No justice, no peace

Flourish Vol. 34

How are you?

Are you eating, are you sleeping, are you going for walks, are you paying attention, are you turning off the TV and closing Twitter when it all gets to be too much?

Because I’m tired. And I have the incalculable privilege of feeling that as a white, middle class woman, who hasn’t been in the streets protesting, laying my body on the line. I’ve been reporting and tweeting and signal boosting and donating and listening and learning and talking to my family members and my friends. And still I’m tired, and sick to my stomach, at George Floyd’s death, and Breonna Taylor’s, and Ahmaud Arbery’s, at all the videos of protesters being tear gassed and beaten and detained for exercising their First Amendment rights. Across the country, and the world, and right here in the city I call home.

I’m furious, and frustrated — and embarrassed and ashamed, honestly. For not being more vocal sooner, for not realizing how privileged I was to be insulated from police brutality and inequality. I remember the Ferguson protests erupting across Los Angeles when I was in college, and I’ve covered police killings for as long as I’ve been a journalist. And in each instance I have been shocked, and horrified — and then silent until it inevitably happened again. I have been complacent in a system that allows this to continue happening.

I went to a liberal university, I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, my workplace is incredibly progressive. I have friends of all races; I’ve dated outside my race, too. But not being actively racist is not the same as being anti-racism. I haven’t adequately used my privilege or my platform to speak out against a system that is egregiously unequal and breathtakingly cruel. And therein lies so much of the problem. We are rightly horrified by the gun-toting, swastika-bearing white supremacists. But white silence is every bit as dangerous, and it is what enables our political systems, our governments, and our police to continue actively harming people of color, and specifically Black people. Time and time and time again. There are too many parents without their children, and children without their parents, and friends and partners and communities without their loved ones, to keep allowing our own discomfort to aid and abet this injustice.

Even if you think you’re not racist, even if you think racism doesn’t benefit you as a white person, or a non-Black person, you’re wrong, whether you like it or not. Because this country was built on inequality, and we’re all effected by it, one way or another.

Here’s Scott Woods with one of the most succinct explanations I’ve heard, from 2014, because this is all the same awful shit, happening a different day (emphasis my own):

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.

In more personal news, yesterday marked three years at my job. In some other time I’d talk about all the ways this experience has quite literally changed my life. But for now I’ll simply say that this week, and every week, and every day, I am proud to work alongside journalists speaking truth to power and making this world a more just place.


One of the easiest and most immediate ways I’ve been interrogating my own biases is through the voices, media and culture I consume, and so I want to use this space to signal boost black voices, and people of color, and their thoughts and words and experiences. Starting with an Instagram post from a fellow USC alumna, Laura Montilla, who was detained while peacefully protesting in Downtown Los Angeles and treated horrifically and inhumanely by the LAPD. It breaks my heart enough that this year’s graduates didn’t have the chance to publicly, fiercely, loudly celebrate their accomplishments and hard work. But then, to graduate into this world, to be told that you can be anything, and do anything, only to be beaten and oppressed and have your rights trampled on, makes me sick to my stomach and heartbroken for a generation that has consistently shown that they only want to make this world a better place. Please take the time to read this.

My friends & family asked me to share my experience with LAPD from peacefully protesting this past Monday. Please share this & tag anyone you think needs to see this to hold the LAPD & state accountable. Spread awareness. This is unacceptable. #endpolicebrutality #defundthepolice #blacklivesmatter
June 4, 2020

“For her to die the way she did was a smack in the face. It just feels like they took a piece of me. It’s hard to breathe without her. It’s hard to think without her. She was so much like me it’s unreal. But she was a much better version.” – A Mother’s Birthday Tribute to Breonna Taylor // “Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that our grief is all this country will let us own. And though I’d very much like to pass onto you something other than this ghostly pain, America, it’s all you deserve.” – Whose Grief? Our Grief // “What America are you mourning? Target wasn’t in the fields, cotton-bloodied hands. Walmart never hung from a tree.” – Crying, Laughing, Crying at the George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis // At some point, it became an accepted cultural narrative that country music is the domain of white people. This has never been the case, but more to the point, it has never been further from the truth than right now.” — Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History, by my incredibly talented colleague and friend Elamin Abdelmahoud

On that note, hug your animals and your family and friends. Watch a funny movie (or Insecure, the only thing that brings me joy anymore,) have a dance party in your living room, drink lots of water. Then, go call your mayor, and your governor, and your representative, and support a black-owned business, donate to a bail fund, sign a petition. Then get some sleep, get up tomorrow, and keep fighting the good fight.

-Olivia