Last night, a white man joined a bible study in the historic Charleston, South Carolina Emmanuel AME church and ended the night by shooting and killing 9 black men and women (6 of the victims were black women). Of course, the coverage surrounding the (white male) killer is incredibly influenced by white supremacy and privilege and so many on Twitter are calling for the shooter to be called what he rightly is – a terrorist. It’s important to see this as a act of violent white supremacy.
Fellow white folk: do not allow anyone to equivocate on Charleston. A white man shooting up a historic black church in prayer is terrorism.
— STEVE HUFF (@SteveHuff) June 18, 2015
Fellow white people : #Charleston is our problem. We enabled it, supported it & are responsible for fixing it.
— Julie S. Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde) June 18, 2015
I’m utterly and completely heartbroken for the families impacted by last night’s shooting, for all of those who pay the price of white supremacy with their lives. The violent nature of white supremacy and racism within the US has claimed far too many lives – even just one is not acceptable. To all of those mourning today and every other day, I’m so sorry for your loss.
Our prayers & thoughts go out to #Charleston This was an act of terrorism & a hate crime. #9Candles #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/lIalSf2yyK
— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) June 18, 2015
Our hearts are with the innocent victims, their families, and the community in #Charleston tonight. pic.twitter.com/91ciaI1HGf
— Mongrel Coalition (@AgainstGringpo) June 18, 2015
*Addition: if you can, donate to the church impacted by last night’s shooting.
By now, you might have heard the incredibly racist interaction between police officers and black teenagers at a pool party in McKinney, Texas a few days ago. One officer in particular pulled his gun out on several unarmed and swimsuit clad black teenagers and ended up dragging a black girl down by her hair and sat on her. I’m not going to link to the video that was taken by a white teenage bystander or the photos that have surfaced for a couple reasons but I did want to share some of the articles, photos, and videos that have come out of the protests following the interaction.
Mic has a list of 23 incredible photos from the protests.
Black People are Not a Reason to Call the Police – this article does have the video of what happened, just as a warning
What McKinney truly exposed for the mainstream is a deep and dangerous white fear of black bodies – this article also has photos from that afternoon
The ‘Invisible’ White Man Holding the Camera in McKinney – again includes photos and videos of that afternoon but highlights the safety and privilege of whiteness. A good quote from this includes:
Privilege means being invisible when the police sense trouble. It means feeling like the bullets and batons will never be used against you. It means feeling safe.
McKinney Pool Party Fight Started by Racist Whites Says Teen
White supremacy is police brutality AND it’s calling police on black kids AND it’s justifying tossing a black girl around the pavement.
— Jacqui G. (@jaykayG) June 9, 2015
NOPE SHUT IT DOWN https://t.co/VxEMFEsLH2
— SWEET V (@pronailprincesa) June 9, 2015
Hoping white adults are taking note of the #WhiteFolkWork being done by CHILDREN in #McKinney. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/1UcwxbrQSA
— Heather ♿ (@MissJupiter1957) June 9, 2015
8 years. 6 months. McKinney. pic.twitter.com/w34RcfoGM0
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 9, 2015
Man @bankofamerica dont you have a code of conduct for your employees? #McKinney #racist https://t.co/LE2krtoeRn
Protests surrounding police brutality, the extrajudicial killings of black people around the US, and violent white supremacy have made dramatic waves over the past several months. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been a calling cry since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and has been a rallying cry for some protests. #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe have also been other rallying cries, in reference to the deaths of Micheal Brown and Eric Garner respectively.
[Image of several black women demonstrating topless in San Francisco on May 21st.]
#SayHerName became a hashtag and protest call to bring attention to the violence faced by black women around the country. The poet Aja Monet wrote and preformed a poem under the same name and called out the names of the black women and girls who have been murdered by police.
There have also been numerous demonstrations around the country in response to a call to action from the Black Youth Project. Some articles about the demonstrations are below, including the fact that several incredible women went topless in protest and shut down the Financial District in San Francisco:
They Love Our Bodies but Not Us: Powerful Images from #SayHerName Demonstrations
Women Go Topless to Protest Killings of Unarmed Black Women by Police
Why These Women Protested Police Brutality Topless
[Image reading: black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.]
The African American Policy Forum has a long list of resources, statistics, and general information about the police brutality against black women if you are looking for more information.
I think that being able to support and amplify the voices and work done by the activists fighting against the white supremacy so built into the fabric of US society is incredibly important. (Especially supporting and amplifying black women. And not forgetting about the intersectionality of gender, class, race, sexuality, etc.) Supporting platforms like Black Girl Dangerous, #BlackLivesMatter, and Operation Help or Hush is always important. There is also a Black Girls Lead conference, an opportunity for black girls between the ages of 13-17 years old this upcoming summer and is an offshoot of BlackGirlsRock.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of protests and community organizing against police brutality and racism (particularly anti blackness). There has been a lot of negative (pretty much all in the usually racist backlash) but there’s been a lot of good too. John Legend and his wife apparently worked with activist group Operation Help or Hush and quietly hired food trucks in NYC to provide a community meal for protesters. Legend also collaborated on an amazing song called Glory for the movie Selma (which should be coming out in the next month or two I think).
Brittany (@bdoulaoblongata on Twitter and Tumblr) wrote about testifying today on the police brutality she’s faced with others while protesting. She’s one of many that have been incredibly leaders both in organizing protests and online. (This was actually about getting a temporary restraining order against the police because of the action by the police towards protesters in St. Louis and Ferguson. And they won!.)
With all of the work that is being done, it’s important to keep in mind that all kinds of activism needs to center the marginalized communities being impacted. In this case, it’s incredibly important to center the work and voices of black/African Americans. There have been plenty of posts and articles justifiably calling out white people participating in these protests because as white people, we have to remember that this is not about us. Here are some of those articles:
Dear White People: Ferguson Protests are a Wake, Not a Pep Rally from The Well Examined Life
The Subtle Racism of “Post-Racial” Activism by Mattias Lehman
At Eric Garner Protests, Some White Activists are Being Called Out for Their Behavior by Katie Toth
Seeing Ferguson Clearly: 12 Double Standards that Expose White Supremacy by Sonali Kolhatkar
There have been articles and videos that have talked about the intersectionality of issues (including racism, classism, and the need for living wages) and responses/support for the black community.
Black poverty is a state violence too: Why struggles for criminal justice and living wage are uniting by Sarah Jaffe
An Indigenous View on #BlackLivesMatter by Leanne Simpson
Yet another person shreds the “case” against Mike Brown
There have also been articles showing photos and videos of the protests:
A roundup of #BlackPoetsSpeakOut Selections
27 Stunning Photos of #BlackLivesMatter Protests from Around the Globe by Tom McKay
Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, for Eric Garner, Later Arrested in NYC Protest by Antonia Blumberg
Congressional staffers stage walk out to protest
Broadway Stars Gather in Times Square to Send a Message about Police Violence and Eric Garner