Reflections on the recent incident of a white family assaulting a black man for accidentally running over and killing their dog in Fort Jeudy, Grenada, WI.
As another white bodied folk living in Grenada I write this reflection for other white bodied folks living on the island and not just to the family who assaulted a man for running over their family pet.
I’ve been reflecting, unpacking, listening and listening some more. I’ve been writing and sharing and writing some more. I’ve been doing my own work (work that will continue until the day I die) as a white folk in unlearning and unpacking and listening and listening some more and sitting in circle with other white folks doing our work in unpacking and reflecting and listening and listening some more; finding ways to stand up and speak out.
I write to speak out in the form of wondering: I wonder how this family, how we white folks are processing/reflecting/learning from this particular incident. Are they/we thinking about the impact of this family’s actions not just on Mr. Smith and his family but his community and the rest of Grenada? I wonder how they/we are unpacking all of this with y(our) children; do their boys/our kids know their world history, racial history, anti-black history? Do they/we know the atrocious history of the Caribbean islands? I wonder about the conversations being had with other white-bodied friends and family? I wonder if we/they blame the behaviour solely on emotions out of control over the loss of a pet? I wonder if we/they are wondering what would have played out if the man driving the vehicle was another white man; if the tables were turned and they/we were the ones who accidentally ran over and killed a Black man’s dog? Do they/we wonder how that may have played out; whether they/we too would be assaulted by the family of the dog; whether the police would have gotten involved immediately? Do they/we wonder what the impact would be of a Black family assaulting a white man? Do they/we understand the likelihood of them/we getting off easy due to the colour of our skin? Do they/we know how many Black people are in jail for a fraction of a fraction less of an assault resulting from the accidental run over of a family pet.
I wonder if the family apologized; and who the family apologized to? I wonder if they/we would have the courage to apologise publicly? I wonder what words they/we would use? I wonder about the courage/vulnerability it would take for us white folks to admit the workings of white supremacy within us and to come up with an apology that could possible sound like this: “i am sorry for the impact of my family’s deeply rooted white supremacy. We commit to do better by educating ourselves about the socialization of racism so that we never respond in such a violent way ever again and so that we work ceaselessly in dismantling racist systems inside and outside ourselves.”
I wonder if they/we understand that none of us white bodied folks are exempt from how white supremacy operates within us; that racism is not an event but a system that we’ve been socialized and that this is our work; work that is necessary, uncomfortable and hard; and we will fail over and over we will fail and in that failure there is possibility of transformation; healing our world and communities from the inside out.