We can’t write about coffee today because we’re living through history. The largest civil rights protests since the 1960s took place this weekend in the United States, triggered by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, and by the countless senseless police murders that have preceded it.
Civil rights history is not done; it did not end with Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X, or the 1992 national riots (also in response to police brutality), or the election and re-election of Barack Obama. Systemic racism and oppression continue against Black and brown and immigrant Americans across every corner of society, felt perhaps the most in how so many Americans are made to feel by our publicly funded police forces and increasingly fascist federal government. These murders—and the pattern of crimes and abuses that radiate around them—should be a source of great shame and embarrassment to all Americans; they stand in the face of the law and justice we claim to have built our society upon.
Police brutality is a sin, it is a travesty, it is un-American and it is a crime.
We must call for the end of qualified immunity for police brutality in America. After revising qualified immunity, we must then call for the establishment of civilian oversight and independent, citizen-led investigations into police use of excessive and/or deadly force, building these terms into binding terms of future police union contracts nationwide. These investigations should result in grand jury indictments and be prosecuted via the establishment of special prosecutor’s offices independent from city attorneys and DA offices, who so often cover up and cover for the crimes of local police departments, as evidenced by recent incidents around the country from Long Island to St. Louis to San Diego. Police and prosecutorial reform must happen now and they must happen unequivocally, called for in a unified voice from across our society.
But justice reform is a first step; inequality in America runs so deep you lose track of the cracks. It is our duty as Americans—all Americans—to fight against systemic racism. For those of us lucky enough to have them, it is our responsibility to use our platforms and privileges to support Black and brown and immigrant communities in America, and to donate both our time and money to help mend injustice in our lifetime. White Americans must face our own failures, our own biases, and be inspired to take action by supporting this movement financially, culturally, in the courtroom, at the ballot box, in the halls of government, and in the streets. We live in a country built on the foulest form of larceny—of labor and freedom and lives—and it’s a theft that continues today across every spectrum of society (yes, including coffee), in ways big and bold and unmissable but also in ways small and subtle and insidious. Activism for accountable justice must be paired with deep national soul searching. Only then can even begin to start to redress the balance.
Change must begin now. American police reform, specifically, must begin now, and it must lead to real action in the days to come, so that this never happens again. This latest litany of lives lost to unchecked police brutality and violence in America—including George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery—must be the last. Our society cannot stand for it. The rage and anger and protest that has convulsed America over the last 72 hours is just and righteous and it must lead to change.
As John F. Kennedy said in 1962, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
As Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
As the activist Tamika D. Mallory of Until Freedom said over the weekend, “Charge the cops. Do your job. Do what you say this country is supposed to be about: the land of the free for all. It has not been free for Black people and we are tired.”
We can’t write about coffee today but it all connects back to coffee assuredly. We’ll work towards unpacking this further in the days to come, offering next steps from the range of viewpoints and perspectives you’re used to seeing published and championed here on Sprudge. For today stay safe, find your role in the moment, and thank you for joining us in supporting the following organizations.
In addition we’re providing a small set of links to additional reading and activist accounts, curated from this new moment for civil rights online. Please do not overburden the individual accounts we send you to with requests for dialogue or feedback in the days to come. Please do donate as much as you are able to the organizations we are recommending—they are all doing vital work in today’s civil rights moment.
Mireille Charper‘s critical work on Non Optical Allyship, which includes recommendations such as Rachel Cargle, No White Saviors, The Great Unlearn, Check Your Privilege, Layla Saad, as well as the books of Ibram X Kendi, “How To Be Antiracist‘ and “STAMPED: Antiracism and You.”
This portion of the feature is updating—check back for more essential reading. If you have a recommendation please get in touch.
Jordan Michelman (@suitcasewine) is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network.