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Guest opinion

George Floyd protests: Who's controlling the narrative of Black America?

Once again someone else is trying to write the story about Black folks in the U.S.

Friday night many businesses were vandalized in Downtown Tucson by protesters who said they were seeking justice for the recent murder of the unarmed George Floyd and the Black community.

Being that Black people have historically been on the front lines of movements regarding American injustices, I found it concerning when I learned that none of the organizations that typically represent the views of Black people had planned a protest here. Naturally, my next move was to raise questions about who these people were, where they came from and why they were destroying the city.

I still don't have the answer to this question. However, there are many speculations ranging from angry, white teens (based on what I could see from the videos) to right-wing and agitators from out of state.

Regardless of who these people are and where they came from, it does not change the fact that once again someone else (i.e. white people) is trying to write and control the narrative for and about Black folks in America.

Please read that previous sentence again, because if you truly want to understand the outrage of Blacks this is where you must began.

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Since the 1400s when Africans were forcibly removed from the continent of Africa and taken to the Caribbean and South America, followed by the first shipment of chained Africans to North America in 1619 by people of European descent, whites have been doing everything in their power to write and control the narrative of and about Black people. These narratives have ranged from Blacks not being human, being inferior, being lazy, unable to learn to being animals and criminals. All the while our labor and minds being good enough to physically build buildings like the White House and lay the foundation for America to become the wealthiest nation on the planet.

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We were so intelligent that we invented technologies like to the light filament, street light and the fiber optic cable which powers your ability to read this article. And we have been so loyal to America that we have defended her bravely from every "enemy" in every war American whites alongside their European compatriots and banking elites could find their way into. All while returning home to carefully constructed narratives of Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, land theft, the inability to access the GI Bill, VA home loans, neighborhoods of our choice, decent employment, equitable wages, funding for entrepreneurial ventures, adequate health care, and this list goes on.

Whites sought to control the narrative of Black folks before the constitution and within the constitution in which our existence was enumerated to 3/5 of a human being for the purpose locking Blacks into perpetual poverty and giving white Americans an economic competitive advantage which remains solidly locked in place today.

This is not to say many Blacks have not risen to great heights and obtained economic success in spite of the tightly controlled white narrative. Doing so simply speaks to our ability to be resilient.

However, the bright light of these individual achievements cast a great shadow over the fact that after all of these centuries the majority of Blacks are still confined to a narrative of economic and social injustice and plagued by the near debilitating, psychological effects of race-based trauma and internalized racism.

Our narrative has not been the narrative of the hopeful immigrant that came to America for economic success or to flee persecution. Instead, our narrative has been chiefly to do the work to make fairer skinned races comfortable and wealthy in America regardless of our personal ambitions and collective desires for liberty and self-determination.

The public murder of George Floyd was an all too painful reminder of the soulless, historical narrative crafted for Blacks and backed by religion, big finance and government power. This all-pervading narrative and its interlocking systems is known today as "structural racism."

This battle for unbridled autonomy is the deeper reason for the protests in Minneapolis and in other cities where Blacks are mistreated, illegally detained and murdered by governments agents who go unpunished or underpunished. These Blacks are rebelling against the age old narratives, folk tales, and faux science that says inhumane treatment is acceptable for Blacks because they are inferior.

Blacks are rebelling against a system that many whites refuse to believe exist — or merely give lip service to because the fear of not benefiting from this narrative is worse than the horror of truly seeing it for what it is.

The inability to look at this unsightly, dark creation and its impact on Blacks for even the smallest moment was termed "White Fragility" by author Robin DiAgelo, whose book carries the same name.

The protest and destruction in our Downtown had little if anything to do with the liberation of Black people from the white man's burdensome narrative.

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Instead, as I see it, it was an attempt to control the storyline of Black lives once again.

For whites who seek awakening and evolution for their souls, for the sake of their race and all of humanity it is incumbent upon you to learn about this narrative, which also goes by the name of "white supremacy" and dismantle it. You must do your own homework about its history. Blacks are exhausted from generations of telling you about it.

You must uncover how it has subconsciously shaped your views, dimmed the light in your eyes, advanced greed, materialism, and cold-heartedness and caused you to fear that which you do not understand. When you can come to acknowledge that the narrative you hold dearest has been the author of state-sponsored terrorism and the greatest most ruthless criminal acts in modern history, only then can you truly find forgiveness for yourself and your forefathers.

From here you can begin the path of atonement. From here you have the option to commit your life to a path of compassion and the creation of justice for yourself and humanity. From here and only from here can you begin the highest work of love alongside your earthly brothers and sisters to remove every trace of this stain from the fabric of American economic and social policy for good.

Your work may look like petitioning the government to award economic damages for the harm done to generations of Blacks just as was done through treaties for Native American, Japanese, Germans and others.

It may mean reimagining government procurement policy to engineer out persistent social ills like homelessness, poverty, and recidivism that disproportionally impact Blacks. This is a topic I am personally working on. It may mean donating to local nonprofits like the Southern Arizona Community Foundation's African American Legacy fund to support innovative projects, programs and initiatives that lead to cutting edge policy creation, support for entrepreneurship and well-being for Blacks, such as the planned Colette Sims Center for Integral Wellness, Economics, Justice and Policy.

Finally, and most powerfully, it may look like deeply listening to Black friends and colleagues to truly understand their version of the world without feeling the need to justify yourself, one up their suffering, invalidate their experience, share your opinion, overly sympathize or hold them incapable of harnessing their inner strength to achieve their dreams.

Creating a new narrative for Blacks in America creates a new narrative for America and a new narrative for the world.

Michael Tucker has lived in Tucson for 14 years. He is an executive coach, business consultant, speaker, community developer and the founder of Tucker Coaching and Consulting. He may be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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1 comment on this story

Jun 1, 2020, 2:14 pm
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Thank you, Mr. Tucker, for your well-written, thoughtful and informative essay. I appreciate that you have gone beyond coverage and analysis of the current protests and have instead gotten to the heart of what ails us. Not only this, but you have provided ideas for going forward.

In comparison to the important ideas you have presented, my observation is quite small, but I think also true. I must disagree with the idea that protesters were rioting. In fact, protesters are protesting and rioters are rioting.

Shawn Pendley

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A protester in Downtown Tucson on Saturday night came prepared with milk to alleviate the effects of tear gas.