Dr. Dawg

No, we are not all [insert Black person's name here]

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This morning, unlike Eric Garner as he was being murdered on video by a New York City cop, we could breathe.

We. I mean white people. Like me. Wondering how to reach out, what the hell to do in solidarity. How to be accomplices, not allies. How to help make a difference.

Sympathy is not enough. Empathy is not enough. Only action will do. The rest is self-indulgence. But what action?

We are not Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner (and the list is endless—men, women, children, babies). I don’t want to hear that crap from white people. We can’t even begin to imagine what it was to be them. We don’t have a clue, except the ones they themselves have given us. It must infuriate African Americans to hear some of us so casually appropriating the lives of their martyrs.

And to urge African Americans, living in a police game preserve, to put more bodies on the line is white privilege at its worst. We long in our gut for a fair fight, for robust self-defence to be exercised against murderous thugs in uniform, but if things were fair, there’d be no fight.

Nor does wringing our hands far from the conflicts do anything. That’s just political auto-eroticism.

Heading directly into those conflict zones to play revolution? That’s more white privilege. It’s their communities, not ours. Shut up, get out of the way, listen, wait to be asked, and you may never be asked. Deal with it.

Our work is where we are. Our fight begins in our communities, our workplaces, even sometimes in our own families. In our streets—not their streets. There’s more than enough racism, sexism, homophobia and all those other “isms” at our very doorsteps.

And if we engage, if we really get down to it, if we organize as well as mourn, do our share of the heavy lifting, put in the countless hours of grunt-work that it takes to make another world even conceivable, not merely to enable a quick and meaningless change of political costume at the top—well, then, the comradeship and the coalitions we want will take shape organically. We’ll exchange energies and be the stronger for it, across communities, even across nations. The potential is there. We are, in one way or another, in the belly of the same beast.

So I’m not arguing for activist silos. If we are asked for help, or to work together on projects both domestic and international, we will contribute energy and resources as a matter of course. That’s solidarity. But to build the foundations that genuine solidarity rests upon requires more than occasional acts of cooperation which are, too often, a form of charity. We have to start where we live—or we won’t start at all. Up for it?

UPDATE: The video, above, no longer works: as readers will note, the New York Daily News is claiming copyright. If you don’t want to visit the Daily News site, the video is reproduced here in the Guardian.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on December 4, 2014 1:42 PM.

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