After watching a series of YouTube videos showing the protests that occurred in Berkeley, California, Saturday night, I had an epiphany that led me to simple query; what are these young, mostly white protesters agitating for? After viewing the videos several times, to ensure that I was not mistaken, I realized that there was not a single sign naming Mike Brown, Eric Garner, or any arbitrary victim of racial violence. So the question dogging me is a simple one; what is their protest actually about?
It is not necessary to apply the alluded to question to the African-American struggle as it is obviously generated by the pain, disrespect, and abuse we have received since the first Africans under European control arrived in Jamestown in 1619. Considering that it is the long storied history of racial violence that serves as the catalyst to African-American protest, what exactly do whites have to protest? The question is particularly poignant when applied to the University of California at Berkeley, a place that has a permanent place in American protest history; it has historically been the epicenter of American radicalism. However, in contemporary times, are these young whites protesting in unity with African Americans or seeking inclusion on a news story?
This question is nothing new; it has actually been a personal thought for an extended period of time. It started after I visited an African Consciousness group where African-Americans shared their personal thoughts regarding the current political landscape that was contextualizing American racial dynamics. I wondered what good could the presence of whites during such moment wrought. How could we generate intra-racial solidarity while whites, the cause of our pain, were actively involved and ‘contributing’ to the conversations with biting critiques and polarizing commentary? Now, I am not a racial separatist, however, I do believe that the onus is upon African-Americans to life themselves up by practicing collectivism in political and economic realms. The absence of such collectivism leads to a continuation of our marginalized status.
I believe that the movement to address racial oppression is being diffused by this latest foray against police brutality. Obviously, African-Americans do not have a monopoly upon the issue of police brutality as unfortunately the pernicious acts of ‘the boys in blue’ touches people regardless of race/ethnicity, however, I suspect that multi-racial protests regarding this matter has compromised our collective focus upon the actual cause of African-American suffering, racism. Could this be by design? Ask yourself, how does focusing on police brutality shed light upon our continued oppression? Quite simply, it doesn’t. At best, officers will be restrained in their actions, however, such ‘progress’ does nothing to address the root of the problem; racism.
My question is when do we address issues such as: racism within the work place, fair housing and lending practices, voting rights, etc. These issues have plagued African Americans for decades. When will they be addressed? As long as our attention is diverted by those claiming to share our fight we will never be free. Make no mistake about it, the struggle for racial equality is a Black struggle, others may sympathize, however, the onus to eradicate racism still rests with African-Americans. Even those who occasionally fight beside us for racial equality benefit from the existing system as reflected by every measurable that indicates a separation between Black and white in America. Put simply, we must not lose focus upon the need to eradicate racism. We need to leverage this moment into getting all of our grievances addressed and eradicated, there is no better opportunity than now.
I petition each of you to put aside your differences, brother to brother, sister to sister and come together so that we can show strength and force the system to level the playing field. There is much work to be done and the window of opportunity will not last long. If we allow others to lessen our struggle by joining forces in this police brutality agenda, we could miss the opportunity to fix all the things wrong that impact our lives and the lives of our children and our children’s children. Let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves and unite to see the bigger picture. If we miss this opportunity, there is no telling how long the next chance will arise. While we have their attention, let’s take this opportunity to get some things done for the betterment of us all. Brother to brother, sister to sister. We are in this together and can beat this together if we do not lose focus.
D.C. Price, MBA, PMP, MCTS, CNA