Global protests borne from the justified outrage over the murder of many unarmed Black Americans by police authorities have given the us a window into how detached non-black folks have been for too long.
In the 22 days since the protests began, we’ve seen a succession of protests become conflicts that have endangered the lives of those present. We’ve seen the conservative, right wing media posting videos and photos of burning cars and smashed out windows to create a narrative that lays the blame for the destruction at the feet of Black Lives Matter protesters- or, more broadly, black people present.
That inaccurate narrative has perpetuated more violence from counter-protesters where, in some smaller cities, peaceful efforts to protest police brutality have been met by angry mobs of white men with assault rifles, hurling threats and racist slurs.
The systems on which the founding Father’s laid the groundwork for America was, inarguably, a failure to BIPOC (Black and indigenous people of color.) It presumed a mostly white America or that somehow, equality and justice would be colorblind without ever addressing our inevitable diversity.
The ongoing protests have given every home a direct view into the ugly reality of a racism that has not only been allowed to thrive without hindrance, but has been emboldened- proud even, despite the thousands of recording devices chronicling every moment of it.
No one can use ignorance as an excuse anymore; George Floyd died on all of our doorsteps in a horrific, unimaginable way. No one has permission to pretend it doesn’t exist.
It began as deeply satisfying, watching people from all walks of life step out to push back against the injustice and police brutality that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Every community put themselves forward to represent our collective outrage and amplify the voices of our Black families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
And then a disturbing trend erupted.
As protests hit a fever pitch and clashes with police in riot gear became more frequent, videos being recorded by hundreds of streamers across social media platforms saw interlopers attempting to hijack the movement. Some were white supremacists attempting to foil the Black Lives Matter organization from within. Others were suspected plain clothed police officers acting as ‘agent provocateurs.’
But perhaps the most obnoxious are the throngs of white women hiding behind masks, unleashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage as a demonstration of their solidarity with the black community- completely oblivious to the fact that their own actions would result in the further demonizing of the black community they were claiming to support.
33 year old Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, a massage therapist was caught setting two police cars on fire at a protest in Philadelphia.
In Harrisburg, an altercation between police and protesters erupted after video showed a white woman take the first aggressive lead promoting a riot-by busting out a windshield.
Yet another white woman, Samantha Shader, 29, of Catskill, New York was taken into custody after throwing a Molotov cocktail into an occupied police car during a Brooklyn, New York protest. She was also identified on video. Her sister, Darian, was simultaneously taken into custody for interfering with Shader’s arrest.
These are merely a few instances of White women forgetting that our role as allies to the black community is to stand alongside them- not in front of them to obscure them- but amplify their voices- not substitute theirs with our own. And certainly not to put them in danger or set them up to take the fall for your reckless behavior.
Sadly, rather than taking the role of staunch supporter alongside our fellow Black Americans who are fighting to shape a better future, it appears white women are also using the protests as “Instagram photo shoots,” writer Jenny Singer detailed in a Glamour Magazine article, sharing posts from the social media account called InfluencersInTheWild of white girls clearly not getting it.
I call this Protest Tourism.
For weeks now, as a Black Live Matter ally and supporter, I have watched hundreds of live streams and witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of white girls behaving badly. Last night, one young college student at a protest in Portland, Oregon, excitedly proclaimed “This is just like Burning Man!”
“No, it’s not.” Replied the back man recording.
I’ve seen enough to conclude that many young white girls are comfortably numb to the urgency of justice and equality, but are treating these country-wide protests as one might treat a trip to Disneyland. They’re fascinated by the optics, but not adequately moved by the message.
Other girls are standing in front of police donning riot gear and slapping their own backsides or dancing around them- clearly ignorant to the own privilege on display. You see, dear reader, these girls can make these arrogant, bold gestures because they’ve grown up in a world where they were never targeted by the police… never had to be afraid of engaging an officer. They remain ignorant to their purpose at a protest and have resorted to treating it like a street party outside their sorority hall.
I have sat in disappointment as these white girls get lost in the fray during an actual attack. With tear gas flowing and flash bangs exploding- one video showed a girl hurriedly calling her Mom to come and get her because she was afraid. She want’s afraid when flashing her breasts at the police just ten minutes before while holding a sign saying “I SUPPORT BLM BECAUSE I LIKE BBC.”
Other variations of signs referencing Black male genitalia have appeared, brandished by white women.
White women have turned in an utterly tone deaf appearance at protests. It is not a pop rock concert or a place to meet guys. It is a protest, and you’re minimizing the gravity of the movement by using this moment in history as if it belongs to you.
And many agree…
White girls need to wake up from their romanticized ideologies perpetuated by the safety of their soft linens and princess canopy beds with a sleep number in their untouched suburban homes with perfectly manicured lawns. A protest isn’t a cool new holiday. It isn’t a fashion trend. It’s not happening for your entertainment or so that you can feel like an edgelord by attending.
This is a tipping point in our timeline. We, who comprehend the vital importance of this moment and this movement, kindly request that you stop embarrassing yourselves and us.
If you cannot contribute anything to the efforts of protesters, go home.