Philando Castile was my George Floyd.
In 2016 Philando Castile was pulled over for a traffic stop and then shot five times and killed in front of his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four year old child, after Castile told officer, Jeronimo Yanez, that he was carrying a licensed gun.
My son was four years old when Philando Castile was murdered, the same age as the little girl in the car. Realizing that I could protect my white son from even knowing about police violence, let alone ever experiencing it, was my wake up call.
I didn’t have to have “the talk” that all Black and Brown parents have to have with their children to try and keep them safe from police officers. Police officers were the “good guys” who my boys wanted to be when they grew up.
The fact that I was able to live for 36 years in the “Dream” is my white privilege.
“In his book “Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates describes whiteness as a Dream. The Dreamers, defined by Coates as people who believe themselves to be white, live in varying states of power over black people and other people of color. Usually oblivious to having that power, we don’t think too hard about how we got it. The Dream relies on forgetting and denial. The Dream says, “I have nothing to do with slavery. My ancestors weren’t on this continent at that time. Everyone has equal access to opportunities. Racism is over,” writes Mark Gunnary for the Baltimore Sun.
My boys and I have done a lot of reading, watching, and talking about racism since I woke up from the Dream. Now my 6 and 8 year olds know about systematic racism, police violence and they can explain why we say, “Black Lives Matter,” instead of, “All Lives Matter”.
My boys understand that no one wants to spend their Saturdays protesting against police violence, but if we don’t protest, things won’t change.
It has been four years since Philando Castile’s death. For those curious what happened with Castile’s case:
• The police officer was found not guilty.
• Diamond Reynolds was awarded $800,000 but then was publicly insulted by Former Rice County sheriff’s deputy Tom McBroom, who tweeted in 2017 that Reynolds’ settlement would be “gone in 6 months on crack cocaine.”
• Tom McBroom (the insulter) became the town’s mayor.
And the police shootings are worse in 2020 than they have been in previous years. As of September 2020, Police have killed 781 people and Black people have been 28% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.
In the words of Philando Castile’s best friend, Greg Crockett, after George Floyd’s death: “They won’t stop killing us. We want you to stop killing us.”
How do we stop racism and dismantle white supremacy?
In his book, How to be Anti-racist, Ibram X. Kendi argues that it’s not enough to say you’re not a racist. “Saying you are not racist signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist.”
Below are some of my favorite antiracist actions and resources….
1) Vote Vote Vote – national, state and local politics matter (53 days until the election)
• How to Be Antiracist in adult/teen and kid versions by Ibram X. Kendi
• My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
• Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (you can watch the movie or the documentary)
• Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
• The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (also a movie)
3) Listen: Podcast: https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/
4) Follow and Donate:
• Colors of Change
• Equal Justice Initiative
• Teaching Tolerance
• The Conscious Kid
5) Act Locally: find out how you can get involved in your schools and community. If you live in Petaluma, we’d love for you to join TIDE.
What are some of your favorite antiracist resources?