SSN Commentary

Why Repressing Anti-Racist Protests Constitutes Defense of White Supremacy

Policy field

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University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

Originally published as "Why Repressing Anti-Racist Protests Constitutes Defense of White Supremacy," University of California Press, June 18.

Denial of systemic racism continues following Derrick Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd. A friend told me that recent attacks by police on White protesters proved police aren’t racist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Repression of anti-racist protesters reinforces racism – even if the protesters are White.

Chauvin perpetuated structural racism, racially differentiated patterns of behavior which systematically reduce the life chances of people of color. This type of racism cannot be reduced to the attitude of “bad cops,” as Biden has suggested. The behavior of the other officers at the scene during the murder reveals structural racism. For more than eight minutes Chauvin willfully disregarded repeated protestations from passersby, callously pressing the life out of George Floyd in open daylight. Accustomed to devaluing Black life, the officers on hand – even the Black officer – acted as if it didn’t matter.