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The Lilith Blog 1 of 2

July 3, 2020 Rachel Faulkner

You Gave Him Permission

So my Facebook feed, and conversations with white friends are mostly back to ‘normal’: a few anti-Trump things, lots of summertime fun, a petition here and there, and my Black friends are still talking about how Black Lives Matter. >As such, this feels like a good time to remind y’all that when Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and looked up at the cameras and the screaming crowd, hands in his pockets, shoulders relaxed, nonchalantly taking a Black life, he wasn’t alone. And I’m not just talking about the officers who were bystanders. I’m talking about ALL the white folks, who every day, actively or passively, contribute to a society that values white lives above all. Y’all were the ones that gave Derek Chauvin the permission to kneel on that man’s neck and not even blink a moment of concern the entire time.

You gave him permission if you work at a company or organization that only has white folks in leadership.

You gave him permission if you send your kid to an all white school, or a school with a significant achievement gap that you have not thought to question.

You gave him permission if you say nothing when Uncle Bob makes racist comments at the dinner table.

You gave him permission if the only Black folks you interact with are doing a service for you, paid or not.

You gave him permission if you think racism is white hoods and burning crosses.

You gave him permission if you hesitated to talk to your kids about the uprisings.

You gave him permission if you call the police when you are merely inconvenienced. Or if you keep driving when you see police officers interacting with Black people.

You certainly gave him permission if you now have a yard sign about how much you appreciate police, and this is certainly you if you have been silent through this entire uprising.

There will be more Derek Chauvins and more George Floyds until YOU do something different, until you stop giving permission to treat Black lives as disposable. My Facebook feed is back to normal, I’m seeing your lives get back to normal, so I need to know: what are you doing that’s different?

 

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Rachel Faulkner is the National Jews of Color and JWOCMarching Organizer at Dimensions Educational Consulting, where she works to center the voices of Jews of Color within the Jewish community and the greater world. She is an educator and a coach, but is ultimately just trying to use her existence as resistance. 


  • veramadera

    I appreciate the willingness to be accountable. I also appreciate the list of issues that perpetuate racism and other “-isms”, or platforms for bias and bigotry. However, I don’t agree that these things equate with permission, which for me is an explicit agreement. Power structures are complex and multi-faceted, and it is these structures that must change in order to address the causes and effects of racism. I’m thinking of one of the officers on the scene with George Floyd, a black officer on his fourth day on the job, who joined the police in order to be part of the solution to systemic racism. He is now facing trial for his part in George Floyd’s death. I think this painful situation speaks to the power of the police “tribe” – we can’t fix this issue by adding good people to a corrupt system. All that does is destroy good people. We need to change the system entirely. The enormity of this is overwhelming to most people – being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem is not the same as giving permission. It also distorts the true accountability needed to address George Floyd’s death. There was only one man who knelt on his neck. And that needs to be addressed for what it is.