During this summer I have cautiously followed, participated, and studied the wave of protest uprising as a result of the constant extrajudicial killings caught on camera of Black men (Black women are unfortunately regarded as secondary victims). Throughout the protest there has been sparks of optimism, at the size of the protest (it is estimated that 23 million people have participated), to persistence of the protest (George Floyd was killed on May 25th and there are still protest occurring throughout the country, albeit there are also more videos of police killings), to the diversity of the protest (Seeing large numbers of white people joining the protest). However despite this I have remained cynical throughout and I have spent a lot of time trying to determine why I am not excited about this moment in history. The conclusion I reached is heavily based on my understanding of interest convergence and the scope of the existing problems.
First is Interest Convergence a theory coined by the late Derrick Bell, which “stipulates that black people achieve civil rights victories only when white and black interests converge.” For the past four years Trump has galvanized many politically inactive people to engage in politics. He has embodied an ethos that represents a bridge too far for many people. The resistance to his administration has also coincided with a movement to curb police brutality. This issue that I have, is that this is not a new concern but has began to see active engagement and mainstream legitimacy now that a critical mass of white people have decided to participate. I do not feel encouraged that progress on this issue is contingent on white people and this is not just a petty observation but based on the concern that what happens if Biden wins; are these problems somehow solved in returning to the status quo?
This idea leads to the next conclusion I reached is that the scope of the problem is larger than being discussed. Police Brutality is the tip of the iceberg and it is not the only thing Black people are fighting for. Black people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 from deaths due to majority of us working service or front facing jobs to economically from suffering from high unemployment rates. There is a pervasive idea that Black people are “lazy” or inherently “criminal” and all the effects that we deal with due to systemic racism are a result of the “bad choices” we continue to make.
Recently I have come to a realization that I will no longer waste time convincing people with examples, studies or evidence that this idea of Black people is nothing more than a racist trope. My hope in this moment is to use this movement to gain full autonomy so that Black people no longer have to wait for white people to “get it” and we can begin to start to address the laundry list of issues that are effecting our communities and stop explaining that we are Human.