Written by the Committee for Racial Justice
Endorsed by the Santa Monica Bay Human Relations Council
By now, many people know the names Ahmaud Arbery and, more recently, George Floyd. Many are wondering how/why do these events keep happening. There may be some clues in a local event in Santa Monica that you may have read about in last weekend’s paper. A little black boy was riding his bike home with his mom. They were around 4th and Montana when a young white man started swearing at and using the “N” word while verbally assaulting the boy. That hate crime was bad enough, but this was not a deserted street. There were passers-by and they DID NOTHING! This is nothing new. Robbie Jones, a 62yr Pico Neighborhood resident, says “28 years ago, when my son was attending Roosevelt elementary school. I experienced almost the exact same incident . The guy was a body builder. He came directly at me shouting obscenities and racial slurs at me and then attempted to punch me in the face as people on the street walked pass. I remember being relieved and grateful as I hurriedly got on the bus shaken, disturbed and just cried my eyes out. I remember feeling ashamed (as though I had caused this to come upon myself). I felt frightened, angry and sad all at the same time. I am still shaken by the incident today.”
Do white people understand that when we see or hear something and DO NOTHING, we are causing more trauma? Silence is not neutral. Silence is on the side of the oppressor. Our high schools are not immune. When black students are threatened, white students stand by and do nothing and white parents protect the oppressors, and deride the black parents, causing further trauma. In a racist country, especially when witnessing a racist event, to be silent is to strengthen the systems of oppression and increase the trauma. Silence in the face of racism speaks volumes. Silence IS complicity.
If we are white and we “Stand by” and “act nice” and are not working to be anti-racist, we are fueling the system. We did not shout at this little boy, but we might as well have. We didn’t shoot Ahmaud Arbery or suffocate George Floyd or murder the thousands of other unnamed victims of racism, but we might as well have. We are a part of the system that allows this to happen. If we are not working to eradicate racism then we are contributing to the problem. From the little boy on 4th and Montana to the man jogging through a white neighborhood, these incidents stem from systemic problems. We have a choice. We can do nothing and allow it to become worse. Or we can actively work to eradicate it. Anti-racist work will be misunderstood by your friends. They will try to convince you that there was a reason for each of these incidents, claiming that in each case, the black person was in the wrong somehow, and that you just don’t have enough evidence/information. You are jumping to conclusions and don’t really understand how life works, they will say. Your friends mean well but they are contributing to the problem. And so are you if you allow them to derail your sense of justice. That is part of how the system reinforces itself.
Do not stand by and watch and strengthen the racism that infects our society. Stand with us against racism and work for justice. It does not have to be this way. We can dismantle this system. But it will take a whole lot more of us standing up, calling out and working for a better way. We hope you will join us. #CommitteeForRacialJustice, #SURJ, #BlackLivesMatter, #AWARE
Written by the Committee for Racial Justice. Endorsed by the Santa Monica Bay Human Relations Council