White People Can't Say "Trust Us" to People of Color

White people can't say, "Trust us," to People of Color.

I mean, sure we have a right to say whatever we want, but this is one of those statements that, while permitted, isn't meaningful or legitimate or helpful. In fact, it's detrimental because it shows such ignorance of history that it magnifies the lack of trust.  

I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how people where I work are very sensitive about being told, "Trust us," by people who burned them in the past, and we agreed that trust cannot be demanded; it must be earned over time. And that was just about small-scale workplace politics, not matters of life and death. Imagine if the betrayals had gone on for 400 years! We, as white people, have a long, long way to go to earn the trust of PoC, and we don't get to decide when we've earned it. That's not up to us. We need to be allies until we're told we're trusted, and we have no place to say, "It wasn't me personally so that's unfair." That kind of defensiveness just shows how little of the history of this country most white people know. I know I still have a lot to learn. Here's a powerful example I was unaware of (Thanks to Son of Baldwin*):

They were airing this documentary about the 1989 murder of a pregnant white woman in Boston named Carol Stuart. Her husband Charles claimed that they were robbed in their car by a scary black man, and that scary black man shot Carol in the head, and shot Charles in the back.

Carol died. The couple's baby, named Christopher, was born brain dead and died after Charles requested he be taken off life support.

All of Boston was in mourning because this couple was presented as though they were Boston's own version of Camelot/Prince Charles/Princess Diana.

In response to the absolutely heinous crime, the Boston Police Department went on an unchecked rampage in black communities all over Boston. They stopped and frisked over 150 black people a day for months. They broke into black people's homes. They took black people down to the station. The beat up and harassed and stalked and frightened and brutalized every black person they could find, all while the world watched and co-signed. They violated every right black people had during the span of their investigation into this crime. The media was complicit by amping up the anti-black sentiment that was already at a fever pitch.

Boston citizen were no better. They called into police stations by the hundreds with tips about how they saw the black man who did it, how they were witnesses to the murder, how they think it was the black person in their schools, jobs, neighborhoods who did it. Police acted on a bunch of these leads, disrupting and disrespecting the lives of countless black people.

Without a shred of physical evidence, but having a teen brag that he heard his uncle say he killed Carol, and Charles IDing him as the shooter, the police took a black man, Willie Bennett, in and charged him with the murder and the shooting. Politicians and citizens alike wanted to bring back the death penalty in order to kill the suspect. And he would have likely been convicted too.

But then someone had a conscience.

Charles' younger brother Matthew confessed to police that Charles was lying. That Charles had planned the entire thing and murdered his Carol for insurance money. As it turns it, Charles didn't want to be with Carol anymore, didn't want a child with her, wanted to be with someone else, decided to kill Carol and their baby instead of asking for a divorce, and knew that all he had to say was that a black man did it and no one would question him or his motives and that white supremacy would ensure that Boston would turn itself upside down to find a black person to blame no matter how innocent they were.

Once Charles knew the jig was up, he committed suicide to avoid facing the consequences of his actions.

Boston has never apologized to the thousands of black people it violated on the word of a lying murderer. The city and all of its white supremacists remain arrogantly unrepentant.

Matthew was ostracized by his family and white communities for being honest and betraying white supremacy. He sunk into a deep depression, became despondent and addicted to drugs, and, a few years ago, died from a drug overdose.

Though I am very familiar with the many cases in which white people blame black people for crimes that the white people committed themselves, I had never heard of this case. And I was astounded by the degree to which the racism/white supremacy involved played out for a national audience. It was so open and blatant and proud.

As Willie Bennett said:

"The police falsely pinned a crime on me once and they can do it again…I have no faith in the law enforcement and I don’t like cops. Nothing has changed. You still have those same racist cops on the police force."

I don't care what color or gender or sexuality they are, I do not trust police.

This is why black people have a right to be suspect of any police narrative about black suspects.

Here is a brief history and shortlist of white people falsely accusing black people of crimes.

*@SonofBaldwin is a must-follow on twitter and Facebook.