A Non-Standard Post

9:11 AM

I'm not here today to talk about beer. I'm here today because I have this platform, however small it may be, and we need to talk. Sit down. Read this through. Engage me in conversation in the comments if you want. Leave if you will and don't come back. I don't really care.

Black Lives Matter. Say it with me. Black Lives Matter. Does this mean that other lives don't matter? Of course not. What it means is that Black Lives Matter, which is something that this country has never fully understood. And, dammit, we need to get on this page.

I'm a straight, white, cisgender man in his late 20s from an upper-middle class background able to live a pretty comfortable lower-middle class life--I've kept my job through the pandemic. I didn't want for much as a child. My parents were happily married and still are. I'm privileged and I have been all my life. I recognize that.

Odds are that you, sitting wherever you are reading this, are also privileged. This is a beer blog and I know that craft beer culture is predominantly white middle-class men. Regardless, you watch the news. You know what's happening.

George Floyd, a black man, was murdered five days ago by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. This officer had a known history of brutality and was never pulled from the force. Protests and riots are occurring across the country because of Floyd's death. These are not peaceful. When peaceful protests happen, nothing gets done. Colin Kaepernick was heavily chided for peacefully protesting. No change happened through his efforts. Change hasn't happened through any peaceful protest since the Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 when Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman (a neighborhood watch member who slew a child), was acquitted.

In seven years the only change has been that the slaughter of people of color has gotten more widely reported and, perversely, more and more people seem to be advocating for it. This is disgusting and wrong. I shouldn't have to say that. Nobody should have to say that. But, here we are.

And it is not only authority figures who are killing POC. Hell, in February Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down like an animal while he was out jogging. It wasn't until earlier this month that the men who killed him (one of them a former police officer) were arrested. It's May. He was killed in February. We're in 2020. BLM has been active since 2013.

The necessary change isn't happening.

So of course these protests are turning violent.

America was built on violent protests. When change is necessary for oppressed people to achieve agency and society routinely opts to ignore the voice of those who are oppressed, violence happens. White people did this in the moments leading up to the Revolutionary War. This isn't unheard of and, in times of extreme duress, it can be the only way to get people to take heed of what is being said.

The Boston Tea Party. You learned about it in elementary school. There's a right-wing political faction that takes its name from this historical protest. This protest was violent. It was white on white crime. The monetary impact of the property damage that the American colonials enacted against the British was no small figure. Look it up.

The Boston Tea Party occurred because a group of people desired change and all efforts to bring about such change were ignored. This is what happens. The violence that's happening now is on us, on people just like me, for not listening to BLM activists and holding other white people accountable for killing people who don't look like us just because they don't look like us.

Now we're having violent protests. This isn't getting better. Can I say that these violent protests are the correct action? No, nor can I say that they're the wrong action. I don't know. I don't have the answer. But I see the frustration that's led to them, and, to the extent that I'm able, I understand and feel that frustration. Which, I know, is nowhere near what others feel. Because I'm an incredibly privileged white man.

You know what's also happening? The COVID-19 pandemic. The people out protesting are not only risking their safety by simply protesting (which isn't something that should be the case, but that's the reason why these protests are happening)--they're also risking exposure to the virus. And I don't know about where you're from (although I can bet it's not much better), but in Ohio POC are hit incredibly hard by the virus due to disparities in access to health care and necessary PPE. The people protesting now are people who are well aware of this risk, yet they see the dire need to gather and fight this gross injustice regardless.

This is all fucked.

We need to do what we can. Amplify voices. Acknowledge that Black Lives Matter. Donate what you're able to help those who have been arrested while protesting (peacefully or not) and those who shouldn't have to worry about paying for funerals and medical bills for having loved ones harmed by white people. Have conversations with those around you--challenge the status quo, ask why people think they way they do. Don't stand down. Yes, these conversations are awkward but they cannot and should not be avoided.

Focus on what's happening and what needs to change.

There are two sides here, and only two. There is no middle ground. You either want the senseless slaughter of black people to stop or you don't. Take your "All Lives Matter," your "Blue Lives Matter," and your "Everyone Matters" and go. Of course all lives matter. But it's not all lives that are threatened just for simply existing. I won't get shot by a white cop at a routine traffic stop. When I go for a run, I won't be hunted down like an animal. If you don't see how asinine this is, that I am able to exist and be safe while POC don't have that ability, take a step back and think about it.

And don't you dare start to talk about "black on black violence." Screw that. That's not what this is about, and that stems entirely from the systemic racism upon which our nation is built, meaning that that, too, is our fault.

Last year I was in a bad place. I was sad all year. This year my anger is back and damn near overwhelming. And I'm white. I'm sick of seeing people dying. I'm sick of worrying for my friends, my coworkers, my customers, and strangers I pass on the street. I can't fathom how POC feel and I won't judge them for how they're reacting to what's happening.

This is a long post, without any answers. Just support where you're able and don't stop. Change is necessary right now. I am so damn sorry.

Black Lives Matter. We need to understand that.

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