The events of yesterday, last night, ran the gamut of moving and peaceful to mindless and violent. There are arguments over who’s to blame, as people take credit for the good and point fingers for the bad. The police do as the police usually do, overbearing at best and outrageous when they get tired of being barely tolerant.
Then again, what’s a cop to do when his car is surrounded by protesters, unsure whether it’s about to be set ablaze?
The rationalizations have shifted over the past few days in ways they have in the past, and in ways that those of us who have followed and fought the twin problems of police violence and police racism for decades anticipated. Protests directed at concrete problems that give rise to consensus morphed into sophistry about historic grievances justifying violence and looting, because protests, they argued, haven’t “fixed” anything so it’s time to destroy (and snag a Louis Vuitton handbag in the process because why not?).
In Philadelphia, a Starbucks was burned.
Starbucks no mas 🔥 pic.twitter.com/LxIvDxrFZl
— Josh Albert (@jpegjoshua) May 30, 2020
Why, fuck Starbucks especially one that forced it’s way to a city hall spot right across from a local brewer.
There were people who worked in that Starbucks, who relied on their salary to feed their children. Too bad for them. But not everyone bought into the “destruction and looting is cool” narrative.
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) May 31, 2020
One Target was saved from looting. It will still be there when this is over. Another was not. When someone asks why there’s no Target available in their neighborhood, the answer may be obvious but no one will say it aloud. Access to healthy food? Want to invest in a supermarket?
In an interesting interview, Cornell West made a point, that “the system cannot reform itself,” and so there is nothing left to do but destroy it.
"Could you imagine this kind of lynching taking place and people were indifferent?" he asks. pic.twitter.com/r8iSUjJ3db
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 30, 2020
Does this mean there open warfare is the answer? How will that turn out?
I witnessed first hand how these fucking white people are trying to fuck this up pic.twitter.com/aHevtFwlt2
— The Butterfly Hashira 🦋 (@thotzekage) May 31, 2020
Cornell West may be right, that the system can’t reform itself, at least not to his satisfaction. It gets better. It gets worse. But it never gets fixed, and never to everyone’s satisfaction. Even as people try to fix it, it just gets more broken under the weight of good intentions coupled with simplistic solutions, hysteria and outrage.
But burning a Starbucks won’t stop police from acting upon their presumption that black men are more likely to be violence criminals. The other day, I wondered aloud whether the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery would bring us back the core focus of Black Lives Matter, and maybe even deeper into the recognition that Daniel Shaver, white though he was, is just as dead as Floyd.
Ironically, Roxane Gay has wriggled out of her hole to add her narcissistic delusion to the morass.
When I warned in 2018 that no one was coming to save us, I wrote that I was tired of comfortable lies. I’m even more exhausted now. Like many black people, I am furious and fed up, but that doesn’t matter at all.
This time, she may have a point. She cares only for herself and her own, and she’s “furious and fed up,” and even “more exhausted now.” Most people are even “more exhausted now,” even though their main concern isn’t where Gay will get her next meal. If it’s going to be warfare, people will fight to save themselves, their families, and there will be nowhere to get a mocha latte when the Starbucks is burned down.
The system still won’t fix itself, and it won’t get fixed by looting Target or running over people with cars or horses. If what you’re fighting for is anarchy, then I will fight against you. And as hard as I’ve fought against needless police killings over the decades, my fight ends at my home and my family. I would fight to prevent the needless killing of black men. I will not fight for your right to loot Louis Vuitton. And it doesn’t matter what your race is, your gender is, your ideology is. If you expect a nation to burn for you, I will fight to put the fire out.