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VeryWhiteGuy

#SandraBland was lynched & why white people will (but should not) entertain possibility of suicide

3 min read

We as white people are fed a constant stream of anti-black conditioning & white normative centering. An artifact of this conditioning is a sort of reflexive knee jerk equivocation surrounding racial incidents. Understand this is not our fault white people....this has been done TO US...but we need to understand it.
 
As an example in my own life - just last year my church let me & my wife down in terrible fashion. There was an incident where a white man made some horrible comments about race/racism in a room full of 50 church members....and no one said anything.
 
I was the only one that spoke up....but here's the thing. My initial...immediate nano second of a thought was one to equivocate this mans comments. My brain in rapid fire succession thought - he didn't mean it that way....he doesn't know my wife is black....my brain ran through these possible equivocations without any sort of control on my part....it happened subconsciously.
 
Now, if my brain does that in an instant where I heard, without question, racist comments...what do we think our white brains do subconsciously when we're faced with evidence (with deliberately conflicting stories) of an unbelievably racist act?
 
Our conditioned white brains are left with two equally implausible possibilities.....that Sandra committed suicide despite all the evidence to the contrary....or that police officers lynched Sandra.
 
I'm not personally mad with anyone that thought....what if...did she really commit suicide...but I want to shed some light on how/why that thought process takes place and that it does so unconsciously despite our best efforts as white people to the contrary.
 
For me, knowing & understanding this conditioned response doesn't "stop" that response...my brain still attempts to equivocate white racism....but I've learned to recognize this conditioned equivocation response...and recognize it faster so that I don't let that initial knee jerk reaction cause me to fail to speak up, or to speak up inappropriately.
 
In particular in the immediate aftermath of something like Sandra's lynching those conditioned equivocation thoughts can & will be triggering for people of color. As white people working for black liberation it is our duty to understand, recognize and actively counteract years & years of white supremacist conditioning. Language matters & we as white anti-racists need to be vigilant & constantly seeking to improve ourselves while holding up an example for other white anti-racists and other white people. Discussing any possibility that this was a suicide can & does give other white people the tacit approval to also think perhaps this was a suicide.

Don't let that conditioned equivocation response cloud our judgement. Don't for a second think that Sandra's death was anything other than a lynching.