America, Black People are Calling: Can You Hear Us Now?

Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

http://blumberger.net/wp-json/wp/v2/pages/36 Around the country, beginning on May 30, 2020, and in the days to follow, people marched, most peacefully protesting, and rising up in solidarity across the lines of race, class, gender, age, and religion that usually divide us about the police murder of #GeorgeFloyd.

http://humanesmarts.org/product-category/uncategorized/privacy-policy Some are people I know like Kesho Scott in Des Moines, Iowa, Fallon S. Wilson in Nashville TN, Alycin Hayes in City of Gainesville, FL. And I am sure many more whom I have not named.

http://coldwatergardens.com/about-us/ Some people came prepared to wreak havoc. There were probably outside agitators, who usually show up where there are TV camera; career protesters; white “allies” who are more confrontational than Black protesters, but are seldom arrested; as well as the “usual local suspects” looking for attention or to start some sh*t, then disappear. A few might even have been police agent provocateurs, whose job is to instigate and agitate for violence, which then justifies police action against protesters.

Regardless of who was present and notwithstanding the immense property damage, we do know this for sure: Black people, and their allies and supporters across this country and globally are calling America. Can you hear us?

Image by Clay Banks on Unsplash

People are lifting up their voices and bodies to protest — once again. This is a struggle that didn’t just begin on May 25, 2020.

It began with the unjustified enslavement of Black people; it began with an economy founded on human trafficking; it began with a contradiction in the words of the Declaration of Independence that held the language “all men are created equal,” yet in practice only recognized white men and excluded (white) women, enslaved Africans, and indigenous Native Americans. Can you hear us America?

People are lifting up their voices and bodies to protest — once again. This is a struggle that didn’t just begin on May 25, 2020.

It began with the unjustified enslavement of Black people; it began with an economy founded on human trafficking; it began with a contradiction in the words of the Declaration of Independence that held the language “all men are created equal,” yet in practice only recognized white men and excluded (white) women, enslaved Africans, and indigenous Native Americans. Can you hear us America?

Imagine the fatigue they must feel, because this is not just one set of events; they are protesting about and rising up against centuries of Black people’s labor used callously to build a “great America,” yet having to carry white America’s burdens of discrimination, segregation — now described as “disparities” and “gaps” in every social sector of society—— rampant inequality, and a “I don’t give a sh*t about Black lives” attitude in every institution from the police to education to the justice system to employment to even COVID-19 bailouts. Their fatigue encompasses the past and the present. Black people are losing out. Everyday and everywhere. Can you hear us now?

The critiques will abound about the not so quiet and fiery destruction of property in Atlanta, Minneapolis, in Washington , D.C., in Raleigh (where I live), and in other cities. There will be labels thrown about like “thugs” and “riots” associated with these last few burning days. And the media and white America will for get about the Black lives lost that inspired these protests in the first place.

They will forget that there were far more peaceful protests and rallies nationally and globally than destructive ones that did not make the six o’clock and 10 pm news, because there is no excitement or “news” if people are marching quietly, practicing social distancing, and hold up protests signs.

So once again, the media misleads us into thing that Black protests about #BlackLivesMatter are always destructive. They are not — but peaceful protests do not news make! Can you hear us?

The white public will forget the real reasons why Black people took to the streets for the uprisings and even what has led to the destruction of property. Let me remind you — . As I wrote in “Minneapolis is Burning,” there is a smoldering “black rage” across this nation about the seemingly routine police violence against us as Black people.

Right now many whites have wrapped themselves in white fragility and magical white thinking (of “I am not a racist” or “I don’t understand what white privilege means”), and will not recognize that the destruction we all have witnessed is not against property per say but against these buildings and businesses as highly visible symbols of white privilege. America only listens when property is destroyed or taken. Such is the nature of capitalism. Can you hear us now?

America didn’t listen when Black people peacefully marched during the Civil Rights movement; instead, they met us with billy clubs, dogs & fire hoses; during the Black Nationalist Movement where the Panthers set up programs to feed the poor and educate Black children about their history — America’s police infiltrated these organizations with agent provocateurs and shot up meeting places with assault weapons killing Black radicals like Fred Hampton; they even firebombed the MOVE houses in Philly with children still inside; and in Minneapolis only a few days ago, police greeted peaceful protesters with tear gas & rubber bullets.

America didn’t listen when we went to the ballot box. Recently, one presidential candidate accused us not being Black, if we didn’t vote for him. The nerve — has a white person ever been told they lose their identity if they didn’t vote for a particular candidate? Of course not. Such is the the power of white privilege — it can even define Black identity.’

The second political candidate called Black protesters “thugs” and tweeted to shoot those who loot. He is the same man who called the white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA, “good people,” after they had killed a young white woman with a car and injured others peacefully protesting. This conservative presidential candidate has the same white supremacist mindset of the white policeman who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. White politicians have been kneeling on the necks and backs of Black people for centuries. Can you hear us?

Suffice it to say that there is not a lot of difference between the two presidential candidates in 2020. One is just the lesser evil of the two white male politicians. Not much of a choice.

Two Things Black People have Learned from Politicians

There are a few things Black people have learned from white politicians, and unfortunately, sometimes even from politicians who claim to be “people of color.”

  1. Political candidates only visit Black and other nonwhite communities and churches in an election year. During the rest of the years, our needs are invisible and we are kept in a chronic “holding” pattern.
  2. Politicians never apologize for their broken political promises; nor do they discuss unjustified police killings of Black people (until after someone has died), our disproportinate mass incarceration, our economic suffering in and outside a pandemic, and the deleterious impact of our health disparities in the age of #COVID19.

So America, we are calling out to you today. Can you hear us?

Image by Derick Anies on Unsplash

We are calling you from the streets, with voices lifted, with fists raised, some with bricks, and a few with fire bombs. Whether we condone violence or critique the violent destruction of property that has occurred over the last few days, you must stand back and understand the frustration that precipitated all these actions — peaceful and violent. Can you hear us now?

We are not calling you on T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T or any other corporate company that claims they care, but keep Black workers confined to lower-level positions. And after 300 years post-slavery, all we have in 2020 is just ONE Black CEO in the Fortune 500?

Can you hear us America? We are calling you in every possible way — in the streets, in your courts, in your political campaigns, in your city and state government offices, and in your schools, using every possible platforms and digital media. You hearing us now?

Next time we speak, it will be at the ballot box, but before you ask for the Black vote, be prepared this time to answer the hard question: “how is voting for you is going to disrupt the cycle of inequality and disparate treatment that are proven facts in the daily lives of most Black Americans and is seen by us as white America’s trademark?”

Black people are calling white America, and any Black or Brown co-conspirators, and that especially includes white women who have benefited from Affirmative Action and Black struggles for equality, yet are staunch gatekeepers once they get inside the tower of privilege. We are calling you America.

Just answer the damn phone and this time, LISTEN.

America, can you hear me? Can YOU hear me? Can YOU HEAR ME? More importantly, WILL YOU ANSWER THIS TIME, WITH INTEGRITY?

©2020 Irma McClaurin