We have a lot of internal discussion around different forms of oppression. As a local political party, we feel that the shared perspective of the current membership needs to be transparent and shared with the community at large. Please see response to our most recent internal conversation and struggle session below with a few statements specifically addressed to white people:
(Directed at white people) “It's very important to take into account the struggles that marginalized groups have that you don't have. It's important to remember that being white comes with the privilege of being more safe than people who are not white, especially people who are African American. It's easy to say that you don't want violence when you don't personally have a reason to become violent. As I understand it, since our chapter has voted to review and adopt pieces of the Movement for Black Lives platform into our own, that we are in complete support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am personally in 100% support, and don't believe it's up to us to tell a group that we are not part of how to behave or react.”
We need to look at violence with a critical lens. White supremacist groups have inflicted violence on others, Black people, Jewish people, Indigenous people and other non-white people of color for centuries. They also have been working to restrict and limit the few advancements that have been won in the legislative system, a system that was born when Black people were seen as sub-human by the founding fathers. These advancements were not won without struggle.
Often, the term “white supremacist” isn’t used because it has become a normalized element of our society outside explicit acts as shown this weekend. The Police are not free from this history. In fact, the original police forces in the US were created to keep Black people who were slaves from running and escaping to the North.
There have been numerous examples of what is normalized violence against Black people by state officials (the police + others) in just the last few years, though state & white violence against Black people is not new. We can look back decades ago to Emmett Till, a young Black boy, who was accused of simply offending a white women – he was lynched by a mob of white people who were then acquitted! We can look to Sandra Bland, a Black woman in her late 20s who was hung in her jail cell after a traffic stop a few years ago. We can look to Ryan Stokes, a local Black man, who was murdered by the KCPD and there has still not even been a mere apology from our local officials. This is why we say Black Lives Matter and will say it until we live in a society where they do.
When Black people defend themselves the wide-spread narrative from the media and most of the white community reinforces this anti-Blackness and frames Black people as “violent,” “aggressive,” “angry,” “uncivilized,” etc. However, when oppressed groups become “violent” in the face of oppression, it is a form of self-defense.When dominant groups become violent it's because they want to continue oppressing. Perspective and context is key.The Green Party counts nonviolence and respect for diversity among its Ten Key Values and has great admiration for the Black Lives Matter movement and fully supports it’s demand for racial justice and the demand for self-determination. We also recognize and uphold the right of self-defense. Greens support efforts to eradicate racism and other forms of discrimination, from the removal of public monuments that glorify Confederate leaders and military personnel to front line struggles.
Who is one supposed to call when the police, over and over again, mistake cellphones and books for guns, get scared when a Black person looks at them, etc. and kills them? (These examples are assuming that outright murder was not the intent.) And then are acquitted by the courts? Not the police – it has been made clear that they do not “protect and serve” the Black community. Actions speak louder than words.
Members of the Green Party also want to acknowledge the insurmountable frustration directed at the white community and affirm that is is justified. White people have remained largely silent on these injustices and have left Black people out of the conversation. We have seen waves of white people wanting to join the struggle for racial justice and silencing Black people along the way. This behavior needs to be challenged and white people need to enter racial justice work with humility. Black voices need to be centered and we need to follow and listen to the countless leaders from Black and other marginalized communities.
White people, in the struggle for racial justice, must work with other white people, challenge each other, work to remove barriers put forth by the white community against the struggle for racial justice and sit down, hand over the microphone, and center communities of color.
Those looking at the Green Party in Kansas City will see a group with a membership that is mostly white, which could be a red flag for any person of color. We are committed to working on the larger systemic issues of racial justice and are openly anti-racist, anti-fascist, socialist, feminist, and believe in the right to self-determination. Our meetings tend to be filled with discussion around these issues and, as a result, we have lost members who do not want to commit to even using the term, “anti-fascist.” However, our members have also grown in their own political development and commitment to the struggle for collective liberation.
This is not to say that microaggressions do not arise in our work. Trust needs to be earned and we have a lot of work to do. White supremacy manifests itself in many ways, whether defensiveness to criticism, individualism, to fear of open conflict, we are committed to struggle.
But the struggle for racial justice is more than sharing elements of our internal discussion on Facebook. We are committed to continue to show up and struggle with the masses and look to those who are on the front lines. We have been privileged to have activists and organizers working on different issues throughout the city come to our meetings and share the work that they are doing and we are happy to support them. One benefit we believe the Green Party can bring to different activist groups is that we are another tool to challenge the status quo recognizing that the political elite in Kansas City do not work for the good of the people. Our city is run by developers, business people, entrepreneurs and families of generational wealthy built off the displacement of the Black communities.
We cannot escape white supremacy until the power dynamic is changed here in Kansas City and throughout the world.
We also feel the need to address the idea of what is and is not “civilized.” An easy example is the narrative of how the millions who were living on this land, indigenous people from many tribes and nations, were labeled as “savages” as a way to justify mass genocide. The same goes for Black people – we see this in the difference with how white women and Black women are often treated. There is an assumption that white women are innocent and Black women, who are often overly sexualized, seen as “angry” and “aggressive,” are not. This is also deeply rooted in our society and the “innocence” of white women has been weaponized against Black people. Not to mention that the mainstream idea of womanhood is rooted in whiteness and too many of today’s feminists leave their Black sisters out of the conversation.
For those who have not heard of Kimberlé Crenshaw, please watch this short clip about intersectionality: https://www.ted.com/talks/kimberle_crenshaw_the_urgency_of_intersectionality
We urge white members of the community and the Green Party to look to SURJ. SURJ is a space for white people to wrestle with white supremacy and racism, to challenge each other and work to deconstruct and dismantle white supremacy in their own families, neighborhoods, workplaces, etc.
(Directed at white people) It is your job to challenge each other and dismantle white supremacy in your own communities. There has not been a single moment in the history of this country when white supremacy hasn't been alive and well. No, white supremacy is more than people carrying a torch chanting “blood and soil” or wearing a Nazi t-shirt. It's wearing a badge, a dress, sneakers…It's at your dinner table, in your family, sitting in a coffee shop, on the news...it’s in you. It's inescapable while it's alive and we have to struggle both in ourselves and the community at large to get rid of it. Decolonization begins at home.
Direction action is a key element in this struggle. The impact of our actions matter much more than our intent. Our intent here is to be transparent as we work to grow the Green Party locally and struggle on important issues. We welcome feedback and open discussion on the impact that these statements have had and will delete any comments that are laced with anti-Blackness.
We should not shy away from criticism. Principled practice of criticism, self-criticism and reflection are all part of the process. It is not going to be easy, especially as we grow. But we must continue to struggle and organize because this is larger than any one of us.
If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.
"If you're not outraged, you're not listening"