From guest writer: Zuly
On Friday, for the first time in my life, I experienced how it was possible for Black people to truly despise White people and all that they stand for.
The conversation started the day before, when someone brought up to me the horrors that were happening in Ferguson and a third-party says, “I don’t know why Black people always resist arrest.”
Then he says, “Cops need to defend themselves. Maybe if that kid didn’t resist arrest he wouldn’t have been shot.”
I should’ve just written the person off right there and stepped away from a conversation that would inevitably get me angry. I should’ve known it was a dead-end. But, you see, I’m a white Hispanic woman who has grown up around Black people and White people who either kept their racist views to themselves or were just not racist. I had no experience with this type of conversation. I was in for a treat.
I made my usual responses that day,
“White people resist arrest all the time and don’t end up dead.”
“You don’t need to shoot someone multiple times in order to protect yourself from them.”
“Cops shouldn’t just have carte blanche to shoot unarmed people just because they see them as threatening.”
Eventually the conversation died down for the day.
On Friday, I was looking at Twitter and saw that the Ferguson PD were making fools of themselves by releasing information and then backtracking. I made the mistake of talking to myself out loud and inadvertently restarting the conversation from the day before.
I don’t remember the beginning of the conversation. Probably because it snowballed and went downhill very quickly. All of a sudden I was hearing things like, “Maybe if so many Black people weren’t criminals they wouldn’t get profiled and killed by cops.” and “Black people are more likely to commit crimes.” and “You don’t find as much crime in poor White neighborhoods.”
What amazed me about these comments is that they were so disconnected from the reality of cops killing young, unarmed Black boys and Black people in general. Since when does committing a crime justify being murdered without a charge or a trial? Why is it that White people talk out of their asses about Black people committing crime when an innocent Black person gets murdered but there’s no victim blaming when a White person gets murdered? And why is that so easily ignorable when you point it out?
I responded to these baseless, ignorant comments with facts:
“Black people get stopped, arrested and charged at higher rates than White people committing the same crimes.”
“Black people have suffered through extreme poverty and systematic racism that makes it impossible to just “be a good citizen” and thereby be left alone.”
“White people enjoy less severe sentences for crimes that are often WORSE than crimes committed by Black people.”
“Respectability doesn’t stop you from being shot and killed if cops and others see the color of your skin and automatically think that they need to eliminate the threat.”
I gave examples. I gave statistics.
I was met with, “Well that’s just the media race baiting and showing Black people as the victims. Racism doesn’t exist anymore. We have a Black president.”
I was already angry before this, but this is when I started to raise my voice. The media shows Black people as victims? Really? REALLY? I opened up and read out loud the HuffPo article that shows the headlines describing white suspects and black victims. I pointed out that people threaten to kill our President every fucking week and nobody gets arrested for it. Nobody even says anything.
We got interrupted in the conversation, and it was a good thing too because the conversation was clearly not going anywhere.
That conversation haunted me. I couldn’t sleep that night because I kept thinking, “Maybe I didn’t present my argument well enough.” I was haunted because this person was someone I considered a friend and I couldn’t reconcile that he was so blind and so unwilling to open his mind. A part of me blamed myself for not seeing the deeply rooted, ignorant racism before, and for not doing a good enough job to change his mind.
But the fact is, nothing I said, no facts I gave, no realities I pointed out were going to make him open his ignorant fucking eyes to the truth. No matter how logical or factual I was, Black people were still “pulling the race card.”
And for the first time in my life, I hated white people. I hated them with the force of a thousand suns. And I understood that my Black friends face this EVERY SINGLE DAY and I don’t understand how they stay sane.