White People Don’t Riot and Other Stupidity

I wrote a post about White Privilege, citing several examples of my past events where being white, and probably also female, did not result in my arrest.

Like Michael Brown, I stole something.  Unlike Michael Brown, I was not shot. According to the internet comments I’ve read lately, I deserve to be marked for death because I’m a thug. Except I’m a white female, so those rules don’t apply to me.

The events in Ferguson are multi-dimensional, they exist outside of the realm of simplicity. Similar to, you know, life.

Ferguson is about a black teenager, killed in the street, yes. Because there was a black teenager killed in the street. Whether that was a justified/unjustified shooting is still undetermined.

Ferguson is about Chief Tom Jackson’s response to the shooting. The considerable amount of dodging and weaving makes it hard to believe what he says. Jackson’s in charge, every decision he made after Wilson shot those bullets are his responsibility. Actually, even Wilson’s decision to shoot is Jackson’s responsibility. That’s what being in charge means.

This is a police chief that responded to media and citizen demands for the officer’s name by releasing the name, but no picture. In fact, there is only one picture available of Darren Wilson, in a country where very few 28 year old adults maintain digital media anonymity.

Instead of providing Darren Wilson’s picture in the article naming him as the shooter, Chief Jackson included surveillance video stills of Michael Brown allegedly committing a strong-armed robbery of a corner store. According to Jackson,  “we needed to release that at the same time we needed to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting.”  

What they needed was a tactic. A demonically brilliant plan that effectively molded the algorithm of the google image search results to present evidence of Michael Brown’s criminality, while simultaneously providing reasonable doubt for Wilson’s actions. That Officer Wilson did not know about the robbery when he stopped Brown doesn’t matter. Those pictures tattooed the Thug Life image onto the brains of the Americans that would cast all black men as criminals.

The Saturday after Darren Wilson’s name was released as Michael Brown’s shooter, a google image search for “Who Shot Michael Brown” returned page after page of the stills from the surveillance video, and not a single photo of Wilson.

In the days that followed, the search finally had a photo of Wilson, but not in the Top 10, Top 20, Top 30… you see my point?

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#Ferguson is about breaking news that had to trend on twitter before capturing national news media attention. Or rather, before it redirected national news attention from a few rioters to the other, non-rioting, citizens of Ferguson.

Before the night of the Great Twitter Scoop, this event ranked no higher than a brief mention of an officer-involved shooting of a black male and resulting riots. Pictures, if they existed, were of a half dozen black people wearing masks, and a burning gas station. No mention of the peaceful, law-abiding protesters being sprayed with rubber bullets and tear gas;  they didn’t exist in the national news.

Tell me again about this constitution we are all patriotically-honor-bound to protect with our guns? Where Freedom of Expression, including speech and assembly, are the very first of all of the rights?

Should the rioters and looters be arrested? Yes. Does the actions of 30 rioters/looters cancel the rights of 200 protesters? NO. It is not the fault of the responsible protesters that a few criminals are breaking the law. (This logic should be familiar to you, as it is the argument used by gun advocates at every opportunity.)

That’s not been blog-comment-opinions I’ve read at places I would consider “across the aisle”. Apparently Americans have become so accustomed to seeing large groups of black people as threatening that they can see nothing else.

I’ve also read enough essays and thoughts by people, of all races and genders, to believe that Ferguson will become more. That both the shooting and the resulting — ongoing– aftermath will not fade away.

Ferguson is about how digital media is spreading and breaking news. Without twitter and a few people refusing police order to stop taking pictures, what would we have known? Nothing.

That attempt to silence the journalists in, and the citizens of, Ferguson is the second most chilling example of police misconduct I’ve heard in a long time. Without those people standing up to an armored car, tear gas canisters, and snipers, none of us would have known. We wouldn’t have known.  

I like to consider myself an informed person, both by choice and degree (sociology). These past few weeks, reading the history behind the continued racism in this country? I knew a lot, but not as much as I thought.

I found the start of when all attempts toward creating social/racial equality became redefined as communism. Because back then the only thing scarier than black people were the commies.

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I’m trying to imagine how an 18 year old would feel about this level of attention. After all, Michael didn’t volunteer to be this generation’s Emmett Till. The St. Louis police department volunteered him for that by leaving his dead body in the middle of the street for several hours, most of those uncovered, in a lake of his own blood.   Nods, “crime scene” you say;  yes, of course.

Wonders though, if that had been a white woman lying in the middle of the street, would she have been covered? What about a murdered 7 year old? Covered? Not covered? Privacy of the dead respected in any way?

In the midst of my horror and, yes, even my embarrassment, because, really– white people? Seriously? Some of the stuff coming from your mouths, being typed from your fingers? I’m not like y’all, I don’t believe the way you believe, and yet I’m still horrified by the fact that you keep talking.

In the past week I’ve visited some “on the other side of the aisle” blogs. One of which (no I will not link to it; an awful person whose personal opus includes words like Dominate Male Group Theorem as a reason for why White Men get to be in charge) that I have–literally– had to shower to feel clean again. I’ve read comments. I’ve watched deniers of racial inequality poke themselves out from the holes they hide themselves in, announcing via their anonymous internet identity the full extent of their idiotic prophecies.

Some of my very favorite raging comments:

 “White don’t people steal and loot!”

History disagrees with you. Scandinavia, full of people that are about as white as white can get, basically invented pillaging and looting. They were called Vikings and unlike the How To Train Your Dragon movie they did not, in fact, ride dragons to other countries looking to liberate underprivileged dragons.

Leif_Ericson_on_the_shore_of_Vinland

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Or, if you need a more recent example of white people looting, here are some looting surfers from LA.  Because, you know– looting surfers. 

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“Well, white people don’t riot when they don’t get their way”.

I just… did y’all take a history class? Like, ever?

Wikipedia is not my favorite source, but look– a nice list of White American riots in the United States.

“There is no government conspiracy against black people!”  

Well, of course not. It’s not like the FBI wastes their time listening to illegal phone taps of civil rights leaders. That would be craz…  Wait. What?

“Pfft– JFK was a stupid, liberal democrat. You can’t offer up what HE did as evidence for a racial conspiracy. It’s not as if he was a COP in FERGUSON.”

Fair point. When a cop in Ferguson detains the wrong person on an arrest warrant instead of releasing him, they beat him up and then, because arresting the wrong man and beating him up isn’t quite bad enough, one of the cops presses property damage charges against the man. Why? Because the illegally detained, beaten man got blood on the officer’s uniform.

“Whatever– this is just your white guilt. You act like the KKK runs politics, or something.”

Or something. Add in the cleverly masked faces and it’s almost like you’d NEVER know that it was your Governor out there burning a cross on the lawn.

Between four million and seven million men and women belonged to the Klan in this era. It was active in every state. It found support in many northern and western cities and was particularly politically powerful in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon, as well as the South. The Klan helped elect state and local officials and at least 20 governors and U.S. senators — from Maine to California. In Oregon, a Klan-dominated legislature passed an anti-Catholic school law, later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925), that required public school attendance. The Klan was deeply involved in politics, but it did not form its own political party. It was generally Democratic in the South and Republican in the North. It had no national platform. The Klan was a major issue at the 1924 Democratic Convention and the national election; in the 1928 presidential election, when New York Catholic Al Smith was the Democratic candidate, it helped the Republicans win.

“Racial inequality is over-rated. Why don’t black people just give it a rest? One time a black guy shot a white guy in my neighborhood.”

Yes. And that black guy will go to jail for a long, long time. Far longer than the white guy would have, had the shooter/victim been reversed.

One thing I have learned from the rather distasteful reading of several very excitable, pro-gun-rights forums is that bullets shot from a black person’s gun into a white person are much scarier and damaging than any other bullets. Those bullets are, I understand, 4 million times more likely to steal, shoot, and rape white women. In fact, because I am a white woman I should buy myself an assault rifle.  And then carry it with me everywhere I go to protect myself against violent criminals like John Crawford III. That guy? Just walking around walmart, in a legal open carry state, with a toy gunThe fucking nerve. 

He’s dead now. The cops shot him because people call 9-11 if you are black, carrying a gun. In a legal open carry state. And the NRA will say not a single word about how things would have been different had the black guy had a gun. Which, in light of CEO Wayne LaPierre‘s continued insistence that all people need guns to stop crime, feels, I don’t know, disingenuous. A bit like he’s a lying, liar pants.

“The problem with black people is their black excuses. How dare they sit there and complain.  The only time a cop stops me is when I’m speeding, ergo black people are committing more crimes because the cops mess with them more. It’s a fact.”

Did you know, my racist internet frenemy, that way back in 1870, during a time we like to call the Reconstruction, Hiram Revels became the first African American to serve in Congress? That black people had started enjoying all of the equality the constitution provided until the end of Reconstruction and the start of the Jim Crow laws? Those same laws that lasted all the way up to 1965?

I thought that was a pretty neat fact, and I just wondered if you, like, knew that.