Posted on May 29, 2020

A Tale of Two Coopers: How White Complicity Fuels Racism

John Pavlovitz, Milwaukee Independent, May 27, 2020

Racism is a prolific killer. We’re seeing that right now. It is entrepreneurial in its malice and it will use whatever means necessary to eliminate those it is threatened by and fearful of. The breadth of its arsenal and the scope of its tactics are staggering.

It will execute young black men in the street and it will assassinate their character on social media. It will shoot human beings with guns and it will shoot them with cell phones. It will enact its violence with knees into men’s necks until they cannot breathe, and with calls to the police feigning their own breathless terror.

It will brutalize bodies and it will impugn reputations. It will wield hoods and it will don exercise pants and it will wear badges as it does its expansive, hurtful, dehumanizing work. As a white person, I am grieving how prolific the white hatred of people of color is right now, but more than that I’m grieving how comfortable white Americans have all made it, the unimpeded path we’ve provided it, the way we’ve cooperated with it.

We haven’t needed to actively participate in a shooting or call in an erroneous harassment report or drive our knees into a stranger’s neck to be culpable for it all: our silence has been as deadly and that’s the story here. Racism doesn’t get this prolific and profitable and emboldened without our our inaction, without our abstinence — without our averted glances and uneasy truces and sidestepped difficult conversations.


I am tired of living in this American renaissance of white hatred – and I simply can’t fathom the experience of those without my the buffers of my whiteness, but I’m as tired of a white people who allow it to experience such a creative and productive revival. I am praying that we confront the systems that we have benefitted from; ones that enable the widespread violence of this day.