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Member since: Wed Jul 24, 2013, 01:10 PM
Number of posts: 1,929

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I'm tired of living like this, and I don't really have that right.

I'm on one of the administrative committees at the college where I work. At our weekly (virtual) meeting this morning, the first topic of discussion was the Chauvin trial.

My public university is in a comparatively small Midwestern college town (not in Minnesota). We attract some diversity because of the university, but the surrounding area is overwhelmingly white, which limits enrollments from students of color. And yet over the summer, at least one of the BLM protests here became very large and ended up tear-gassed.

So our discussion this morning is over what the university will do should the trial end with an acquittal. There will be multiple statements released by different officials, from the president through the provost and down to the deans' offices, with some department heads probably joining in. These statements are already being drafted.

They have to be drafted carefully; the community around the university is progressive, but the state as a whole, as reflected by the governor and state legislature, follows a very different and decidedly rightward path. As long as we rely on the legislature for funding, we have to balance expressing objection to the obvious injustice an acquittal would represent with not coming across as institutionally partisan or reactionary. But we can't stay absolutely silent if the community around us unravels.

Meanwhile, a few miles south of me (I'm living in a different state most of the time because of the pandemic), the National Guard has already been deployed.

I'm tired of this shit. We as a country have never really dealt with the fundamental racial disparities throughout our system. It's gotten so bad that when an opportunity arises to make things right, even by a little bit, it's fumbled. And I have to worry about whether my building on campus might be damaged by a crowd that includes many of my friends. I have to worry about my friends working downtown, either back home near the university or here; will they encounter violence from people using the protests as an excuse to riot? From the police? From the National Guard?

And you know what? I have no business feeling this way. Not really, anyway. I'm a white heterosexual cis-male. I'm a walking billboard for what unintentional white privilege looks like. I get tired of things because I'm worried a riot might break out many miles from where I sit; African American teenagers get tired of being wary of every police officer they encounter, knowing there's a greater likelihood that they'll be shot ton the false theory that they're armed. I worry that the riots will disrupt my travel and make my community look bad; people of color have to worry about how - not whether, but how - their ethnic background will hold them back every day.

When I was a kid, my parents had the "police talk" with me. The police are our friends, I was told. If we're in trouble, if we're lost or something, we look for a police officer for help. We can trust them. Every other kid in my suburban neighborhood got the same talk. I was never told that the police might kill me if they mistook me for a criminal, or if they mistook my wallet for a Smith and Wesson.

So I look at the fact that I'm worried about how this will end almost as a point of shame. I'm safe where I am. I'm doing everything I can to promote equity and inclusion, both at my institution and in my field, so I can at least pretend I'm part of the solution, but why should I worry when my life isn't in any real jeopardy?

So I consciously try to direct my worry where it belongs - to my many friends of color, to my LGBTQ friends, to my friends who are immigrants, and - yes - to my friends in law enforcement, all of whom really are trying hard to rebuild the trust that should exist between every citizen and the police. I work to direct it to their families. It's really all I can do.

I try to turn my worry into real empathy - the kind that promotes positive change.

just wanted to say this.
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