It's Not Black People's Job To Solve Racism

Photo: Marcus Arbery / News handout
It's Not Black People's Job To End Racism Ahmaud Arbery

You already know what to do. Do it.

On May 7th at 8:02am, still in bed and eyes barely open, I sent out a tweet regarding the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from my iPhone.

It was meant to satirically cross-reference the extrajudicial killing of (yet another) Black man with the predominantly white COVID-19 anti-stay-home protesters who are clamoring for jejune things they’ve had to go without in the time of the global pandemic, like haircuts.

As of this writing, the tweet has 130K likes and 30K retweets on Twitter, as well as tens of thousands of likes on Instagram and Facebook.

It would seem I struck a nerve.

An editor friend of mine reached out and asked me if I wanted to expand on the thought for this publication, requesting that I could cover Ahmaud Arbery’s death any way that was meaningful to me.

One idea offered was an action-oriented piece about what white allies can do to support the movement and end racist violence.

Politely, I declined that idea and offered this essay instead.

See, media outlets always want to dissect the latest “moral outrage” as if it’s something new (hint: it’s not). While I understand the request is coming from a place of sincerity and a desire for authenticity, it shouldn’t be the job of a Black guy to tell white people how to “do better” in terms of as allies.

In some ways, requesting that Black people continue doing work like this is exploitive; it’s entertainment centering white feelings over racial justice, superseding the need for Blacks to manage their own grief.

Figuring out how white people can be less racist is also something that can be accomplished by doing just a few minutes of research online.  

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Millions of words have been written on what white people can do; meanwhile Black people keep getting killed in the streets.

A “to do” list for solving racism, based on the murder of Ahmaud, is composed of the same things that should have been done when Trayvon Martin was murdered.

Or Mike Brown.

Or Phllando Castille.

Or Sandra Bland.

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Or Tamir Rice.

The truth is, there’s nothing unique about Ahmaud Aubrey’s murder. Lynching Black men is as “American” as apple pie.

The story to be told here isn’t about Ahmaud Abery’s gruesome death. The story is this:

The story keeps repeating itself.

A person of color is extra-judicially killed. The same white people who asked what they should do the last time this happened wring their hands, put signs on their lawns, create hashtags and take selfies for Instagram, assure themselves they are “good white people,” and with all sincerity, ask Black people what they should do to be better allies in ending racism.

And then, they don’t do it.

And before there’s a chance to breathe, to grieve, before the calls for justice for the last death have died down, before there’s been any chance to enact any meaningful change, another Black body lies dead in the streets.

Then that becomes the outrage du jour, and the cycle repeats itself. /p>

Telling white people what to do to end racism is superfluous.

When women rightly felt their rights would be threatened by the election of the 45th president, ranks were joined, and the biggest protest in the history of the world was marshalled. The level of organization and coordination was extraordinary, all done in response to a perceived, potential danger; not a single person had died.

How many Blacks need to actually die before they receive the same level of commitment to change?

RELATED: You Showed Up For Sexism. Now Show Up For Racism

The sad truth is: as a group, whites tend only to act when they feel their interests are threatened, and then only after they’ve distanced themselves from “those whites.” As long as primarily Black people are affected, there’s a level of pity that somehow never crystalizes into the dedication necessary for real change. 

The days of Blacks needing to prove our humanity are over. The days of begging for compassion and empathy are behind us.

We can’t, shouldn’t have to, and are no longer willing to explain why you should care, or what you should do. 

Blacks didn’t create racism or spend centuries enforcing and reinforcing it. Racism is a white people problem which affects Black people disproportionately. 

You already know what to do. Just f**king do it. 

RELATED: Why I Refuse To Keep Paying The Unacceptable 'Cost' Of Being A Black Woman In America Today

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Jackie Summers is an acclaimed author, seasoned public speaker, and serial entrepreneur. Summers is the founder of JackFromBrooklyn Inc. and the creator of the award-winning Sorel Liqueur. A native New Yorker, he  was named the 2019 Award winner for “Best Food Essay” by the Association of Food Journalists. For more from Jackie, follow him on Twitter.

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