Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

covid

Black Lives Matter

I’m not even sure where to begin or what to say or how to feel right now. I’m at a loss about the brutality happening in this country. It’s at once heartbreaking and horrifying. I’m angered and outraged and disgusted, but I’m also feeling sadness, sympathy, and helplessness… wondering what I can do and feeling like I can’t do anything… thinking that I don’t have the words to express my own feelings or to adequately represent those who are being oppressed, beaten, and brutalized… fearing that whatever I say will be too understated, too privileged, or just trite.

That said, I just want to add that I acknowledge my own privilege in this situation. Not only from a “I’m a white, upper middle class male living in the suburbs” standpoint, but also from a pandemic standpoint (financially). While I’m not in a position/class that allows me to fully understand and empathize with people of color or people in less fortunate financial situations, I want to understand and I certainly feel a wide range of sympathetic emotions about it.

Now that the caveats are out of the way…

Black lives matter. White privilege exists in abundance. White supremacists are not “good people.” Nazis are not “good people.” Black people have always been oppressed in this country and continue to be oppressed. These are just facts.

When I see police in full riot gear… helmets, shields, batons, pepper spray… literally marching against protesters, beating them, chasing them down, spraying them wantonly with pepper spray, shoving them to the ground, running over them with vehicles, enveloping them in tear gas, and shooting them with rubber bullets (why is that even a thing?!), I’m horrified. I’m disgusted. I was brought to tears watching some of the videos. I’m also filled with rage at these police who perpetrate these things. Are they the new “just following orders” Nazis? Are they drunk with power? Are they just excited to play with their new riot gear? Are they all racists?

How has it come to this? It’s because of so many factors, it would be impossible for me to list them all, not to mention I don’t know them all. I know it has to stop. It’s outrageous. It’s horrific. It’s inflammatory. These police are exacerbating the situation with the exact behavior that is being protested. They’re not trying to diffuse the situation. They’re making it worse.

Then I choke up when I see videos and photos of other police officers walking with the protesters… kneeling with them… talking to them… helping them. I’m really hoping they’re in the majority among police. They help. They are the ones who let us know that not all the police are vile.

I do know a few reasons why this situation has gotten so drastically worse in the past few years (not that it hasn’t been bad for years and years before this). One neutral reason is the pandemic. Some people are already stressed out over being cooped up (to avoid dying). I think that’s a minor reason, though.

(Here’s where the polemic starts.)

I think the number one main reason is Donald Trump and his administration. Trump is a despicable human being. Putting aside his gross incompetence with running the country, he’s a racist, a liar, a misogynist, a xenophobe, a con-man, a serial sexual assaulter, a cheat, and a pathetic businessman. He’s also a terrible deal-maker.

This isn’t new. This was well known before he ever ran for president, and yet he was voted into office because enough people from the right places decided that it was better to have a man who was an unqualified, racist, sexist asshole in the White House than it was to have an eminently qualified woman there.

Trump has normalized racism and xenophobia. From his comments about Mexico sending rapists to his immigration policies to his border wall, he has constantly hammered home the idea that if you’re not white and you’re not Republican, you’re a danger to this country… unless you can somehow personally benefit him, of course. He glorifies violence (in many cases, promotes it). He belittles women. He demonstrates racism constantly (and has for decades).

When the “leader” of the country exemplifies those traits, it emboldens people with similar reprehensible views to amplify their voices and actions. There is a strong correlation between increases in racial violence and areas where Trump won the election by a large margin.

He has turned off the lights of human decency and emboldened the cockroaches to come out into the open.

Unfortunately, due to the “cockroach effect” and to various policies, the rot has spread more aggressively to certain police departments and now we have squads of police decked out in over-armored Batman costumes, wielding weapons (physical, mental, and chemical) against protesters who are protesting just such treatment.

I had a conversation with someone a couple years ago who felt that “white privilege” isn’t a real thing because he said it never helped him get a job when he was struggling to raise a new family. It was a frustrating conversation because I don’t think he really understood what “white privilege” meant. It’s just the flip side of the coin that has “black oppression” on the other side (well… it’s more than that, but that’s not a totally bad analogy).

Get Trump out of office. Get people in government who will work to eliminate this blight that is infesting our country. Call out racism when you see it. Love your neighbor. Be kind. Be gentle.

Black Lives Matter.

www.obama.org/anguish-and-action/