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Time for white people to do something for #BlackLivesMatter

By Ralph SchwartzOn Sep 23, 2016

As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, two black people have died in the past week at the hands of police: Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Terence Crutcher, 40,in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher was unarmed, and the officer who shot him was charged on Thursday with manslaughter. Police in Charlotte claim Scott's killing was justified. No action will be taken against the officer who killed Scott, a father of seven.

Family men minding their own business, going about their daily routines, not looking for trouble. But trouble found them in the form of men and women in blue who are supposed to serve and protect. This story is getting old. The question becomes, what to do about it?

As a white man who enjoys a position of privilege in this country, and who doesn't get nervous whenever he sees a police officer, the question is more urgent for me than it might first appear. The problem of cops shooting black people is a white problem, after all.

Pop culture blogger and author Luvvie Ajayi had this to say:

“White people, I’m talking to you. THIS. IS. YOUR. PROBLEM. TO. FIX. Y’all got some work to do, because this system that y’all keep on privileging from, you’ve got to help us dismantle it. Because those of us who are Black and Brown. We have tried. You created this robot, and it is yours to deactivate. My skinfolk don’t have the passcode. This is your monster to slay.”

The answer to the white person question, “What do I do?” isn't always clear. Luvvie again: “I don’t know exactly how but shit. Create an app or something.”

Derrick Weston, a progressive Presbyterian minister, wrote “The Five Things I Need From White People Right Now” in response to the Terence Crutcher shooting. There are some good ideas in there.

For me, it starts with a protest at the federal building in Bellingham at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. Advice to whites from Luvvie: “Use your bodies in this fight. Take to these streets and march and protest, showing that you are not okay with what is happening. Be on the frontlines, showing that you have a vested interest in the well-being of Black and brown people.”

See you on the streets.

About Ralph Schwartz

Writer • Member since May 23, 2014

After 13 years in mainstream journalism, Ralph Schwartz left The Bellingham Herald in November 2015 to get more involved in the community. He's now a freelance editor and writer, and works in [...]

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