To Defund or To Reimagine? That is The Question.

That should not be the question. Rather, the question should be what is the process in order to enact the change you are looking for when using these slogans. As I scroll through Twitter and watch various Instagram stories I see this debate taking place on whether to use the word defund or not. This debate comes after Barack Obama said the following “You lose people with snappy slogans like defund the police”. In these threads where this debate is happening, I see points on each side of the coin to be well-intentioned. However, I personally find this debate to be arbitrary and not very productive. This is to say that in this debate it appears we are arguing over semantics rather than a process. I will go even further to say that this debate is a rhetorical device that sustains anti-blackness and white supremacy. Meaning, as long as we continue to argue over semantics we avoid the problems at hand, thus white supremacy is upheld and these issues will continue to manifest.

In this debate the problems at hand are Black folks are disproportionately murdered by the police, and Black folks are disproportionately unjustly affected by the criminal justice system. It is these issues that we must discuss. In these discussions, we must critically ask what do we actually want?  Do we want radical revolutionary change? Or do we want reform? In asking ourselves these questions it is imperative that we reflect and ourselves what are we willing to give up and sacrifice? It is imperative that we ask ourselves this question because revolutionary change and reform are two totally different ideas. And, being two different ideas each idea requires a distinct process. In both processes, there will be things that we will need to either give up or sacrifice. 

Moreover, the debate should not be semantics because if we frame change around semantics we will be arguing with one another until the end of the day while sustaining white supremacy. Therefore, to think about change we need to be discussing what do we actually want, and once we decide on what we want,  we must then discuss the process. However, to say this is an easy decision to make is far from the truth. In fact, making this decision is rather hard and difficult. Although, this decision can become easier by focusing on the problems at hand.

  • With Love and Solidarity,

Charles Allen Ross

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