For Those Who Want My Thoughts on Sinead.....
Renee over at Womanist Musings already gave the perfect response:
The murder of Trayvon Martin has many White allies speaking out. This is an easy cause for them to get behind, while the everyday racist acts that lead to his death go ignored. To make sure there is never ever another Trayvon Martin, we need to dismantle White supremacy, not just call out the blatant acts of violent racism when they occur.
Sinead O'Conner, whom I absolutely adore, wrote a piece on her blog about the murder of Trayvon. When she spoke about the insidiousness of racism and the fact that we are all descended from one African mother, I found myself nodding, but like most White allies, she quickly derailed from support to paternalistic lecturing.
Here's the deal: Black on Black crime is most certainly a problem in our communities, but you don't get to change the conversation from talking about the death of Trayvon, to lecturing us about our behaviour. The issue at stake here are the crimes committed against us and whether Sinead realizes it or not, the crime that is running rampant in our communities is not about gansta rap; it's about White supremacy and capitalism. We don't need a paternalistic White earth mother deciding that she can lecture us on how to make changes. Why is it so damn hard for White people to follow instead of lead?
People turn to crime because they are shut off from opportunities. The education system has specifically attacked youth of colour through disconnecting them from our history and purposefully under educating them. Look through the average text book and what you will see is White face after White face. This implies that Blacks have never contributed a thing to this world. Our students are geared specifically towards trades, or sports - they are never encouraged to actively learn. Even those who do magically get a scholarship for university, arrive woefully unprepared to compete at a college level because they have not been properly prepared. The lucky few who do manage to graduate with a mountain of debt, find no mercy in the job market. When White America has a recession, communities of colour have a depression. Tell me again why crime doesn't seem like a good option to these kids?
Lecturing Black people to stop the violence and to stop internalizing negative messages is ridiculous. How hard is it for White people to decolonize their mind and own their privilege, but somehow it should be a simple walk in the park for these kids, who have been raised to believe that they have absolutely zero value. The problem does not begin and end with Black people, it begins and ends with White supremacy and capitalism. There is also the issue that even in cases where Blacks are not violent, they are subjected to stop and frisk policies and actively targeted by police forces across North America. The high rates of imprisonment constitute a form of neo-slavery. As much as some whine about the cost of incarceration, the return of the chain gang proves that Whiteness still wants Black labour free of charge to build and support infrastructure. When you are not adequately paying someone for their labour, it amounts to slavery. Think about how many innocent Black youth are in prison because they could not afford a decent lawyer, or because police have trumped up spurious charged. Of course, once marked as criminal, they are even further stigmatized creating the revolving door principal. Capitalism and racism combined negatively impact the life of Black youth across the disaspora. They are violent, but somehow until someone gets shot, the violence gets ignored.
Instead of talking to us, her energies should be aimed at her fellow White people. To be perfectly honest, we don't need her opinion of which heroes or sheroes we need to uplift and remember, and we certainly don't need her advice on how best to move forward as a community. Sinead's post exemplifies exactly how White allies get it wrong when they begin talking about race. The very fact that she decided to refer to herself as mothering us proves that people of colour are often reduced to the role of children who need guidance, even in affairs in which we clearly have expert status. Even with the best of intentions, which I believe Sinead most certainly has, unless you are prepared to release power you will inevitably reaffirm the very messages you claim to be fighting. The way to be an ally is not to lead, but to listen.