Monday, July 11, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter Turns Over Rocks, Reveals Racist Haters In The Family

Baton Rouge police exhibit their fearful response to a woman's act of civil disobedience.
Protesters in the hundreds were arrested outside Baton Rouge police headquarters following
the recent execution by police of Alton Sterling, a black man who was a father of five.
So, I begin to understand how civil wars get started. Divisions that cleave families, friends and neighborhoods into separated, hostile camps.

A family member living in another state changed her Facebook profile picture this week:

She posted it with the comment that she had just donated to several organizations she recommended supporting.

 She works in the non-profit world and has an extra big heart so I appreciated hearing her recommendations. I changed my profile pic, too. Then, another family member shared the same image to his facebook page.

Two other members of the extended family in another state commented in ways that shocked us.

One of the family members claimed that Black Lives Matter is a hate group. This person didn't used to talk racist and has spent a lot of time in jail with black guys. He must watch Fox News now, I guess.

The other family member wrote:

That guy that was just killed was carrying a weapon and was a wanted suspect in an armed burglary. Oh and 3 days prior he and his gf were smoking out in their car with their child in the car. Stupid!
I believe the "he" she had in mind was not Alton Sterling, whose death by police fire led to the iconic photo at the head of this blog post, but Philandro Castile. 

Mr. Castile was executed in the passenger seat of a car in Falcon Heights, Minnesota last week in front of his young child and her mother, who had the presence of mind to livestream his gruesome death (video here if you have the stomach for it). She was the driver and had been pulled over ostensibly for a broken tail light. Mr. Castile worked in a school cafeteria and had no criminal record beyond traffic tickets.

Everyone in the country, it seems, is talking about the police brutality that finds its way onto social media so often these days. "I'm a black ex-cop, and this is the truth about race and policing" by Redditt Hudson in Vox explains why it's been happening all along, and what needs to be done to stop it. In a word: accountability. 

Big surprise. I'm old enough to remember the riots following the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King, one of the early on camera bits of evidence that white people had to confront.

A lot of people I know are also talking about how their extended family, former classmates and old friends are spewing racist garbage on social media. People are blocking some and unfriending others. So much for dialogue.

My usual online friends are posting about police brutality but also about how close NATO and the U.S. have moved to confronting Russia. Thousands of troops and weapons are massed on Russia's borders with Europe. An astute anarchist I know responded to an article about this by predicting that war with Russia would produce a draft, which would consist primarily of the enormous (disproportionately black) prison population. Conscripted prisoners would be hard to contact and thus hard to organize, he pointed out. 

Why aren't more people in the U.S. worried about provoking a war with nuclear armed Russia? They're not even aware of it, is the likely answer.

The focus is on fear that stalks the land: fear of driving while black or brown, fear of angry men with guns -- in uniform or out. 

Fear of serious illness, and the bankruptcy it causes. Fear of living with their parents for the rest of their lives, and still dying owing student loans. Fear of the next police murder which may light the fuse on the powder keg that is the U.S.A.

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