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How I Became “Radicalized” to Fight Institutional Racism

From left: Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Alton Sterling

CNN published a piece about the “radicalization” of white men. Care to know how I got radicalized? It’s the day Tamir Rice was shot in less than two seconds. It was the moment that the old adage of “life isn’t fair” went out the window.

I’ve always been a Socialist. I’ve always viewed the world through an economic lens. I’ve seen how income inequality has led to slavery, indentured servitude, racism, and an overall “caste” system in this country. You can look at my personal page, which apparently I’ve had for seven years, and I was a Leftist before it was cool.

Then came that day, sometime around November 2014, that had started out fine, but somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio, the home of the Cleveland Browns Jim Brown and home state of Lebron James, two African American icons, and I was reading about a 12-year-old kid who was shot and killed by police for playing with a toy gun.

The more I read, the more profoundly disturbed I became. The call into 911 about this incident included witness saying to the dispatcher that they believed the gun was a toy/fake but the kid was “scaring” people. The timing of the shooting and the quick succession of events from the officer showing up at the time of the actual draw down on the kid was ridiculous.

Then the video came out. Want to talk about being white and “radicalized”? That was the moment for me. As I saw on YouTube first, as the MSM was woefully behind, the actual video was a little over a minute long. Most of it took place before the shooting. Then the officer shows up and before literally stepping out of the vehicle he had his gun drawn on this child. Instantly, or as close as less than two seconds from stopping the vehicle to shooting as it can be, Tamir Rice was shot.

The fact that it was an African American child disturbed me beyond what a rational story should. I didn’t know the Rice family, I’m not an African American, I just know that I was gut punched when I watched that child get shot in less than two seconds.

That was the moment that I supported the movement to shed light on institutional racism. That was the moment I awoke to things like ANTIFA and the Jacobin magazine and how I awoke to a world that economics not only created inequality but fostered fascist tendencies of our government towards people of color.

I read, I digested stories across the country, read about the Alton Sterlings and Michael Browns of this country, and had a profound anger burn within. Radicalized? You can say that my being “woke” was quite radical. You could also say some of my Socialist leanings are radical. Hell, the Democrat Party does.

On that day in November, I read about a kid getting shot and killed. I didn’t care what color the kid was. I didn’t care where he lived. I just knew that adult with training just ended the life of a sixth grader in less time it takes a person to cognitively think. Then upon learning of this child’s race, I was disgusted and wanted to learn more.

So CNN, white people are becoming “radicalized”, but not all of us are being radicalized towards hate. Some of us are becoming radicalized to end the institutional racism that has led to disproportionate percentages of African Americans and Latinos in prison.

The same institutional racism, that allowed the deaths of all those African American men who didn’t pose a threat yet died because they were a POC. The same institutional racism that allowed a President of these United States to give credence to the idea of a moral equivalency for fascists that actually murdered a woman and injured others to those who sought to protect those that were being persecuted.

There is no moral equivalency, and no CNN, all white people aren’t buying into White Supremacy, but we are being “radicalized” when we realized that America has a long, long, long way to go to get to equality. Racism and sexism is not dead because it’s the twenty-first century. We all have a very hard road ahead of us.

I’m in, I’m invested, let’s do this.

Written by Jason Carney

Born in Massachusetts in 1981, grew up an Army Brat and travelled the world with my father who served as a member of the Special Forces for 24 years. Mother was a strong and dedicated woman with a work ethic second to none. I decided to enlist in the Army National Guard in October 2009, having heard that they deployed more frequently. I have served honorably since then and was accepted into the Army Officer Candidate School before a workplace injury rendered me temporarily disabled.

Grew up studying politics, political figures, discourse, and ideologies of the world as I found politics to be a contact sport for the most hardened of individuals. Started Vets for the 99% in late 2015 to show that Progressive/Left ideology could not only be embraced by every segment of society, but could further the nation as a whole.

Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonCarney.

Jason is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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An Open Letter to the Resistance

How I Became “Radicalized” to Fight Institutional Racism