I have been walking on eggshells so far regarding George Floyd and the protests/riots, aside from mouthing off on twitter here and there. Havent formally put my thoughts onto the podcast or on the blog until now. Not because I'm afraid to discuss controversial topics, but because I wasnt sure if this was my place to get involved. I'm not even sure if anybody cares what I think as a privileged white dude who cracks jokes for a living. But A) its impossible for me to not put my thoughts out there, and 2) I realized the thought process that this tragedy somehow doesnt include all of us is part of the problem, and D) I think we've done a piss poor job of acknowledging and covering the most important story in America, so I put my kids to bed tonight, pressed record, and went for about 45 minutes.
I know what I know, and I know what I dont know. I dont pretend to be highly educated on race relations and police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. I am not overly political. I know I'm not the most well versed on these heavy topics. But thats why I recorded this. Because I know so much of my audience is coming from that exact same place:
Majority white. Majority happy, safe, and privileged. Majority know right from wrong and arent hateful, racist people but also might not realize that the way they react to these matters is skewed because they are viewing life through a rose colored - or in this case white colored - lens.
Now, anyone with a brain and even a shred of a moral compass understands the extremes here are reprehensible: Wrong - kneeling on a man's neck until he dies. Also wrong - bashing a store owners head with rocks and skateboards because he was defending his livelihood from your anarchist riots. If you need to have these things explained to you, you're a bad person and I hope you stay the fuck away from me because youre probably a psychopath capable of either of those acts. Theres no debating that George Floyd was murdered in cold blood and Derek Chauvin deserves to rot, and theres also no debating that ruining local businesses and attacking your fellow citizens is not the correct response.
But where the debate lies is in between these extremes. And in tonight's podcast I tried to tackle that middle ground and expand upon this general idea:
As an extremely average white dude, who I think now has had enough life experience, and seen several of these murders and injustices occur, I now finally have enough perspective to understand why these protests take the form they have. I understand why its turned chaotic, and scary, and dangerous, and violent. I understand why it doesnt just remain as a peaceful parade of people holding signs and singing chants. Because every other time they've tried to do it peacefully like that, it hasnt done a fucking thing. Whether its staging a calm sit-in demonstration at Grand Central for Eric Garner, or taking a knee at a football game to represent for Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the dozens of other Black Lives Matter rallies on behalf of multiple others who were victims of police brutality, people like me and the majority of my listeners that I'm speaking of, we dont pay attention. It makes the news for a bit and then we brush it under the rug, we all resume our lives, and then when it happens again we just repeat the same old process. It doesnt work. Now, thats not to condone stealing, looting, violence and chaos...thats to say that I can understand an entire sect of society simply saying "Fuck it...they never listen. They never pay attention. They never change. Everything else we have reasonably tried hasnt worked, so its time to be unreasonable. So lets do what we gotta do." I have no answers. I'm not smart enough or educated enough to tell you what we should all do. I'm simply listening and understanding for the first time. I sympathize with the fear and frustration, and I understand reacting in a way that will finally get some goddam attention.
But thats all I can say I understand. I cant say I can grasp the emotions black people are feeling in these moments. How the fuck would that be possible? I was born on third base and I have lived an extremely charmed life. I will never, ever have to worry about me or any of my family members getting a knee on our throat until we die. And thats all I'm trying to accomplish with this podcast and this blog tonight. Speaking to all of the people listening to this podcast and reading this blog - you cannot possibly understand what that feels like. So in turn you cannot possibly understand what the motivations are for their reaction. Before you spout off on social media with a "BUT..." or a "well actually..." or "there must be more to the story!"...before you tweet or post some stupid facebook meme...before you fire off some ridiculous chart or graph with statistics about the average number of murders per race and all that other ignorant bullshit trying to minimize police murdering minorities....just recognize that you cannot possibly understand this situation.
To try to compare this to a non-race related topic, perhaps in an effort to cut through some of the casual racism that normal, good hearted white people dont even realize effects their brains - this situation reminds me a lot of the blog I wrote in the beginning of April regarding Corona Virus. It was the day that death toll in New York City surpassed the number of deaths on 9/11 and I said this was the new, modern tragedy for my city. And a lot of people got upset by comparing those two tragic situations. And what I learned on that day is that your perspective on Corona Virus is completely dependent upon your experience with Corona Virus. Which was a blatantly obvious epiphany that I needed to have in order to change my whole outlook on arguing about this pandemic. If you're from a city or state that wasnt hit particularly hard, you probably view the virus as an overhyped hoax manufactured by the media, and Quarantine as a violation or your rights, and as an unAmerican burden which did nothing more than harm your local businesses and the country's economy. And if you were from New York or a major city in America that got crushed by this disease, you saw entire families being wiped out with no warning, no goodbyes and no answers, and so you thought of Corona Virus as a tour de force of death, and you saw Quarantine as a necessary evil to save lives. There was no point in trying to tell someone from Georgia to share the same feelings as someone from New York.
The same thing applies here. People from non-diverse places, living a non-diverse life, cannot understand the severity of the situation because they havent experienced it. And as such, they're unaffected by these tragedies, they dont comprehend them, and should never speak with any shred of conviction and authority as if they do. As I type this out I'm realizing how fucking simple of a concept that is and how embarrassing it is if you dont understand it. People like myself, and the majority of you, arent actively racist, but we dont even understand how badly we are undermining these people when we just dismiss their plight and go on about our lives. And then to add insult to injury, in these fever pitch, powder keg moments suddenly act like we are the authority on the matter and the smartest people in the room. Like someone from Georgia telling me, a New Yorker, how I should live during the pandemic and how I should feel towards Corona Virus, when he's going to the beach all day and I'm afraid I'm gonna end up drowning to death in a hospital overflowing with bodies. How the fuck can you tell me whats the appropriate reaction?? How the fuck can you tell me what I'm doing is too extreme and not going to solve the problem?? You never once experienced the problem. You never even take a minute of your day to think about what the problem would be like. But now you've got all the answers. Fuck outta here.
So in the end, the very first baby step I would encourage any listeners and readers of mine, particularly the ones who are cut from the same cloth as me, to take is just shutting up and admitting you dont know what you're talking about. You've havent felt it, so you cant possibly know how to react to it, and you definitely do not know how to fix it. The sad thing is, I dont know if anybody out there really, truly does know how to fix it.
Except for Killer Mike. That motherfucker knows what he's talking about. Lets all just listen to him.