I was saddened to wake up this morning and hear about Alton Sterling’s death by the racist white police of America. I wonder how many people continued casually scrolling after coming across this? Half the battle with police brutality in America is the ignorant response of the white community. Imagine having to live your life prepared with a speech in case the police decide to pull you over because you are not sure if they will shoot you at point blank range? It seems extreme for a democratic society does it not? If you are white, then it is highly unlikely that you will be faced with this problem…ever…but black people are on a daily basis.
It was not too long ago I was scrolling down my news feed and I watched an inspiring video by a beautiful black woman called Sandra Bland. This particular video was to inform the young black community about their rights and how they should use these if they are ever confronted by white racist police. Not long after, Sandra was pulled over for failing to use her indicator…three days later she was dead. The suspicious police pictures in which some claimed she was already dead, see a woman haunted by demons (no way will I reproduce that picture here). Only god knows exactly what happened to Sandra but we can be 99.99999999999% sure it was the fault of a racist white police officer. Sandra’s story received a lot of coverage for its nature and yet the situation worsens.
We cannot hide the fact that these incidents are daily occurrences in the US, particularly for young black men. Poor Alton was simply selling CDs and now his children are without a father and his wife without a husband. His dead body is plastered across news outlets and papers today and his name became another hashtag. The police force need to take responsibility most of all. I do not believe every white cop in America is racist…but I do believe that every white cop would fail to be the whistle-blower. Listen to Hot 97 Paul Rosenberg’s take on it…
Now, if you are white you may think that these sorts of incidents are nothing to do with you. Or you may feel offended by the tagline #blacklivesmatter. Please put your ignorance and pride to one side and learn the history of your ancestors. White people created the slave trade when the Portuguese first made contact with the black tribes of West Africa. With the rise of nation states in Europe, each country wanted a piece of what was new in trade. Many West Africans were stolen and sometimes purchased from their villages by Europeans and forced to make the agonising journey across the Atlantic to work the plantations. Germany invaded modern day Namibia, Belgium took the Congo, serious segregation took place in South Africa and lets not even start with the history of the British Empire. The black movement of the 1960s saw heroes like Malcolm X fight for equality in the US which allowed young black men like Muhammad Ali to rise to the top of their fields. Sickeningly, after Ali won world trophies for the US, he still was not allowed to eat in a white cafe when he returned home. Black people travelled from the Caribbean and US to the UK to fight in the world wars. Instead of being treat like heroes, they were sent to the poorest areas of England to live and many struggled to find paid work because of their skin colour. Remember that the next time you are getting down at a UK carnival.
This is why white privilege is a real concept. It cannot be eradicated until we all open our eyes and educate the next generation on what has come before. We need to promote peace and love in the future, regardless of race, gender, age, sexuality etc. When you are next scrolling down your news feed and you see a story like Alton’s, use your ‘white privilege’ (*gips*) to protest against police brutality and racism instead of spouting #alllivesmatter in response to black murders. We all know that all lives matter, however, using it with regard to a murder like Alton’s is extremely offensive. It devalues the #blacklivesmatter movement, which is intermingled with the painful history mentioned above and all manner of other black social issues, like culture appropriation. Listen to this old white guy on CNN…he gets it…be white like the old white guy…STOP RACISM, STOP POLICE BRUTALITY.