The horrific events of a mass shooting fueled by white supremacy...again. The mass shoot in New Zealand has the world in mourning yet again over hate-fueled act of mass violence. White supremacy strikes again.
Islamophobia is Deadly.
White Supremacy is Terrorism.
We should be precise in our definition of white supremacy; it is both a sick and twisted ideology held to maintain power and privilege of white people; and it is the system of power and privilege that we white folks often benefit from even if there isn't a racist bone in our whole bodies. How the ideology and the systems of power manifest to support each other is for another discussion, but suffice it to say that such acts of terrorism maintain the system through fear.
Racist ideologies are prevalent in our society starting with the President and an increasingly emboldened set of white folks who are either out and out racists or others with racist proclivities. Almost daily we see another racist white person spouting hate at an African American or a police officer using excessive force. These moments are now captured on camera and shared widely on social media. Our awareness of such racism is heightened and for whatever progress has been made, it sure seems as though we see much more overt racism than at any time in the last three decades.
Racism rears its head in ugly ways locally for each of us, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not. We recently bought a house in a neighborhood within Philadelphia that borders the wealthy main line suburbs to the West and to the East the decidedly less-affluent West Philadelphia. My neighborhood is ethnically mixed, though traditionally the neighborhood has been white. My white and Panamanian family lives in between a Jamaican family and a Ghanian and African American family, across the street from a Japanese church (they were hoping we were Japanese speakers). The oldest African Episcopal church in the country is a block down. Walking through the neighborhood though I would guess we are still about 60-70% white.
I just joined the neighborhood list-serve and someone commemorated the 4th anniversary of a neighbor that had been shot walking his dog in between neighborhoods. From what I could gather, the victim was a white man in his early 50s while the assailants were 3 African American teens. In the events, the victim appears to be pleading for his life before being shot to death.
The email commemorating this tragedy ended with something about "the real hands up - don't shoot!" I notice another email or two affirmed this positioning. I had a choice to make. Let these kind of comments go or confront racism where I see it. I chose the latter. My note is below.
I'm fairly new to the neighborhood and this is my first post to this list. I am deeply saddened to hear about this tragic, senseless violence that took an innocent life of a neighbor simply walking his dog. It certainly gives me some concern over safety of myself, my family and my neighbors as I'm sure it does many of you. I can't imagine the pain of the family that will never go away.
I also don't understand this is the "real hands up" comments. The hands up - don't shoot rallying cry is based on a legitimate set of concerns from African Americans who are concerned about being racially profiled and potentially also subject to police violence. There are plenty of real world examples and empirical evidence that validates these set of concerns.
Violence against the innocent is always tragic. Using the occasion of such tragedy to compare the plights of other victims of violence doesn't seem like a fitting way to honor the victim and potentially deepens the divides that are all too real in our city and world.
A number of neighbors sent positive responses thanking me for speaking out and sharing their agreement. Some noted that there is often veiled racist language on the list-serve. Having lived with racist family members, my inclination is always to confront racism when I hear it. There may not be many other folks in their lives attempting to dissuade them from such hate. Making those perpetuating racism should be made uncomfortable and reminded that it is socially unacceptable to hold such beliefs. When hate manifests, its logical end is violence so confronting words, may save confronting guns at another point. Stop white supremacy ideology where you see it.