Coffee Thoughts: June 2020 — Black Lives Matter

Change is happening.

In the wake of centuries of systemic racism, decades of police brutality cases on the news, and most recently, the horrific 2020 murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the current protests happening from state-to-state are making waves across society, and should hopefully mark a turning point in this country’s history. As of this writing — and as a direct result of these powerful protests — all of the police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd are now facing charges. The Breonna Taylor case has been reopened. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are calling to change “qualified immunity” laws, and Confederate monuments are finally being toppled. The deep, bloody systemic roots of America’s racism can no longer be ignored or silenced. Black lives matter.

In times like these, anti-racism should be visible, bold, and public. However, as a privileged white person, I tried to take a lot of time to consider what I should write here, and how best to show my support for the movement. Then, it occurred to me: This isn’t a time to put my words out there. Instead, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to step back, and broadcast Black voices, giving time and attention to those who have experienced America’s racism firsthand. So, here are a handful of articles, videos, links, and so on, from those who can speak far more deeply, potently, and personally on this subject than I ever could:

NAACP Image Award Nominated author Kimberly Jones:

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show:

So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge,” the Los Angeles Times.

Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.

Ta-Nehesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” the Atlantic.

Further reading: