If they had been listening

"For those just tuning into the movement, you're late"

A non-comprehensive list of deaths at the hands of police in the U.S. since Eric Garner's death in July 2014.

Credit LA Johnson/NPR

The watered-down MLK quotes are tired. The half-hearted PR stunts from corporations finally acknowledging Black life are empty gestures. Folks bandwagoning hashtags, when they will never call out their peers’ racism, is useless. We don’t need performative activism just because #BlackLivesMatter is trending, we require continual support, involvement, and intentional learning from our non-black peers. A complex system cannot be dismantled from social media buzz, these long-fought efforts can only be realized from transformed consciousness and pushback.

Many Black people have been vital in promoting this pushback but have suffered under the gaze of white fragility. To coddle those sensitive to the mention of race, we’ve had to make our message more palatable to a non-black audience. Why should we have to call out our oppression so meekly to our oppressors? And why are we even expected to articulate the inherent faults of a system we did not create?

For those just tuning into the movement, stop reaching to your Black friends for them to “explain what’s going on.” This movement is nothing new, it is what Black people have been voicing for generations.

You would not need a crash course on systemic racism if you had continually prioritized Black issues and amplified Black voices. If you are silent and unsure because you’re “still learning”, do better. You had a chance to learn in 2012 when a Black child’s life was stolen for wearing a hoodie and holding snacks, you had a chance to learn from all the names and stories that came after, you had a chance to learn when Colin Kaepernick took a knee in response to the Black lives that were taken.

For those just tuning into the movement, you’re late and 1000 steps behind. If you had been listening you would understand the frustration that is demonstrated in rioting, the distrust of police and the institution of law enforcement, and the lack of faith in democratic processes to protect Black life.

Non-Black folks, before you post that think-piece on “why rioting is hurting ‘their’ movement” consider immersing yourself in Black scholarship. You have no place debating where you’re not listening and where your life is not at stake. The hashtags are quieting down now so are you still fighting for Black Lives? Are you still listening?


The hyperlink labeled Black scholarship will connect you to a list of free and accessible Google drives and PDFs related to Black feminist theory, revolutionary and 'radical' literature. Study these resources continually not just when it's trending.