How many more times must we say the same thing?

If you’re not actively doing something to prevent the violence from occurring, then you’re part of the problem.

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SOURCEYes! Magazine

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”—Malcolm X

Daunte Wright. Asè.

Millions of Americans know his name by now. Not for something great that Daunte did. He didn’t have the chance. At 20 years old, he was yet another victim of police violence.

On April 11, Daunte was fatally shot in a traffic stop by a Minnesota police officer—a 26-year veteran—who claims she mistook her handgun for a taser.

Yeah, take a breath on that.

Daunte’s death happened just miles down the road from the courthouse where the case in the police killing of George Floyd is being heard.

People gather at the spot where Daunte Wright was killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 11, 2021. Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images.

I struggle to write about the police killing of Daunte Wright. I’ve written this story multiple times: fill-in-the-blank city, state police officer kills insert new name, on new date, for fill-in-the-blank-reason—reported storiesdata storiesanalysescommentariesinfographicsillustrations. You name it. We’ve said it eloquently at times and ranted at others, with sadnesswith ragewith frustrationwith exhaustion. What more can be said that hasn’t already been said? Not only by me but also by hundreds of others.

Similarly, I struggled with what to write about the most recent mass shooting in Colorado. So, I did not. And with the increase in violent attacks happening to Asian Americans since the COVID outbreak, I decided not to write, but to support Asian voices that were saying what needed to be said.

Clearly, I’ve been struggling. … A lot lately, in fact. I know that I’m not alone. But this misery does not love company. At least not complacent company. Not sad company. Not passive company. Not so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that I’m not going to do anything company.

I do welcome, however, angry company—angry to the point of bringing about change company! Real change. No more reforms. True transformation. I mean, how long is this going to be allowed to go on? The level of unnecessary violence happening in all of our communities across these United States is unacceptable. From state violence to community violence to corporate violence.

Those protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright pause in front of the FBI offices during a march from the Brooklyn Center police station on April 13, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

I can’t help but wonder sometimes: If these acts of violence were happening in mostly White affluent communities, would we not have solved the problems by now? Would we have not dismantled the system of injustice under which we live? If little White boys and little White girls, and teens, and dads and moms, and grandparents were being killed at the same magnitude by police, by each other, by environmental pollution, do you honestly believe we’d be having the same conversation, fighting tooth-and-nail for meager, surface-level “reform?”

Come on, now, y’all.

We can’t point fingers at individuals any longer. As Jennifer Ho poignantly posits in her article “Race-Related Violence in the U.S. Stems From White Supremacy,” it’s a system that we’re up against. The violence that happens in this country is allowed because of the violence upon which this country was built.

Let me repeat that: The violence that happens in this country is allowed because of the violence upon which this country was built.

Demonstrators gather at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in Los Angeles, on April 12, 2021, holding a sign that reads “No More Names”to protest the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. The intersection became famous as the flashpoint for the 1992 Los Angeles riots after the brutal police beating of African American Rodney King by White officers. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Until the system changes, nothing will change. The tweaks in reforms are not the answer. Those who believe that they need to stop kidding yourselves.

I wrote nearly two years ago, in response to the harm “oozing” from the Oval Office by the 45th president, that most folks focus on the “pursuit of happiness” line in the Declaration of Independence, when what we should be uplifting—especially now—is this part:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Lots of us like to point to Donald Trump as the bringer of harm, trauma, and chaos, and are now breathing a sigh of relief that he’s gone. But as I said then, Trump was not the cause of the harm we all experience in the United States—nor the harm caused by the United States government that others experience elsewhere in the world. Trump is out of office, and still here we are. Dealing with the same traumas we were dealing with long before he became president.

Demonstrators protest the death of Daunte Wright on April 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

We have a police system predicated on othering and violence toward others. It’s unconscionable that some of us live in and with so much fear and harm that we still, knowing this history, cannot see another way of community safety without police.

We’ve been so damaged by the systems and institutions in this country that the only manifestation of “safety” we seem to know and trust is that of violence.

But those who live on the receiving end of harm and violence day in and day out are clear: We are calling for transformation, for transformative justice.

Why is no one heeding that call? Why are those who have access to power—and those in power themselves—refusing to use their influence toward a solution that works for all?

People gather during a vigil at Washington Square Park on April 14, 2021, in New York City. The vigil was held for both Daunte Wright and Dominique Lucious, a 26-year old trans woman shot and killed in Missouri after meeting her alleged assailant on a dating site. She is the 14th transgender person and the ninth Black trans woman killed in 2021. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images.

The solution isn’t as complicated as some are trying to make it. It’s really simple. But some are so addicted to the ease and comfort in which they find themselves that working toward that solution means they’ll have to give up that luxury. If that’s you, then ask yourself: how committed am I, then, to well-being for all?  

Those who seek to sow hatred and division stand up for what they believe in. They support their candidates, they get them elected, and then they make demands of them, and threaten to rescind that support if representatives don’t pass laws they feel benefit them. That history is documented in cities throughout the U.S.

Meanwhile, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian demands for justice, for equity, for a recognition of our very humanity is up for “discussion.” In progressive and liberal spaces, we’re having “conversations.” And yet there are bills in both Houses of Congress we can be actively supporting. One being the decades-old reparations bill, best known as H.R. 40, that was just advanced out of the Judiciary Committee to the full House, as I’m writing this.  

Demonstrators march to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta on April 14, 2021, to protest the shooting death of Daunte Wright. Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images.

I’m reminded yet again of something I wrote a few years back: “It’s the discomfort of privilege and the resulting cognitive dissonance that make folks avoid the pain and anger still brewing in oppressed communities. They cannot see how ineffective are their attempts at building bridges—that are still burning. … Even Dr. King saw this tendency of White people to too quickly and with too much relief declare success and head home smiling.”

Trump is out of office! We have our vaccine! Now we can go back to normal. But normal has been anything but. Do you really consider all the violence, injustice, and inequity to be normal?

In his oft-quoted Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote:

“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

Flowers were left on signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice For Daunte Wright” as people rally outside the Brooklyn Center police station on April 13, 2021. Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images.

This part, however, is rarely summoned. Despite centuries of advocacy, storytelling, public grief, and patience, we are still surrounded by shallow understanding and superficial alliance from people who claim to be of good will.

It brings to mind the words of James Baldwin in his book, The Fire Next Time:

The violence that continues to harm each and every one of us is at our feet. Cowardice is no longer acceptable. When you don’t know what to do, do anything. Ignorance is not a defense. And at this period in our history, with all the technological advances we have at our fingertips and voice commands, it is neither an excuse. 

If you’re not actively doing something to prevent the violence from occurring, then you’re part of the problem. This is not a condemnation; it is a demand for true transformation, a call to ignite a fire in you that burns so hot and so high and so bright that you will not settle for anything less.

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