Letter from European Dissent to The Gambit

April, 2007

Dear Gambit:

As white folks committed to holding ourselves and other whites accountable for our conscious and unconscious racism, we were extremely disturbed to read Sam Winston's cover article featuring white men talking about applying for concealed weapons permits for their "safety." The title, "Taking Aim," and accompanying photo beg the question: taking aim at whom?

We have a long and sordid history in this region of armed white men "taking aim" at people of color and justifying their vigilantism in the name of safety for themselves and their families. The violent birth of the Klan and the NRA, and the lynching of Black men by white men, supposedly for the protection of white women, come vividly to mind.

Those acts were also done by "average citizens," white men similar to the ones in your article who are "learning to shoot a perpetrator square in the chest." And in more recent history, white men with guns in Gretna used them to turn Black New Orleanians away from safety during the flooding.

The thought of lots of white men covertly arming themselves on the streets of our city doesn't make those of us writing this letter feel any safer. In fact, quite the contrary. The thirst for more guns and more cops as a solution, fueled by an underlying fear and suspicion of people of color will never bring us the safety we need.

Real safety begins when we as white people join the conversations happening all around our city that resist profiling people and instead seriously and compassionately target the root causes of violence. It's not just rhetoric to insist that safety comes when we all work toward EVERYONE having decent housing, enough food, meaningful work, credible healthcare and a quality education.

As whites living, working and rebuilding in the greater New Orleans area, we ask other whites to join us in being as committed to "public safety" as we are to our personal safety. We ask you to reexamine our tendency to remain silent and seemingly unconcerned when it is Black-on-Black violence happening in mostly Black neighborhoods. We ask you to speak up and out when anyone is harmed or murdered, not just when that violence hits white bodies in 'good' neighborhoods. Otherwise, our silence and inaction will continue to reinforce the idea that a white life is worth significantly more than any other, an idea absolutely detrimental to people and communities everywhere.

Jyaphia Christos-Rodgers
S. dix deLaneuville
Rachel Luft
Bay Love
Kate Scott
Judy Watts
Jennifer Whitney
and the rest of European Dissent (pisab.org/our-staff)
ED to The Gambit