Response To: “But the Property Damage”

I have heard from so many people saying that they need a break from all of this news. And I get it. I KNOW it’s hard to hear about so much negativity. I do. I hear you.

But with oppression and racism…only the people who aren’t being oppressed can get away with ignoring it. So I am asking you to dig up any strength you can muster to carry on. We need you.

Lately…there have been riots and fires and lots of other things happening in a less-than-peaceful way. People don’t like that (again, understandably so)….but they’re missing the main message.

What all of those things are truly at the core is people who are scared and hurt sharing their desperation….because for too long their pleas for justice, equity, and compassion have fallen on deaf ears. So people are going to be loud….they’ll be angry, sad, or scared… and things will probably remain difficult and rough for a while, as the fight for what is right continues.

This IS UGLY. Because racism is ugly. That’s why it’s worth fighting to fix it. So….if you have someone in your life who is sharing an argument that focuses on the property damage and not the core of what’s going on- here is a response that I came up with to talk with people about it. (Please feel free to copy paste).

Dear Friend,

…I don’t know if it’s too late to share some thoughts with you- but it seems like you view yourself as someone who isn’t racist, so you might be willing to listen even though I’m sure you’re frustrated after having some upsetting interactions on the topic already. But if you can gather up the patience to listen to one more thing….

I’ve been hearing from a lot of people how violence doesn’t condone violence and burning things down and breaking things is not the answer. “Wrong is wrong” in your words, I think.

And you’re right— the damage and destruction is not good. But what I am hoping to encourage you to think about is— it might not be good, but it also might be necessary. We often view wars and soldiers as heroic. This is just a different kind of battle….but when there is something worth fighting for, that’s when fighting is necessary.

There’s a quote from John F Kennedy that goes “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” His point is that if nobody is willing to listen to those who are pleading for change, then desperation will force them into misconduct. And desperation is where the black community is at right now. People are angry, scared, and hurt. They have plead and “asked nicely” for a long time.

People are trying to say that this is a “police brutality issue” and it’s just a few bad apples. They’re saying violence doesn’t warrant violence (I don’t think it does either- but again, people are desperate). They’re saying black and white people both get killed by cops and it isn’t a race issue. But you can see- if you do some looking, that those things just aren’t true.

And more importantly—as someone like yourself who has said and thinks that they aren’t a racist person…I want to try to help you understand that by not acknowledging the desperation that led to these riots, you are contributing to systemic racism.

It doesn’t necessarily mean YOU are A RACIST…I’m not throwing insults at you—but what I’m saying is that the act of focusing on the property damage and riots, instead of the message and the reason that the riots started—is contributing to racism.

And that’s really important to understand, because if you do, then you can see that you also have the power to “fix” that- if you want and you are willing.

And basically all you have to do is shift your focus from “well” and “but” and “if they would…” to “I hear you and how do we make things better.”

Focusing on this being “the wrong way” to be handling all of this is a moot point. If the black community could have gotten the safety and change that is needed in ANY other way, they would have, happily. But It just hasn’t happened yet and….like I said…that’s where desperation comes in. And if my son were murdered (or had the potential to be murdered) because of the color of his skin….I would also feel desperate. It makes me sick to imagine. But it’s REAL for the black community.

I used to think that just being nice to people regardless of who they were or how they looked was enough too. But through many many many conversations and seeing so many different lives and experiences….I’ve found that racism just isn’t a “three sided issue”. There aren’t “black”, “white, and “grey” areas- where you can be in the grey area, just being nice and minding your own business. Because when you “hang out being nice,” what you’re also doing is saying “I’m comfortable with how things are” and that’s not a luxury that the black community has. So you’ve gotta pick a side and if you say the side that you want to pick is the one that’s not racist—then THANK YOU- that’s amazing—but it also comes with the work of being anti-racist. If you’re up for it.

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