Uncomfortability is a Good Thing When Terror is the Status Quo

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”

--Assata Shakur

Sitting in this valley of smoke and ash as California burns, watching the literal manifestation of our unwillingness to make shit right—make our public officials do right—and the figurative symbolism of all that is so precious and beautiful being sacrificed to nothing but greed, I can’t help but to question, “Whose side are we on, and what are we willing to risk to end this nightmare?” Because the time is now.

In the last BLM blog, my comrade Adrianne deftly reminded me that when talking about atrocities of the past, everyone always assumes the heroic stance—like, “I know what I would have done and what side I would have been on…” Every person alive today thinks they would have been riding for Harriet Tubman on that underground railroad, facing barbed wire bats with MLK on that bridge, and hiding families of gold stars and pink triangles in their attic. The terrifying reality is that so many of us would have been the snitches that got our heroes killed.

Things changed after Stephon Clark was murdered by the Sacramento Police Department. It seemed like Sacramento was waking up to the violence and greed thriving in our city of trees. Black families linked arms together around the Golden Arena that was paid for through their evictions and gentrified communities. Allies fell in line and put their bodies between the protestors and police where they always should have been. It seemed for a moment that Sacramento was willing to risk enough to create change—because Assata was and is right—they aren’t ever going to hand it over. And now?

Another Black man has been killed by police terror in our city, Sac PD is hitting kids with their militarized vehicles, immigrant children are in cages separated from their families, incarcerated folx are battling fires to help the state that has enslaved them, Black Trans women are facing an epidemic of murder, white nationalists are in power, and we are doing what? What are we doing?

I typically don’t read the comments on any articles about Black Lives Matter—I already know we are a country created by and for white supremacists—but after BLM allies showed up to Terrance Mercadel’s wedding to ask him how he was sleeping after killing Stephon in cold blood, I wanted to understand the resistance to such tactics. Even woke people seemed offended by the 30 second encroachment on his private life. A very young man was hunted by a militarized, armed force, and executed in his own backyard over UNSUBSANTIATED broken glass—and half a minute of uncomfortability for one man is just too much? GTFOH. Centering the feelings of a murderer over those of the children who will never see their father again is unconscionable.

Every week at Sacramento City Council, our elected officials (who fund the police, and even more heinously, create the unjust conditions that require police to uphold) call for decorum and feel personally insulted by the public’s outcry. As if they were the ones being attacked, as if it were them experiencing the weight of state terror in Sacramento. Again, centering the fragility of the oppressor over that of the subjugated, when they should be receiving us with open arms because we consistently come to them instead of for them.

We, who claim to ride with Harriet and live by the words of Malcolm or Martin, need to make a collective decision here. A hard decision. Comfortability cannot be the standard in which to evaluate protest. We should be basing those judgement calls on the level of pain and tyranny people are experiencing—and Sacramento is deep in agony and trauma. People can’t pay their rent, can’t afford healthcare, can’t even sleep if they are unhoused, and can’t be safe from police terror in melaninated skin.

This movement has always been about love. People do phenomenal acts, create fantastic works, and supersede every obstacle for love. Sometimes love is risky, uncomfortable, and challenges us to grow into better versions of ourselves. We need to stop saying what we would have done then and start loving the people around us enough to do it right now, because symbolic wokeness doesn’t mean shit to the people dying in the streets.

Fuck decorum.

Fuck fragility.

We don’t have time for them.

When Black lives are under attack, we need to stand up and fight back.

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