I was talking to person of color yesterday about the lack of a major church led peace rally in response to the Black Lives Matter riots, and the conversation ended with me essentially being called a racist.
How did we get there?
This person, a self-professed Christian who happens to be biracial, seemed like a person who might want to have one of those “difficult discussions” or race that supposedly never happen. I said I wanted to see church leaders hold an MLK style march on Washington where hundreds of thousands of Christians could unite with a message promoting peaceful protests.
I was then informed that there are apparently 1500 peaceful protests that I don’t hear about. I responded that I have no problem with those protests, or those who are just regular folk who believe that too many black people are being killed by police. My problem is with those at the top who pour millions of dollars into the “movement” and bus professional agitators to a location seeking to set the city on fire.
I was told that I was uninformed because I did not know about the 1500 protests. An interesting indictment, because this person 1) was unaware of the millions of dollars given to BLM by George Soros and other big money donors; 2) was unaware that unions are busing in paid agitators; 3) has watched none of the shooting videos; 4) knows very few of the names of the victims.
As I provided the statistics about how only 200-250 blacks are killed by police each year. How 70-80 of those cases are justified. Maybe 10-15% are questionable, and the remaining 10-15% are absolutely unjustified. These statistics are all available from government sites (FBI, CDC, etc.). This person actually told me that those statistics cannot be trusted.
I was even told that my opinions are based on videos, not what actually happened. Although they admitted to not watching any videos, this person believed that perhaps the evidence that I saw with my own eyes was possibly falsified. I suppose my eyes are deceiving me.
In arguing about justified shootings, I informed them that if one of my little ginger daughters pulled a gun on the police, I would expect her to be shot as well. It is NOT a racial issue.
“Have you ever lost someone close to you?” I was asked. Thankfully, I have not. However, according to this person, losing someone is extremely emotional and I cannot expect someone in pain like that to behave rationally.
I told them that if someone walked into my house and killed my family, I would more than likely be filled with rage, but I would not set fire to my innocent neighbor’s house. I understand the outrage. I get that the community may be hurting. I know that they seek justice. I do not believe that burning down a local CVS is proper exercise of the outrage and pain.
This person challenged my Christianity. They asked how a Christian could be okay with black people being killed. I told them that I am not okay with it, but there is no reasonable way to stop all of these shootings. No matter what training is implemented; no matter how many cameras are on the person and vehicles of police officers, perpetrators will still pull illegal firearms out and aim it at officers, thus, justifying shooting in self-defense.
This person told me that they have to be scared for their spouse and children because they are black, and might be shot during a routine traffic stop. I told them that out of a population of 350 million people, fewer than 100 are killed by police for “no reason.”
I also have to teach my daughters to not mouth off and especially not pull out a weapon on a police officer. I told this person about being personally harassed by police several times in my life. I have been pulled over for no reason many times. I was sucker-punched by a black man during a basketball game and looked to the police for help as I was 17 at the time. The officer harassed me for 20 minutes, trying to get me to admit that I said the “n word,” which I did not. No witness said I did, but the officer could not believe that I was punched just for playing basketball despite a dozen or so eyewitnesses that backed up my story.
Having grown up as a pale, ginger boy in an all-black neighborhood, I got into fights. I was bullied and the victim of racism. I had to go to private school because it would have been worse for me had I gone to a public school.
This, apparently, is why I have “racism in my heart” now according to the person I was conversing with. I was a victim of racism, so now I must be racist. There is no evidence of this during my entire lifetime, yet I suppose I must be.
I mean, I also had some bad run-ins with white people. The only other white kids on my block broke into my house while we were at church and stole all of our video games and systems (and yes, there were many). In fact, I got into fistfights exclusively with white people in high school. Reflecting on this made me realize that I must also be racist toward white people. They were all men too, so I must now be a man-hating sexist. Makes sense, right?
I was also told that my obvious outrage over being called a racist was more proof of my racism. The conversation ended when I asked if they had ever had a bad incident with a white person, and they simply said “not until now.”
“Wow.” I left the conversation with that one word response.
This is the never ending cycle of circular reasoning and straw man arguments that keeps people quiet about race in America today. Whenever the subject is broached, white people become racists. A conversation beginning with a call for unity and healing ended with charges of racism and personal attacks.
Unfortunately, I am too stubborn to run from the topic. I will still talk about race, and I will do so with some academic authority on the subject. I will do so with research, statistics, social theories, and actual data. I refuse to believe that one “must be black” to discuss black issues. With that logic, no blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Islanders, etc. should be able to discuss white issues, which, if you use the liberal academic talking points of the day, are all issues. The default of our society is white and male.
Women can talk about men. People of color can talk about whites. Yet the reverse is not allowed? Who is the racist? Who is ethnocentric now?
A “discussion” requires two people. If we are to solve any social problem, the “opposing” groups must engage in a dialogue. It is the basis for understanding one another. I look forward to being called “racist” more often, so long as I continue to press for conversations about tough issues. I can live with that, because I know that the Truth is on my side.
6 thoughts on “I am a “Racist” and That’s Okay.”
Based on what you wrote here, it sounded like both sides had red herrings and slippery slopes in the conversation. In fact, I’m not even sure how the conversation went from “Hey, lets do a peaceful protest about officer-involved shootings” to Millions of USD donated by George Soros to justified shooting of ginger kid? These are all different in-depth issues; so I can only address bits and pieces. First, he’s right about the thousands of peaceful protests in the U.S and abroad (BLM is an international cause) that the mainstream news outlet do not show. They like sensationalism, so unless you’re looking at alternative sources you’ll only hear headlines about protests from mainstream news. Second the BLM movement is grassroots with no identified leadership, meaning anyone who says they are for “Black lives”or are “angry about the police incident” is automatically lumped into the BLM category, even if they have never participated in any organized movement. There’s no club or roster where they “keep membership”. Thus, you have a lot of angry people who engaged in self-defeating acts that are lumped into the BLM movement, and you have a lot of peacemakers and community leaders who are organizing and working with police and the community to enact real change. Third, this issue of justified/unjustified shootings is muddled. As there is no universal protocol for justified shooting. NYPD’s protocol is different from LAPD, which is different from Baltimore PD etc…Your friend should be a little wary of the statistics because local PDs do not have to report officer involved shootings (OIS) to the DOJ. In fact, the Guardian has a project called The Counted, in which the FBI Chief Comey stated that the paper has better surveillance on OIS than the agency does. So its always good to cross reference data with watchdog groups and see how they are finding the numbers. Fourth, the concept of shooting an unarmed/armed victim; if we look to other countries that have lower rates of OIS and higher rates of victim survival you will see a vast difference in training. In my recent post, I noted that many of the victims did not receive immediate first-aid, its not like that in European countries. European officers are trained to give first aid to someone they harmed, increasing survival rates. Thus, we really need to critique the system of why we expect trained police officers to panic and impulsively shoot someone (Black or ginger); while we expect untrained civilians to stay calm with a gun pointed at them. Lastly, I want to circle back to your original point about leadership. As I said, there is no real leadership in BLM, so I’m not sure where this next MLK Jr. figure would arise from…or if there is anyone who has similar notoriety and following as MLK Jr. did in his day, that brought thousands of people to march in D.C. Anonymous organized a march in Times Square after the Eric Gardner case and that was peaceful had something like 10K people! You may not see yourself as the next MLK Jr. but you can lead a vigil or peaceful protest yourself too, you don’t have to wait for”someone else to do it.”
What are the standards for justifiable? That seems subjective and could be very loosely interpreted. Also implicit bias is always an important factor.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/justifiable_homicide is the definition most likely used. I believe that the standards include when the officer feels their life is in danger (brandishing a weapon or being physically assaulted).
Hello, The Girl. Thanks for your comment!
To be honest with you, I am not exactly sure how the conversation devolved so far so quickly. It was an hour long, but I felt as though my earlier point of unity was really never acknowledged before the insinuation that I don’t believe that black lives matter occurred. I reiterated several times that my problem was with the fire setting protesters, not the average people on the street.
I try to keep up with many alternative sources, and I never look to just mainstream media. I read left and right leaning articles, but perhaps I should look to some international news agencies as well. Any recommendations?
I agree that BLM began as grassroots, and told the person I argued with this same thing. However, like with any grassroots movement (Occupy, Tea Party, etc.) big donors come in. Funding is always necessary to keep a movement from fizzling out, but in too many cases favors end up being exchanged and we end up with an “AstroTurf” situation. There are still “leaders” of the movement, like Shaun King and DeRay Mckesson
I believe that they operationalize “justified” is brandishing a weapon or assaulting an officer (like the case of Mike Brown). I am a statistician (and so is the person I “debated”), so I understand the idea of the dark figure of missing crime data. However, when dealing with numbers in the hundreds, I truly do not believe than any dark figure would have that catastrophic an impact on the data.
The issue with comparing our criminal justice system to other countries is always dicey for me. Most of the time they are much more homogeneous than the U.S. which skews almost every piece of data from healthcare to economics to crime. We also have a much higher population (which doesn’t account for rate differences, I know), but I believe that it puts a skew on how Americans behave compared to smaller nations. There are countless other variables so comparisons do not work.
That being said, I am all for additional training. I even pointed out that one GOOD thing coming from BLM is that our police are receiving improved training. However, I do not know what any additional training would do to deter an OIS when the perp pulls a weapon, which occurs in a majority of cases. BLM also seems to not be overly concerned with fatalities, but the shootings themselves. No amount of first aid would stop that.
I would disagree that BLM has no real leadership. There are founders and key figures listed on their own website. If they want to be violent, like a Malcolm X, then MLK would necessarily have to arise from outside of the movement. That’s why I believe that church leaders should come together and push for peaceful protests.
To your final point, I could never get more than 5 people to come watch my bands play throughout the years. I am not a charismatic leader. My strength is in analysis, not activism. Have I inspired you or anyone reading this post? Probably not. I appreciate the encouragement though.
Hi Alex, well I’m living abroad, so I’m reading a lot of international news sites like BBC, Euro News, Le Journal, and Al Jezeera to start with. Even CNN has a CNN International edition that presents things in a slightly different light. Really, all we can do is read alternative sources and see where the differences and similarities lie and come up with a critical analysis.
So going back to your point of unity, which is important, again, there are some people who have a platform to speak about BLM issues, like Shaun King who now has a column in the NY Daily News, but over the summer a group of organizations came together and put up a website with a policy platform, but I don’t think I heard Shaun King or McKesson endorse that website or the policies on that website. So again, just saying we need to be careful in this very early stages of a new civil rights movement. Remember, the previous civil rights era started in the 50s, but MLK Jr, didn’t emerge until years later. (By the way which website did you check out?)
The second issue, is that the violence is a problem, even though that is not what the message of BLM is about. However, I will quote this demagogue politician, as he says it best, “When people feel their democratic rights are being taken away, they will move to the extreme, of either right or left” – Nigel Farage. Thus, I think its important to look at BLM as well as the broader political environment this year. We also have right wing populism that has also been on the rise (hence Trump’s popularity) thus, what we are really seeing is poor disenfranchised people who have suffered for many years who are upset with the status quo (hence why BLM doesn’t just start with police and end with police, it talks about a wide range of social and economic issues) and thus people are moving towards the fringe on both sides. So in other words, none of this happened overnight and there are more issues to address other than police training.
I also agree with the flaws in comparing our countries to others, however I’m also tired of people who shoo the idea away and do not come up with alternatives. How about what Canada is doing then, or heck, even India! The status quo is not working. Don’t think you’re not charismatic, your post is keeping up a conversation that shouldn’t die. So keep reading, analyzing, thinking, and writing.