Response to Holmberg’s “If you want to be treated right, it helps to act right”

Illustration by Norine King
Illustration by Norine King
Illustration by Norine King
Illustration by Norine King

This past week I’ve recently caught wind of this whole “Act Right Movement.” For those who don’t know, the “Act Right Movement” was a tiny social media movement started by Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Mark Holmberg.

The movement itself is more or less comprised of “acting right” in the face of law enforcement. But the movement overlooks a very important detail. The problem, is people of color don’t get to act right.

People of color are rarely given the space, time or opportunity to “act right,” and nothing personifies this more than the tone and attitude that Holmberg takes when he launched his movement on social media. This is the perfect encapsulation of the bigger problem at hand:

White America isn’t listening.

Not only does Holmberg’s movement and written piece erode the policing problem we are facing as a society, but his op-ed unabashedly dismisses all the complexities, pain and suffering that are tied to these issues.

What a majority of White Americans fail to see is how easy it is for them to act right. It’s easy to behave when no one is watching you. It’s easy to act right when you’re not being profiled and followed around a store. It’s easy to act right when you’re so seldom the victim while simultaneously becoming all too easy to blame the victim.

This derails the conversations we should be having and we find certain members of our society with their heads in the sand as a result.

People love to condemn and fuss about rioting, but it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who once said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” This is not to say that I condone looting and rioting in any way, shape or form, but when the riots keep happening, isn’t it time to listen to the voices of those who have constantly been silenced?

If broken glass store fronts and missing televisions invoke the same feelings in you as someone’s dead loved one bleeding out on the street after an encounter with the police, that is a level of shallow I cannot even begin to comprehend.

White America wants to convict rioting, but they overlook the reasoning behind why people are rioting. They just want it to stop. They just want it to go away and when it does go away, conversation aren’t had.

People are just expected to put their heads down and behave which is by no means a cure for hatred, nor is it a step in the direction we need to take as a society.

Holmberg also has an incredible amount of temerity. I would love for Holmberg to echo the tenants of his “Act Right Movement” to Gwen Carr (mother to Eric Garner), Geneva Reed-Veal (mother to Sandra Bland) and Samaria Rice (mother of Tamir Rice) telling them that their children may still be alive if they just “acted right.”

Acting right isn’t the solution. Holmberg does absolutely nothing but regurgitate the sentiments of many Americans that are unabashedly living under a rock. There are too many layers and attitudes that need to be reformed and repackaged before we can even have a conversation instead of just insisting we all put our heads down and “act right.”


Shaun Jackson. Photo by Sarah KingShaun Jackson
Shaun is a senior studying psychology. He is a fashion columnist for INK Magazine and radio host for WVCW 102.9. Shaun is really silly and loves to read good books and bad people. He’s always “fashionably” late to the after-work hang-out sessions, but always shows up with the latest tea. Shaun is passionate about feminist hip-hop, pop culture and being the center of attention. His spirit animals are Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn from the DC Comics. You can usually find Shaun playing video games at the front desk of the SMC or next at Velocity Comics.

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