It’s Time for Whites to Condemn White Violence, Georgetown Sociologist Says
In the opinion pages of The New York Times on Thursday, sociologist Michael Eric Dyson named the hypocrisy by which white Americans who demand that all Muslims account for the “evil acts of a few” fail to criticize violence perpetrated by their white counterparts in uniform.
“At birth, you are given a pair of binoculars that see black life from a distance, never with the texture of intimacy,” Dyson wrote, providing context. “Those binoculars are privilege; they are status, regardless of your class.”
You hold an entire population of Muslims accountable for the evil acts of a few. Yet you rarely muster the courage to put down your binoculars, and with them, your corrosive self-pity, and see what we see. You say religions and cultures breed violence stoked by the complicity of silence because peoples will not denounce the villains who act in their names.
Yet you do the same. You do not condemn these cops; to do so, you would have to condemn the culture that produced them — the same culture that produced you. Black people will continue to die at the hands of cops as long as we deny that whiteness can be more important in explaining those cops’ behavior than the dangerous circumstances they face.
You cannot know how we secretly curse the cowardice of whites who know what I write is true, but dare not say it. Neither will your smug insistence that you are different — not like that ocean of unenlightened whites — satisfy us any longer. It makes the killings worse to know that your disapproval of them has spared your reputations and not our lives.
You do not know that after we get angry with you, we get even angrier with ourselves, because we don’t know how to make you stop, or how to make you care enough to stop those who pull the triggers. What else could explain the white silence that usually greets these events? Sure, there is often an official response, sometimes even government apologies, but from the rest of the country, what? We see the wringing of white hands in frustration at just how complex the problem is and how hard it is to tell from the angles of the video just what went down.
If whites make no effort to understand the perspectives of black Americans, then “whiteness is blindness,” Dyson added.
Read his full letter here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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