June 3, 2020

VOICES Osborne: Neutrality Helps the Oppressor

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the Bishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel – they have all remarked in one way or another roughly the same thing –that neutrality always helps the oppressor, never the victim.  

Like many of you I’ve watched in horror this week as our country descended into a realm I didn’t seriously consider we would go.  I’ve probably said that at least once a month since this president took office, but this time it’s different.  This time it is like someone turned a switch and – poof – the America I thought I lived in disappeared.  It became all too apparent that the term “excessive use of force” is really just a cop out.  It is the term we have allowed to be used in order to turn a collective blind eye to both the systemic racial injustice in America, and to the military action against our own citizens and the rapid descent of our democracy.  

Let’s be clear – we’re not witnessing excessive use of force.  We’re witnessing murder, we’re witnessing assault, tyranny and oppression. Against black and brown Americans and against peaceful protesters of all colors.  If you’re a cop and you can’t tell the difference between peaceful protestors and counter demonstration agitators, then this probably isn’t the right job for you. If you’re a member of the military and you can’t tell that using rubber bullets and tear gas against peaceful protesters is unconstitutional, then it’s time to repeat The Constitution 101.

So I am affirmatively stating, I condemn racism in all its forms including my own that I don’t understand. I pledge to learn better, be better, and do better.  I stand with the peaceful protestors across Connecticut and the country.  I acknowledge that black and brown Americans are disproportionately affected by police brutality and commit to being part of meaningful reform.

I don’t condone riots, violence or destruction of property.  And I also don’t condone my neutrality or yours.  Not for one minute more.  It has taken a critical mass of white people willing to stay silent for us to get to this point.  And now it’s going to take a critical mass of white people, peacefully but vehemently, speaking up and engaging, to deliver meaningful change.

I’ve been to peaceful demonstrations to rally for all sort of causes – domestic violence awareness, breast cancer awareness, the environment, reproductive rights, gay rights to name a few – but I’ve never been to a demonstration to protest police brutality against people of color.  I thought it wasn’t my fight.  I thought that a blue-eyed red-headed pasty white girl had no business there.  I was wrong. I have other fights, but this is my fight too.  This is your fight.  This is the fight of every American who doesn’t want to stand on the side of the oppressor.

I will be joining young community activists this Friday,June 5th from 11-2 for a Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest at Simsbury Town Hall.  I hope you will join us too.

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