Thursday, June 4, 2020

Today I Shut Up and Listen

Today I hand this space over to those more erudite than I.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  in a 1967 speech, sadly as relevant now as it was then:

It is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on his May 30, 2020 Los Angeles Times op ed:

Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

President Barack Obama (three words I take great pleasure in writing), on social media:

This shouldn't be "normal" in 2020 America. It can't be "normal." If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.

It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd's death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a "new normal" in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.

Commentator Van Jones, on MSNBC (I will attempt to paraphrase):

George Floyd's murder may just be the inflection point that brings about true change.  Not only was the event captured in high definition and instantly distributed globally, but also, it was completely unambiguous.  There were no gray areas.  African American parents try to teach their children the things they need to do to stay safe when confronted by law enforcement.  Things like "don't talk back," "don't run away," "don't do anything that can be misunderstood as threatening," "don't have anything in your pockets that can seem like a weapon."  In other cases where black Americans have been victimized by policemen, parents could find comfort believing that if it had been their son, maybe he would have survived by not talking back, or not running, or not looking like he had a gun in his pocket. That comfort vanishes in the case of George Floyd. Millions of people all over the world plainly saw that there was nothing Floyd could have done differently that would have avoided or stopped Chauvin's public lynching.  Maybe this is where white people realize that things are much worse than they thought.  Maybe this is where we can come together and take action.

Jimmy Kimmel, on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

To me, "white privilege" was what Donald Trump had – a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with.  So, I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it and here’s what I think it is. People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens. If ever. Whereas black people experience that every day. Every day.

I read something last night that I think makes a lot of sense. It’s this: "White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder." Wherever you stand, I don’t see how you can argue with that.

And, lest anyone fail to see the connection between Trump and Chauvin, here's former Defense Secretary James Mattis, writing for The Atlantic:

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.

I leave you with conservative political commentator George F. Willwriting for The Washington Post (via John Gruber):

Social causation is difficult to demonstrate, particularly between one person’s words and other persons’ deeds. However: The person voters hired in 2016 to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” stood on July 28, 2017, in front of uniformed police and urged them “please don’t be too nice” when handling suspected offenders. His hope was fulfilled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Minneapolis pavement.