Local Journalism Happens With YouSupport

White People 4 Black Lives’ Statement in Response to El Paso Shooting

White People 4 Black Lives stands in solidarity with the families and those affected by the horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

White People 4 Black Lives stands in solidarity with the families and those affected by the horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend. We echo the sentiments of Showing Up for Racial Justice’s statement, which reminds us that mass shootings by white cisgender men are not “isolated incidents.” Instead, they are symptoms of systemic racism: they function to protect the systems that entrench white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy in the fabric of our society. Simultaneously, these systems criminalize and disenfranchise people of color. The El Paso shooter specifically targeted an area with a high population of Mexican and Central American immigrants. As long as white supremacy is a foundation of our nation, we will continue to see white, cisgender men who feel so threatened by the suggestion of a more equitable society that they commit murderous, violent acts of domestic terrorism.

White supremacy is deep-rooted and white people need to call it by its name, as opposed to more “palatable” euphemisms. We need to take responsibility and uproot it in our own homes and communities. As residents of Los Angeles, a large, so-called “liberal” city, we are not exempt from this work. At first glance, our local policies might look more progressive than those in Texas, an open-carry state with much looser gun laws. But the fact is, white supremacy is part of the backbone of our entire country. Of the 249 mass shootings in 2019, 17 took place in Texas and 31 occurred in the “liberal” state of California. Moreover, in Los Angeles proper, we see this double standard in the systemic injustices of gentrification and the racist criminal justice system. Part of the reason California’s gun laws are so strict to begin with is because the state wanted to crack down on gun ownership by members of the Black Panther party, who were looking to protect themselves and their communities from police violence. Since 2013, over 530 people, predominantly people of color, have been murdered in Los Angeles at the hands of law enforcement. Far-right rallies are on the rise country-wide, including in major “liberal” cities. We’ve seen hate crimes committed on public transportation in Portland, Oregon and Oakland, California. We cannot close our eyes to what is happening and pretend that this is just a red state problem, or that people who are overtly racist are the problem. When racism is built into the system, it doesn’t matter if an individual white person is “not racist.” People of color are still subjected to heinous violence at the hands of our own government and local policies as a result of white silence.

White people have a violent legacy and it is up to us to change that legacy. This won’t be easy, but luckily, there are resources we can use to dig into this work together as a community. AWARE-LA offers monthly dialogues throughout Los Angeles where white people have the opportunity to practice talking about race and racism. This might not sound like much, but dialogues within the white community are a major step to changing white people’s perspectives on race and engaging in the work of unlearning white supremacy. We can use our voices within our own communities of white family and friends to learn together.

This article is written by White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL). WP4BL is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice. WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles. Visit www.awarela.org and follow us @wp4bl