Berthoud Consulting

Berthoud Consulting

Slow Murder

As the country (and countries) take up the call against police and extrajudicial violence in the latest examples—Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Christian Cooper—I have been thinking that it is almost too easy to be shocked and appalled by the police and others who act in such obviously egregious ways. It is natural to feel grief and anger at the loss of those lives and it is important to give those feelings space. Yet the outpouring of rage cannot be explained as responses to these events alone or even together. The spill happens when the last drop tips the bucket.

What of all the other drops in the bucket? What of the daily dynamics that have been added for years, decades, centuries? We can discover/uncover/acknowledge the ways we experience and/or perpetrate similar dynamics even if they are not immediately fatal. For example,

  • When do you assume that, or have you been a Black/dark person who, is “out of place” and how are perceived boundaries enforced? We may not shoot Ahmaud Arbery, but do we question people of color more closely? Ask in that tone that says you don’t belong here the defensible words, “May I help you?” Or surreptitiously surveille the shopper, new recruit, promoted manager?

  • How do we use the threat of enforcement (call the cops) on people of color who “dare” speak up and hold us accountable? “Let me speak to your manager!”

  • When have we not listened to cries of distress, instead believing that people of color are strong, can take it, are just whining?

The current conversation can feel like further separation that, if not minded, becomes “theirs” not “ours” as in, Black communities but not about our entire community.

  • What is it like for white people to realize that the state kills people of color in their name? Some are Amy Cooper and call the police with the confidence that whiteness is always rightness and can be enforced, lethally. Who else is there? What do you do?

  • What is it like for white people who have people of color in their families and friend circles to know that your spouse, child, neighbor is not seen as the whole human being you know?

  • When and how do you let the pain in? When you realize how deep and thorough these dynamics are, how do you metabolize them without asking the people of color in your life to carry your burden too? How do white people support each other?

For more see

From Michelle Norris, How Amy Cooper and George Floyd represent two versions of racism that black Americans face every day

From Trevor Noah on the dominoes of racial injustice.

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

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