The one-year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery’s death. The release of an official report confirming that police had no reason to stop, frisk, or choke Elijah McClain. The lack of charges for police officers who killed Daniel Prude. The shooting deaths of two Fort Wayne teenagers in a hate crime.
All of these events are happening right now. These events don’t define what it means to be a young Black man in the United States. Instead, they represent the danger inherent in having that identity in this nation. These events don’t indicate what young Black men are capable of in the United States. But they do represent the limitations many of us place on them.
Most of us white people will never be involved in the shooting of a young Black man. But all of us are implicated in a society that advocates for increasing policing resources and then targets policing resources onto the bodies of young Black men. All of us are implicated in a system that pushes Black families into impoverished communities and then condemns them when they take the steps they need to take to survive. We may couch our support for policing, housing, and other policies in race-neutral terms, but the impact is that more young Black men are stopped by police, more young Black men are arrested, more young Black men are incarcerated, more young Black men are killed. We may say that we are color-blind — that we support people of all races — but our actions demonstrate our anti-Blackness.
The flip side of anti-Blackness is holding whiteness as the standard, and this standard also creates an atmosphere where the stories of Asian, Latinx, Native, and Middle Eastern people are marginalized and ignored. This atmosphere contributes to the minimal news coverage of recent attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially elders, when similar attacks on elderly white people would be heavily covered.
These various examples of violence have the same root — white people’s desire to center our own stories, make our lives the default, and protect our physical, financial, and emotional safety at all costs.
These examples of violence require many solutions, but they share one in common: the cultivation of an antiracist whiteness that actively advocates for all people — Black, Asian, and all other racial groups — to be granted the same physical, financial, and emotional rights that white people now take for granted. The right to move freely about our communities. The right to have our misfortunes noticed. The right to be respected. The right to live.
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