Racial tensions have exploded in violence this week in America. This amidst a background of people feeling confined and a mass loss of income due to the pandemic. There are proportionally more black than white deaths due to Covid19 in the USA. A video came out that Ahmad Aubrey, a black jogger, was killed by a white father and son who hopped out of their truck and shot and killed Aubrey. The perpetrators were only arrested when a video of the shooting emerged a month after the incident. The public became outraged.
Trevor Noah talks about the domino affect with recent racial tension in America*. The Amy Cooper video exposed the disparity between blacks and whites in relation to police in the USA. This woman, seeing police as protective of her as a white person and hostile toward blacks, calls 911 and says, “An African-American man is threatening my life.” The man, Chris Cooper, was just bird watching and had asked her to leash her dog, as is the law in the park. He knew his life was put in peril by her call, and so did she. Watching Amy use her white privilege to endanger this man’s life, highlighted racial disparity and that, according to Noah, was “the first domino”. Then came footage of George Floyd. He is pulled from his car, not resisting arrest, is handcuffed, pushed to the ground and held down by three cops. One cop keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 5 minutes, while Floyd says, “I can’t breathe” and calls out the names of those he loves. George Floyd dies. This is the second domino.
Now, big cities in America have burst into flames with protests against racial injustice.
Trevor Noah said that people complain about looters. He says that the “contract” we sign as a society is made up of common rules we all agree on, like that police will be here to protect and serve all citizens. That contract is broken. He ended, “You don’t like Target being looted? Police in America are looting black bodies.” Noah asks, “If the people at the top do not uphold the contract, what is it worth?”
Often spearheading looting and violence in cities are undercover white nationalists, who travel from outside the area. Like a powder keg, once they instigate violence, like breaking a store window, angry others will join in. Their agenda is to get the destruction blamed solely on angry black people, so that the society will not address the systemic racism in this country.
Here are some personal family stories from yesterday.
From my sister in Sacramento: “We were watching Netflix and smelled smoke, heard the choppers and knew it was getting closer. Watched live broadcasts of hundreds of police in riot gear on J Street firing shots into protestors to disperse them. It only made them madder. It was like the 60s/70s. I was so disturbed, I couldn’t go to sleep until 2am…It’s not supposed to be like this!”
From my brother in San Francisco: “(His wife’s name) store was seriously vandalized with maybe 100 or more looters. It is totally destroyed. Gut wrenching…”
From my sister in Big Bear: “A white friend posted, ‘Why are they still protesting? The cops were arrested. This is time to find your inner peace, be calm, do silent protest, just sit. Justice will prevail’. I (my sister) responded, There is no peace without justice.”
From my sister in Escondido: “There have been a couple of times in my life that I fell to my knees to pray. Hollister earthquake…and last night. While I was kneeling, I thought, why do we kneel at times like this? Then I thought – it grounds me. To be one with the floor or ground, calming my body, my nerves, then bowing my head to focus and pray.
My sister and her husband stopped to watch a large herd of goats cross a field yesterday at dusk.
Sister: “That one has a black head and white body, that one is white, that one is spotted, that one is beige.”
From my brother-in-law, who is black: “Goats of all colors are moving in unity toward the sun.”
An athlete takes a knee to protest systemic racism, while a white cop knees out the last breath of a black man. My sister falls to her knees to find the ground after the dominoes have all fallen and there is nothing left standing upright. The black son of an Atlanta cop tells us, “I woke up wanting to see the world burn down because I am tired (of racism) …”. But then adds, “Don’t burn your own house down – in anger at the enemy.”
One time I was angry while doing dishes. I took the cup that was in my right hand, flung it down and watched it smash into 100 pieces against the tile kitchen floor. It felt good for a second. That is how we are when we are enraged, we want to protest, yell, hit, throw, or smash something. We might break our favorite cup. We might destroy our own city. When we feel betrayed, we strike out. Our thinking brain is offline. So, this country may need to endure a few days of mass violence, then people might channel their outrage and find more productive ways to try and change a broken system. But we should not sit back down, especially white people. We can kneel in prayer and kneel in protest, then all stand up and move, but we need to move together. We become, like the goats “of all colors – moving in unity toward the sun.”