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In These Tweets is a weekly cultural dive into trending topics on Twitter. A collection of snapshot analyses on a variety of moments impacting our world. Sometimes serious, sometimes light, always substantive. We outchea, #InTheseTweets.
Civil Rights advocate, pastor and leader of the rehashed Poor People’s Movement, William J. Barber, summarizes the “tipping point” described by writer Malcolm Gladwell, with yet another timely and insightful tweet. “All over the world, people are screaming for this particularly American form of systemic racism to be dismantled. We must hear them & turn the scream into policies,” Barber tweeted. As with much of his commentary, I wholeheartedly agree.
We must acknowledge that when people who are opposed to our dissent conflate the message of protest with violence and looting the conflation is intentional. The objective is to bury the headlines of systemic racism and state sanctioned violence beneath sensationalized images and narratives. Yes, America is on fire and the kerosene is the blood of Black people slain at the hands of the state. You cannot keep sparking a flame on your homeland and not expect shit to go up in smoke.
Courage to Earn founder and writer Brandi Riley had a question for corporations and organizations who were sharing black squares on the day labeled #BlackOutTuesday. Riley’s tweet, “Thank you for your Black Lives Matter graphic. May I please see a picture of your executive leadership team and company board,” inquired about the composition of stakeholders and execs of businesses that have experienced an awakening amidst the uprisings of 2020.
Here’s what we know: Black Americans are some of the largest consumers of material goods and services on the planet. Black Americans have an exorbitant amount of spending power, therefore it is smart business to get ahead of a crisis and publicize messages of solidarity. But it is of extreme significance to question what the decision-makers behind the scenes look like and what, if any, power is being leveraged by Black people in these corporations. Whenever instances of hyper visible racial injustice are brought to America’s collective consciousness, there is always an opportunity for a deeper investigation of the mechanisms that allow America to exist as it exists.
So to all the Fortune 500 companies, thanks for the shout out. We know it’s good PR for you. But if you are not positioning Black people in the driver seats of your entities, you are at best pacifying our pain in hopes that we continue to increase your profit margin. It’s time out for considering your best interests.
Speaking of checking industrial sized organizations, Jemele Hill dropped a truth bomb about the irony of the NFL releasing a statement about social justice, while one of its most fierce advocates for social justice and against police violence remains unsigned. Eric Reid, former teammate of Colin Kaepernick, and the player who first took a knee with Kaepernick during his 2016-2017 season of silence protests, is currently unsigned by the same league that was as terrified by his stance as they were by Colin’s. We all know about the fall out from Jay Z’s Inspire Change partnership with the NFL and how it was perceived as a paid advertisement of the league’s “wokeness” that subsequently contributed to the continual silencing (and unemployment) of Kaepernick. It is now apparent amidst the pause of league operations during the pandemic and at the height of national uprising, that the NFL is still willing to package shit to us and call it sugar.
Eric Reid is now receiving the same treatment Colin Kaepernick received and it will likely be spun the exact same way about why he has not been signed, despite being able-bodied and talented. The games this league plays do not end after their seasons do.
NBA legend and first-class humanitarian, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is an elder voice you can rely on to tell and write unfiltered truths about race and society in America. His most recent Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times gives a critical understanding of the temperament of America’s current uprising.
“The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
“But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks,” he continued. His analysis could not be more spot on.
Night after night, Americans of all ethnicities are being brutalized by American police while crying out for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who have had their lives taken by state sanctioned and/or racially charged violence. Yes, there have been outside forces that have agitated and incited chaos. Yes, there have been folks who are legitimately connected to the movement for Black lives that have reached a breaking point and have left this country in ashes. But there also has been a great number of Americans peacefully protesting who have been subjected to the brute force of American police.
This moment of unrest is a reckoning America still is comfortable settling with, so it is weaponizing its henchmen to do the work that creates the mess that keeps landing us in this predicament. The value of elder voices of influence like Kareem Abdul Jabbar is to contextualize what is now with what has been. Kareem never just shut up and dribble and he’s the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
And I for one am thankful that he plays on the side of justice and advocacy.
Writer Erin B. Logan had a simple yet historically accurate response to a tweet from Father Edward Beck when the Roman Catholic priest and CNN Religious commentator tweeted about Donald Trump’s awkward handling of the bible. “Has the Bible ever been used in a more disingenuous and exploitative way?” Beck tweeted, to which Logan simply replied: “Slavery”.
The big takeaway from Logan’s response and the messaging that many Black people have been trying to articulate during this time of protest is there is nothing new under the sun of American oppression. That whiteness has operated from the same playbook of subjugation since the White Lion slave shipped carried Black bodies as cargo onto Virginia shores. That playbook is and has been the Christian bible and the perversion of its text as a tool to quell the outrage from indignities levied on Black Americans.