And Why Black Folks Like Me Don’t Expect Justice Anytime Soon.
As more officers are arrested for police brutality and what I like to consider state-sanctioned domestic terrorism, the next thing that comes to my mind is justice and how it always seems to be fleeting for Black folks. White America has a history of whipping the hell out of us, then refusing to grant us justice for the crimes it committed.
For far too long, White people have worked collectively through a myriad of sophisticated mazes and invisible pathways to ensure young, racist White men get to grow old to become old terrorists — able to continue spilling the blood of Black men and women in streets across America. From failing to arrest and/or convict Klansmen and lynchers after slavery, to failing to arrest and/or convict rogue cops, White America has sent a clear and ever-present signal that justice would never be on our side.
Justice is not on the side of Black men and women because White men and women control liberty. We define liberty as the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. Black folks have never had this privilege, therefore we’ve never been able to attain justice.
White people have controlled the Black liberty since slavery via their behavior (the way they’ve policed us) and their political views (both political parties at the state, national, and local levels) through dangerous policies and legislation.
The legal definition of justice according to Law.com is fairness, moral righteousness, a scheme or system law in which every person receives his/her/its due from the system, including all rights both natural and legal.
Black people have never received justice because White Supremacy ensured from the moment enslaved African people got off slave ships they would never be equal to Whites. America has been the land of opportunity (and justice) for some, and every White person in America plays a central role in ensuring it remains this way either by actively taking part in maintaining the status quo, with ignorance or with silence.
The entire criminal justice system has been perverted will in such a way that it will be nearly impossible for Black folks to receive the justice we so desperately deserve but so rarely get without the help of white people.
Injustice is a problem white people created. Justice is a solution that white people can make happen. Because Black people are not free, we have no power. Without that power, there is no justice.
Where there is no liberty, there can be no justice, and Black folks don’t have the liberty to pursue justice.
If you’re white and new to anti-racism, you need to understand how white supremacy thwarts justice and makes redemption after contact with the criminal justice system impossible for Black people. All roads to justice and redemption begin and end with white people. If they don’t change how justice works in America, it will never be attainable for Black people. White people control justice and liberty in America. It’s up to White people to make justice and liberty attainable for Black folks. Allow me to show White people some casual ways, white people thwart justice and liberty for Black people in America.
White People Thwart Justice By Being Biased
Black people rarely receive justice because of white people’s implicit biases. They begin with the way you (= most White people) have voted for the past centuries and counting, especially since the Civil Rights Era. White people will vote against their own interests, and ours, to support the White status quo. When it comes to voting against justice, this train is never late.
Justice for Black folks begins at the local level with state legislators, sheriffs, police chiefs, mayors, county, city commissioners, etc. This is where your friends live. This where White people center themselves first. This is the first place where America excludes Black people from justice. White bias creeps into perverting justice the way you pick prosecutors, the way you’ve offered unconditional financial, emotional, and moral and support to your local corrupt police departments, and the way you need evidence to convince you that White people have done bad things to non-White people.
Bias also comes into play with your excessive need for evidence. Requiring an excessive amount of proof of our injustices after 400 years of proof says you’re heavily invested in white supremacy. That’s casual, racist bias. White bias becomes an obstacle because you guys get to make the rules, then you keep moving the goalposts making justice impossible. You can’t say you believe in justice with your mouths and then vote for injustice behind our backs. This causes your actions and words not to align, which leads to trust issues. If White people want to know what will hurt Black people and people of color before they make major decisions regarding justice for Black and Brown people, ask the Black and Brown people in your communities, then move accordingly.
Failing to recognize biases at the local level is a huge blind spot for White people.
If there are Black and Brown people living in your communities, they should have representation that looks like them, thinks like them, speaks like them, and who understands their needs.
If enough white people recognize their biases and make incremental changes towards justice for all Black folks can achieve justice.
Ways Allies And Anti-Racism Advocates Can Help Black People Get Justice
Vote like Black people. I cannot stress this enough. Vote the way Black people vote. While we are not a monolith, most of us think and vote for the common good of all people. We can smell danger and see dangers other non-White groups may not. Black people have experienced racism and justice, and we know America’s wretched systems better than White people. Ask Black people how you can use your white privilege to benefit us. Seek Black communities first. Outside of Native Americans, Black people have suffered the longest in America, been neglected the longest, and been harmed by the justice system the most.
Get rid of biased prosecutors and judges. Prosecutors are politicians. You need to investigate their records on Black issues and police brutality. Vote out racist and biased judges and prosecutors. They block justice and protect the police. Local and regional prosecutors set the tone for the judicial circuits. If they are racist, so goes the rest of the judicial circuit. And can you guys please vote your favorite old white politicians out of office. If they’ve been in office 20–30 years, they are a part of the problem. They are preventing justice by holding positions created to maintain white power. If they’ve served more than two-terms they are useless tools. Say good-bye and begin voting progressively.
Protest lily White jury pools. All-white juries have always prevented justice. Research jury pools and make a stink. Put your prosecutors on blast. In fact, vote him or her from office. Use your privilege to help Black people get justice, especially in police killing cases. White people protect White cops, all cops.
Help Black people secure power. Support Black people. Buy Black. Support your Black businesses locally and nationally. Supporting Black business is supporting Black wealth-building. Support Black candidates, even if they don’t have the experience you believe they should have. Instead of subsidizing your favorite White candidates, support Black ones. Use your money and privilege to cheat white supremacy while helping Black people achieve justice.
Speak up and act up. The days of accepting white silence are over. The days of being able to stand for their racist friends or family members are no longer acceptable. The days of White people being indifferent will not be tolerated. Your silence and wavering on issues of racism can’t continue. The rebels are rebelling and they have nothing to lose at this point. Either you’re for us or against us. Black people are expecting white people to act up when it helps us achieve political power. And act up doesn’t mean act disorderly the way white folks behave in white spaces, with white people, because they have white privilege.
We can’t do that. We can’t breathe without getting killed, so take inventory of the Black people and the culture. Learn to read rooms. When in Black spaces, do what the Black folks are doing If they are chill, you be chill too. Act up means acting the same way the people you’re supporting do.
Stop performative social justice. Some white people have a general concept of how wrong racism is, but most just scratch the surface in their understanding. Because of this, they tend to be involved in the kinds of social and racial justice activities where one can be seen. For example, when white folks march in the latest movement Black Lives Matter Movements in America (FYI the started nearly 6 years ago), white people can be seen protesting alongside us globally, (hence all the white faces in protest photos online) which is great. So many white people marching is an enormous deal because white people have been AWOL since forever. Many white people are feeling great about finally. It feels a lot like giving trophies to folks for just being present but who have done nothing to help us move towards liberty or justice.
I’ve already been hearing white folks act as though they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice because they attended a few marches or donated. It’s the wrong attitude and energy. Black activists don’t need or want it. Do the work without a motive. We’re not giving out cookies and at-a-boys/girls, for showing up late to the fire. Media coverage focuses on the “diversity” of the crowd which strokes white egos. Black justice is skipped as the media redirects the white gaze to whiteness. Speaking of our national propaganda network…
Call out/boycott the media. Anything in America that controls information, communication, and messaging is lily-white or stacked with white adjacent allies who will ensure white supremacy’s racist messages are distributed as necessary. The media are one of the biggest impediments to justice for Blacks because white journalists and newsrooms make everything about colors, stereotypes, and social orders. Media bias is always on the menu.
When most white people write and create, they center whiteness, which means justice for us gets lost. We’re portrayed as perpetrators, rarely victims. The media helps plant subliminal messages in the minds of white people every day. Pay attention and call out journalists who write with racist under and overtones. White-run media and news work as an arm for unjust systems in this country. White people need to learn how biased the media is and understand how you are influenced to believe the things you have been taught for decades to believe. Justice can’t be achieved until white people being to see it’s okay. Liberty can’t be achieved until white people plant those seeds visually.
Stop making everything about you. White people, you guys are attention whores. Everything needs to center you, even our Black pain, Black neglect, and Black abuse. If it’s not about you or white issues, you’re typically uninterested unless you can make it about yourselves. In the past, if there was no tangible benefit for white people, white support was shaky. Justice in 2020 isn’t about you white people. Justice is about us. Just us. We need you to help us achieve it. Stop trying to figure out how white people are going to benefit directly because you’re not. Do something new, don’t think of yourselves at all. Justice for us (Blacks) is justice just for us.
Our needs are different from yours, and we’ve been awaiting this day for hundreds of years. Our ancestors have handed down all sorts of stories about how evil white men have been to them. Help us get the justice we need because it’s the right thing to do. The wheels of justice have been working just fine for white folks. Center us for once in your collective lives so that we can get the justice and liberty we deserve.
Learn to work behind the scenes. We all like to be recognized for our good deeds, but white people seem obsessed with being recognized or thanked for being a good human being. You need to toot your own horns when you do the simplest things (i.e. read Black authors, support Blacks on social media, amplify Black voices, donate to Black movements, etc.). It’s almost as if you do so begrudgingly as if doing something for Black people is like charity to you.
Change that attitude!
We need white justice and liberty advocates who can use their privilege, voices, and powers behind the scenes in addition to being good allies. In real advocacy, making things better for others is most times a thankless job. People are working behind the scenes to make the lives of people better. Knowing our neighbors can do better or be better because we helped them out is the ultimate reward.
Bringing attention to injustice is great, and we need white people to help do that — but we have the attention part covered. What we need from white people are the behind the scenes magic you’re able to make happen. You have access to spaces and information we’re not allowed to have access to.
The greatest reward you can give bad and corrupt white people is beating them at their own game. One of the reasons racist white people were pissed about Obama’s 2008 win was because he beat them at their own games. He beat the grumpy old white men at the state level where change truly happens. President Obama had not only millions of white people but people from all walks, races, nationalities, even non-U.S. residents working quietly behind the scenes to get him elected. To achieve justice and liberty, Black people need white people to have that Obama 2007–08 presidential campaign energy. Y'all did a lot of work in a little bit of time, and a lot of people pitched in. Go find that same energy and spirit to achieve justice and liberty.
The white people working for President Obama’s Presidential Campaigns knew how racist America’s political structures were. They were set up to never allow a Black man to reach the highest office in the land. President Obama had a good, smart coalition of people, including white people, who believed in him. They were willing to work in silence to get the job done. We need white people on the team who believe in justice and who can help deliver unto us liberty.
We need y’all to do some sneak attack shit on the white establishment to get things done. Justice cannot wait. Work with Black groups to understand our problems, then divisive plans to work behind the scenes to fix it.
White people must begin to work harder and think smarter when helping/supporting Black people to achieve justice and liberty. Change begins and ends with you and you know how to change the minds of white people. All roads being and end with white people.
Why I Don’t Expect Justice or Redemption Anytime Soon
I’d love to believe that in an instant we will have racial reconciliation, criminal justice reform, police reform, and better politics, and more equality by the end of 2020, but the way America is set up — that’s not happening, at least not without a fight.
Hence the second civil war on the horizon. No major changes happen for Black people in America without white violence. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Justice cannot and will not happen before the whitelash. Just crack open a history book. We know white people better than they know themselves. Justice and liberty cannot be achieved without white people. They hold the power and block the highway running to it. Until white people learn all the ways they impede justice and shackle us in white supremacy, most of your efforts will likely be in vain. White people must share with Black people (knowledge, resources, power, privilege, etc.) and see the benefits of doing so, and we’re not there yet. White people must be comfortable with ceding power. We’re not there yet.
White people must understand Black American history, racism, microaggressions, institutional and systemic racism, and white supremacy, and we’re just not there yet. White people must believe in their hearts it’s time for other people to finally win which means they’ll have to lose or give up something and be comfortable — understanding they’ve had a 400-year head start. We ain’t there yet.
It has taken 400-years for White people to see they have had their knees on our collective necks and enjoying every minute of it like Derek Chauvin did so that we could not breathe. I’d be a fool to believe I can have justice and redemption overnight. White people have a lot of work to do, and a lot of growing up to do. How fast or slow we move towards justice and free society for Blacks depends upon how quickly whites learn and how eager they are to dismantle white supremacy.
Until white people learn the many ways they have prevented us from attaining justice and liberty, nothing will change. Most white people are just realizing racism exists. Imagine how long it will take them to see the various ways they obstruct justice and redemption for Black men, women, and children.
White people will need to quickly learn how they thwart and pervert justice. White people will also need to understand how the unjust systems they create and support prevent our men and women from receiving the justice we are owed. We’re not fighting for something we believe we are entitled to. America owes us.
All men in America haven’t been created equal. White men have had golden parachutes, caviar, fine homes, good education and, access to everything — ensuring that Black folks receive justice. We want equity in all things, including justice and liberty.
We’re waiting for you, good white people. We are waiting for you. Black justice delayed is Black justice denied. Black people cannot get justice if white people won’t give us liberty.
Deliver us from this evil.
Marley K. 2020 in Quarantine