Guest Commentary: Thank You Black Leadership

A display at Central Park in Davis

By Scott Steward Ragsdale

We can’t ignore the black and brown that have put their bodies at risk to save our nation.  Very few who have received the use of violence against protesters were white.

What we are seeing, the black led racial justice movement, has been in place long before this moment.  Listen to the words from George Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams, Harvard Professor Khail Gibran Muhammad, and Minneapolis Black Visions Collective organizers Miski Noor and Kandace Montgomery. Their words are crushingly reasonable.

William Barr interviewed on Face the Nation (June 7) said “we have to recognize that for most of our history, our institutions were explicitly racist.” Barr’s words are just the threshold of moral reconciliation.  It is up to the rest of us to bring our country to spiritual and fiscal reconciliation – to begin to remedy the damage done by hundreds of years of tragic racist exploitation most often structured by capitalism.

As hopeful as many may be, just like the Arab Spring, the promise of justice could be put down and we could find our society descending further into repressive autocracy rather than emerging from it.

Unlike the Arab Spring then, we have undeniable cogent and broadly dispersed leadership. This leadership is calling for the rational dismantling of the US police state and re-allocation of money to social services (not the end of policing).

Our emergent black leadership is going to be tested.  The blowback will likely take the form of historiographic white solidarity victimhood.  A victimhood aimed at re-establishing the divisive status quo.  Stepping in front of the exploitation of white victimhood and white fragility is where white allies belong.

Let’s get this correct. We punish crime, but we fix most of this with community health care and intervention, not arrest – not prison.  Violent crime is tragic and permanent and those losses are irrefutable.  Our human condition has shown us that those losses can become insatiable.  We know this, we have experienced it.  We have more than 2 million people in prison – more per capita than any other country in the world.

George Floyd’s eight minutes and forty-six-second murder was the last straw for an entire world made sick from its own duplicity. Suddenly the majority of white people are again awakened to the centuries of shame in the midst of a pandemic that has laid low the facade of self-reliance.  From this tragedy we must look to the solutions explained to us by our black leaders.

The protests continue and the reporting documents that they have become more peaceful.  People of color organizers and demonstration participants are able to quell the violence and minimize the destructive opportunists.

We white people can best ally by finding people of color organized events and showing up as participants.  They have the leaders – we need to be followers. A list of many regional solidarity actions are available here.

Thank you Black Lives Matter Foundation, Color of Change, The Liberation Collective for Black Sacramento and the many organizations bringing us the Davis Central Park Solidarity Space – bringing us leadership and a chance for improving all of our lives.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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