By Chris Crass
The #WalterScott police murder is a tipping point in the fight against racism in policing and the criminal justice system. Two key objectives that#BlackLivesMatter advances is to make sure we’re not talking about removing racist bad apples, but changing laws, policies and institutions that further structural racist violence and move towards structural racial justice. Because many white people in the North and West want to look at the South as “really racist”, we who are racialized as white need to be extra vigilant, to be fluent in naming and illuminating the system of white supremacy throughout the country.
Secondly, we must consistently forefront Black-led multiracial liberation movement as the center of gravity that moves our society forward. As the Black judge in SC denied bail to the white police officer, I could feel W.E.B. Du Bois’s essential book Black Reconstruction in my body. What’s happening with the white police officer in SC isn’t because of how racist the South is, it’s because of how vibrant, resilient, and powerful Black liberation is. Du Bois’s referred to SC during reconstruction 1870-1877 as the SC Commune because of the magnitude of Black and white working class leadership that took state power during that time period (with large numbers of formerly enslaved Black people governing), with the backing of white Radical Republicans (abolitionists) in Congress shaping Reconstruction and maintain an army to help enforce it. Economic justice, public education, women’s rights, racial justice, all expanded during this time period, which was then crushed by ruling class forces in the South and North threatened by cross race working class governance and power. Many say we are in a time of the third reconstruction (the second being the Civil Rights movement).
For all of us who are white, we have a duty and an opportunity to root ourselves in the history of our people’s movements, and know deeply, in our hearts and souls, that large scale change is both possible, and comes from everyday people building and taking power. We need courageous, racialized as white, leadership to unite as many white people/organizations/congregations/schools/businesses/families/communities as possible to Black-led Black Liberation movement, as central to an overall collective liberation agenda.
Racist policing isn’t based in irrational fear, bigotry and hate of Black people, those are the symptoms of a much deeper fear and hatred held by ruling class power, historically and today, of Black resistance to supremacy systems, the Black radical democratic tradition and fierce, persistent, Black leadership. For those of us who are white, it is essential to understand that we aren’t just standing against Black racist victimization by the police, but we are standing with Black leadership for a new world. #BlackLivesMatter#BlackReconstruction #IBeliveThatWeCanWin