Black Activist “Tired” of Arguing With White America

In Wednesday’s edition of the Washington Post, Zack Linly (a “poet, performer, freelance writer, community organizer and activist”) said that it was time to stop arguing with “disingenuous” white people about police brutality. Linly said he was getting “tired” of listening to whites argue about issues that ultimately did not concern them.

“We’ve spelled it out for white America a hundred different ways that their beloved police forces are full of officers who are simply more volatile, fearful and prone to harassment and abuse of power when dealing with us – and it’s costing us our lives,” Linly wrote. “We’ve laid out all the statistics and all of our millions of personal testimonies.”

If you’re reading this and you have the misfortune of being an evil, rotten white person, you may notice that your mind is starting to produce some judgments, arguments, and defenses. You can let it rest. Linly has already provided a list of the most common white reactions:

Time and time again, we hear the same dismissive and deflective responses from white America:

“There must be more to the story.”

“If you people would just do what you’re told.”

“Cops have a hard job.”

“White people get shot too.”

“He was just another thug. Good riddance!”

“Why do you people make everything about race?”

“What about black on black crime?”

“All lives matter.”

Linly may be sick of reading these responses, but his list is just as “dismissive and deflective” as he is accusing whites of being. In the interest of fairness, we should go a little bit deeper, no? And we should remember that these are “quotes” that he made up himself, or, at the very least, cherry-picked out of the billions of words that whites have written about this issue. So these, surely, should be the least defensible.

But let’s see about that.

“There must be more to the story.”

Hmm. George Zimmerman was violently attacked and beaten by Trayvon Martin; evidence led his jury to make the only decision they could: Acquittal. Ferguson officer Darren Wilson was physically assaulted and in immediate danger of being tackled when he shot Michael Brown; evidence led the grand jury to exonerate him. And you can keep going down the list. Somehow, when all the facts come in, every one of these shootings turns out to be completely different than the original narrative. That is undoubtedly frustrating to anyone who derives their entire identity from BLACK RAGE, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

“If you people would just do what you’re told.”

Since non-racists don’t talk this way, let’s rephrase it as “If these shooting victims would have cooperated with police, they would still be alive.” Which is, in almost every case, the plain truth of the matter. It’s not even an opinion. It’s a fact. Furthermore, it’s the only fact that, if internalized by young black Americans, would actually put an end to these shootings. But hey, that would rob the outrage machine of its fuel, so we can’t have that.

“Cops have a hard job.”

Well, not all cops. Some cops live and work in areas of the country where there is virtually no violent crime at all. Shall we look at the racial demographics of those areas?

“White people get shot too.”

Actually, Linly is right to criticize this one because it’s not that whites get shot “too,” it’s that they are shot much more often than blacks. This was conveniently pointed out by none other than the Washington Post in June:

In 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race).

Now, statistically speaking, blacks are shot by police at higher rates than whites, but let’s be real here: it’s not “statistics” that are driving Black Lives Matter protesters to flood the streets with signs and chants. They only fall back on those numbers when, inevitably, it turns out that their latest “victim” was wholly responsible for his own demise.

If black activists are tired of white people “missing the point,” they might take Linly’s advice and simply stop arguing. But instead of cloistering themselves off in various safe spaces as he recommends, they could do themselves a favor and just be silent. Still. Then, and only then, they might realize a few things:

  • Whites aren’t oppressing blacks.
  • Black people and police officers are not mutually exclusive categories.
  • An inflammatory cell phone video does not (EVER) tell the whole story.
  • A fact is not an opinion and an opinion is not a fact.
  • There are (many) blacks who do not buy into their movement.
  • THEY – not whites, not cops, not Fox News, not Donald Trump, and not the vast majority of blacks – are the ones widening the racial divide in this country.

But hey, if it hurts too much to entertain these truths, that’s okay. You don’t have to listen or think.

“I submit that black people should simply disengage with white America in discussions about race altogether,” Linly advises.

That works, too.

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