Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Thoughts

It's another day in the USA. Sunday, in fact. Among other things, that means this is a day on which many lynchings occurred so that more people could attend, including children who needed to learn what being a U.S. citizen meant for them & their parents and what it meant for those who aren't considered white. Because the USA is relentlessly consistent, it remains the case that as long as the person you kill is not white, you stand a good chance of not being held accountable. (Today = 65 days since Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown at least 6 times, 2 in the head. Has he been arrested? No; he's collecting a paycheck. If we were a more honest country, we'd say outright that denigrating and/or destroying non-whites is part of what American tax dollars are allocated for. As tax payers, Mike Brown's devastated parents are literally funding the salary of their son's murderer. And, have you ever noticed that educating certain populations is too expensive, but there's always money to denigrate and destroy them???) Yes, as long as you victimize people who are not white (especially not white men), it doesn't much matter who you are—cop or not, respected and educated or not. Also, killing non-white people is simply an option; less lethal forms of violence are also available.

The identity of those whom you victimize matters more than who you are, but when you are the "right" kind of person, you get even more latitude. It's the American way! So, if you are a white man of wealth and position, you will have serious support if you choose to become a predator. And, lucky you, you can make that choice over and over again, and American institutions (and those empowered within them) will respond by very literally MANUFACTURING your innocence. [I am forever grateful to David J. Leonard for that articulation.] The institution's "leaders" will insist that, though there's no denying your guilt, you will suffer only the least significant consequences. Indeed, those "leaders" will instruct everyone to make sure that you feel at ease. Everyone is supposed to act as if you didn't enact violence on people's psyches and disrupt their lives. Everyone is supposed to act as if the violence and disruption aren't still reverberating. It makes sense, then, that such a predator would operate from a stance of innocence and entitlement, doesn't it? It makes sense that, when back in the space where he did so much damage, he would laugh loudly and go around to co-workers and tell them that he's at a point where "I need to be able to say hello to you." Why should he have any reason to think that what he "needs" isn't the only thing that matters?? The institution has assured him—and everyone else, including his victims—that the only thing that really matters is his comfort and his position. Who cares about how comfortable or uncomfortable his victims are? Who cares about the position it puts his non-victim co-workers in? In fact, if you don't make him feel welcome, YOU are suddenly the person who is "unprofessional" and "uncivil." His being a perpetrator literally does not matter because if you say something, YOU are the problem. YOU are making the workplace uncomfortable. Don't you realize that what he did is in the past? It has no purchase on the present because your "leaders" told you so, remember? It's magic! And isn't magic delightful? Really and truly, it would be funny if it weren't so foul. It would be funny if so many lives weren't unjustly bent and disrupted to accommodate the space taken up by white male perpetrators whom you must pretend are innocent, lest you pay a heavier price than they ever will. 

In environments like this (and make no mistake, the USA is such an environment), COWARDICE is treated as a cherished virtue. Even those with safety and stability in the system take a perverse comfort in acting as if they are completely powerless. It's disheartening, but I continue to have faith that "leaders" will show actual leadership and that others (who don't see themselves as leaders) will appreciate the injustice enough to pressure those deemed leaders to do the right thing. Surely, options exist besides continued injustice, continued complicity. Surely, folk will do better... Whether it's the unjust killing of Mike Brown in Missouri or John Crawford in Ohio, the lethal violence that Black & Brown women face from police and other self-proclaimed authority figures; whether it's the everyday humiliation and violence of stop-and-frisk and anti-LGBTQ surveillance, bullying, and attacks; whether it's sexual harassment in the workplace, at school, and on the streets, MAY WE ALL LOSE SLEEP UNTIL WE'VE GOTTEN CREATIVE ABOUT DOING WHAT WE CAN, IN FACT, DO.

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