There are a few things right now that get me to tear up immediately with grief, rage and a kind of desperate frustration. One of them is the idea of my ability to use the privilege of my white body to protect black people in protest.
And maybe the frustration comes from the fact that I actually can’t – I’m thousands of miles away, in lockdown(-ish) with a small child. I hate that I can’t be there to lend my physical presence. I know it’s a sentiment shared by many.
But quite aside from that, oh my god that reality is just so inutterably horrifying. It’s stated so matter of factly, as something an ally can do. And it is such a matter of fact, practical, concrete thing that a white person can do. But think about it. A white person can protect a black person from a police officer just by being white, in front of them. Not because there is something inherently protective about their body, but because the police officer just…prefers it. Police officers simply act differently when white people are around. They act differently when confronted with white protesters than they do with black protesters.
And white people are still getting abused and injured by police, as we all know by now – even pensioners. At least one white person I know of has died. Which makes it even more chilling, because what would be happening if they weren’t there?
Black people have lived with this reality their entire life. They have had no choice but to come to terms with it. They don’t have the luxury of crying about it or they’d never get shit done, and they’ve had a lot of shit to get done. But for those of us new to this struggle – I really hope this horrifies you. Don’t ever fucking come to terms with this. Don’t ever accept this reality. Don’t ever cease being fucking horrified by it.