We should think deeply about the viral video of Alison Ettel – and the importance of the video


It happened again: a white woman called – or pretended to call – the black police for a minor transgression.

You've probably heard of it before: the viral video in which a Bay Area resident was recorded. accused of being racist, Alison Ettel, who lives in San Francisco, became angry because an 8-year-old black girl was selling water without a permit on a sidewalk.

The video caused a social media explosion for Ettel and compassion for the girl, who had been trying to raise money for a trip to Disneyland. The online account allowed Good Samaritan to buy Disneyland tickets for the girl and her family, and Ettel resigned as CEO of TreatWell Health after several clinics announced that they would not sell plus his products


But this incident should not stop there. We have to think about it for a long time in the context of everything that's going on

It's been just three weeks since a white jogger dismantled the camp of a black homeless person, throwing some of his belongings into Merritt Lake.

At the end of April, a white woman called the police because two black men were using a charcoal grill in an unnamed area of ​​Merritt Lake

and in May, a black firefighter was inspecting the Oakland Hills to spot wild and poorly maintained vegetation. who feeds voracious fires when he has been reported to the police. On another occasion, he was interviewed and filmed by a resident who thought he looked suspicious.

John Powell, director of the Haas Institute of UC Berkeley for a fair and inclusive society, believes what we are seeing right now. White supremacy erupts, partly because of the words and actions of the American president – his seal of approval. There is a renewed energy in racist behavior – and this manifests itself in everyday life.

"You have (the president) basically says," No, we can recover the white space. It's a white country, and people of color can only be in this space on our terms, "Powell said.

Powell told me that whites do not have to be in this space. do not call the police to protect the law but, rather, they are calling the forces of order to monitor the spaces in which black people are allowed to exist.

"Many whites are OK if blacks are there but as long as whites control and dominate, "said Powell

.It is a remnant of slavery when black bodies were bought, sold and traded as perishable goods. servicemen needed permits – permission from their white owners – to travel unaccompanied to public spaces, without a pass, a slave could be arrested and imprisoned – or hanged – for breaking a law that, of course, did not apply to whites.

After l '. emancipation, Jim Crow's laws imposed segregation, although blacks could enter "Their main role in this space was to serve the whites," said Powell. "So this space, even though it could have been black, the space was white."

But is not it the Bay Area, one of the most liberal parts of the country? Is not this where diversity is cooked in culture?

"Well, the Bay Area is still America," Powell replied. "If you're trying to reaffirm whiteness – it's like free speech was going on in Berkeley." Why come to Berkeley? "

Powell was referring to freedom of expression rallies 39, last year happily attended by white nationalists. "You want to go to the most diverse place and assert white dominance," said Powell. "You basically want to continue to define and limit people of color."

Last week, three black men who were working as elevator operators at a high-rise shipyard in San Francisco, a city that saw a steep decline in its black population reported being subjected to insults graffiti and black dolls in the toilets of the workers.

"These incidents show that we still have to work hard to fight against injustices, racial prejudice and racism," says Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland. "We need to take seriously not only these incidents, but also what is happening in California."

Ettel could not be reached for comment. But on Saturday, she told my colleague Filipa Ioannou that she had only pretended to call the police.

Many blacks fear meetings with the police because they know that these situations can inexplicably become violent and deadly. Again, that's why we feverishly sing that "Black Lives Matter."

"Nowadays, people are experiencing the repercussions of calling the police, especially on people of color," said Katie Rabinowitz, executive director of Magnolia, one of the dispensaries that stopped shipping the products of Treatwell. "I do not really understand why calling the police would be a positive solution when we repeatedly found that the police were only making the situation worse."

Magnolia took the lead just position.

We should all continue to defend what is right.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor Jr. appears on Mondays and Thursdays. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @otisrtaylorjr


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