When White America Offloads its Failures on to Civil Rights Movements
The few bad apples argument, instead of a vicious police culture, completely parallels racism as individual bias rather than structural inequality
A thorough and necessary response. Thx.
Disgusting typical privileged white male blaming those who are not operating from a position of power is PURE RACISTS GAS-LIGHTING!
He is not sincere, and just via his lack of honest scholarship should lose whatever position he holds.
This piece gave me life and your analysis and research shows how white supremacy works as a deep-seated subliminal tool that is hard for many who bought in to the myths to recognize. It is the idea of double-consciousness brought into modernity as all of America’s marginalized communities see two Americas that the dominant groups refuses or organically can’t see or imagine.
Thank you for this.
This is such an amazing and clearly stated argument. I came here to say that Black women have also been disproportionally harmed by policing and vigilante racists - not just the “sons and brothers” you mention. Thinking right away of Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor.
Is it useful to make the distinction between "ownership" and "blame" for the problem here? White people as a whole are to blame, but it's the Black people who "own" the problem, as they are receiving the brunt of the damage. I think for this reason it's always going to be harder to get White participation than Black on this cause, even though there are a vast number of White people who are sympathetic and want to see this fixed.
One very disappointing situation I observed was a local election not long after the Floyd murder, for a vacant position being pursued by a Black and a White candidate. In the very liberal area where I live, the White candidate had good bona fides, but did not speak directly to police violence as an issue they would prioritize (and they haven't really addressed it in the years following, AFAICT). The Black candidate, who had a strong background in the community and had held a county-level positions, clearly had police violence as a higher priority, but was viewed by people I know as being "too angry," and the White candidate was elected. I saw no inappropriate anger in the videos of this candidate I found online, so I'm thinking the judgment arose from preconceptions and craftily edited video clips others saw as ads that I didn't see. This sort of thing makes this an uphill fight to elect motivated people to positions where they can actually accomplish things. But the next time a similar choice in an election arises, I'm going to be more able and quick to articulate why I think "too angry" is most likely a good thing here (the candidate is truly engaged on the issue). Police violence against Black people is in the top tier of priorities that need to be addressed in this country.
Thank you for this excellent analysis and rebuttal of Friedersdorf's article. One thing I would add, which is really an aspect of white supremacy, is the ever-increasing MILITARIZATION of policing-- not just the equipment, but the fact that the murderers were part of a special force (which appears to be basically a killing machine).
I write as a white man. I have remarked for years that it has been Black people in this country who have worked and shed blood for many of the dearest rights and freedoms that our whole country shares in today. Please do not drop this on white people alone to fix because it will not happen, even though it should.
It seems that WHITE PEOPLE NEED BLACK PEOPLE in order to fix this. Why? We whites are indoctrinated in systemic racism and white supremacy and we need Black people to help inform us daily of the plight they are in because of us.
Brilliant! What gives Conor Friedersdorf the authority to determine whether Black Lives Matter has succeeded or failed? A self-selecting poll of Atlantic Magazine readers? His opinion is reckless and ill-considered. Thank you, Sherrilyn Ifill, for setting the record straight.
Thank you for listing the progress that's been made. I need some basis for hope.
Yes! “But there is one thing about which I’m sure: the way forward to ending the white supremacy that fuels systemic police violence at this moment, begins with white people.” It has always been this. I am sorry it took me so long to learn this, but I will preach this to myself and to my white friends and family until the day I die. As always, beautifully written. I am sorry for the circumstances under which and to whom you write, and I am ever grateful for your brilliance and guidance.
Great article, thoughtful and informative. Additionally, there is another thing about which I’m sure: the way forward to ending the white supremacy that fuels systemic medical violence against Black (specifically Black women) at this moment, also begins with white people.
Thank you for speaking truth about The Atlantic article. I read it, and feel it's scope is very narrow. Friedsdorf never addresses how centuries of systemic injustices and inequities, based on White Male Supremacy, woven into our governmental bodies and processes to this day, suppresses opportunities for a full, healthy, prosperous life for Black and African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Chinese Americans, all other American minorities including LBGTQ, the Disabled, Women of all races, cultures and backgrounds, people of non- Christian diverse religious backgrounds, agnostics, atheists. I apologize if I missed anyone..
SherriIyn, I found your post because Joyce Vance referenced it in her post yesterday on Civil Discourse. She spoke about the murder of Memphian Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police. I wanted to share a link to Tyre's photography catalogue shared through an e-newsletter "Memphis Flyer".
https://www.memphisflyer.com/want-to-see-tyre-nichols-memphis-check-out-his-photography-website. I hope you & your readers enjoy the peace and beauty that emanates in his photographs and hear his voice in the intro Tyre writes as he introduces his work.
We are all condemned to become a statistic of violence unless we scream continuously for the same equality and justice for WE THE PEOPLE, ALL THE PEOPLE in these United States of America. Thank you for sharing your vision and experience, SherriIyn!
There is also the military culture of law enforcement, in which it's assumed that anyone who refuses even the slightest order is guilty, and therefore subject to whatever punishment they (law enforcement) decide to dole out, without mitigation or redress. When law enforcement operates in the bubble of total immunity from prosecution - for anything - which they currently "legally" enjoy, this will continue to happen. The occasional police officer who is fired and/or prosecuted is simply a sop to public opinion, but doesn't change anything.
“I do not want to end this prologue without referring to the images of hope in the Epilogue. Here you apply part of the research results: hope is nourished by images and narratives that keep it alive within the life of God (theological virtue) and in the history of salvation (commitment).
I am going to mention one of those which you talk about #Black Lives Matter, becasue of its potential for reconcilation. This image allows us to understand that, although hope imagines the future there is also an energy nurtuing hope in an individual (life story) and a common past (History). In fact, depending on our disposition towards the events of the past, this will be the messure of our acceptance and reconciliation of them as a source of wise hope.”
Pope Frnacis quoted in his personal Preface to Alberto Dominguez Munaiz, SJ, Freedom Freed by Hope; A Conversation with Johann B. Metz and William F Lynch on the ‘Identity Crisis’ in the West