Excerpts from the chapter entitled: White People We Need Your Help
More recently, in fact, I was watching a bodybuilding competition in Tucson. One of my friends was competing, and I didn’t know when he’d take the stage, so I tuned in from the beginning. Just after the national anthem, one of the hosts began to thank the first responders in the audience. And then suddenly, he broke into a rant saying something along the lines of “to the 99.9% of you that are dealing with all the crap you have to deal with right now…”
I was shocked by the boldness of his statement. I say bold because I believe that most black people would feel like he was minimizing George Floyd’s death. I was insulted and angered at the insinuation that police officers are going through a lot of “crap” in our nation right now because of protests triggered by George Floyd’s death. I believe most black people are not in favor of looting, violence against the police, and destruction of property. However, I would say most of us also believe that the things that many police officers are going through in our nation right now are a consequence of the actions of their fellow police officers.
The 99.9% comment was also triggering to me because it mirrored the president’s comments. Shortly after George Floyd’s death, the president made comments along the lines that 99.9% of police officers are good and that we just have a “few bad apples.” Arguably the most powerful white man in the world told an America led predominantly by white people that we don’t have a problem. The direct conclusion from his remarks is that since we don’t have a problem, then there shouldn’t be any protests, peaceful or otherwise. We know that is how the president viewed it as he used the National Guard, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protesters for an unscheduled photo opportunity shortly after.
How do I, in a short book, show white America that what the president says isn’t true? How does a black man not only contradict the most powerful white man on earth, the leader of a predominantly white nation but go on to convince his white counterparts that the president is wrong? That is the challenge of this book…
Though I will talk about it more in this book, there is a growing polarization around issues of race in America. Until the death of Jacob Blake, my sense is that many in white America, even the white leaders in America’s churches had “already moved on” from George Floyd.
The president is actually part of the growing polarization. Days ago, he was cheering counter-protesters as masses of them were pouring into Portland. He recently showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed counter-protester who shot and killed two people. When the police brutality protests were only comprised of kneeling during the national anthem, the president hijacked the narrative by diverting attention to kneeling during the anthem while doing nothing to change practices that result in the deaths of unarmed men. He later hijacked the narrative of the initially peaceful protests by exaggerating the scope of Antifa's involvement and by minimizing the role of counter-protesters in the escalation of violence. He downplayed the death of George Floyd’s death as the result, again, of a few bad apples.
The president went to Dallas to discuss police reform but didn’t invite Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown, or Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot. Hall, Brown, and Creuzot are black, and Brown and Creuzot are also elected democrats.
The point is that we can’t depend on the president to solve the issue of police brutality when he doesn’t see that there is an issue.
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