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A Terrible Beauty:
White denial in the face of overwhelming evidence is a sight to behold
First of all, spare me any #notallwhites vitriol because *you* haven't personally lynched
any black people today. [Incidentally, it may be a frivolous aside, but can there be any
more depressing harbinger of non-change that this--Lynch--is the last name of the newly
installed Attorney General?] If that is your initial reaction, you have already missed
the points I haven't even made yet. You might want to stop reading here (though you in
particular should probably read the whole thing). It is a thing of sheer
beauty--terrible, evil beauty to be sure. But beauty nonetheless in the way that a near
perfect, almost poetic conflation of hubris, hyperbole and hypocrisy can be admired for
its boldness and bluster: Resistance to oppression is required to be polite, and to
conform to standards of politeness set by the very oppressors themselves and their
allies, witting or un-. FUCK YOU. The youth of Baltimore are rising and expressing a pent
up rage that is centuries in the making. It is not for me to tut tut and impose my idea
of political organization. The left needs to watch, and learn. Look at who is protecting
whom, who is threatening whom, who is siding with whom. Judge the media. Judge the police
state. Judge a white supremacist society in all of its tentacles that shape our
perception and experience in so many fields. This is the lens through which to understand
what's going on.
As one friend sardonically observed, " White people care more about white property
than Black lives, which is ironic, considering Black lives used to be white property.
Through memes and social media, friends probe the irony of white people rushing to defend
the property rights of a megacorporation whose greed for profit has destroyed more local
businesses in Baltimore than 'looters' ever could, spawning the hashtag #jesuiscvs and
'White people be like #AllStoresMatter.'
The rising body count from what seems to be unchecked police violence is old news to
those raising black and brown children in this society. These tips of the iceberg that
gain national attention are a window into the daily worries of our communities, shedding
light on what a challenging and scary proposition it is--some of the dangers and fears
parents of white children rarely have to confront. This is probably why outside observers
completely miss the significance of the now viral footage of the black mother beating her
son in public in Baltimore. Police and media tout her as a model mom, implying that she
was against the protests or thought her son should respect the police. The simple fact
was far less dramatic--in her own words she just didn't want her son to be another
Freddie Gray--a fact immediately obvious to those in the community, but perhaps lost on
those who thrill at the idea of someone--*anyone*--beating down a young black man. For
our own part, we want our son to be focusing on first year finals next week, not out
posing as target practice for killer cops. Parents tend to be a bit conservative when it
comes to kids' lives--can you blame us? That is why we also need to watch, listen and
While we were right in the middle of tweeting, texting and sharing about what police
brutality's Enabler-in-chief called the 'senseless violence' in Baltimore, it happened
again like clockwork. Unarmed 20 year old TerrenceKellum was shot 10 times by Immigration
police (working jointly with Detroit police) in his parents home just a few hours ago.
But please tell us again about 'bad apples' and 'isolated incidents,' and how 'some
police officers did the wrong thing.' Really.. I'm all ears. My cousin was taken in by
these same people a few years back. Guess we're lucky he made it out alive...
What is also shocking (to some of us) is how invisible this internalized perspective is.
The white jury watched *video* footage of Rodney King and just couldn't see police
brutality. White observers see footage of a black mother running in the street with
toilet paper and diapers. Instead of a desperate mother trying to provide for her family
at the end of a month (thanks for the cuts in food stamps btw) they see a violent thug.
And in public, many whites aggressively pursue and defend this point of view. I was in a
bar recently and had to try to keep my composure while a patron droned on and on about
how the cop who drove into that kid at 50 mph had "no other choice." And all
the while I'm supposed to worry more about a killer cop's twisted ankle than the survival
of my own son and brothers. Are you fucking kidding me? On what planet?? This stands at
the very core of white supremacist thought--even when the "thinkers" are
ignorant of it.
We need to amplify our collective voice and speak out--and encourage and support those
kids on the front line who are speaking truth. We are up against the most sophisticated
propaganda matrix the world has ever seen. Remember Malcolm: "If you're not careful,
the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the
people who are doing the oppressing." Above all, we need to be careful. But not in
the way politicians and handwringers like to think: My people have been killing you for
centuries. But please, let me tell you how to resist. Or lead your movement--even better.
The utterly depressing thing about the now ubiquitous comparisons to the 'riots' of the
60's is that, 50 years later, conditions are actually *more* hopeless. Inequality is
measurably, tangibly worse. There is no talk of a national commission or legislation to
address the elephant in the room. No opposition to the status quo of the police state is
tolerated from any quarter taken seriously; there is no organized dissent or political
force to push back. Moreover, and even more dangerous, the increased repression is part
and parcel of a global assault on all the peoples and countries of the Global South--a
worldwide Jim Crow, as it were--by an ever-more-bloodthirsty unipolar war machine. Scary,
This is a *global* struggle, folks. The fight to eliminate broken windows police terror
at home is inextricably linked to the struggles of our global south peoples to push back
against the systemic and overwhelming violence that fuels endless imperial wars. They
symbolic and real juxtaposition of Palestinian and American youth, cast in rock-throwing
positions side by side, raised the tag 'Baltimore Intifada.' What they use against these
kids is what has been, is being, and will be trotted out to repress dissent not only
against them, but any of us who try to resist. Cartoonist Matt Lubansky penned a
hilarious and pointed piece titled "Great Moments in the History of Peaceful
Protest." Example: "1791: Haitian slaves ask very nicely to be freed and are
immediately liberated by all those reasonable white people." It is a brilliant
prebuttal to all the fools who can't repress the need to preach to the next generation of
revolutionaries how they would get much farther if they would just calm down and
circulate a few petitions. And vote for Hillary!
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(c) 2015 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to
danielpwelch.com. Political analyst, writer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his
Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School.
Welch has also appeared in numerous television and radio interviews, and can be available for comment and analysis as his day job permits.
Translations of articles are available in in up to 30
languages. Links to the website are appreciated.