Your Whiteness Isn't on Trial, Racism Is

If the protests against police brutality and racism were fully peaceful and didn’t include rioting, vandalism, destruction, and criminal behavior, many claim they would have no problem with them.

Since the NBA’s return a couple of weeks ago, players have been peacefully kneeling during the national anthem. And yesterday, the players decided to peacefully protest by boycotting their own games.

Players have been getting criticized for kneeling by some who believe they are dishonoring the flag, the military, and America. Many of the criticizers, some of you reading this, also don’t believe a protest is warranted ~ that there is no racial injustice problem.

But now the players are boycotting their own livelihoods during the playoffs, sans kneeling, yet disapproval and anger still reside in the hearts of many of you.

The majority of the people are white. Not all. But mostly.

The question is why? Why now? No one is kneeling during the national anthem anymore. The players are not rioting, looting, and vandalizing. So why so much disgust and anger? Is it because you believe police brutality and racial injustice isn’t a big deal? That doesn’t make sense. Because if you think it’s not a big deal, why are you angry about those who believe it is?

Is it because if you say it is a big deal, you must automatically confess that people who look like you are the problem?

The anger you feel is precisely the brand of anger blacks (or any minority) feel when whites (or anyone else) make a snap judgment about them for the color of their skin.

I believe you are angry because you believe white skin is on trial.

You are beginning to understand what being racially stereotyped feels like. You’ve never felt like you were a representative of the white man, but now you do. To which many Blacks and Hispanics and Asians might say: “Welcome to the Club.”

Yet coincidentally, it is the very same thing blacks desire. They seek justice too. They want a fair shake.

They don’t want to have “the talk” with their children about the protocol to follow if they are encountered by a policeman. They don’t want to be pulled over without warrant while driving a nice car, because a police officer thinks they may be a drug dealer. They don’t want to be frisked and searched without warrant. They don’t want to be targeted and profiled without warrant. Yet they are, disproportionately.

Many of you fail to understand that the protests, all the protests, even the ones which include criminal behavior, are not happening because George Floyd was killed by a white cop. They are not happening because Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by a white cop. Nor are they about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, etc.

No, no, no. These things are the teapot blowing its top. They are the tipping points. They are the culmination. The protest isn’t merely against police brutality. These horrific incidents just happen to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sure, the protesters desire change. They seek a police and judicial system overhaul.

If you did you would have heard stories, likely many stories. I’ve heard stories told to me by black friends, that I, nor anyone I know who is white, identify with. Multiple stories. Multiple stories from each person. Stories of being pulled over without warrant and questioned. Stories of being pulled over with warrant but treated unjustly harsh.

There are also non-police stories. The same friends have been followed around in stores to ensure they don’t steal anything. One friend told me a tactic she uses to stop people from following her. She puts them to work by continually asking where she can find certain items until they get exhausted. Police Lieutenant Wayland Cubit, who is vying for Oklahoma County Sheriff in November, told a roundtable discussion I was part of that he was repeatedly told as a child to always have a $20 on him and always walk out of a store with “the bag,” lest the store workers think he is doing something criminal. Things I’ve never been told.

And these things don’t tell the entire story. I had a black friend tell me she’s fearful of driving through small towns ~ fearful that she may be pulled over. Others have said the same thing. And I know they aren’t outliers. So not only does tangible mistreatment happen, but there is also the constant being on guard each time blacks get behind the wheel. It shouldn’t be so.

White friends: Our black brothers and sisters are tired. Beyond tired. They want their voices heard. You aren’t responsible for the sins of the past or the sins of others. The burden you feel is not yours to carry. You aren’t representative of all whites just like blacks aren’t representative of all blacks. You don’t have to agree with BLM or the methods of protest to be an empathetic and compassionate person. Please drop your sword. Please, everyone, drop your sword.

Christian writer and historian, called to shine light on issues of race and reconciliation.

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