June 22nd: Systemic Racism (Not Directly About COVID-19)
I see a lot of people trying to shrug off these protests, or state that racism is no longer a thing, or people who still think that when we say “Black Lives Matter” that the word “only” is in there somewhere. People who claim that calling something racist is blowing it out of proportion.
There are those who try to “prove” that systemic racism isn’t a thing, and they all cite the same statistics, first given widespread acclaim by an author named Heather Mac Donald. The final link below is an article that shows how much she’s cherry-picked her numbers to come up with some denialist talking points. Highlights: There’s shoddy manipulation to come up with the “police are 18.5x more likely to be killed by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer.” That number only includes shootings (Eric Garner and George Floyd, among others, were not killed by bullets), and ignores any of the cases that might have been considered “armed” (Philando Castile had a legal gun on him, that was never drawn). By the same application of the cherry-picked numbers, it is 77x more likely that a white man will kill a police officer than a police officer will kill an unarmed white man. So obviously we should focus more on that, right? The rest of the article goes on to show how bad those statistics are and how they prove nothing. The reality is that Black people are much more likely to face racism and death every day.
Instead of trying to disprove things so your worldview remains comfortable, I ask those of you who try to deny the existence of systemic racism to read and listen to Black people (and not the ones who are making a platform off of parroting white racists and conspiracy theorists, like Candace Owens). Real Black people who write and talk about these experiences, like that of getting pulled over for no reason other than “driving while Black.”
Watch 13th, or When They See Us, or Dear White People, or any of the many visual depictions of systemic racism and how deep it runs. Read any of the Black-authored books I have posted about previously. Look at the events surrounding the murders of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and so many others. Not their criminal records or their pasts - the actual events. Because NONE of them deserved to die. Our justice system demands fair trials and, if any, punishments that fit the crime. Death fits none of these situations.
There are white people that have died at the hands of overzealous police officers, too. But not as many. And there are many more white people that have done the same things as some of these Black folx have and nary a gun has been drawn, let alone fired.
This isn’t to say there aren’t good police officers. But when it happens THIS MUCH, there is a systemic issue. And it’s not with Black people, it’s with the organization, the system that is supposed to protect all citizens equally, but does not. We’re not “labeling this as a racist thing” - it IS racism.
And for those of you trying to say “they made us shut down our businesses, now they want to protest and that’s okay...” Yes, the business shutdowns were hard, and livelihoods have suffered. But the protests weren’t some whim. People are protesting for the right to live without fear of being killed by the very system that is supposed to protect them. And they protested while wearing masks and trying to take precautions, which is more than I can say for too many of the people I see in my own community.
My flaw in this essay is that I’m not highlighting enough Black voices. But I think I still have to convince some of you to acknowledge that Black voices need to be heard.
Below is an additional link to a Tweet thread about how the Confederacy was never really dissolved, it was just absorbed and reworked to make racism part of American life. It goes all the way back to the 1860s, my friends.
Systemic racism is still a part of our society. People are writing books on this subject. Poorly manipulated/cherry-picked statistics don’t erase it. Candace Owens can’t erase it. Denial that it exists does not solve the issue. It is rampant, and it must change. But we have to acknowledge that it is a problem and educate ourselves in order to change it.
Manipulations of Statistics to Hide Why Black Lives Matter: