#CharlitUprising. Photo: Katina Parker
Katina Parker (Durham, NC) | November 16, 2016
Election night. I’m stationed in Charlotte, producing coverage for Al Jazeera. I’ve been dispatched with a gas mask, helmet, bullet proof vest, and personal body guard.
Without an intervention from God, Donald Trump will be our 45th President.
I’m deeply disappointed, and stay managing bouts of agitation and melancholy, but I don’t think it’s the worst thing that can happen. Trump’s ascension is an accurate reflection of what America has become.
Since late September, I’ve been in Charlotte as much as I’ve been at home in Durham – first for #CharlitUprising, the mass rebellion in response to the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, then for the one-month anniversary of Scott’s death, and now for the 2016 elections. During the 7-day lead-up to the elections, Clinton and Trump have pulled all the stops, making multiple appearances in North Carolina, and other swing states.
There’s a reason why the South is a battle ground, and not a blank check for either of the major parties. Since the 1950s, we’ve put in enough work to shift the racist patriarchal culture that engulfed this place during Jim Crow, but not enough to slacken our pace or our commitment to “moving forward together, not one step back.”
In the coming days, weeks, and months of uncertainty, there are some things we know for sure: We have lived under extreme racism and tyranny for most of America’s history. Opportunities to thrive and remain hopeful have been far and few between. During this time, we will not only survive, we will find ways to thrive, no matter how vile the displays of White supremacy become.
We’re just a few hours/days into Trump’s win. Global stocks plummeted and then rallied while private prison stocks surged. Across the country, several Muslim women have been attacked, Latinx children are being taunted with threats of deportation from White students, Neo-Nazi graffiti is popping up all around the country, and, in North Carolina, on December 3rd, at least one KKK chapter is planning to hold a victory march on his behalf.
White people of conscience must take a public stand. Right now.
If you have ever approached me after one of my talks to confide that you remain silent at family gatherings when racist, xenophobic, or hateful things are said about people you claim to love, you better put up or shut up – TODAY. Your conflict avoidance and comfort with being uncomfortable is what empowered and emboldened friends and family to elect Trump. Yes, this is your fault. It happened on your watch. You had the ability and access to derail this foreseeable train wreck, but you didn’t. You were afraid. Look what fear got you.
Instead of wallowing in insurmountable White guilt or being angry with me for telling you the truth about yourself:
Ask questions. Read. Search. Talk. Transform. Go deep. Believe what people of color have been telling you for years. Peel off the nasty and unnecessary veneers of White privilege that have weighed you down all of your lives. Go as fast as you can. Go as far as you can.
We need you.
Lately, I spend a lot of time contemplating creative disruption – non-arrestable acts of civil disobedience that people can organize as an army of one or an army of thousands. I also think about education and outreach, building bridges between disconnected communities that have common goals.
I was deeply moved by the Charlotte Uprising. For days, people were in the streets marching at all hours, a rarity in the South, where Blacks have been conditioned for centuries to immediately forgive unspeakable acts of White terrorism. White allies were on the front line, the side line, and the back line, serving as buffers between protesters and police. Thousands of people poured in from around the country, Asians, Latinx folks, Ferguson activists.
Some days after the protests died down, it became apparent that we need to expand our strategies – beyond marching. Because we were getting arrested A LOT, and as a result, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the system we were protesting.
It is widely believed by protesters that police were tracking and ambushing them, based upon cell phone data they gathered when they ran a stingray, most likely during the second night of unrest, when protester Justin Carr was killed. Days and weeks after the protests, people were being handcuffed as they exited their ubers, on the mountain about to take a hike, etc. And they were being arrested on trumped up charges.
Note: the police become very vengeful when we push back.
I was there when police killed a man – Justin Carr. Police killed a man during the first few minutes of the second night of protest and then framed another civilian – to send the message, loud and clear. You have no right to protest. We will kill you too.
So I began thinking about inexpensive, interventive methods to shift the culture of White supremacy, that don’t place us in the hands of the oppressor. I invite my ROOTS family to brainstorm with me by getting together with other cultural organizers to vision a sustained creative response that troubles White supremacist narratives, and draws people to our side.
This fight is long. It is forever. Once we achieve real freedom, and real safety, we will need future generations to protect it for every generation to come. We must teach them to hold the longevity of that vision, lest they grow complacent, and we find ourselves here again.
P.S. We have zero time for White guilt and fragility. Shed that shit and get to work.
Katina Parker is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer based in Durham, North Carolina.