OPINION

Opinion: We Killed Eric Garner

A protester on 42nd Street near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York.

A protester on 42nd Street near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York.  (AP)

Sometimes I try not to let cynicism get the best of me, but it gets me pretty hard. Especially during times like these. Times I see social media and those folks who protest indignant at the maltreatment of people.

I'm one of those who is constantly combating injustice and not just through social media posts. I'm not the only one. There are many of us. There are many of us who prefer to stay silent during these times because we can't help but be cynical of it all.

We can't fix the world unless we put a stop to the small and "insignificant" actions the monsters inside of us carry out day in and day out.

- Cesar Vargas

I was pretty cynical about the public reaction of Robin William's death. I did not want to exploit it for an opportunity to show the world that I care about people. Caring for others should go beyond communal. It should also include individual acts of kindness, of righteous indignation, of valor. Especially when society is being indifferent.

I try to refrain from writing about injustice right when it happens because I don't want to make it about me. I don't want the world to think I only care when it is socially acceptable, either. Like it's some sporting event we are all supposed to cheer.

I hate the posts of "solidarity" and I hate the action of some protesters who do it once in a while and when a group of people agrees that they should get together and fight injustice. Fighting for the right of another human being should not be a biyearly thing. It should be daily. Constant. It should never stop. It shouldn't solely be when it is socially acceptable.

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There are so many angles we can tackle to talk about what happened to Eric Garner. We can discuss his sex, his age, his race, his gender, his socioeconomic status, his health (both physical and mental), his marital status, his label as a father, but none of those things should make a difference in how we treated him.

I say we because we think we aren't responsible for his death, but we all are. An individual didn't kill him. It was society. The world. That's how systemic racism works.

Systemic racism means not giving a job to that man or woman of color who was equally or more qualified than the person you hired.

Systemic racism means not writing a recommendation letter to that quiet student of color who had no idea he/she had to visit you during office hours just so he/she can attain that internship.

Systemic racism means not stepping aside and not recommending a person of color when a publication asked you to write an op-ed about racism.

Systemic racism means shooting people of color micro expressions of not being welcome.

Systemic racism means getting defensive and asking people of color to explain themselves when they point out you have privileges because of your skin color.

Systemic racism means saying that pointing out racial injustice is divisive.

Systemic racism means never inviting a person of color to that event that can increase his/her network.

Systemic racism means fetishizing people of color.

Systemic racism means incarcerating non-violent people of color over drug offenses and letting violent offenders walk free so they can keep ravaging our communities.

Systemic racism means not giving an adequate dosage of painkillers to a person of color because you think they have a higher threshold for pain.

Systemic racism means victim-blaming.

Systemic racism means tone-policing people of color.

Systemic racism means not acknowledging people of color by not making eye contact with them.

Systemic racism means invoking respectability politics.

Systemic racism means not speaking up when someone close to you says something racist.

Systemic racism means not being willing to change policies that you well know it’ll hurt people of color.

Systemic racism means not willing to be informed about racism and what you can do to combat it.

Systemic racism means delusionally exalting your exceptionalism, that of your family, and of "model minorities."

Systemic racism means "not seeing race."

Systemic racism means not wanting to talk about race.

Systemic racism means not looking at yourself and seeing how you contribute to it.

Systemic racism flexed the muscle that killed Eric Garner and numerous men and women (I should know better) of color throughout history.

We are all systemic racism.

We can't fix the world unless we put a stop to the small and "insignificant" actions the monsters inside of us carry out day in and day out.

César Vargas is a producer, writer, director, and social media strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. You can reach him on Twitter at /CesarVargas365.

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