This post is a quick and hasty one. Yesterday evening, my partner and a friend attended the protest that took place at Downtown Oakland. It went as far as the exit held by Jackson and 5th St and was done by a thousand people. It’s been close to two years since I’ve participated in a on-foot, road congesting protest for Black lives and it felt good to be amongst people who shared similar values.
At least I figured so. There was a tremendous amount of nearly-triggering comments made by allies1 that threw me off. It kept me aware that provided something really went south, they’d most likely swing tail and run. It wasn’t a lot of people, mind you, just a lot of repeated, well, bullshit.
For people who deem themselves to be an ally, understand that this is a title that’s provided to you. You cannot assert the title nor can you claim to be vouched by X person. You must act to confirm this status. Your actions to acknowledge your privilege, use your privilege to dismantle the structures of prejudice that allow Black people to be used as target practice in America.
There was an older Black man who took the microphone who said something that I found to be very direct but it took me a few moments that it wasn’t directed for anyone who wasn’t of Oakland and yet still hasn’t done any actual work (more on this later). The gist of the statement was that being here means nothing if you don’t take anything away from it and apply it to the community. Action isn’t only here, it’s a constant flow of work that’s been applied to heal and undo the damage done.
That stuck with me. But that’s outside of something that hit me while out on the 880 that Thursday night.
Yes, we managed to choke off a freeway for close to 5 hours. Yes, we got peoples’ attention regarding the most recent events involving the Oakland Police Department.
But, did anyone have to go on the 880 at the points we were at in order to go where they were going?
I turned to a friend who I was friend and my partner and mentioned this idea. If Google or other traffic-monitoring tools noticed irrational high rates of back-up on a particular mode of transportation, wouldn’t they re-route people?
This and a few other people came to this idea and eventually ending up letting the people we’ve bottlenecked out to go about their lives but we kept the road blocked. It still got me thinking, what is the point if you can literally go around? It won’t be faster.
The same point as before. To bring awareness. To bring community (for those who didn’t they existed in this form). But also, to be aware.
These cops came up with shields and were swinging batons. Now, two years ago, I was more willing to throw myself to protect someone. This time around, I had a lot more than I cared to admit at risk and to be honest, I should have left a long time ago. See, at that point of the protest, when the cops wanted to get a pat on the back for beating or attacking a protester, we, people of color (but particularly Black people), do not throw ourselves into a line of fire that extends to everyday life for us. There were allies who had no problem antagonizing police officers and then scurrying behind people. Agitators will always exist, and they exist to continue an agenda of the disregard of Black lives. So little concern and thought given to how easily officers dispatch Black women out in the streets they swore to protect.
I have to end here because I’m lightly rambling but I want to think a bit more about how technology, specifically surveillance-laden devices and pieces of equipment are poised to dismantle any sort of social uprising and what people in the industry plan to do about it.
Inclined to deem as self-proclaimed. That’s an oxymoron, by the way. ↩