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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Looting, Allies, And Accomplices

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Susan Stephens
/
WNIJ

Last weekend, in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery, interracial protests against systemic racism erupted across the nation. The nation once again collectively played out the tried and true tired playbook: Peaceful protest, in some places devolved into rioting and looting, sometimes by sabotage.

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Then the obligatory questions came. Why are they destroying their own neighborhoods? That's the indication that many out there are still not listening, as those questions have been answered repeatedly since Watts in ‘65 to Ferguson and Baltimore in 2014. The reality is, looting has been part and parcel to the development of the nation. After all, what do we call the actions of Columbus, Cortez, Pizarro and others who stole and looted land and treasure from the indigenous? Or what about the Boston Tea Party, where colonists dressed as Native Americans and destroyed property to illustrate their frustrations with taxation without representation? Funny how some looting we overlook.

Now, I'm not supporting rioting or looting. Reverend Martin Luther King advised to neither condone nor condemn rioting and looting, but to seek to understand their root causes. Seek to understand. It's crucial for our white brothers and sisters to learn and understand the historic development of systemic racism and its current reality.

The historical record is clear on this, and we are at a point where allyship is important, but insufficient to making lasting change. People must move beyond allyship to accomplish it, as these are problems for all of us. Support is important, but partnership is crucial. If… If we intend to move forward.

I'm Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective. Please take care. Be safe. And above all, educate yourself.

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