I woke up to news that Black Lives Matter organizers are being sued by the Mall of America in an attempt to force them to cancel the planned protest on Wednesday.
I don ‘t know why I continue to be surprised by events like this. I know better.
I also know I am going to be at the Mall on Wednesday. I hope that you are there with me. Here are four reasons why:
- Otherwise you Might Think You Don’t Have to Deal With Race. So many people who wouldn’t otherwise think about race and racism are going to be forced to think about why this is happening. To me this is one of the most important aspects to come out of actions like this. So many White folks simply go on about their lives and never come face to face with the reality of racism. They believe that because they don’t openly use the N word and don’t believe in Jim Crow style segregation they have no further responsibility to interact with race. They never consider how it came to be that they don’t live around people of color. They never reflect on what systems are in place that keep them from interacting, on a daily basis, with peers who don’t look like them. Most importantly, they don’t consider how their daily routines perpetuate the systems that keep this situation in tact. By being at MOA these realities are forced upon folks who would otherwise go on about their day as if they had no stake in this struggle.
- Our Freedom is Intimately Tied to This. A common mistake that white folks make is to think that we do not benefit from the movement for racial justice. Nothing can be farther from the truth. As I have claimed here many times, whiteness is a divide and conquer strategy which is meant to keep working class and poor whites fighting with people of color as elite whites continue to control the vast majority of resources. What little resources we do have we are expected to spend at places like MOA. We are integral cogs in the machine that is capitalist white supremacy, and it isn’t working for the majority of us either, as the case of Michael Kirvelay illustrates.When we move past whiteness and act in solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter we connect with the larger community and build the power necessary to better our own material reality.
- It is the Right Thing to Do. Quite simply, speaking out against racism and the violence it perpetuates is the right thing to do. That the Mall is private property with the legal right to bar protesters does not mean it is wrong to be there demanding justice. Legality does not equal morality. Lest we forget: slavery and Jim Crow were both legal. The land that the Mall sits on is stained with the blood of Natives and the sin of the genocide perpetrated against the indigenous people of this land, all done legally. This argument is flimsy at best, especially given that the Mall lets other groups gather such as Zach Sobiech’s tribute.
The argument is meant to alleviate the conscience of folks who are struggling with being confronted with the reality of white supremacy and their inherent complicity in it. To those folks I offer the words of Bishop Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
- Because there are people who look like us that are actively spewing hate. The comments on the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook page consisted of this type of nonsense. If we sit on the sidelines and remain silent these are the voices that get heard. I hope that is unacceptable to you.