Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A statement in response to:

“White Woman Calls Cops on Black Family for Barbecuing in Park” 

In light of this recent Oakland incident — a white woman calling the police to report a Black family barbecuing at Lake Merritt, after telling the family that they would be going to jail — we would like to acknowledge the harm and frustration it caused as well as publicly pledge our intent to work tirelessly and without end to prevent further incidents of white fear/privilege having a harmful impact on Black and other Peoples of Color in Oakland. We call for accountability for the folks that cause this harm in the name of feeling uncomfortable with the presence of Black and other Peoples of Color.

In Oakland, the BBQ incident takes its place as part of the way that gentrification is making room for some people while squeezing out others. As a whiter population moves to the Lake Merritt and other Oakland neighborhoods, People of Color are even more in danger of being profiled, harrassed, and put in harm’s way by fearful white folks. This continues in part because white people have historically not been held accountable for the harm they cause. Witness the many recent examples at Starbucks, in a Yale dorm, in Nordstrom Rack, while moving into a new apartment, while an Airbnb guest, and on a college tour, to name a few. And let us not forget the incident a few years back of the Lake Merritt drummers, longstanding Oakland music makers who were cited with a noise complaint.

These calls to police are made because white people believe they have the right to determine who gets to be in "their" space, and what behavior is appropriate. We are taught to fear each other and we must ask ourselves, "Who benefits from this fear? Who benefits from the assumptions that whiteness belongs and blackness does not? And who is being harmed?"

We are glad the public is becoming more aware of these types of injustices, and we align ourselves with the efforts to move beyond awareness into useful action. Why should these incidents be allowed to continue without any consequences for the perpetrators? What kind of consequences would make a difference for those who are harassed? As long as police come to the aid of white people who report People of Color for doing everyday activities, we are continuing to fund a system of inequity, as if it had no human or moral cost.

From the white allies/members of Neighbors for Racial Justice Including:

Monica Bien, Ginny Berson, Alanya Snyder, Joan Lohman, Debra Israel and others