Nato Green: Handy primer for white people on riots about racist police 

click to enlarge While the Black Lives Matter protest has angered white people who say all lives matter, focus on the real problem: police racism. - CHARLES KRUPA/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Charles Krupa/AP File Photo
  • While the Black Lives Matter protest has angered white people who say all lives matter, focus on the real problem: police racism.

Every news editor in America now has a madlib ready on his desk for tomorrow’s lead:

“[Protests and/or riots] erupted yesterday in [systematically neglected post-industrial urban hellscape] in response to police [killing/getting away with killing] an unarmed [black/Latino/homeless/mentally ill/Tosh.0 writer] [man/woman] who was [doing nothing/just being a person]. Politicians call for [calm or other unhelpful things].”

When TV shows grainy footage of lawless hordes of black people raging, smashing, shouting — appearing to confirm whatever racist stereotype we held out like flypaper, us whites tend to get very upset and judgy. Our tsk-engine revs.

Since there is a 100 percent certainty that it will happen again sickeningly soon, here’s a handy primer for white people to help untangle our confused feelings about black people taking to the streets.

• The slogan of the movement is #BlackLivesMatter, not #IfBlackLivesDontMatterNobodysLivesMatter. If any part of you is tempted to retort that All Lives Matter, take a deep breath because you’re totally missing the point. Of course all lives matter. No activist has said otherwise. That the Internet has stopped talking about us for a THREE WHOLE WORDS does not mean our centurieslong dominance of human history has come to a close. Whiteness is so fragile it’s a wonder we conquered anything in the first place. “Honor” just means a white dude with a gun and hurt feelings. The next hashtag will be our stuff again.

• Hurting things is not the moral equivalent of hurting people. It is misleading to call both violence. Corporate personhood notwithstanding, a protest did not “turn violent” if the only violence against other humans was committed by cops. I’m not into property destruction because it’s bad tactics and undemocratic in a movement. If you have a million people ready to set cop cars on fire, by all means do so. If you have a million people wanting to protest peacefully and 20 dudes who want to set cars on fire, those dudes should stick to writing “V for Vendetta” fan fiction.

• Sometimes people who endure structural oppression and cultural revilement resist by protesting and sometimes by rioting. We now finally have an answer to the question “How racist is America exactly?” America is so racist that white people have less compassion for black people rioting for justice in Baltimore than for white people rioting at Penn State in defense of a child molester. It’ll take more than the first black president to shift that boulder. It would take George W. Bush being the last white president.

• These disturbances over racist police violence are starting to take a real toll. They’re approaching the level of damage caused by riots when a sports team wins or loses a vital game, or by shoppers on Black Friday. From now on, reporters need to measure the destruction caused by a riot relative to sports-based mayhem. Such as, “May Day in Oakland was bad this year. It was almost 10 percent as bad as the Giants winning the World Series.”

• None of the black men and women murdered by police were hardened criminals. We never hear the story of police killing someone who turned out to be Manson’s Mini-Me. Yet people make excuses for the murderers. Walter Scott ran away. Of course he did: he thought he might get killed and he was right. They shouldn’t have freaked out. They freaked out because that’s how innocent people respond to being harassed by police.

• If people who look like me were regularly killed for no reason, I would never stop screaming. I’d probably riot.

• Of course there is a systemic problem in law enforcement. As anyone who has uttered the phrase “Stanford Prison Experiment” knows, giving decent people guns and no consequences for violence guarantees that decent people will do horrible things. It’s not just bad apples. How many bad apples do we have to try before we stop eating apples? Time for peaches.

Now you’re ready to watch the news again.

Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian and whatnot. Send arguments and grievances to @natogreen on Twitter.

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