It is my second-to-last day in Oakland.
Last night there was a protest in downtown Oakland. I did not attend, and I’m honestly not sure what exactly happened. Or more accurately I think everything happened.
My guess based on various accounts is that – as seen in Minneapolis and other cities – there was a combination of people with varying goals in the same place at the same time. There were protesters working to overthrow police tyranny. There were white instigators interested in intentional destruction. And there black and brown people starting or partaking in destruction as a form of grief or rage.
That’s just a guess based on everything I’ve seen so far.
I support the protesters and I support the people of color who destroyed property. I do not support the white instigators whether from within or without the community who seemed to have their own agenda.
I’ll explain why I make this distinction in case anyone is confused.
Black and brown people have long since earned the right to destroy the property they were forced to create for free. There is a continual disenfranchisement of black people and people of color that has been going on since the first white people set foot on the continent. Whether in the hacienda systems, the missions, the plantations, white people in the Americas accumulated wealth on the backs of Native and black people.
This wealth accumulation wasn’t limited to those who directly owned slaves. Through various forms of systemic racism, every white person benefited and continues to benefit economically from the labor of people of color.
Therefore, I support people of color who seek to physically break the hierarchies that have so long oppressed, exploited and murdered them.
I do not support white people who may commit the exact same acts. They (we) have not earned it. Furthermore, when white people participate in a protest, it is our duty to not center ourselves. We should be there to protect and support but not to forward our own separate agendas or as someone described on Twitter, to live out perverse riot fantasies.
What is FAR more important though, rather than some long-winded discussion of who is right and who is wrong and just how wrong everyone is, is to continue to donate to black-led organizations, support black and minority run businesses, and petition your local council members to defund the police departments. Divest from policing and invest in affordable housing, education, mental health resources, first responders and addiction support.
That’s my plan anyway.
Thank you for reading.