Following the death of her father, Erica Garner became a Black Lives Matter spokeswoman and activist, campaigning against police brutality. On December 23, Erica had an asthma attack which triggered a heart attack. She sustained brain damage from the cardiac arrest and passed away a few days later at just 27 years old.
Her online Twitter account has been commandeered by her friend and political adviser, a man named Reggie Harris. In response to her death, Harris posted (in her name) this unbelievable request to journalists:
“Out of respect to Erica please do not request comment if the journalist is not Black.”
Yes, he really posted that. If you are a journalist who happens to have anything other than a dark skin pigmentation, you will be denied access. How is this not viewed with contempt in 2018? Besides, consider the damage this does to the coverage of Erica’s passing. In a country where the vast majority of journalists – particularly those with large platforms – are not black. By excluding non-blacks from the story, you stunt what could have been widespread coverage for Erica and her mission.
Further, not only is all this textbook racism, it is also at odds with what Erica embodied. In 2016 she endorsed and campaigned with Bernie Sanders for president. You don’t find a much more old and crusty white dude than that. While I don’t agree with her politics in that regard, I applaud Erica for judging the content of Bernie’s character rather than the color of his skin in making her endorsement decision.
Sadly, that lesson was not impressed upon the man who now will use her name to advance his racist politics.
Not that Reggie Harris is alone, of course. Online news and pop culture giant Buzzfeed just recently ran a year-end story entitled “37 Things White People Ruined in 2017.” The list included things like Macaroni and Cheese, Trees (yes, trees), Sneaker culture, and the entire country (given that 70% of voters in the election were white and the majority chose Trump).
Beyond the silliness of its premise, just ask yourself what would have happened if The Resurgent, or the Daily Wire, or National Review ran a piece entitled, “37 Things Black People Ruined in 2017.” What would the reaction have been? I’m sure I just don’t get it because of my white privilege, but seriously – at what point is it fair to ask whether people that write and publish this kind of garbage are truly interested in racial harmony? At what point can we ask if this isn’t more about stoking hostility and division for profit?
After all, that appears to be what is happening on college campuses like San Diego State, where two professors have written a book that claims the presence of a local Farmer’s Market in an urban area breeds oppression.
How, pray tell, do cucumbers and corn oppress anyone? The Farmers Market itself is an intrusion of white culture into black neighborhoods, they argue. Vegetables. Apparently now vegetables are a hallmark of white privilege.
Referring to white culture as “weed-like” (no hint of bigotry or racism there), the professors write,
“Farmers’ markets are often white spaces where the food consumption habits of white people are normalized."
But what is particularly offensive about this article is that it seems to assume that low-income housing in urban neighborhoods is all black people should aspire to, and therefore should be able to keep it racially homogeneous. Leave it to college professors to find a way to exude racist attitudes towards whites and blacks both, all wrapped in pseudo-academic language that masks the hate.
We could be better than this. God calls us to be better than this.
And we can be, once we start ignoring those who claim to be fighting racism by being racist.