Over 11 weeks after most states announced their #SaferAtHome orders, many things are coming to a head.
COVID-19. 100,000 deaths, which predominantly impact the black community. The ultra wealthy gaining $500 billion more in wealth while 39 million Americans file for unemployment. White violence, as exemplified by Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers and Amy Cooper weaponizing her whiteness against Christian Cooper. Police brutality, when Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck before an audience in broad daylight.
Each of these events was like a flame traveling down a line of gunpowder destined to culminate in an explosion.
It won’t end here.
The challenge for all of us, as tensions run high and as chaos enters the narrative, is both to stay focused and to hold nuance.
First, focus. The focus after this weekend’s events should still be justice for George Floyd, accountability for the police, and the end of police brutality. Too many people are still debating about the “right way” to protest, which is as privileged and ignorant as it is a distraction. If you’re worried about *how* protestors protest, you’re not worrying enough about *why*. There is no right way to protest when the thing you’re protesting is wrong. Stay focused on justice and ending violence towards black people.
Second, nuance. Yes, most of the protests were peaceful and positive. Yes, some of the protests were not peaceful and resulted in the destruction of property, and were still just as legitimate as the peaceful protests. Yes, mostly white agitators led violent protests as a way to hijack the movement and cause violence and division. Yes, the police and National Guard have incited violence from protestors by using excessive force. Yes, there are some very heartwarming photos of police standing with the protestors, which needs to be filed under “police officers who agree with holding their peers accountable” and not under “not all cops are bad and I’m totally missing the point.” Yes, wonderful people are helping clean up the streets and broken glass after the riots. Yes, we need to do a lot more than just pick up the pieces in the aftermath. We need to actually have justice served and the demands of the protestors met. All of these narratives are true, and we must hold them at the same time.
Our ability to hold space for complex narratives, while staying focused on our goals, is the path to equality and a humanity that is better for everyone.
It won’t end here. But, in many ways, that means some things are finally beginning. 🌺
For additional information, please read Tone Madison’s witness account of what actually happened during the Sunday protests, when Madison police and National Guard troops deployed combat tactics against peaceful demonstrators.