• Dr. Washington

Hey white folks: What are you doing about the “bad apples” in your life?

Updated: Jun 30

I saw in my FB newsfeed some old news that hurt me deeply. I was previously unaware, and upon seeing the image below, I wrote this post. Please center yourself in empathy for the pain I am conveying on behalf of my ancestors, myself, and my child. I don't want my daughter to have to ask your children "what are you doing to keep me from being a hashtag?" Tough conversations need to be had so that white accountability can become institutionalized, and white supremacy can be dismantled.



George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in 2012. It changed the lives of so many people. The world awakened in a way that I remember thinking, ‘this might make a difference’. But it didn’t. This baby’s life and his violent death were not enough to change the hearts and minds of white people with power, or the policies they govern.

We’ve lost so many men, women, and children to white and state-sanctioned violence since then. So many of our babies. So many of our little humans who were not yet allowed to drink alcohol, to drive a car, or to have a chance.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones was only 7 years old and asleep on the couch when police broke into her home during a poorly planned silent raid and shot and killed her. No justice.

Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he was murdered by police within 3 seconds of them arriving on the scene. No justice.

There are more, recently, and throughout history. There are the babies who were murdered, and there are the babies who have witnessed these murders and are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives.

Nine-year-old Judeah Reynolds witnessed George Floyd being murdered in the street.

Still, no justice.

Diamond Reynolds 4-year-old daughter was in the backseat of the car when her boyfriend, Philando Castile was murdered in their car, right in front of them. She was then handcuffed and put in the back of a police car with her daughter as this TODDLER attempted to support her mother and ease her pain. No justice.

Ramarley Graham, only 18 years old, ran into his home, locked the door behind him, and ran to the bathroom as police chased after him. Believing he bought or sold a $10 bag of weed, police chased him, broke into his home, and killed him in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother. No Justice.

Eric Garner was killed on video, and no doubt impacted by the trauma, stress, and strain of the killing of her father, and having to FIGHT for justice for her father (that has NEVER come), his daughter Erica Garner died of a heart attack in 2017. This brutality is killing us, and the collective trauma is being felt, and will be felt, for generations.

So, when you see us being murdered on video, hanging from trees all across this country, in 2020, there is a desensitization to the violence, blood, bones, smell; and a disconnect from humanity, such that you don’t see yourself in my shoes. You don’t see YOUR babies hanging from trees, igniting you to take action. These are Black, Indigenous, and melanated babies, and that is different enough for you to not feel compelled to (1) inconvenience your life, (2) take a risk, or (3) take responsibility for your blood-stained inheritance from your ancestors.



If white people can accept that you are actively enabling systematic violence against people of color through:

· voting for “leaders” that do nothing to dismantle the military industrial complex; mass incarceration; systemic racial inequities in housing, education, employment, or healthcare;

· maintaining silence in your workplaces or households;

· not taking responsibility to learn to be racially conscientious and do your active part to create equity; and

· clinging to capitalism although it is destroying our communities, our country and the earth itself,

then you can begin to take action to do better, and we can have meaningful discourse, collaboration, trust, growth, and understanding. If you are not assertively disrupting the racism you witness from your cousins, uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, co-workers, friends, lovers, then you are part of the problem.

Everyone wants to distance themselves from racism and call out “bad apples,” but some of you go to sleep with those rotten-ass apples. And you tolerate it. As long as race isn’t being discussed, you nibble at that “bad apple” and ingest it, every day. That has to stop, because some of these bad apples are populating dangerous parts of the internet and talking about, or planning on killing Black & brown people. These “ghost skins” have permeated not only the corners of the internet, but our offices, stores, doctor’s offices, and YES, even police force.

(Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd)


When the FBI has long-since reported the unacceptably high rates of KKK members in the police force, one has to wonder, why is white folks’ tolerance for rotten apples so high? Similar to white ancestors and elders showing up in droves to take in the smell of burning Black flesh, today viewing, sharing and parodying video after video of murdered Black and brown bodies. Perhaps the smell of some rotten apples isn’t so bad in your bed. At the same time, the rates of domestic violence in police families is (although understudied and largely unaddressed) understood to be at least 40%, so the violence they are entitled to bring to our streets is being acted out in their own homes as well. When is enough going to be enough? When will white people (women in particular) recognize that our suffering is tethered to theirs? That our healing is contingent on theirs? White people are unjustly killed by police too. Change, reform, defunding is for the betterment of all of us. So, in fact, ALL lives BENEFIT when Black Lives Matter. I have heard many white folks tell me they want to be "seen as an ally" or want "people of color to trust" them. Well, if you want to be seen and treated differently than your ancestors, you need to BEHAVE significantly different from your ancestors. PERIOD.

Learning of the racist white folks celebrating and glorifying the murder of Trayvon Martin broke me apart. Seeing that Zimmerman has “fans” that pay him to sign skittles bags, and pay $250,000 for the gun he used to kill young Trayvon, was too much for be to bare. I know I am late to learning about this, and learning about it now is truly, deeply hurting me. So, I implore white readers: check your racist family members. Don’t distance yourself from them because they are toxic. Recognize that that extension of self is infected with a harmful poison that may trickle into the life of an unsuspecting, innocent Black, Indigenous, or person of color, and create a ‘Karen’ encounter, a police encounter, or some other kind of traumatic or violent encounter that we don’t need, want, or deserve. Folks like me can’t do that work for you and your family. But someone needs to...that someone, is each of you.

©2019 by Sharon G.E. Washington, Ed.D., MPH.