The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.
To see what white allies look like, look at the white folks who were on the Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. In times of deep struggle or battle, your true friends reveal themselves as allies too. If not, what is your basis for considering them a friend? Allies of all kinds are forged in the crucible of struggle. If you wanna know who your allies are, and who they aren’t, when you’re in a battle—like the one were in now—look around. The ones fighting with same tenacity as you or harder are your allies, everybody else is just audience participants. If you want to know if you’re an ally or not, look at your hands. If you’re holding a sword you’re an ally, if you’re holding popcorn…well you do the math.