Wednesday, June 03, 2020

So, the news in Brooklyn

 A large part of the morning is spent checking on friends who live in or near the hot spots. We're all sort of in shock right now, not at the protests but at the seemingly un-provoked violent police response.

Low flying helicopters don't help.

Neither does wafting tear gas.

I don't live near any of the hot spots. This little corner of Bushwick doesn't have anything to loot unless you want lightbulbs from the dollar store (which I do, but I'm also willing to fork over the dollar and enter through the front door, and talk with the clerk!)

If it wasn't for watching the news, I'd be completely unaware that things are Not Going Well.

I was heartbroken, as we all are, to see that bookstores in Minneapolis/St. Paul were burned to the ground.

And that doesn't even start to cover the anguish of seeing people shot at in the streets.

I'm just going to put my head down and work.
I still believe in democracy, and I'm counting the days till my/our voices will be heard.


How are all y'all doing?

44 comments:

KMK said...

So glad to know you are all right. I hold my breath every morning waiting to hear from friends and colleagues in the City. Here in the burbs, it's mostly survivor guilt for being safe on work from home while my fellow journalists are literally being attacked from all sides in the street. All I can do is keep reminding myself that someone much wiser than me said: "We can't kill our way out of this, we can only love our way out of this" -- and look for ways to do that.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

It's real bad here where I live. And my daughter is in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park which has not been entirely quiet. Watching our cities being smashed to bits is awful. They are already on life support with the plague. The people employed or that own these small businesses being looted and vandalized were already in pain, and they didn't kill George Floyd. How will your city survive this chaos?

Looting, breaking things, throwing things ...violence never yields anything but more violence. We have heavy military (National Guard) presence in our streets now and a curfew where our alarms on our phones blare each night to tell us to get back inside. I am told this is the condition of many of our major cities. America died while we were shopping for the next shiny bauble.

We are Rome. And it is burning. An election will NOT fix this. We have been headed down this road for decades now. The world is changing. Our leaders and politicians have failed us. They are corrupt, all of them. No matter what 'side' you support. Both our political parties need to burn away and never be heard from again. The corruption is so deep and far more infectious than COVID-19. That starry-eyed freshman congressperson you elected will be turned into a creature of slime ten minutes after being sworn in. It is inevitable.


Sorry. I am so sick of all this "my corrupt politician is better than yours". No, they are NOT. They are all corrupt because we have yielded too much power to them. The lot of them suck. A lot. They don't give a crap about the people. Yeah, silver-tongued and convincing but false. They only care about their power and will tell any lie to keep it. They use all forms of division to keep us apart, to keep the people from rising up and saying enough is enough. We are too divided to stop the inevitable collapse.

I feel terrible for the protestors. Their voices are being drowned out by the breaking of windows, throwing of homemade explosives. And there is no one left to hear them that can help them. We have become so mired in hate and blame, how will we ever fix this? In the name of love, where has MLK gone?


There is opportunity to make things cleaner, better, but it will be fleeting. Otherwise, hey, who doesn't love a good Dark Ages? It's something to write about. Lin Manual Miranda will probably write a brilliant rap musical about it.

Sorry for the rant. I am very angry. And scared. And tired seeing my neighbors' tears.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

How am I?
Well, actually, not well.
I feel guilty and privileged...again.
I have always felt guilty because when this country began unraveling in the ‘60s I went to Jo’burg, South Africa. It was during apartheid. If there was one thing disgustingly incomprehensible it was apartheid. (I walked among evil which eventually offered unthinkable freedom).

But there I was half way around the world away from my country. We were going through our own contractions ushering a new birth and I could not participate. Once I returned home I said that said if it ever, ever, happened here again I’d be on the front line.

And now, with Covid19, with a grandchild with compromised health, with my own health creating jeopardy, what the hell do I do? I’ll say it again. What the hell can I do but watch TV, pray, and grieve for the fallacy I thought we were.

Black freedom in South Africa in the 60s was unimaginable BUT if they could change (they did) we will too.

Damn it people. We ARE better than this.
We are aren’t we?

CynthiaMc said...

I've had it with all this nonsense. I am done. No one thought what happened to Mr. Floyd was okay. No one. His own brother said to stop it. Satan is dancing with glee over all this destruction.

One side is all "me me me look how virtuous I am" while the other is gleeful about unimpeded hell raising.

When your two year old throws a fit and starts breaking things you don't hand him more stuff to break (of course it's all somebody else's stuff so who cares?). You tell the little monster that behavior is unacceptable, put him in time out, and then make him clean up the mess he made, apologize to the person whose stuff he broke, and do chores feom here to eternity to earn money to replace what he destroyed. Then, and only then, is he off the hook.

I'm on the side of the people who came to clean up.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

So glad to hear you are well, Janet.

In MN, I'm thankful for clergy colleagues. Yesterday black clergy leaders led a peaceful protest/march in both Mpls and St. Paul followed by white clergy. They walked through affected areas. In Mpls stood at the spot where George Floyd had died, to honor him and other black lives lost. Clergy and other Mpls peeps have shared donation sites for neighborhoods of color that have been looted or firebombed (people have found stashed flammables with Infowars stickers in strategic locations) so they can be rebuilt. They've lost essentials--grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and at least 1 post office.

Though all this horror, I also feel hope that real changes will come for the better for black communities. I hope I'm not totally blind. So much pain for nothing would be catastrophic. The change won't be comfortable to live through but it's needed.

For my part, I've posted basic anti-racism resources on my blog and, after Covid-19 closed our new community education white privilege discussion group, I've contacted them to see how our little group wishes to be part of the rebuilding and reparation. Large or small, all prayers, all actions matter.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Here in Portland, Maine there have been protests almost every evening. Some young people I know have been organizing/participating in them and I'm impressed with their skill. Clear messaging, smart tactics. At first the cops were somewhat flat-footed, but they have not escalated the situation and last night took steps to de-escalate it.

Two nights ago a group 1000 people strong staged an extremely effective die-in outside the police station. There were some misdemeanor arrests at the end - a small group threw bottles and other projectiles - but it was largely peaceful, to the credit of the organizers.

The most egregious trouble was caused by the driver of a tractor-trailer who drove down a closed street, apparently aiming to disrupt the demonstration. He was surrounded by protesters and eventually the police, who arrested him and charged him with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a felony.

Last night the police chief and many other officers and the city manager took a knee along with the protesters. It was a smart thing to do, but I hope they're willing to move beyond easy symbolism to real solutions.

I worry for my family members and friends in Philadelphia, NYC, Boston and so many other places. It is a time of reckoning, all right, and a dangerous one with the provocateur-in-chief in the White House.

Register to vote, and make sure everyone you know does the same. In November, we can take our country back.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

We're just back from a calm senior early morning shopping hour, chatting with very friendly check out people. Deciding on the week's menu to come up with dishes the old folks will enjoy.

On Main Street traffic stopped both ways to let a mama duck and small babies cross the street.

Our small own is eerie quiet. Restaurants adapting, setting up tents outside. Library construction going on and the new addition is beautiful, faced with granite. Paid for by a man who decided to spend his wealth while he is here to enjoy it. Three million. I call the local book shop to put in an order and Laura comes out with a bag.

My sister is managing, planning on how to reopen the craft gallery. That lowers my anxiety knowing she is doing fine.

I have hope we will see positive change from all this. But I don't always feel so optimistic.

Must be the ducklings.

nightsmusic said...

This isn't protesters. This is hired, organized thugs. When you see loads of bricks lining the sidewalks where the protests will be in LA, that's not "protesting." That's sheer destruction because they can. And if you think the police response is wrong, you need to stop listening to the MSM because they put their slant and spin on everything they 'report' and don't bother to report things they should. Don't believe me? Take a look at the article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about David Dorn's death live-streamed on FB. But you don't hear that on the MSM because it doesn't fit their narrative.

Where's the outrage at the white people killed by police? Where's the outrage when a police officer is gunned down? Where's the outrage when blacks are killing blacks? Again, it doesn't fit the MSM narrative. Stop believing everything the mainstream media tells you! Talk about an unreliable narrator!

We had two huge barns arsonized this week and the local big box store covered in graffiti. Also, the signs for the expressways were vandalized. And I live in the middle of nowhere. So while America burns to the ground thanks to those who would hire people for just that purpose, I sleep with the shotgun next to the bed, all the cameras outside on, and pray that something brings this insanity to a halt.

Jen said...

For anyone who feels as helpless as me and wants an answer to the question, "What do I do?" My answer is: "Use this time to your advantage."

If you are white and have never read the book "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Race," pick it up. Read it. When you feel uncomfortable, keep reading.

Another excellent book is, "Me and White Supremacy."

Don't have time to read a book? Watch "13," a documentary on Netflix about the loophole in the 13th amendment that led to the mass incarceration of African-Americans and the laws passed over the last four decades that created the police state we are all seeing today.

As a white woman, I was born into privilege. Change isn't comfortable, but my God it's necessary.

Emma said...

I trust things my friends tell me about their experiences during this time than almost any news source. Having friends and acquaintances all over the country helps put things in perspective. This blog does as well.

Having friends who are NYPD and FD also helps put things in perspective. A good friend is a sergeant in the NYPD who was about to retire. But he's committed to wait until all this is over because he feels a sense of duty and commitment to his job and oath and the men he oversees. He's heartsick about what happened to George Floyd, as is every other cop I've spoken to, including my husband, who had tears in his eyes when he watched the video.

I can't speak for police in other cities, but in NY, the force is majority minority and they are having molotov cocktails thrown at them and told to give everyone they arrest desk appearance tickets.

If you don't know any cops, it's hard to put a human inside that uniform in your mind, but the ones I know take their oaths very seriously. They want to help, they want to make the world safer, they don't wake up in the morning wanting to go and break heads.

Claire Bobrow said...

I'm following Jen's route and trying to educate myself.

Last week, for the first time, I learned about Black Wall Street, also known as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. I was never taught about this egregious piece of American history in any of the schools I attended.

Why?

I abhor violence against innocent people of every race/color/creed, and in this moment, especially against those lifting their voices in peaceful protest and anguish over systemic racism.

I abhor violence against good people who are tasked with keeping the peace and are trying to do their jobs humanely and lawfully.

My heart is big enough to care about all of them. But many of our fellow citizens have never, ever been given fair and equal treatment, simply due to the color of their skin.

That needs to change. Immediately.

miriam said...

I'm searching for the HOPE in all the chaos. The images of diverse crowds of thousands, participating in peaceful protests--acknowledging there is systemic racism and speaking up so voice will be heard. I see hope in the white man who opened his home to 70 protestors who were trapped on the street, the man who said he hoped his children would grow up to be like those protestors who are speaking out for justice. I see hope in the symbolic gestures of police who take a knee and walk with protestors, who engage in conversations instead of using their batons. I see hope in the voices of journalists on the street who have been attacked as they make sure a free press survives in the age of "Fake News." I see hope in worldwide protests- from Amsterdam to New Zealand- people chanting that Black Lives Matter. I see hope in an election in 5 months where leaders- from local to national- are vowing to make real changes in the way people are treated. We are experiencing a pivotal moment in history and I have to believe we will come through on the other side stronger and more united than we were before.

Adele said...

Violence shuts down communication; it always has. True protesters know there is a chance, here, to make so many people aware of what some people's daily experience is like. So true protesters are trying to act with good in their hearts, but the people who allow themselves to be ruled by anger are shutting that right down. In the long run, they will not win, but it is hard to see the senseless destruction while that happens.

I believe that every thing a human does, from committing murder to putting down a coffee cup, is done because some part of the person feels that particular action will make them feel better. When I see a great crime like this, I can't help but send love and light to the perpetrator, because what kind of a mess does your heart have to be in, for you to feel better after you've done that? Also to his family and friends; I can't imagine the state they must be in, who love that policeman.

french sojourn said...


Protesters are protesters, rioters are rioters, and looters are looters. It's that simple and they should all be treated by which group they are.

At this point, I have gotten to that place where I only care about the good people. I know one of the nicest people in this group whose husband is a police officer. I honestly pray for him, because he is married to a saint, and I know that he must be incredible for he to be married to this saint.

There is a belief that we all deserve equal justice... let's all work to get to that point.

Stay safe, be well, and stay strong, This group is a great example of what makes America so wonderful. Every person in this group is incredible. Sending love from France. Her torch still works!

Wanderer said...

Thank you Janet for creating this forum where we can share our thoughts.
I'm heartbroken. Can't find words adequate enough to describe the jumble of sadness, incomprehension, questioning.
And regret. Why didn't we wake up earlier? Why didn't we pay attention? Sometimes we have to hit the bottom before the change begins. Let us hope and pray that this is the bottom. Dear god, no more. Let us climb out towards bluer skies, embracing the allness.
Anjali

Theresa said...

My thoughts go out to everyone who is suffering. I hope a healing time is right around the corner.

Stay safe and well.

Unknown said...

I think it's important to keep in mind the systems of injustice, not the details of the moment. Regardless of the exact actions of some protesters or the feelings of some police officers, the fact remains that it's not acceptable for citizens to be unable to freely live their lives in their own communities without being under threat of state-sanctioned violence. We have had many opportunities to make this system right, and we have failed to act. Activists have spoken out, reached out, educated, worked tirelessly, and many have not listened. We had many opportunities to resolve this peacefully. We didn't listen then, but hopefully we will listen now.

Casual-T said...

All this talk of “systemic” racism and so-called police brutality is nothing but a load of shyte. And if anyone gets offended by me saying this, I would like to mention that blunt words are probably the least we have to worry about these days. If you really think that in the year 2020 in these here United States a black person can not achieve whatever it is they want to achieve because of their skin color, then you either subscribe to the notion of black victimhood, or its just as ludicrous Caucasian counterpart known as white guilt. Anyone who accuses me (a white man) of thinking a certain way because of my skin color, or who wants me to apologize for American slavery, which I never had anything to do with, or who wants me to feel guilty for the coincidence of my birth, is someone who most likely thinks of themselves as not racist but bases everything they think about me on the color of my skin... Talk about an upside down world.

And where exactly is this “systemic” racism people speak of. I don’t mean racism as such, but rather the systemic implementation of racism. Which laws can they point to that favor people in one way or another because of their skin color? The one that comes to my mind is affirmative action. Only problem is that it actually favors black folk over all other races... Interesting, that, isn’t it?

Do you seriously think that, if George Floyd would have been a white man, any of these riots would be going on right now? Of course they wouldn’t. Because this is not about “police brutality.” If it were, the skin color of the perpetrator and victim wouldn’t matter. As others have mentioned here before, nobody talks about cops killing white folk, or the incredible amount of blacks killing each other. The problem is the killing, not the skin color of those involved.

Are there bad cops? Of course. But to think that every cop goes on duty with the purpose of killing himself a black guy, is PREPOSTEROUS! And just to put things in perspective, I am about as white as it gets, and I have been pulled off a NYC subway train at 4 in the morning while sitting and reading a book, had my ID checked and spent about an hour at the precinct for absolutely nothing, I have been stopped in traffic for no apparent reason, and have even had a captain call 4 cop cars on me for being double parked. Who am I going to call for help? Why did nobody protest for me? Hmm...Must be that white privilege I enjoy every goddamn day. On the other hand I have a black friend (who’s black parents have managed to become an English teacher and a doctor despite all that systemic racism!) who vehemently argued with me one day about how he was the victim of racial profiling because he had been pulled over for a broken brake light on his car. When I asked him if his brake light had actually been broken he said “Yes, BUT...”

It is flabbergasting to me to hear people say “black lives matter,” but then get angry when someone says “all lives matter” (what about blue lives?), and they decry that person as racist. We live, in fact, in 1984, where war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. When I say all lives matter I am a racist, because I don’t provide special treatment for one particular race... Are you kidding me?

I have exactly zero sympathy for the man who killed George Floyd, and I have the same amount of sympathy for people (of whatever color) rioting, looting, stealing, destroying, and beating and hurting people. What does beating an old woman with a 2x4 have to do with protesting racism???? None of this has anything to do with George Floyd, and everything to do with back victimhood and white guilt.

BJ Muntain said...

After spending far too much time on Facebook and Twitter, feeling all the feels and sorting all the emotions, the one thing that has made me happy today is Seanan McGuire's cat has recovered and is going home.

Everything else is too overwhelming, and I can't put anything into words about it.

But Elsie is going home. Long live Elsie.

Leslie said...

I live in the Village, south of Union Square. And it has been HELL.

The rioters have smashed and picked clean most small businesses up and down Broadway. They actually trashed and looted the same one last night AND the night before. I helplessly watched both streaming live. And yes, I called 911 both times.

They've tried to get into my building a few times and got into a brutal brawl with some of the guys who work here. (I saw part of the video someone across the street shot and I still cringe.) They also beat the hell out of one of my neighbors.

The best part? When they smashed the window of the (closed) bank below my apartment and tried to firebomb it. If not for the guys who work here, some of my neighbors and I would've gone up in flames while asleep. (They were probably asleep. Me? I haven't slept since before the weekend.)

Since then, I spend every night locked in my apartment with certain means of defense within reach while listening to a feed of the NYPD scanner and going through Twitter and the Citizen app to see how much danger I'm in at any given moment. I'm now almost numb to hearing the police call for reinforcements at my corner.

Obviously, everyone I know (especially some NYPD) is furious, sad, and disgusted by what that evil piece of garbage did to George Floyd. And I know these rioters are not about him and have nothing to do with the people out protesting. I support them, but that really is not my first priority these days. Literal survival is. And my neighbors feel that way now. Let's just say nobody here is a fan of the protesters now. Not that we conflate them with the rioters, but we just don't have the time or energy now.

I also do not have the time or energy to read about white guilt when my neighbors and I are in mortal danger every night. I'm trying to get word out that this is far more serious than our illustrious "leaders" are letting on. They are like Kevin Bacon's security cop character at the end of Animal House.

I cannot emphasize or repeat this enough: we are NOT ok here. It was AWFUL last night, not good at all. Our idiot mayor and governor are lying.

And thank you CynthiaMc and Emma.

I'm sorry for going on (and on and on) and being so emotional (but I am so emotional - and sleep-deprived), but it is hideous and dangerous here. For the first time in my life, I am frightened and wishing I had a gun

Colin Smith said...

Casual-T: I've been pondering long and hard how to respond to your comment both respectfully and honestly. I don't want to be reckless with my words. I want to choose those that are most appropriate to the moment. In response, I would say you have clearly not spent enough time allowing the mainstream media, academia elites, and Hollywood celebrities to mold your thoughts. Indeed, it sounds as if you've spent way too much time using reason and logic to form your own opinions based on data and facts. This pandemic has clearly given you too much occasion for serious reflection. In short: Amen. Thank you for speaking for, more than likely, a minority of voices in this community. And thank you Janet for letting his comment stand.

Brenda said...

On any given day Canadians are astonished by what we see on American news. It’s easy to point fingers. But the deaths of black men at the hands of police? That finger we point leaves four more pointing straight back at us.

In Canada it is still socially acceptable to discriminate against indigenous peoples. My own extended family will sit at my table and label a promiscuous or greedy woman a ‘squaw’...in front of my First Nations daughter. (I don’t say adopted because they are as much my children as those born to me, but there is absolutely no doubt that the reasons they were not raised by their birth families stem directly back to colonialism.)

Half-breed is still a term used for something that doesn’t work well.

Treaties are eyed up as money grabs made by people too lazy to work.

My husbands Great-grandmother was Métis. When she died her family burned her pictures, and now proudly say that they have no native blood because some relative did as a DNA test from tv.

Bring up racism among many whites here and you touch a nerve. Natives should ‘get over it’, ‘stop being lazy‘, and ‘stop wasting what we gave them’.

While interviewing a guide outfitter from the Yukon, I asked how many indigenous wranglers and guides he has. He looked at me, astonished, and then patiently explained that he’d go broke if he did. It’s well known that they steal anything that isn’t nailed down. This man runs his business on treaty land.

Racism here is ingrained and systemic. Our news media represents an indigenous youth shot by a farmer as a troublemaker, and then represents two young serial killers as coming from good homes etc. (The Indigenous youth was trying to escape, btw, and his killer was acquitted. No surprise there.)

What I commonly hear are whites complaining that they’ve had a tough time, too, and nobody gives them a handout.

Oh. Really.

When your six-year-old daughter is kidnapped and returned ten years later, deaf, scarred, and traumatized, we can talk. When she makes crap choices to muffle her pain, choices that effect generations of her descendants, then we can talk. When the government leases your front yard to an American golf course developer for a hundred effing years, then we can talk. When the government trades your prime farmland for muskeg, then we can talk. When your sons disproportionately overrun the court system, then we can talk.

Indigenous peoples in Canada are healing, and are taking back their lives due in no small part to affirmative action. One of the helps they get is with supported education. We now see indigenous lawyers, doctors, and social workers. We now see schools that celebrate indigenous heritage. We now see a court system that enables indigenous youth to get counseling and rehabilitation along with incarceration. We now see, finally, treaties being honored.

Yah, it’s been tough. Yah, it’s come with some internal corruption.

Yah it’s worth it. And we still have a long ways to go.

Are we all racist? No.

Are we all entitled?

You bet your lily-white misokan we are.


Brenda said...

My apologies for the rant, Janet. Touched a nerve here.

Jen said...

There was a fantastic series of tweets from a social worker ("pickledmint," in case you're curious) about how to engage in a discussion about tough issues, how it's possible to change someone's mind. In this Stage of Change model, there's a thing called "pre-contemplation."

Pre-contemplation is before any change can take place. It's the stage where trying to change a mind is simply a waste of time.

When I read the majority of these posts, I see pre-contemplation. I see anger, but an anger that's pointed outward toward injustice easily seen in the chaos happening on the street, not inward where it could require facing some hard truths about our society and the paradigms we were born into.

But in some of these posts, I see hope. I see the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can step past pre-contemplation, be open enough to listen without taking offense, and be the change our communities and country desperately needs. To those posters, I thank you.

Janet Reid said...

thoughtful rants always welcome.
Divergent opinions welcome.
The ONLY thing I will not tolerate is name calling or rudeness to another commenter.

And as usual, this community demonstrates it is entirely possible to have good people with different opinions.

NLiu said...

Not rehashing the arguments already discussed on here but wanted to recommend two books:

HOMEGOING Yaa Gyasi

THE HATE U GIVE Angie Thomas

One of the best things about fiction is that you can live the experiences of someone else. And that's the only way you're really going to be able to see their perspective.

I could have chosen plenty of other books but I read these recently and they are aces.

Craig F said...

We have had a curfew for two nights. The night before that you could see the flames from the end of my street. That had all moved to other locations, so my neighborhood remains a safe place for all of the COVID diversion Projects I have sunk my teeth into.

Even with the curfew 68 people were arrested last night. Near where that happened stockpiles of projectiles were found. There is some group that is directing the violence here. They are probably not the people that are doing it. Some police intelligence people have warned that White Supremacists are doing things to further divide our country. I am not sure I want to know, there is enough crap going on.

There are those of every color and creed who will take advantage when they smell fear.

At the moment anyone with a brain and a heart has fear nibbling at them. There are so many things to fear at the moment.

I can understand the need for a protest, earlier in the day that George Floyd was murdered, Amy Cooper tried to take advantage of her white privilege against Christian Cooper. That laid a base line of anger under the horror and fear of Mr. Floyd.

There are always those willing to take advantage. There are also those who take advantage of those who thought they were taking advantage.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm so glad you're okay, Janet. Leslie, I'll be praying!

Personally, I'm heartbroken. From here in Australia, we see the world going up in flames and I don't have the words. I just - don't. The guilt...

I can't look at social media. So much hatred! So much pain.

My brother and his family are holed up in their NY apartment and have been since early March; and they're also safe for the moment, praise God.

Stay safe too, Reef. Stay safe.

TS Rosenberg said...

> But to think that every cop goes on duty with the purpose of killing himself a black guy, is PREPOSTEROUS!

No one is arguing that every police officer intends to kill black men. Racism is, however, argued to be endemic within police culture. One analysis:
https://www.citylab.com/equity/2016/08/doj-report-racist-police-practices-are-endemic-in-baltimore/495245/

> And just to put things in perspective, I am about as white as it gets

This is your personal perspective. It cannot be placed equally against the lived experience of tens of millions of black Americans.

> and I have been pulled off a NYC subway train at 4 in the morning [...] Who am I going to call for help? Why did nobody protest for me? Hmm...Must be that white privilege I enjoy every goddamn day.

Your personal experience is one limited data point towards your argument. How can you be sure that white privilege didn't play a role? After all, you could have been beaten or arrested in any of these situations, and I assume you weren't since you didn't mention it.

> On the other hand I have a black friend

I'm genuinely glad to hear this. I suggest you make an effort to talk with your friend about these issues of privilege as he might be able to provide more nuances. Your friend may choose not to discuss them with you, of course, which is his right, as it his not his job to educate you.

For instance, you could ask whether his parents, in their education and jobs, were ever been passed over for an opportunity for reasons that could not be explained by their lack of accomplishment or work ethic.

You could also ask whether his parents availed themselves of of affirmative action initiatives which then led people to assume they only succeeded because of their race.

This Annals of Family Medicine article, "White Privilege in a White Coat: How Racism Shaped my Medical Education", has an excellent list of how racism in medicine works in practice (no pun intended):

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5951257/

You could also ask your white friends whether any of them have been pulled over for broken brake lights, or other minor issues. Were they scared that they'd be accused of something worse? Framed for drug or weapon possession? Dragged out of the car or beaten up because "the cop had a concern"? If not, why not?

I highly recommend both White Fragility and The Hate U Give, as others in this thread have mentioned. Above all, I suggest (as a middle-aged white woman! No need to be threatened by me!) that you stop placing yourself in the center of these arguments and listen to the people who cannot simply say "oh well, it doesn't matter".

> And where exactly is this “systemic” racism people speak of.

It's good that you're asking the question. The next step is to listen to the answers. Here is an excellent place to start (and you can pick up a tub of Phish Food):

https://www.benjerry.com/home/whats-new/2016/systemic-racism-is-real

french sojourn said...


TS Rosenberg. Thank you, that was very insightful, helpful, and timely.

Stacy said...

Surprisingly, we are having protests in my normally placid city (I moved back to my hometown a year and a half ago). The first couple of days were riotous, but I think the agitators have been weeded out. From what I can tell, the protests are now lawful and peaceful. No more blocking traffic, no more climbing on cars, no more tagging cars, and no more breaking windows of the shops downtown. The police have stopped overreacting and it seems like there's some listening on both sides. Sorely needed.

Like Janet, I am putting my head down and working. I feel guilty, depressed, afraid, and heartened. I feel so many things roiling at once. Mostly I'm just shutting up because I'm pretty safe in my country haven and have no right to feel fear for myself. But I have friends and family who are cops and I fear for their safety. I have friends on the other side of the divide--I wish there weren't such a thing--and I fear for their safety as well. The virus hasn't gone away and these protests will surely spread it--possibly undoing all the work we did a couple months ago.

I hope we make it to November. Right now I'm just trying to make it through this week.

Katja said...

TS Rosenberg, thank you so much for your comment. It is very helpful. Especially because I was too scared myself to comment after THAT comment.
It is the choice of words - the tone - that I was/am troubled by. I don't need to read "Do you seriously think that...???" It should have read "I seriously don't think that..."
But wow, what a tone. And then a comment Amen-ing the whole thing.

Like TS Rosenberg, when I read:

>"and I have been pulled off a NYC subway train at 4 in the morning [...] Who am I going to call for help? Why did nobody protest for me? Hmm...Must be that white privilege I enjoy every goddamn day."

The first thing I thought: were you beaten, knelt on or KILLED?
What a difference this makes!

Two days ago, I heard from a father whose 6 year old son was excluded from a game at school by other kids. Because he is not white.
That's how early it starts.



Oh, and I am white, too, by the way.

KDJames said...

I tried posting a comment over here in the wee hours last night and blogger was all, "You can only use 5 billion characters in a comment."

I cut it down and tried again and blogger said, "No, really, only 5 billion characters."

So I edited again, to no avail. "What part of 5 billion characters do you not understand?"

Thank you, blogger. In hindsight, those 40 billion characters were really only for my benefit anyway. Venting can be therapeutic, dontcha know.

But I do want to say, to those of you who (not unlike me) (and yet completely different from me) are so sure of yourselves:

Your perspective is valid, of course it is, but it's not the only perspective. Certainly not the only truth. Neither is mine. Once the immediate anger and fear and frustration of this situation wear off, I hope we all will set aside some time and try to see our shared world through unfamiliar eyes. If we can't find empathy now, when so many of us are crying out in pain, we truly risk losing everything worthwhile.

nightsmusic said...

I find it interesting that the condescending comments trying to 'educate' in the matter of Black Lives, completely missed Casual-T's point; it doesn't matter what color one is, killing is killing. All Lives Matter is dismissed summarily in due course because again, it doesn't fit the narrative of the day. But the real problem is, they all do matter. Black, white, blue, whatever race or color, it doesn't matter. The latest thing now is black cops aren't 'black', they're 'blue' and therefore no longer in tune with their fellow blacks. That's about as big a load of hogwash as I've ever heard and those who buy into it are also buying into all the other lies the news is perpetrating now.

Again, I go back to David Dorn, a 77 year old Black retired St Louis captain of the police force, shot in the abdomen while trying to stop looters from taking TV's, etc, from a friend's pawn shop. Then left on the sidewalk while his blood pools around him and people simply live stream it on FB, until he dies and they all run off. Where are the Black Lives Matters people for that? Where is the human compassion? He was a black man! The looters were black! Where is his justice? And yet, there has been not ONE outrage posted about that by any of the rioters or protesters. It simply doesn't fit the narrative.

People have been racist in one way or another for thousands of years and if anyone thinks setting fire to apartment buildings with children inside, or smashing out all of Macy's storefronts, or beating an elderly woman trying to protect her business or livestreaming someone dying, is going to change that, they're dead wrong.

I've lived through a lot of terrible times in our history, I imagine I'll live through several more before I go. I lived through the Detroit riots that started with unrest, not a death, but turned into one of the worst riots in American history. I watched the tanks roll down 12th street. When it was all over, the looting, burning and killing done, little had changed. And underneath, it still hasn't. That will be the same thing here. Because this doesn't work.

CynthiaMc said...

Let's not beat up on Casual T. This is supposed to be a safe space.

Racism works both ways.

My daughter was told she would easily qualify for a college scholarship if only she were black. She worked part time and went to school part time until she could no longer afford it. That scholarship that she worked for would have helped her finish her degree.

My husband missed a couple of promotions because even though everyone agreed he was more qualified, they "needed a black female". He then spent the next several years doing his job and hers because she was not qualified and was not interested in learning the job because she knew she didn't have to.

He then spent several years after his retirement coming in and working those events that would have been canceled as a volunteer. Our family could have used that promotion. Working both those jobs and only getting credit for one took a big toll on his health to the point where he had to retire early, another loss.

I'm more than a little tired of being lectured to about "white privilege."

Until we really start treating people equally on merit we will have problems.

TS Rosenberg said...

I didn't miss Casual-T's point.

> The problem is the killing, not the skin color of those involved.

All murders are wrong, *but not all murders are treated as if they are wrong*. That's the point.

Black Americans are two to three times as likely as white Americans to be killed by police officers. (Some statistics: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/05/mapping-police-killings-black-americans-200531105741757.html)

Black people have to be "unarmed" to get the benefit of the doubt that they weren't threatening anyone and didn't deserve to die (see https://www.npr.org/sections/publiceditor/2020/05/21/859498255/unarmed-black-man-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-means?t=1591279326866).

He, and you, seem to be interpreting Black Lives Matter as "Black Lives Matter more than other lives." What it actually means is "Black Lives Matter as much as all other lives, but society doesn't treat them as equally valuable."

For more on that, see: https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter

nightsmusic said...

TS Rosenberg, you're still missing the point. Why should black lives even be singled out as mattering when all life should? I could provide links to statistics that clearly show twice as many whites killed as blacks, that aren't from liberal sites. I could cite statistics on black on black crime, white on black, black on white, all day long, also not from the liberal sites you've provided which is part of the point as well. The only thing you seem to be interested in is the same narrative the MSM is pushing. Why should a white death at the hands of a police officer take any less precedence than a black death? It shouldn't! But it's so much more righteous to scream about the latter and ignore the former. So the angry mob tears the city apart in retaliation for the black person while the white person's family grieves in silence and is ignored.

You and I are worlds apart on this because I think every life should matter and one shouldn't be exalted over another. You want the black lives to matter more, so they'll get the attention the white lives do not. Well, one is getting that attention now and where is it getting us all? And I still have heard nothing on David Dorn. But I guess I didn't really expect to. His death is just as tragic but ignored here as well as most everywhere else. So please stop posting liberal links and avoiding the underlying problem of the officer shot in the back of the head and the two run over by a protester and David Dorn. Those lives mattered just as much, but too many don't care about them. It would stop the momentum to feel outrage for them as well.

And that's my three.

Katja said...

TS Rosenberg, fully agree with the definition you've given of Black Lives Matter.
And why there is a need to 'single them out'.

I suggest you leave it there for now, though... no point in carrying on.

Casual-T said...

I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond to all of this, and, out of respect for Janet, I’ll try my very best to keep it short and sweet... Earlier today I had a very emotional conversation with a tearful Mrs. Casual. She is scared and worried that, because of me voicing my opinion here and perhaps offending the “wrong” people, I am putting myself, her, and Li’l Casual in danger. So much for the “Land of the Free!” When lawful citizens and regular people feel anxiety about voicing their thoughts (however "offensive" they may be) for fear of “retaliation” and physical harm from lunatics armed with bike locks, you know things are not as they should be.

It saddens me to no end to see how divided we already are (well done CNN, NY Times, etc.), and if even a bunch of geeky bookworms like ourselves can not agree on the unequivocal validity of a simple statement such as “The problem is the killing, not the skin color of those involved,” then what is the rest of the world to do. I would like to thank all those of you who felt it necessary to “educate” me on all things race related, and would just like to mention that you know nothing about me or my life, yet you assume so much! But, as long as you think you can pass judgment based on the commandments of Identity Politics and Groupthink, I guess it’s A-OK for you to do so.

I still don’t think it’s right.

Thank you, Janet, for allowing me to speak here... I will say no more about this.

TS Rosenberg said...

> When lawful citizens and regular people feel anxiety about voicing their thoughts (however "offensive" they may be) for fear of “retaliation” and physical harm from lunatics armed with bike locks, you know things are not as they should be.

When lawful black citizens and regular black people feel anxiety about going about their everyday lives for fear of retaliation and physical harm from police officers armed with guns and white supremicists armed with assault rifles, you know things are not as they should be.

french sojourn said...


Casual T; there is no way in the world that you should fear anything from anyone in this group. I'm not sure why you think this group harbors anyone that would harm your family here. Go in peace.

Casual-T said...

@french sojourn Just to clarify, I am not referring to anyone in this particular group. But, this blog is widely read, and it is the internet, after all. Everything is accessible to anyone at any time. And, besides, Mrs. Casual is a somewhat anxious creature at the best of times, so her nerves are rather fried at the moment. Thus her fearful reaction.

miriam said...

Casual T, I made a comment previously and have been reading this thread with interest. This is a safe space where people who are passionate about reading and reading come together. This discussion sparks passions on both sides, but we are lucky to live in a country where we can voice opinions and listen to other perspectives. This is why I feel HOPE in this situation: people are using this opportunity to have their voices heard. As long as this continues, together we can find a way forward. Animated discussions are not dangerous and there isn't anyone on this site that wishes harm and violence toward anyone else. That seems to be clear to me from the comments. Thank you, Janet, for allowing this discussion.

Panda in Chief said...

I hesitated to comment on the ongoing discussion here, since I have the ability to put my foot in my mouth, despite the fact I am no longer as physically flexible as I used to be.

Everything I wanted to say, has pretty much been said. But I will say this:
One can't truly know what it is to live another person's life. But from the moment we are born, each experience, privilege, lack of privilege, acts done by us, and to us, are cumulative.

If you go to school in a more affluent district, the items in the positive column add up, just as fast as the negativeness do, if you go to a school with less resources. If you are constantly given accolades, whether you have earned them or not, you are going to have a different outlook, have different behavior than if everywhere you go, you are viewed with suspicion.

If we have not been forced to be aware about the difficulties of the lives of others, we believe we have the luxury to think that everyone starts at the same starting gate. I'm a middle aged white woman. I know that I have more privilege than most people of color, but less privilege than white men. The farther back you start, the harder it is to cross the finish line first. Yes, some, maybe even many non white people excel despite where they started in life.But never think that it was all your achievement and not your starting position. It is disingenuous to think otherwise.