Like all of you, the Sounder at Heart staff has been deeply moved by the protests that have sprung up around the country and specifically in Seattle since George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. On Friday, we’ll put that into action by honoring Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County’s call for a one-day general strike.
As part of the general strike, BLM-Seattle is urging participants not to go to work, nor work from home. Instead, they are urging everyone to “spend their time and energy on direct action for lasting structural change.”
Sounder at Heart will be honoring the strike by not posting any new content. As the site’s editor, it is not a decision that I am taking lightly. Especially with actual soccer games now on the horizon, I’d love to completely turn my focus away from the injustices of the world and toward far less serious matters. But now is not the time for that.
On a personal level, I believe that I have made honest efforts to lift up and amplify voices of people who do not look nor think like myself. I hope you feel as though I’ve helped make this an inclusive place where different perspectives can be shared and where disagreements can be handled civilly.
At the same time, I recognize that I benefit from white privilege in nearly all aspects of my life, not the least of which is having this platform. I think it’s important to acknowledge this and reaffirm my belief that I I can do more to help mitigate any damage this has done. One thing I pledge is to do a better job of seeking out diverse voices and creating opportunities for them to have their perspectives heard. If you see me failing to do that, please call me out.
What I believe I can do best, for now, is amplify voices that I think are better informed than me on the issues at hand. While I obviously can’t tell you what to do, I’ve assembled a collection of resources that I’d urge you to utilize in lieu of consuming soccer content on Friday:
“Defund the police”
As you’ve surely heard, “Defund the Police” has become a popular slogan. While the exact meaning has a huge range of definitions depending on who you ask — all the way from re-allocating resources within departments to completely dismantling the entire criminal justice system — it’s at least important to understand that this is not a new concept and that activists have been working on these ideas for long time.
- As recently as the last election cycle, self proclaimed “police abolitionist” Shaun Scott nearly won a Seattle City Council seat while calling for increased accountability and a halt on new facilities. Scott recently gave an interview to the Urbanist that updated some of his views.
- This handy graphic also does a good job of comparing police “reform” vs. “abolition” and challenges us to think about the role police play in creating safe communities.
- Another suggestion is essentially an “unbundling” of what the police do, which would likely involve things like better utilizing social workers, disarming traffic cops and no longer relying on police to be de facto tax collectors.
- One example of how defunding might work comes from Camden, N.J., where they completely disbanded the police department and then reformed it with a new mandate and focus. Although many of the same officers were rehired, they needed to undergo extensive interviews. The city has gone from one of the country’s most violent to one that’s far safer, with crime rates cut in half.
- In Seattle, the city council recently starting taking a closer look at SPD’s budget, which is about $400 million and takes up about 25 percent of the city’s general-fund spending. The department remains under a federal consent decree after the city recently dropped efforts to end it.
Ending qualified immunity
Another popular reform is the idea of ending “qualified immunity,” essentially a court ruling that allows government officials to not be held personally liable for things they do in the course of their jobs.
- This story looks into the history of this protection and examines some of the negative consequences.
- There’s currently a bill being debated in Congress that would end these protections.
- The Players Coalition — a group of more than 1,400 current and former professional players, coaches and general managers from across the spectrum of sports — recently presented a letter in support of the bill.
Join a march
In Seattle, there’s march that will go from Judkins Park to Jefferson Park.
Those who might not be able to attend or are uncomfortable in such large groups are also encouraged to find a local march or to even organize one themselves.
Contact your local politicians
Now matter where you live, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with your local politicians.
- In Seattle, we have two at-large council members as well as seven others that are assigned to various districts. A directory is here.
- This is where you can find your state representatives in the Washington legislature.
- This site will connect you to Washington’s congressional representatives.
- Local author Ijeoma Oluo’s book “So You Want To Talk About Race?” is a New York Times bestseller and helps guide you through some uncomfortable conversations with friends, family and others who might not understand white privilege.
- “How to be an Antiracist” is written by historian Ibram X. Kendi and helps construct the blueprint for an anti-racist society.
- “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo is apparently so popular that it’s almost impossible to find in local libraries.
- “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander explores the prison system.
- The Seattle Times has a wealth of advice from education experts on talking to your children about racism in America.
The comments on this post will be closed all day on Friday as our moderators will also be refraining from work.