Does the BLM movement make you uncomfortable?
To the people in Aspen questioning Jenelle Figgins, leader of the peaceful protests the last two weekends, about violence and looting and the potential of it taking place in Aspen.
First, Figgins and her fellow organizers were intentional in their organization of the demonstrations, past and upcoming. They’re deliberately public, early in the day (broad daylight), and every announcement they’ve made calls for “peaceful” demonstration. This indicates that Figgins put thought into maintaining a peaceful protest and holding protesters accountable.
As such, I have a question for you, Aspen: What implicit bias underlies your assumption that Figgins’s protests are inherently violent? What about your merchandise makes it more valuable than an unarmed man’s life? Too long, Aspen’s existed as apolitical for capitalist greed. Those who continue to harass Figgins with questions of looting fear that the time of appeasing the wealthy tourists at the expense of exposing the systems that shore-up their very wealth is over. It exposes how tenuous whiteness is: It’s only powerful when it’s assured by vulnerable capital goods.
So Aspen, I encourage you, before you corner Figgins: Turn to history. The economy of our country was founded on chattel slavery, a product of colonial looting of African people starting in 1619. The Boston Tea Party, touted as a proud moment in our nation’s history, was — at its core — looting, with the same goal as those we see today: Messing with money as a means (in the case of BIPOC one of the only means) to effect actual change. Turn to reality: Consider the continued looting of leaders, fathers, sons from black communities through mass incarceration and and police brutality. The corporate looting that disproportionately affects black people, represented by the $23.2 billion in minimum wage violations in the U.S. Turn inward: Ask yourself why you’re afraid in this current moment. Ask yourself what your stores/stuff represent. Ask yourself why it makes you nervous to think of BIPOC having access to what — in Aspen — is thought to rightfully belong to the (white) elite.