I hope you choose that path, no matter how hard it is

As a White person, it grieves me deeply to watch so many of us (White people) continue to try to hide behind our privilege. As I was thinking I would not have to enumerate the following atrocities, I realized there are so many who do not fully know this history. This history we White people have worked so hard to hide. But as Barry Lopez tells his grandson, “this is what we do.”

Myself, I’ve got to get to a place where I can accept what Stalin did to people in the Siberian gulags, the scale of it. This, too, is us. This is what we do. That’s why I told my grandson in the book’s prologue, as we stood over the wreckage of that battleship at Pearl Harbor, “This is what we do.” He had no idea that we killed each other on that scale. But I could say to him, “I love you, and I want you to know that this is what we do. And as you grow, you will see a way to help. And I hope that when you do, you choose that path, no matter how hard it is.” Barry Lopez

The World We Still Have, Barry Lopez On Restoring Our Lost Intimacy With Nature By Fred Bahnson The Sun Magazine December 2019

We avoid thinking of the carnage White people committed as we hunted black people in Africa, packed them into the notorious slave ships, and sold those who survived that journey. Giving no thought to separating families.

Indigenous peoples were slaughtered or forced off their lands, their buffalo killed for sport and to intentionally starve the native people. Their culture intentionally erased by kidnapping their children and forcing them to try to assimilate into White culture. Which left them stranded with no culture.

Thousands of black people were lynched. And continue to be lynched today. George Floyd was lynched. There is no doubt he was murdered. The verdict we anxiously await is not whether Dereck Chauvin killed George Floyd. It is whether the unjust justice system will acknowledge that.

I understand the reason prosecutor Steve Schleicher said the Derek Chauvin trial is not a “prosecution of the police, it is a prosecution of the defendant,” who he claimed was responsible for killing George Floyd.

It is awful he thought he had to say that, in order to make it easier for some jurors to return a guilty verdict. So they could convince themselves they weren’t condemning the police in general.

The fact is this trial is absolutely a “prosecution of the police.” Three other police officers simply watched, allowing George Floyd to be killed. If not for the videos taken by bystanders, I have little doubt there would have been any consequences from this. And as black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) know, this abuse from the police and criminal justice system is pandemic. Another insidious and often fatal virus.

What will be the verdict for us White people? What path will we choose? Those who haven’t been doing anything to support BIPOC people are not on the right path.

The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial will likely be an inflection point. Will this be yet another instance when incontrovertible evidence is disregarded and the police protected?

The past year, in response to the blatant public murder of George Floyd, there have been widespread, sustained protests. Not only that, but Black Lives Matter activities like agitating against repressive legislation, and for just legislation.

Yesterday’s blog post is about the criminal justice system and abolishing police and prisons. Bail Bonds

There is a lot of information about #FreeThemAll:

Immigration activists, prison abolitionists, and those calling to defund the police are organizing across the country under the call to #FreeThemAll. Together, we’re calling for the immediate release of people from behind bars as we continue to work for a future without incarceration. 

#FreeThemAll booklet FreeThemAll_one-pager.pdf (afsc.org)

I’ve become involved with Des Moines Mutual Aid. There are mutual aid groups all over the country/world and more being organized all the time.

I would encourage you to seriously consider what you might do to help. A conviction of Derek Chauvin in no way means police and prisons not should be abolished.

As Minneapolis braces for a verdict, grassroots activists told Newsweek that even if the jury convicts Chauvin on all charges, it is not enough.

Oluchi Omeoga, the 28-year-old co-founder of the Black Visions Collective, said she has “no faith” in the criminal justice system, noting that the only Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murder was Mohamed Noor—a Black man who fatally shot a white woman.

But Omeoga told Newsweek that even if Chauvin is convicted, “justice is not served until we radically imagine what the system of policing actually is.”

They added: “Regardless of the outcome, I already know that justice is not going to be served in this specific way. Even if he was found guilty of all of the charges that are brought against him, I actually don’t think that’s justice because it doesn’t stop that from happening again.”

Derek Chauvin Conviction Isn’t Enough, Say Minneapolis Activists by Khaleda Rahman, Newsweek, 4/20/2021

Now is an important time. We White people need to help our BIPOC friends bring about change, to create radically different, better communities and systems for us all.

But I could say to him, “I love you, and I want you to know that this is what we do. And as you grow, you will see a way to help. And I hope that when you do, you choose that path, no matter how hard it is.” 

Barry Lopez

This entry was posted in abolition, Black Lives, Des Moines Black Lives Matter, Des Moines Mutual Aid, police, prison, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I hope you choose that path, no matter how hard it is

  1. peterovisoke says:

    Thank you Jeff! More and more I understand that we are essentially living in a police state here in Des Moines, In Iowa and all over the United States. This doesn’t look like Myanmar. Not yet anyway. But the “softer” police state here is one that prioritizes the safety, comfort and property of white people to keep us (white people) pacified while still brutalizing everybody else. The violence is both physical and structural and it continues to impact generations of people. Yesterday the Des Moines City Council allowed me and over forty other people signed up to speak only 25 seconds each to talk. All of us wanted to call out the City Council, the Mayor, the City Manager and the Police Chief for not acting in good faith to properly implement last year’s Racial Profiling Ordinance and working to expand and strengthen it. What can you say in 25 seconds? This is what I said: “People are in pain. In the past three weeks more than sixty people have died interacting with law enforcement. More than half were Black and brown people in our country. Our problems come from profound inequities in our country, our state and our city. I urge you to lean into the urgent work of implementing and strengthening the racial profiling ordinance that you passed last year.” I would have said more but that was all I could get packed into my 25 seconds.

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