Dear White People: Stop Gentrifying Black-led Protests

 

In an early episode of South Park, dimwitted Mr. Garrison asked Chef, an African-American, how he dealt with whites constantly co-opting black culture. Chef said, “we black people just always tried to stay out in front of them.”

Like with our slang. Black people always used to say, “I’m in the house” instead of “I’m here.” But then white people all started to say “in the house” so we switched it to “in the hizzouse.” “Hizzouse” became “hizzizzouse,” and then white folk started saying that, and we had to change it to “hizzie,” then “in the hizzle” which we had to change to “hizzle fo shizzle,” and now, because white people say “hizzle fo shizzle,” we have to say “flippity floppity floop.”

The very caucasian Mr. Garrison thanks Chef for the insight and says to his white partner, “Come on! Let’s get back to our flippity floppity floop!” Chef mutters an expletive and yells, “Oh no! DON’T CALL IT THAT!”

The protests in support of Mike Brown started with black Ferguson residents. Likewise, the Eric Garner protests started with the African-American community in New York City. So why are some of the most unruly and violent anti-cop protests populated with privileged white kids?

Last night in Berkeley, a major freeway was blocked (as was an Amtrak train) primarily by white students from the high-end university. Hordes of flannel-clad caucasians ran through the streets of Seattle, blocking traffic and even assaulting officers. New York’s Grand Central Station featured a die-in populated by selfie-taking trust-fund kids.

Like the hippest neighborhoods of our urban centers, upwardly mobile whites are taking over protests originally populated by people of color. And the founders are getting sick of the gentrification:

The crowd pushed its way through Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn on December 8, banging on windows and ignoring the hapless security guards. Hundreds of people streamed up the escalators and stopped in front of the giant discount store, whose employees were trying to close its doors to avoid a confrontation.

But that didn’t satisfy the protesters who were trying to get in. They’d been demonstrating in retail spaces all across the city over the past week, after all: Toys “R” Us, Macy’s, Forever 21 — they’d lie down for their “die-in,” say their piece, make folks uncomfortable, then move on.

As some tried to push their way into the store, Michelina Ferrara and Cherrell Brown talked them down. “White people, check your privilege!” Brown shouted into a megaphone. “We don’t need you to provoke stuff right now.”

After a moment of tension, the group lay on the ground for a die-in before moving on. As they stood outside the mall, Ferrara thanked everyone for coming — and for not giving the media and police “a reason to vilify us.”

Not only are rank-and-file protestors paler than their Guy Fawkes masks, many black organizers feel they are being shoved aside by the gentrifiers:

But as the demonstrations continue, some activists are noting the ironic reality of a racist culture obtaining within the protests themselves. Ferrara, a first-generation immigrant who identifies as mixed-race but concedes that “I have a lot of light-skinned privilege,” says she is seeing white protesters talking over people of color at meetings or dismissing their concerns. And on the evening of December 8, outside Atlantic Terminal —  where protesters were hoping to disrupt the Brooklyn Nets game across the street at Barclays Center — she saw some white protesters confronting people of color who were trying to lead the demonstrations.

“There were a couple of white dudes trying to take the [megaphone] from one our leaders,” says Ferrara, a member of the New York Justice League, which helped organize the protest. “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this isn’t a place for white and light-skinned folks. I just think it’s important to constantly be examining your privilege.” …

“Antiracist movements become a hot-button event a lot of white people can latch onto,” says Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who studies white antiracist activism. “It’s very easy to identify the police officer or police department to rally against. These movements allow good, well-meaning white people to say, ‘I am a good person.’ It’s like a story they can tell their kids someday.”

Many progressives like to cast themselves as the heroes; great white saviors delivering the oppressed black man from his bondage. This trope is so common in cinema it has its own Wikipedia page.

But before Whitey redirects these latest protests toward vague gripes about capitalism, the Israeli “occupation,” or banning GMOs from Whole Foods, maybe he should head back to his pricey flippity floppity floop on the Upper East Side.

Image credit: IBT/Reuters

There are 22 comments.

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  1. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    I’m extremely jealous that I didn’t think of that title first.

    • #1
  2. Spin Member
    Spin
    @Spin

    Why you trippin’, foo?

    • #2
  3. user_157053 Member
    user_157053
    @DavidKnights

    As the left wing machine starts to tear itself apart.  The problem with interest group politics is, eventually, the groups start fighting with each other over the scraps from the government table.

    • #3
  4. KevinC Contributor
    KevinC
    @KevinCreighton

    Put it together and what have you got?

     flippity floppity floop

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    There goes the neighborhood…

    • #5
  6. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    When narcissism meets racism, which -ism wins?

    Spoiled whites, that’s who.

    • #6
  7. Crow's Nest Member
    Crow's Nest
    @CrowsNest

    2

    This is what happens to your internet ads when Gabriel posts on race.

    If she’s at one of the black-led protests, I might just be tempted to gentrify it.

    • #7
  8. user_44643 Member
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    Any white person participating in those protests must have the IQ of a canary.

    • #8
  9. user_44643 Member
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    Love that pic of the guy wearing skinny jeans and the girls wearing yoga pants.  Hipster chic.

    • #9
  10. user_86050 Member
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Spot the Liberal has never been easier.

    • #10
  11. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    David Knights:As the left wing machine starts to tear itself apart. The problem with interest group politics is, eventually, the groups start fighting with each other over the scraps from the government table.

    In a movement where everyone thinks they’re a victim, the various aggrieved groups jockey for primacy. Which is why I created the helpful Oppression Index!

    • #11
  12. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Last night in Berkeley, a major freeway was blocked (as was an Amtrak train) primarily by white students from the high-end university. Hordes of flannel-clad caucasians ran through the streets of Seattle, blocking traffic and even assaulting officers. New York’s Grand Central Station featured a die-in populated by selfie-taking trust-fund kids.

    Black or white, rich or poor, I call that roadkill.

    • #12
  13. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Oh, God.  I’m trying to comment, but I can’t stop laughing.  Maybe tomorrow.

    • #13
  14. user_139157 Member
    user_139157
    @PaulJCroeber

    Ungh.  These clowns disrupt neighborhoods, destroy private property, occupy law enforcement, and feel better about themselves for doing so.  Just start a pajama boy fight club and leave the rest of us to the business of undergirding society.

    • #14
  15. Wylee Coyote Member
    Wylee Coyote
    @WyleeCoyote

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    “Antiracist movements become a hot-button event a lot of white people can latch onto,” says Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who studies white antiracist activism. “It’s very easy to identify the police officer or police department to rally against.

    Nothing excites a peace-loving leftist quite like having a socially-acceptable hate figure.

    • #15
  16. Capt. Spaulding Member
    Capt. Spaulding
    @CaptSpaulding

    I went down to the demonstration
    To get my fair share of abuse,
    Singin’ “We’re gonna vent our frustration
    And if we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse.”

    • #16
  17. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    In two weeks South Park will air an episode where the adults of South Park will do just this.

    • #17
  18. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    So if got this right, black racist do not want to associate with white people. Whatever happened to the color of your skin does not matter, etc.? I am sure if a white protest were to suggest that any minority stay away that the press would tear them apart.

    • #18
  19. Douglas Member
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Whitey just won’t let the black man have anything. Damn.

    • #19
  20. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

     Which is why I created the helpful Oppression Index!

    ooh – I didn’t know you created that.  I knew you posted it, and I thought it was hilarious, of course.

    • #20
  21. user_136364 Member
    user_136364
    @Damocles

    I thought this exchange was informative and pretty funny.

    Snapz047

    • #21
  22. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    Very perspicasious.  It sets up a wonderful conundrum.  Shelby Steele nailed it in White Guilt.  Good job.

    J

    • #22

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