B1 中級 美國腔 98 分類 收藏
My parents gave me an extraordinary name:
Baratunde Rafiq Thurston.
Now, Baratunde is based on a Yoruba name from Nigeria,
but we're not Nigerian.
That's just how black my mama was.
"Get this boy the blackest name possible. What does the book say?"
Rafiq is an Arabic name, but we are not Arabs.
My mom just wanted me to have difficulty boarding planes in the 21st century.
She foresaw America's turn toward nativism.
She was a black futurist.
Thurston is a British name, but we are not British.
Shoutout to the multigenerational, dehumanizing economic institution
of American chattel slavery, though.
Also, Thurston makes for a great Starbucks name.
Really expedites the process.
My mother was a renaissance woman.
Arnita Lorraine Thurston
was a computer programmer, former domestic worker,
survivor of sexual assault,
an artist and an activist.
She prepared me for this world with lessons in black history,
in martial arts, in urban farming,
and then she sent me in the seventh grade to the private Sidwell Friends School,
where US presidents send their daughters,
and where she sent me looking like this.
I had two key tasks going to that school:
don't lose your blackness and don't lose your glasses.
This accomplished both.
Sidwell was a great place to learn the arts and the sciences,
but also the art of living amongst whiteness.
That would prepare me for life later at Harvard,
or doing corporate consulting,
or for my jobs at "The Daily Show" and "The Onion."
I would write down many of these lessons in my memoir, "How to Be Black,"
which if you haven't read yet, makes you a racist, because --
you've had plenty of time to read the book.
But America insists on reminding me
and teaching me
what it means to be black in America.
It's December 2018,
I'm with my fiancé in the suburbs of Wisconsin.
We are visiting her parents, both of whom are white,
which makes her white.
That's how it works. I don't make the rules.
She's had some drinks, so I drive us in her parents' car,
and we get pulled over by the police.
I'm scared.
I turn on the flashing lights to indicate compliance.
I pull over slowly
under the brightest streetlight I can find
in case I need witnesses or dashcam footage.
We get out my identification, the car registration,
lay it out in the open, roll down the windows,
my hands are placed on the steering wheel,
all before the officer exits the vehicle.
This is how to stay alive.
As we wait, I think about these headlines --
"Police shoot another unarmed black person" --
and I don't want to join them.
The good news is, our officer was friendly.
She told us our tags were expired.
So to all the white parents out there,
if your child is involved with a person
whose skin tone is rated Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or darker --
you need to get that car inspected, update the paperwork every time we visit.
That's just common courtesy.
I got lucky.
I got a law enforcement professional.
I survived something that should not require survival.
And I think about this series of stories --
"Police shoot another unarmed black person" --
and that season when those stories popped up everywhere.
I would scroll through my feed
and I would see a baby announcement photo.
I'd see an ad for a product
I had just whispered to a friend about yesterday.
I would see a video of a police officer gunning down someone
who looked just like me.
And I'd see a think piece
about how millennials have replaced sex with avocado toast.
It was a confusing time.
Those stories kept popping up,
but in 2018, those stories got changed out for a different type of story,
stories like, "White Woman Calls Cops On Black Woman Waiting For An Uber."
That was Brooklyn Becky.
Then there was, "White Woman Calls Police
On Eight-Year-Old Black Girl Selling Water."
That was Permit Patty.
Then there was, "Woman Calls Police
On Black Family BBQing At Lake In Oakland."
That was now infamous BBQ Becky.
And I contend that these stories of living while black
are actually progress.
We used to find out after the extrajudicial police killings.
Now, we're getting video of people calling 911.
We're moving upstream,
closer to the problem and closer to the solution.
So I started a collection
of as many of these stories as I could find.
I built an evolving, still-growing database
at baratunde.com/livingwhileblack.
Seeking understanding, I realized the process
was really diagramming sentences to understand these headlines.
And I want to thank my Sidwell English teacher Erica Berry
and all English teachers.
You have given us tools to fight for our own freedom.
What I found was a process to break down the headline
and understand the consistent layers
in each one:
a subject takes an action against a target engaged in some activity,
so that "White Woman Calls Police On Eight-Year-Old Black Girl"
is the same as "White Man Calls Police On Black Woman Using Neighborhood Pool"
is the same as "Woman Calls Cops On Black Oregon Lawmaker
Campaigning In Her District."
They're the same.
Diagramming the sentences allowed me to diagram the white supremacy
which allowed such sentences to be true,
and I will pause to define my terms.
When I say "white supremacy,"
I'm not just talking about Nazis
or white power activists,
and I'm definitely not saying that all white people are racist.
What I'm referring to
is a system of structural advantage that favors white people over others
in social, economic and political arenas.
It's what Bryan Stevenson at the Equal Justice Initiative
calls the narrative of racial difference,
the story we told ourselves to justify slavery and Jim Crow
and mass incarceration and beyond.
So when I saw this pattern repeating,
I got angry,
but I also got inspired
to create a game,
a game of words that would allow me to transform this traumatic exposure
into more of a healing experience.
I'm going to talk you through the game.
The first level is a training level, and I need your participation.
Our objective: to determine if this is real or fake.
Did this happen or not?
Here is the example:
"Catholic University Law Librarian Calls Police On Student
For 'Being Argumentative.'"
Clap your hands if you think this is real.
Clap your hands if you think this is fake.
The reals have it, unfortunately,
and a point of information,
being argumentative in a law library
is the exact right place to do that.
This student should be promoted to professor.
Training level complete, so we move on to the real levels.
Level one, our objective is simple:
reverse the roles.
That means "Woman Calls Cops On Black Oregon Lawmaker"
becomes "Black Oregon Lawmaker Calls Cops On Woman."
That means "White Man Calls Police On Black Woman
Using Neighborhood Pool"
becomes "Black Woman Calls Police On White Man Using Neighborhood Pool."
How do you like them reverse racist apples?
That's it, level one complete,
and so we level up to level two,
where our objective is to increase the believability of the reversal.
Let's face it, a black woman calling police on a white man using a pool
isn't absurd enough,
but what if that white man was trying to touch her hair without asking,
or maybe he was making oat milk while riding a unicycle,
or maybe he's just talking over everyone in a meeting.
We've all been there, right?
Seriously, we've all been there.
So that's it, level two complete.
But it comes with a warning:
simply reversing the flow of injustice is not justice.
That is vengeance, that is not our mission,
that's a different game so we level up to level three,
where the objective is to change the action,
also known as "calling the police is not your only option
OMG, what is wrong with you people!"
And I need to pause the game to remind us of the structure.
A subject takes an action against a target engaged in some activity.
"White Woman Calls Police On Black Real Estate Investor
Inspecting His Own Property."
"California Safeway Calls Cops On Black Woman
Donating Food To The Homeless."
"Gold Club Twice Calls Cops On Black Women For Playing Too Slow."
In all these cases, the subject is usually white,
the target is usually black,
and the activities are anything,
from sitting in a Starbucks
to using the wrong type of barbecue
to napping
to walking "agitated" on the way to work,
which I just call "walking to work."
And, my personal favorite,
not stopping his dog from humping her dog,
which is clearly a case for dog police,
not people police.
All of these activities add up to living.
Our existence is being interpreted as crime.
Now, this is the obligatory moment in the presentation where I have to say,
not everything is about race.
Crime is a thing, should be reported,
but ask yourself, do we need armed men to show up and resolve this situation,
because when they show up for me,
it's different.
We know that police officers
use force more with black people than with white people,
and we are learning the role of 911 calls in this.
Thanks to preliminary research from the Center for Policing Equity,
we're learning that in some cities,
most of the interactions between cops and citizens
is due to 911 calls,
not officer-initiated stops,
and most of the violence, the use of force by police on citizens,
is in response to those calls.
Further, when those officers responding to calls use force,
that increases in areas
where the percentage of the white population
has also increased,
aka gentrification,
aka unicycles and oat milk,
aka when BBQ Becky feels threatened,
she becomes a threat to me in my own neighborhood,
which forces me and people like me
to police ourselves.
We quiet ourselves, we walk on eggshells,
we maybe pull over to the side of the road
under the brightest light we can find
so that our murder
might be caught cleanly on camera,
and we do this because we live in a system
in which white people can too easily call on deadly force
to ensure their comfort.
The California Safeway
didn't just call cops on black woman donating food to homeless.
They ordered armed, unaccountable men upon her.
They essentially called in a drone strike.
This is weaponized discomfort,
and it is not new.
From 1877 to 1950,
there were at least 4,400 documented racial terror lynchings of black people
in the United States.
They had headlines as well.
"Rev. T.A. Allen was lynched in Hernando, Mississippi
for organizing local sharecroppers."
"Oliver Moore was lynched in Edgecomb County, North Carolina,
for frightening a white girl."
"Nathan Bird was lynched near Luling, Texas,
for refusing to turn his son over to a mob."
We need to change the action,
whether that action is "lynches"
or "calls police."
And now that I have shortened the distance between those two,
let's get back to our game, to our mission.
Our objective in level three is to change the action.
So what if, instead of
"Calls Cops On Black Woman Donating Food To Homeless,"
that California Safeway simply thanks her.
Thanking is far cheaper than bringing law enforcement to the scene.
Or, instead,
they could give the food they would have wasted to her,
upped their civic cred.
Or, the white woman who called the police on the eight-year-old black girl,
she could have bought all the inventory from that little black girl,
support a small business.
And the white woman who called the police on the black real estate investor,
we would all be better off, the cops agree,
if she had simply ignored him and minded her own damn business.
Minding one's own damn business is an excellent choice, excellent choice.
Choose it more often.
Level three is complete, but there is a final bonus level,
where the objective is inclusion.
We have also seen headlines like this:
"Powerful Man Masturbates In Front Of Young Women
Visiting His Office."
What an odd choice for powerful man to make.
So many other actions available to him.
Like, such as, "listens to,"
"inspired by, starts joint venture, everybody rich now."
I want to live in that world of everybody rich now,
but because of his poor choice, we are all in a poorer world.
Doesn't have to be this way.
This word game reminded me that there is a structure to white supremacy,
as there is to misogyny,
as there is to all systemic abuses of power.
Structure is what makes them systemic.
I'm asking people here
to see the structure,
where the power is in it,
and even more importantly to see the humanity
of those of us made targets by this structure.
I am here because I was loved and invested in and protected and lucky,
because I went to the right schools, I'm semifamous, mostly happy,
meditate twice a day,
and yet,
I walk around in fear,
because I know that someone seeing me as a threat
can become a threat to my life,
and I am tired.
I am tired of carrying
this invisible burden of other people's fears,
and many of us are,
and we shouldn't have to,
because we can change this,
because we can change the action, which changes the story,
which changes the system
that allows those stories to happen.
Systems are just collective stories we all buy into.
When we change them,
we write a better reality for us all to be a part of.
I am asking us
to use our power to choose.
I am asking us to level up.
Thank you.
I am Baratunde Rafiq Thurston.


【TED】巴拉圖戴•瑟斯頓: 如何解構種族主義,一次一個標題 (How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time | Baratunde Thurston)

98 分類 收藏
林宜悉 發佈於 2019 年 6 月 27 日
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