by Wade Rathke
New Orleans We stand in solidarity with all protestors against racism and police brutality both in the United States and around the world.
At the same time, we need to remember in these exhilarating and exhausting times that racism and police brutality are different. We cannot allow ourselves to be confused. Racism is the disease. Police brutality is the symptom. A disease cannot be cured by simply treating the symptoms, no matter how terrible the symptoms might be. Police brutality is a manifestation of racism, overt and systemic. Even while trying to cut the branch, we have to dig out and destroy the root.
Civil rights sit-ins were not about lunch counters, bus terminals and transportation, and schools alone, but these were the manifestations and outcroppings of racism and blatant discrimination. Letting African-Americans enjoy public accommodation and travel was not enough without the right to vote and to find employment. Voting and having a job were not enough to end racism. Work still needed to be done.
Marching and protesting to end the draft was not enough to stop the war and bring peace. Protests were directed at war. Peace had to be demanded.
We see the same here in the outpouring of people and protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. People are demanding change in police tactics, reductions in police funding, a different police interaction with the community, a demilitarization of the police, and a rethinking of public safety and the police altogether. City councils and mayors in some cities are listening and responding in some cases. Right on! This is all good.
Police reform though is not the same as Black Lives Matter, so we need to not be confused. We need to not be coopted. There are many targets. There are unlimited tactics. Count every win. Victory is never complete. There is always work undone, but press on as long and hard as we’re able, so we can get as close as we can.
People see the ground moving. They can feel the wind of change. Some move to the streets, while others sway with the breeze and try to keep their feet. Corporations, public officials, and others react with support in general, but must be held to working and delivering for the cure in specific.
Be clear. Don’t be confused. Take all of the police reform that is conceded. Celebrate every statute falling, every street and school renamed. Lives are saved. Communities are strengthened.
Don’t stop with the symptoms. Continue to attack the disease. A movement shouldn’t settle for less.
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International