America can no longer watch Black people burn.
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
By Shayler Richmond
What is more American, white privilege or freedom? From the perspective of the most vulnerable; we are the people being slain by police, our lives have only been lived through oppression, and all of our progression has always been the byproduct of our disruption.
When minorities dream in America it costs us our lives. The norm has not been for privileged Americans to leverage their privilege in support of the most vulnerable, so "common good," has never been common; racism has been more common, fear has been more common, hatred has been more common, death has been more common. It is only through owning these hard truths will America ever-ever, become free or brave, therefore creating space for all people to live freely and dream.
“Minorities and impoverished Americans have not yet been able to escape the systemic oppression that lives so freely within the United States legal system.” - (“Black boys are losing to the United States legal system,” Rich Mag)
For America to grow past it’s indiscretions and serve everyone we must normalize the understanding that being patriotic includes breaking some traditions to better serve and support all people impacted. It's time we become, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” by having the courage to build a society that supports everyone.
Start with empathy. The protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor led to the looting of businesses and the burning of buildings across the globe, because greed and capitalism have led to dollars being placed above human life.
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” - said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech titled, "The Other America" (1967).
A person or people without an understanding of their wrongs can never go right; we cannot continue to place civility and stolen dollars over the common interest of human life and we cannot fix a system that is believed to not be broken and we cannot effectively support everyone if our support is bound by the structural limitations of capitalism; in order to build an equitable future we have to see the world from the perspective of our most vulnerable people, not our most profitable.
America’s lack of preparedness for the spread of COVID-19 left Americans unprotected and scurrying for knowledge and safety, but “ #TogetherAtHome” did not create a safe space for everyone. Poor communities, which consist of primarily minority people, were left out of the safety plan implemented by the Trump Administration.
But these health concerns are not new; not only has COVID-19 exposed the racism ingrained in the fabric of America, it has also exposed the growing health disparities in minority communities. Minorities have always received less and been impacted more. Since slavery ended minorities have been intentionally corralled into "ghettos" and built into food deserts with underserved and underfunded health systems.
While being unjustly killed and undergoing the many gruesome and still ongoing life-wrenching battles with racism and anti-Blackness in it’s many corrupt forms, minorities experience environmental injustice, economic injustice, housing insecurity and COVID-19 exacerbated every inequity we face.
The health plan implemented by the Trump administration in response to COVID-19 did not provide access to testing, PPE, or sustainable quarantine environments for all citizens and this left America's most vulnerable to die. While most privileged people recovered, many minority and low-income people died; this is a hard truth we must live with in order to build an equitable future that effectively supports all people.
American systems have failed Black people especially, because Black people have been criminalized, undersupported, unjustly imprisoned and inhumanely killed. Black people are recovering from COVID-19 at a disproportionately lower rate and beiling killed at the hands of “complicit” cops.
On a CNN interview with Sara Sidner, Minneapolis Minnesota Police Chief Medaria Arradondo called the officer who held his knee on Gregory Floyd's neck as he lay on the concrete facedown and handcuffed for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as Floyd took his last breaths "complicit". (June. 2020)
Capitalist and separatist ideology helped create space for privileged white people to become comfortable building the divisive, negligent, and oppressive America we experience today. Cutting corners to save dollars has allowed for the majority of big companies to disregard the barriers and needs of the most vulnerable, creating inhumane business values and structures, giving way to the leeching-underserving fixtures we see as big businesses today.
If left up to this current system the most vulnerable people would only work, spend money, and die. To tear down this corrupt system and create systems that serve everyone we must continue to be intentional and strategic with our actions. In order to be apart of the solution more privileged identities must digest minority experiences from a space where whiteness, nor privilege, is prioritized; these spaces are Black and other non-white spaces.
Giving dollars does not immediately equate to standing for change, change requires doing the work and being the change. Many companies who give to the people doing the work have displayed a level of unwillingness to deconstruct their own racist, prejudice, biased infrastructures that are unequipped to employ and support our diverse array of people who carry with them a diverse array of beliefs.
America’s inability to take accountability for Black suffering and trauma is not a new occurrence, but Black people have survived and will survive; if the change required to heal and restore faith in this nation does not come Black people will survive and America will not.
Privilege can be leveraged as a tool to escalate the most vulnerable, instead of white privilege has come to embody ignorance, disrespect and disregard for basic human decency. White people must do the work to change this reality. 400 years of slavery sounded the alarm, Jim Crow Laws sounded the alarm, the systemic oppression of minorities and the murder of Black bodies continue, to sound the alarm. Yet our bearers of truth are still willing to be yet another wake-up call.
The most vulnerable do not have the bandwidth to continue being overlooked, underrepresented, and murdered, as Black lives become martyr after martyr for our life-wrenching plight toward equity, whiteness has remained comfortable inside the bubble of privilege, which continues to exploit resources and people. There is no more space for us to hope our humanity will be respected. Our humanity will be respected, so it is time to come out from behind your privilege.
Americans can work together to end the senseless killings of Black bodies by implementing policy that equally protects everyone, and building a world that gives everyone an equitable opportunity for success. In this new world any company that wants to survive will be held accountable for being a stakeholder in our communities. We must each digest the ugly truths that have made America, America, and use this awareness to each intentionally do our part to shape a future that does not oppress or kill minorities.
It's now or never. When your work becomes rooted in a worthy cause, anger becomes a tool of justice; all of your being becomes a tool of justice because justice is love in action. Peace without justice is no peace at all because until we reach equity everyone does not have peace. Once again this is an opportunity for America to truly become a nation for the people. When you become dedicated to actively building strong communities this purpose is tied to a level of anger because there will be no peace until there is justice. If you are American and you are not angry you are complicit. Whatever drives you becomes a direct reflection of who you are, so learn yourself and learn how to work for the betterment of all people. The world won't ever be perfect but it can be better and we can each do our part to be the change.
How we love ourselves and how we show up for others everyday determines if we are creating space for us all to continue learning how to love. Come out from behind your privilege, drop your blinders, turn the sound on because people are still hurting and still dying. Are you showing up for the best of humanity or the worst?
Love is the goal and truth is the route. It won’t be until we make healing the standard that we then can spend less time healing and more time actually being free.