To understand racism as a white individual in America, one must understand their own privilege. Privilege is the ability to breathe. The privilege of being a Thousand Oaks resident is to only understand racism as an abstraction. An abstraction that will capture white America’s attention for a brief moment only to dissipate as if no real people were affected, as if it did not “concern” us. Privilege is living comfortably enough to where you forget race is a problem, so you “don’t see color,” or declare that “all lives matter.” Privilege is being able to comfortably not condone the looting on your Instagram story because you’ve never experienced poverty. Privilege is to understand slavery as a distant memory rather than an active plight. Privilege is being able to quote Martin Luther King Jr. in a call for peaceful protest as if we had progressed since his passing. Privilege is a call for peace as if there is something to bargain in a system providing no favors. Privilege is being able to call protesters “thugs,” as if their actions were really the problem. When will people understand that these supposed horrid acts are a failure of us as people?
The government is an acting body in which only presides power upon the citizens upholding its laws in a social contract. Any act contradicting such a social contract is glorified by the media as a hideous act when in actuality it is only hideous because we believe it so. White America is so invested in upholding the social contract that many people of privilege do not even recognize they are doing so, for it is easy to uphold a system that favors your own needs.
However, upholding a social contract that spits back in your face is another matter entirely.
Upholding the social contract for black America has only led to more dead bodies and young men deprived of their prime because of an inherent flaw in the system. Imagine living day after day with more bullets than favors being offered by the social contract you so graciously agreed to. Imagine your fellow man being so comfortable in his seat of ignorance that he continues to uphold the existing social contract as if it has no inherent flaw. Imagine confiding to your agreement with society to have it degrade you to a lesser lifeform, to a villainized blackness. Talk of injustice. Now consider the George Floyd protestors, not as thugs or looters but people acting out against a society that offered nothing but pain. Consider them as people pushed to the brink of destruction. Consider these protestors not within the confines of the preestablished social contract because you will only reach the conclusion we have already come to time and time again: They are “thugs” and you cannot justify violence. Rather than continually buy into the social contract embedded with institutionalized racism, I ask that you understand these protests are no mere acts of violence but attempts to destroy the status quo. A protest is to contradict the confines of the existing social contract, so continued complaints about violence reduces the protest within the society as a mere question of character. This postulation perpetuates the current cycle of injustice our country finds itself within, as questioning the ethics of an individual within a system that inherently lacks ethics is demeaning.
The system enacts violence as an enforcer, so every time we ask for peace, we call for our fellow citizens to lay down arms. To lay down arms is to provide the system with the justification it needs to continue its existing plight against the black man. We punish our black communities for picking up arms against racism even though the system has driven them to such a solution. Our condemning of their violence only rewinds the clock on the cyclized injustice against African Americans. Rather than recognizing their violence as a flaw in character or an “overreaction,” I ask that we understand their violence and protest as an act against the system. All talks of peace can be made after the abolishment of the system. I can wholeheartedly say that I can condone acts of violence against the current system. And if you do not like violence then end the system.
End the cycle of injustice. And let the black community breathe; they have been holding their breath for far too long.
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