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13 August 2014 @ 10:22 am
institutional racism  
I've been following the situation in Ferguson, MO with horror since Sunday, when a young man was killed by a police officer in yet another example of the extreme institutional racism that results in the murder of hundreds of black people by authority figures in the US every year. My heart breaks for all of us, but especially for black folks, who bear the burden of this shitty, shitty system. My twitter stream is blowing up with this, but I haven't seen as much here, and I want to share some resources and information more broadly:

This article from Colorlines gives you an update on what's happening in Ferguson: http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/08/what_to_read_about_ferguson.html

To keep up moment-to-moment, I've been following St. Louis Alderman Antonio French on twitter: https://twitter.com/AntonioFrench

This article from AlterNet is more than a year old, but still unfortunately apropos to the topic of the systemic murder of black men in particular by police (and vigilantes): http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/1-black-man-killed-every-28-hours-police-or-vigilantes-america-perpetually-war-its

And on that topic, while this is all happening in Ferguson, another young black man was killed by police in LA on Tuesday: http://ktla.com/2014/08/12/man-hospitalized-after-being-shot-by-police-in-south-l-a/

Finally, before you start talking about the killing of these teens and the response of their communities, please read this post by Black Girl Dangerous on things to avoid getting distracted by in the conversation: http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/

Now is a good time to mention the book The New Jim Crow (http://newjimcrow.com/) [which, full disclosure, I have not been able to read, because it's too upsetting, but it's a huge privilege I have to be able to NOT take in every detail of this when many people are living deep inside it]. Highly structured and systematized racism is far from a thing of the past.

Another long, worthy piece on the topic of the wide-ranging impact of centuries of institutional racism is Ta-Nehisi Coates's case for reparations: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

It's not okay that the police have developed such an adversarial relationship with the communities they're supposed to be a part of, and it's further not okay that this adversarial relationship is so focused on black folks, other people and communities of color, and poor people. It's not okay that our police are so militarized. It's not okay that we're not working harder to root out racism from our institutions of power.

I feel pretty powerless in the face of all of this, but I think that it's especially important for white people to engage and recognize that this is real and happening. I know that I benefit from institutional racism, as much as it pains me, and as much as I wish I could legitimately say that everything I have I deserve. But that's not true for me, or for you, so I think we have a special responsibility to be part of the solution.
 
 
I'm feeling: sicksick
 
 
 
John Q. Privatemr_privacy on August 13th, 2014 02:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying all this.

I'm digging into the references you provided, and wanted to let you know that after "and actually" there seems to be some text missing.
ruthless compassion: flag-barsaroraborealis on August 13th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
drwexdrwex on August 13th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
Good on you
I've not been able to read much about this. SO much sadness and rage.

I feel pretty powerless in the face of all of this, but I think that it's especially important for white people to engage and recognize that this is real and happening

Yeah, shit is real and yes I'm using my privilege not to dive into the details of it. But I just can't bear that level of burn right now.
ruthless compassion: flag-barsaroraborealis on August 13th, 2014 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Good on you
I'm unclear on what your goal is with this comment. I certainly empathize with the difficulty and cost of engaging with this topic in depth, but do you want a pat on the head for saying it out loud? What are you contributing with what you wrote here?

Where are you spending those cycles instead? (This is a question for you to answer for yourself; I actually don't want to know.)
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on August 14th, 2014 04:12 am (UTC)
Re: Good on you
Not sure what your intent was, but this response came across to me as unnecessarily and uncharacteristically negative and combative.
ruthless compassion: flag-barsaroraborealis on August 14th, 2014 12:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Good on you
Thank you for the check; I appreciate it.

That said, I stand by my comment. I understand the difficulty engaging with what's happening, and each person gets to make their own choices around it, but I felt like Wex's comment was at best pointless and at worse was seeking validation for that choice, which I'm not able to offer.
David Policardpolicar on August 14th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this.
porpurina: fire handsbloodstones on August 14th, 2014 12:30 am (UTC)
I see the world not so much as me having things, or, really, having easy opportunities to acquire things, that I don't deserve, but rather that *everyone* should have these opportunities, and I should use mine to help make them available to others. In less than two weeks I start a job where maybe I will be able to make some small difference, and right now the thing I am most worried about is how to make sure I carry enough awareness with me to make sure I am doing good, rather than inadvertantly making things worse because I do not fully understand the lives and challenges of the people I am trying to help.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on August 14th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for the links. I was feeling uninformed and overwhelmed by where to dig in from this point and these really help.
blkblk on August 14th, 2014 02:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your engagement and for prompting others to engage as well.

Edited at 2014-08-14 02:13 pm (UTC)
born from jets!!!catness on August 14th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. My godson just turned 13. He's shy and nerdy and really really young - very much still a kid, and not at all worldly. But he's almost 6 feet tall, has a big frame, and he's black. From a distance, if he's slouching and walking by himself, he fits that perfect(ly awful) stereotype of good-for-nothing up-to-no-good hood. And he lives in Belmont. I'm afraid for him Every Single Day.