If you’re inclined to think the justice system works, then you’re likely under the impression that the facts were known, weighed and ruled upon. You might be missing the systematic ways that the justice system tends to favor those who created and uphold it while harming those most marginalized.
If you’re inclined to pull from your own personal experiences to consider how you might have behaved differently than a particular victim, then you might also be missing the long-held truths from communities of color about how their experience of the justice system is vastly different from that of white folks.
If you haven’t done a lot of first hand reading about the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, then you’re likely to “remember” him as a leader quite different from those of today and you might be wondering why we don’t have leaders like that anymore. You might be missing leaders of the same ilk all around us, the civil rights heroes of our day and age.
If you’re stuck on the monitoring whether or not the protests seem “peaceful” enough, then you might not be considering the distinctions between non-violent and peaceful and you might be getting only a partial story.
If you’ve found yourself concerned about a window or a cancelled concert today, then you might not be fully appreciating the tragic, unnecessary, constant, and abrupt violence that is occurring to real humans in our community daily. You might not be able to imagine what it is like to be stop, frisked, roughly handcuffed, knocked about, strip searched, jailed, beaten or shot. You might not have heard enough parents tell first hand stories about these real fears and experiences with their children.
If you’ve found yourself imagining how you’d feel if you were a law enforcement officer at a protest, then you might be playing out the very real in-group bias which allows you to more easily humanize and personify the character you’re more likely to be (white officer vs marginalized protestor) in the given situation while continuing to disassociate from those who are in real and chronic pain.
If you’ve found yourself scared about the protests or protestors, their proximity to you, or worried about what they might do or what might be damaged, then you might still be burdened by the racist messages that accompany seeing a large group of black people. You might not have suffered from the same fear with regard to the women’s march or the most recent march in Boston or the protest at the airport about the immigration-ban. School districts cancelled school on Friday and cancelled all school and sports activities. Big box stores miles and miles from downtown or any location of significance also closed on Friday. This is an example of racism.
If you’ve thought of the protests as violent and imagined the protestors to be the aggressors, then you might not yet appreciate what it looks like and feels like to have hundreds of unarmed people, walking in public, loudly and proudly, carrying signs, kids, microphones, water, and little else strategizing about which pieces of pavement they can walk on met by a completely militarized police force or soldiers in riot gear, with vehicles and tanks, carrying semi-automatic weapons. Note how the militarized group is praised for using their restraint when chanted at. Was it really so tempting to shoot and hurt us?
If you’ve gotten fussy about the protesting tactics used, and extended empathy to those inconvenienced by waiting or not getting what they want when they want it, you might not yet appreciate that protests are meant to disrupt the normal flow of traffic and business in order to call attention to grave injustice…because that is what non-violent people are willing to continually do when they believe it is a matter of life and death.
If you have a picture of protestors in your mind OR YOUR MEDIA that doesn’t include artists, teachers, students, professors, the elderly, strollers, baby carriers, friends, families, mothers then you aren’t seeing the full picture.
If the injustice doesn’t bother you then protest is not the space for you and you should have probably stopped reading at the top. But if the injustice is making you crazy and yet you’re finding yourself getting stuck in one of these other places, you may want to consider joining and seeing for yourself. I don’t think I’m that scary. And I’m not violent either.