Norah

United States

18 | she/they | hypothetical astronaut | ekphrastic poet | haunted house

Message from Writer

Profile picture is a painting from the Rothko Chapel in Houston
+++
I look at the moon and go: "wow, that's my wife!"
+++
Currently Reading:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez / Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? edited by Maya Schenwar

some educational counter-points to things I have seen people say about current events (+free resources)

June 2, 2020

The sentiments that everyone is writing today are good to see. It’s necessary as young people to join this fight. So I agree, yes, we should all stand with BLM, yes we need to fight against injustice and educate ourselves. There is one thing I am inclined to disagree with some people about that I have been educated about in my activism. When we center the conversations around the “fighting and rioting” we draw attention away from the real issues, the issues that caused the rioting and fighting.

Now, I know there are a lot of looters and rioters that are not with the BLM cause, who are taking advantage of the situation for their own purposes. 

But I also know that there are black people who are rioting and looting because it is their form of protesting, it is their anger at centuries of oppression. To decry the looting and rioting is to decry that anger. Or, better put, to decry the looting before talking about the violence of the state against black people, the violence that is baked into their everyday lives, the violence that built this country, is to draw attention away from those things. 

I know no one is purposefully doing this, I’m just here to tell you what I have learned. That when we say, for example: “violence (fighting/rioting) is always wrong” we are policing the anger of oppressed people, and we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. For example, violence against fascism and white-supremacy and the violence of fascism and white-supremacy cannot be weighed by the same metric. One wishes to stamp out all that oppose them (ex. minorities, poor people, disabled people), the other wishes to protect those vulnerable people by any means necessary, including violence. 

The sentiment “not all cops are bad” is also damaging. I agree with it as a fact of the world, not all cops are bad people. But again, it draws attention away from the system by looking at the violence of the police force on an individual level. Most systems in this country were built to uphold white supremacy and colonialism. This is why we have systemic and institutionalized racism (if you don’t know what those are I would invite you to look them up, they are important to understanding the way racism works in this country). Part of the history of the police in this country is in slave patrols in the South, these evolved into Sheriffs who enforced segregation. Now, the police enforce mass incarceration. 

This is a system that was put in place to uphold slavery and oppression, this is why we say ACAB (all cops are bastards). A good person working within a corrupt and systemically racist system cannot do good, at best they can mitigate damage (which we do not often see happening), at worst they can murder without recourse. If you have more questions about how the police and the prison system uphold white supremacy, I would suggest you read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

One more thing, fellow white people: black people have a right to be angry. They have a right to be angry at us, at the system, at America, at the cops. We should be angry too. It does not matter if you think you’re not racist. We’re benefitting from a racist society. If that doesn’t make you mad, uncomfortable, upset, sad, want to do something other than just say “I’m one of the good ones” then that’s a problem and you’ve got to sit down with yourself and really take stock of the implicit biases you have that you might not be aware of. 

White people in this country act as the police even when we are not, we are the oppressor by default. Do not be a person who polices a black person’s feelings, you are feeding into oppression. Don’t ask black people to be nicer to you, to teach you, to explain. You are acting as the oppressor. 

I’m so glad that this movement is gaining traction online and in the world at large, and especially that it is focused on how white people can make better allies and co-conspirators. A gentle reminder that guilt, shame and fear are not productive emotions and don’t create change, if you feel them, don’t send them outward, but reflect on them. It is not enough to say nothing or absolve your guilt by donating once, calling once, or signing a petition once. This is life-long work, and that is a beautiful thing. See you at the protests, the vigils, the libraries, the community organizing events, the town-halls, the ballot.
Free Ebooks/PDFs:
Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? (free until June 5th)
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis

Print

See History
  • June 2, 2020 - 12:27pm (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

15 Comments
  • luluwrites111

    thank you for writing this


    5 months ago
  • jun lei

    this was such an eloquent, educative explanation. thank you so much for writing it.


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    i linked you in this, so thank you so much for pretty much helping me write this piece!: https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/171149/version/338451


    5 months ago
  • Two Heartbeats

    I love this. Somethings we forget that rioting and violent protest brought us idk FREE SPEECH and GAY MARRIAGE. Like it's a solution. And weeks of rioting will still never equate to the centuries of systematic oppression.


    5 months ago
  • ava09

    Everyone else has pretty much said it already, but I think this piece was wonderfully articulated and makes excellent points. Thank you for sharing and stay safe. <3


    5 months ago
  • Karma's_Coming

    This was incredibly written, so thanks for giving me this link. I agree with the majority of what you put in here and I would also like to recommend a “source,” if you will. I don’t know if you’re hugely religious (I’m not) but I ran into a video from a place called elevation church. It’s an hour long video about recent events and has two global pastors, one of which is black, and they just talk. It was incredible to watch, and even if I don’t agree with everything they’re saying, it’s still amazing. You can look it up on YouTube by just searching Elevation Church, and it’s the most recent sermon. I believe it’s called Become The Bridge. Anyway, thanks for writing this. Have a nice day.


    5 months ago
  • Norah

    @Charisse Marison thank you for listening, we all have the time now for self-reflection and improvement now, thank you for being open to that


    5 months ago
  • Charisse Marison

    I completely understand what you are saying. I'm very sorry because I am not well educated on the topic. I just want everyone to stay safe. Again, thank you so much for writing this. It's very informative and it shows the corruption in society. I'm sorry if my views may seem insensitive or offensive. Much love to you <3


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    (sorry that I’ve come back here so much) i’d like to bring back where Norah says: “This is a system that was put in place to uphold slavery and oppression, this is why we say ACAB (all cops are bastards). A good person working within a corrupt and systemically racist system cannot do good, at best they can mitigate damage (which we do not often see happening), at worst they can murder without recourse. ” THIS is the point. of course cops are people. of course cops are good and bad. but the police system is systematically racially oppressive, and is inherently an institution which hurts minorities. at the end of the day, the “job” of a cop is optional (and as previously stated, oppressive, which you can research yourself by clicking on the provided links). by choosing to be a cop, you are supporting a racist institution. there are good people. there are good people who are also cops. but there are no good “cops”, because being a cop is a job that was chosen and supported, at the end of the day. additionally, if you are not a POC, it’s hard to understand this yourself, so making it your job to understand the plight of minorities instead of reducing the cause to looting and rioting should be a priority. i hope i haven’t offended anyone, that was definitely not my intention, and if i’ve said something incorrect, please correct me! stay safe and much love <3


    5 months ago
  • Norah

    @Charisse Marison thank you for taking the time to read this. Here is a response to your comment, I hope it clears some things up:

    I’m not saying that all of the people rioting have the best intentions, or what any one of them individually is doing is a “good thing”. I’m saying that we shouldn’t be focused on it in the discussion America is having right now. We should be focused on the change that needs to happen in this country for there never to be a need for this kind of rioting again.

    Talking about the optics of these riots and how it will reflect poorly on the cause is not the kind of discussion we need right now, and it blames the victims of hundreds of years of oppression for the result of that oppression being unchecked/sanctioned by the state.

    I would encourage you to do more research about the systems in place in this country, and not the individuals within them.

    Also, the question for white people is no longer “am I a racist.” I don’t think many people are intentionally racist. The question is: “What am I doing to be an anti-racist.” Without action to stop racism (which is, again, not only a problem of individuals, but of a system) white people are contributing to racism in this country with inaction.

    I’m asking you, and other white people, to think critically about the things you read/the conversations you have right now. Who benefits from discussions focused on the condemnation of destruction of property? Who benefits when we center our conversations around the violence of protestors who are in turn protesting a violent state?

    Who/what system benefits from people defending the “good” cops, when there are clear and systemic examples of cop’s actions directly harming people as we speak. Saying ACAB simply cannot be more hurtful than tear-gas, rubber bullets, and death at the hands of the police.


    5 months ago
  • Charisse Marison

    Thank you for writing this. However, I disagree on some points. I agree that people have the right to be mad, but acting in violence is just making people see them as criminals. I think that if they want to truly be heard, rioting will not help their cause at all. A group of protesters set fire to a house with a child inside and wouldn't let the firefighters go in to save him/her. No matter what cause they are acting for, that is barbaric! Second, I know a lot of cops who really just want to make the world a better place. Saying ACAB is actually very hurtful to those who just want to make the world safer. I'm not defending all cops, as I know there are extremely racist and bad cops in the system, but saying that is like saying all white people are racist, which is far from the truth.
    Sorry for the long comment! Thank you for speaking out against this issue! I just wanted you to see from my point of view :)


    5 months ago
  • asta

    whatever perspective i have comes from a distance and from a place of privilege (so please correct me if this is wrong), but i've noticed people keep defending cops who've knelt "in support" as if they didn't immediately attack protestors once the photoshoots were over. it seems like a publicity stunt to me.


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    thanks so much for articulating all of this so concisely and for letting me use this! and as for the protests, stay safe please!


    5 months ago
  • Norah

    @sunny.v Absolutely! It's hard to articulate these things sometimes, you are welcome to link to this in whatever kind of discussion you have. It's public domain now. Have at it.


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    THANK YOU. i was uncomfortable with the amount of people whose pieces went “ah yes, it’s horrible that systemic racism exists...but not all cops (blah blah) and violence isn’t the answer!” and what i say to that is ACAB. such a great piece. is it alright with you if i link this in any discussions i end up having?


    5 months ago