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Est. April 5, 2002
July 30, 2015 - Issue 617

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White Denial Matters

"The fact of the matter is that white lives
have always mattered; it’s time for an
American shift forward…the kind of change
that not only hits the fan, but breaks it!"

I’ve come to learn that all that is Left, isn’t always Right. That is to say, those that profess to lean left in their politics won’t always land there. White American liberalism is just as dangerous as conservative Republicanism. The clearest indication of this reality is the resistance from white liberals who can’t seem to understand that “Black Lives Matter.”

Last month, when Black Lives Matter activist Tia Oso asked former Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley, “As leader of this country will you advance an agenda that will dismantle structural racism in this country?” He answered, “Yes.” Then, he went on to echo the refrain of so many “well intentioned” white liberals, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” O’Malley’s remark elicited boos and jeers…because it was an insult to Black people—like me.

Alert…for all of America: This is NOT the correct response. Now, keep in mind, O’Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders aren’t the first white people to respond this way. I sit on the board of a white-dominated peace activism organization. Of course, peace encompasses anti-racism work. They wanted to adopt that moniker. They felt like that was the right response instead of “Black Lives Matter.” These people know where we are in history!

Black people—especially unarmed Black men—have always been targeted and killed by white males in this country, but too many people, too often have professed that we, as a nation, have progressed past the days of vigilante-style justice upon Black people. But Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation that found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of Black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed. It’s not even funny that white people seem to think that since the Confederate flag came down—in one state—we [Black people] ought to be satisfied?

The fact of the matter is that white lives have always mattered; it’s time for an American shift forward…the kind of change that not only hits the fan, but breaks it! It’s appalling that white Americans find it offensive that their fellow Americans are calling for equal respect. Why is there resistance to what is right? Whites see the alarming frequency of Black people killed under what should be “routine” circumstances: such as, traffic stops, questioning, jaywalking, walking, driving, playing, or shopping. Just “being” can get a Black man killed by police. We, as Americans, see the consistent cover-ups and suppression, which gives cover to these murders.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, jail detainee Natasha McKenna was fatally tasered. The County Sheriff won’t release the records. Nor will County authorities release the video or the incident report or the officers’ names! If this isn’t a cover-up, what is?

Where’s the America we’re taught in US History class: the ‘in pursuit of happiness’ part? Moreover, from the scant revelations so far, McKenna was tortured: shocked with four Taser while in handcuffs behind her back, shackled around the legs, in a hobble strap connected to both restraints, and a spit mask placed over her face. What part of “American Exceptionalism” is that?

What’s revealing is that McKenna, like Sandra Bland in Waller, Texas and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Black people end up dead in what should be the safest place in the world—police custody. We’re conditioned in American society to entrust police, for their sole mission is to “protect and serve!” Yes, I see how they protect and serve only themselves. How can white Americans not see the blatant contradiction in the mission versus the actions? There’s nothing to be proud of here!

Speaking of tasers, reports reveal startling numbers of deaths resulting from police vehicles, altercations in police custody and when officers fire their weapons. Data reveals that 29% of those killed by police (135 people of the sample studied) were Black. Sixty-seven, or 14%, were Hispanic/Latino, and 234, or 50%, were white. In total, 102 people who died during encounters with law enforcement in 2015 were unarmed. The figures illustrate that Black Americans are disproportionately killed by police, given they comprise just 13% of the country’s total population according to 2010 US Census. Of the 464 people counted by the Guardian, an overwhelming majority—95%—were male, with just 5% female.

So when Blacks proclaim that “Black Lives Matter,” it’s insane for pro-law enforcement folks to echo “Blue Lives Matter!” Haven’t they always mattered? Haven’t we ceded so much power and control to police that teachers unions, civil service, and other labor unions are maligned and strangled; yet, nary a criticism is uttered about police unions. Rarely, will a police face criminal or civil charges after killing another human being. And, I won’t go there regarding the tons of free donuts!

On the board of directors mentioned earlier, the white board members don’t want to “get it.” Sure, they see what I see, whether a video, an outlandish explanation of an incident (for example, Sandra Bland having old ‘ligature marks” on her neck that indicate pre-Waller, Texas suicide attempts) or an irrational reason for not prosecuting an officer, white liberals must know this wanton police brutality is not only wrong but anti-American. I guess if it ain’t them, then it can’t be that serious. I cannot keep company with people who refuse to respect the facts, the reality or my humanity—but expect me to coddle their willful blindness. No way! After six months of board membership, I resigned.

My life matters…just as much as white people’s lives—people who move about in this society knowing theirs does—even if they’ve never given second thoughts to how that claim came into existence or how it’s maintained (at the expense of another people’s humanity). Proving that my life matters is an institutional problem (for me, as a Black man) that whites have never experienced—and maybe can’t experience. This is why the “Black Lives Matter” movement is so relevant, necessary and now revealing. When you finally make the demand for true equality, you find out who your real friends are. What I’ve come to realize is that white lives in the United States are in a state of resistance. They are in denial. There shall be no healing, no overcoming, no kumbaya and no trusting of white people when they live in denial. My life matters. No compromise. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere
that currently owns the FCC license for WOOK-LP 103.1FM/ His latest book,
Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1, chronicles his ‘behind bars’ activism that extricated him from a 42-year sentence and is now case law. He is also the author of As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression, Mr. Redd also hosts a radio show, Socially Speaking, from his Washington, DC studio. Contact Mr. Redd and BC.
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is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble