Welcome to Issue 12.2 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
I’m in a few. This is good—I don’t know if white members of my community have come to me with these questions because they want me to make them feel better about not doing anything other than making dangerous excuses or if they want to have a real conversation.
It’s time to have that conversation.
When I looked at the news this morning, the first thing I saw was that David McAtee was murdered by police in Louisville, Breonna Taylor’s hometown.
David was beloved in his Louisville community, “a friend to many, a well-known Barbecue man. [He has] nurtured so many people in their bellies and in their hearts before, and for him to be caught up in this, not to be with us today is a tragedy," said Louisville mayor Greg Fischer.
Here’s more of the story. “McAtee was known to give police officers free meals. Bystanders and witnesses have said that the crowd was not protesting when the police arrived. Police claim that they were returning fire after the crowd began shooting.”
Police hadn’t turned on their body cameras; the police chief of Louisville has been fired as a result of this murder.
So let’s go back. If some cops are good people, does that mean that the cops on this scene just happened to be bad people? If so, what is the ratio in a given police department of good cops to bad cops? Let’s grant everyone the benefit of the doubt here and say it’s a 50/50 good cop/bad cop split, like any standard good cop/bad cop situation.
There are 686,665 police officers in the US in 2018. Looking at the trend, it’s reasonable to guess this number has since gone up. So that means that, rounding down, remember, we are benefit-of-the-doubt-ing here, there are at least 343,332 bad cops.
343,332 bad cops?!! Ok, again. Who knows if this is right—but also where’s the evidence of the good cops? Also, honestly, who cares, if there are any cops who are paid by American tax dollars to hold firearms and use them at their discretion? When their discretion is informed, first and foremost, by the white supremacy on which this nation was built?
The moral of the story is that David McAtee should still be alive, as should Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the hundreds, thousands, of Black people murdered by police. I’m sure that at least some of those officers that David gave free meals to wish he was still alive. Maybe all the cops in Louisville loved David’s barbecue, and wish he was still alive.
But the thing is that it doesn’t matter what the cops want. If those desires ever include wanting to kill Black people—which we know they do—nobody should ever be in a position to act on those desires.
I, like (I hope) you, have done a lot of thinking about justice and what it means to dismantle racism, specifically anti-Black racism. This is good, and we should all do that, no matter who we are.
And, non-Black people should follow the leadership of Black people in the work to end anti-Black racism. Black organizers with Black Lives Matter are demanding that police departments be defunded. Here are their words:
“We call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken.
We call for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive. If you’re with us, add your name to the petition right now and help us spread the word.”
It doesn’t matter if you know nice cops, or are related to nice cops, or a cop helped you one time. It doesn’t matter that stores are getting smashed and buildings set on fire, because property is replaceable and lives are not. It doesn’t matter if you used to think that the police are here to protect people, because the truth is that police are the modern iteration of slave catchers and not much has changed.
It is time to defund the police.
I have been in situations, and I imagine you have been too, in which you were like, “wow, someone said something racist” or “gosh, that person obviously has no idea that white supremacy is a thing,” or “that is really anti-Black,” but it didn’t seem like ‘the right time’ to say something about it.
Well, it’s never the right time for white people to kill Black people. It doesn’t matter if saying something is awkward. It doesn’t matter if you think your family members will spent the rest of dinner staring at their plates. It doesn’t matter if people un-follow you on social media.
Black Lives Matter.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
I was going to take a deep dive into the Kylie Jenner story that broke this past weekend but we can save that for another day.
Yesterday, I introduced my column for the day by talking about why I choose to still write ~*Hot Goss*~ every morning, even though it doesn’t feel right to do so when people are battling for their lives, their rights, and their humanity in cities all across the U.S. – because we somehow still have to remind people that Black Lives Matter in 2020.
I think I still believe that we need brief moments of escapism and respite from the reality that is unfolding outside, and that many people are and have lived through for decades. Anyone who has heard me talk about why I love celebrity gossip so much knows that this is my drug of choice. Celebrity gossip got me through a combined six years of learning and studying international relations – degrees that involved reading day in and day out of war, oppression, invasion, colonialism, imperialism, injustice, famine, and genocide in different parts of the world. Without celebrity gossip, I would have been… bogged down.
But my mistake in pressing forward with writing this column every day for the last seven days was not giving a simple acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation that so many people, especially Black people in the U.S., are fighting against. Nothing new, of course. Just more visible and more palpable than usual. In my perhaps misguided and self-indulgent belief that we all needed a break, I proceeded to conduct business as usual. At best, I was cocooning myself from what was happening and at worst, I was actively remaining distant and uninvolved – ignorant, if you will. I’m sorry it took me this long to say anything.
On a personal level, this has been all I can think of. I don’t have a lot of political power or legal protections in the country I currently reside in, so I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I can support this movement as much as possible within these constraints. Maybe there are others who are also figuring out how they can best join and support Black people in their fight for liberation. Join protests and rallies if you can – the visibility and numbers are important. The Movement for Black Lives has also compiled this toolkit for a week of action in defense of Black lives that can get you started.
Yesterday, yet another unarmed Black man was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky. His name was David McAtee. Please donate to the McAtee family if you are able to. Please also consider giving to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to help protestors in Kentucky.
Rest in peace and power David, Tony, George, Breonna, and Ahmaud.