Updated: Sep 1, 2020
What about... what about...
We keep hearing hearing “what about” as the response to racially targeted violence from police, from those who refuse to acknowledge the truth of anti-Black racism.
You know what we really need to know, what about? What about the police that haven’t YET been held accountable for violence against Black Lives? Police are suppose to uphold the law, provide safety... to serve and protect ALL citizens.
What about the justice we are still waiting on for Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the countless others, both known and unknown to the masses?
On the Kenosha Police Dept website, it states this (which is relatively reflective of most all police mission statements):
The mission of the Kenosha Police Department is to serve all people with respect, fairness and compassion. We are committed to preserving peace, order and safety; enforcing laws and ordinances; and safeguarding constitutional rights.
Is this mission statement reflective in the police interaction with Jacob Blake? Was he treated with fairness and compassion; were his rights guarded? Did Jacob deserve 7 shots at point blank range in his back - with his BACK to the police officers? Even if he wasn’t complying... If they were going to arrest him, they could have easily taken him down, giving him the same “compassion and fair treatment” as they afforded 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, the white teenager who just killed two people and injured a third, with an automatic rifle. Kyle, a member of a right-wing militia, had the privilege of being arrested, after killing two people, two anti-racism protesters, in cold blood; after walking around the streets prior to that in front of police, with a weapon he clearly should not have had access to...Kyle is the poster boy for white privilege and white supremacy, complete with an automatic rifle measuring almost half his height strapped across his chest. As a matter of fact the Kenosha police should also be held accountable for those two lives lost because if they were doing their job, they would have prevented it from happening in the first place.
But where’s the “what about” question around that disproportionate response? What about HUMANITY? Human Rights? What about BLACK LIVES? This is what we should ALL be “what abouting”.
If people are going to continue to “what about” every time everyone a Black life is taken or altered at the hands of police, Black lives are going to continue to be lost.
Your “what about” is killing Black people senselessly. Your “what about” is keeping city streets burning and in destruction. Your “what about” is perpetuating a deep rooted systemic problem with racial hatred within police forces towards Black people. Your “what about” is just marking time until the next senseless act of violence against a Black human being...Until the next hashtag #justicefor circulates.
Privilege provides the opportunity to deflect blame, to avoid and to “what about” this indefinitely, at the cost of BLACK HUMAN lives.
Black folx have been in the fight for their lives for decades, waiting on us white folx to wake up. Right now white folx have a choice, a privileged position of choice, of where they want to be in all of this: on right the side or wrong side; whether to speak out and to take action to dismantle - structurally, financially, culturally - the racist systems that cultivate within police forces, this racially targeted violence, among countless other policies, processes and behaviours not just in police organizations but across all areas of social structure OR to continue to “what about” it and perpetuate the problem.
Not choosing is also a choice, and evidence of the undeniable white privilege in play.