There have been a lot of articles, books, mediums in general that talk about setting boundaries. Assuming that most people are inherently neutral (neither good nor bad), that premise makes sense. Anyone who interacts with anyone else will abide by the guidelines of the other person’s behavior, because there are two I’s in “interaction.” However, why do we all keep thinking that the problem is setting boundaries? Why are we not consistently holding accountable those who push or destroy boundaries? Then the realization occurred: one has to have power to set a boundary; otherwise, people will continue to push past and commodify anything they want about people and/or property. Society puts the onus on the victims instead of questioning the systems that created the victims, which continue without interruption, even garnering blind support. Accordingly, most people have internalized their violations instead of acknowledging that they neither sought nor expected to be violated.
Take Black and brown communities — although according to history and research, many of those have already been taken. Many cities have failed to invest in those areas based on a lack of acknowledgment of the residents’ humanity. Hence, developers have been given consistent permission to “improve” the dilapidated conditions. When residents have fought and complained to their local governments, they have been admonished for “not standing up for their communities.” Meanwhile, predominantly White communities have often had their every whims indulged because often, the elites of the local government live in predominantly White communities. If a predominantly White area is unhappy, there is a direct consequence of not heeding those constituents, whether a failure to be re-elected, negative networking (also called a “smear campaign”), and possibly a requirement to relocate. If a Black or brown community is destroyed? Not only are the architects of that destruction given magnificent wealth, local governments will create the conditions to replicate that process, which will encourage other cities to do the same, maybe compounding that authority with supporting state and federal laws.
Black and brown communities do not have power that has been respected by the dominant narrative over centuries of existence. They appeal to local governments for basic communication while insiders fulfill requests for proposals and take the planning departments to lunch. They complain to whatever form of city council exists while the officers appeal to those who profit off their destruction for donations, possible post-term positions. They ask for the lies that stigmatize them not to be taught in their schools while the school districts are wined and dined by textbook and standardized test salespeople. None of the people who orchestrated this bias and abuse against them have ever faced consequences. Violators have enjoyed long, safe, illustrious careers that have feathered the nests of many homes, vacations, and general consumption. What do the violators care whether Black and brown communities decide to “get in their feelings” about being potentially homeless, eminent domain, and exorbitant rents? They literally have nothing to lose.
As this year begins, it is incumbent upon the general public to recognize that if one has no power, it is the responsibility of those in power to respect the people. No one asks to have schools closed, parks paved over, or to have to work multiple jobs to barely exist; people in power make those decisions and justify those decisions by claiming that things are easier for “everyone.” No one asks to be paid low wages, to be denied the opportunity to garden and never take a vacation; people in power decide who deserves stress, and carry out whatever actions make that possible. In effect, people in power and privilege have the responsibility to ask themselves why they have to hurt people so much. No one asks to be treated like less of a human being at the discretion of those in power.