutique. It’s not that simple to write them off.
I know it’s tough to get food and many basic essentials without patronizing silent businesses. We are in a position of extreme disadvantage. It’s hard to say f*ck all white-owned companies not speaking out on our behalf. Especially when there’s no accessible alternative.
People like me are the problem. People who grew up like me are the problem. People who see what’s happening without taking action are the problem. People unwilling to part with some of our first world luxuries for a good old-fashioned boycott are the problem. Social media activists not doing anything in real life are the problem.
Awareness is important. And it’s some people’s jobs to bring awareness to the masses. We have a duty to wake up our neighbors after we awaken ourselves. But if that’s where we stop, that’s a problem. We must take real life action.
What if we were to reduce our spending to fifty percent on non-essentials? Could we all agree to that?
What can we agree to do as a whole? As one community? Can we start our own urban gardens to buy less from the chain stores? Can we pool resources? How can we work together to hurt their pockets?
All of these cold-blooded murders makes me want to leave the country. Maybe buy a farm with a bunch of folks and start my own town. But I have few resources. What else can I do? I’m a pacifist. A homebody. An introvert. A writer.
If you’re just getting the word out that another Black brother got killed and not taking direct action… if you’re not sticking it to the man in some way or another… you aren’t helping. You can grieve and support the family. You are allowed that much. This is a devastating loss, for all of us.
But if you aren’t going to take action, why bother posting? Be quiet. Go back to your cushy #quarantinelife.
Me typing from my computer… it makes me a hypocrite. I’m comfortable, in my house. Not boycotting. Not marching. Not going door to door, rallying my neighbors. Not texting or calling whatever politician needs to be called. I’m not doing anything but complaining about the people complaining.
There are people doing the work—the hard, painful work. Without money. without violence—and there are the people who aren’t doing anything but whining.
How can the rest of us be different? What can we do to make real changes? Talk to me.