The system is rigged. And it’s perpetuated through violence. Both the violence that is actually perpetrated on people and the threat of violence.

I think a lot about whether it’s possible and how one might refuse to play the rigged game we’re born into. If you see that your neighbor is being treated unfairly in a bad way and you are being treated unfairly in a good way, most people’s instinct–if they recognize that unfairness–is to try to rectify it. Unless you’re told repeatedly that it’s deserved or not really unfair or whatever.

But it’s not a conscious decision on most people’s parts to treat you better. You can’t appeal to the leader and demand to be treated fairly. You just get to be treated unfairly well. Your neighbor continues to be treated unfairly poor.

But here’s the rub. Here’s one way it’s perpetuated–generation after generation. When it’s my son or brother or nephew in front of a cop’s gun, I want him to come out alive. And when he does, I feel relief and gratitude. Things have worked how they should.

I don’t want to give that up.

There’s a canard in feminist circles that homophobia is just a dude’s fear that other dudes will treat him how he treats women.

But there’s a similar dynamic at the heart of white supremacy–the threat that white people who buck the system will be treated like non-white people. And yet, when white people are the ones with the power to change things, white people willing to buck the system are what’s need. And yet, and yet, a system that changes in response to white people’s discomfort and not to non-white people’s suffering is still racist.

My heart hurts.


One thought on “Rigged

  1. B., there’s another aspect that perpetuates this, and you may find it even more sickening. I’ve seen it in evidence all day here at the firehouse. Fox News has been blaring all day on at least one or two televisions, telling all these surly, entitled white men what they want to hear about the debacle in Ferguson: that it’s the negro’s fault he’s dead, and that the negroes who are rioting and looting are making the problem worse, and that you just can’t expect civil behavior from those animals. When faced with these savages, and with the flimsiest shred of doubt, shoot to kill.

    It’s what they want to hear, because their white privilege (and their sense of self-worth) is contingent upon the construct of black inferiority. For these men, and likely for millions like them, the Ferguson episode, as portrayed in corporate media, has been a holiday more satisfying than Christmas and Thanksgiving put together. It calls to mind the Trayvon Martin murder, too. Some of my colleagues were sickeningly gleeful at the Zimmerman acquittal, because it, too, officially sanctioned the cheapness of black life, and cemented (in their semi-conscious minds) their own position of privilege.

    I think corporate media operatives know this, at least on some instinctive level, which is why they’re slanting the story the way they are. It’s why Obama (who I have taken to calling the most effective and highest-ranking house negro in US history) has admonished the besieged and stunned black Ferguson community– and by extension, all minorities who suffer from increased police scrutiny and reactionism– to be calm and civil and to eschew violence. Not a word out of his duplicitous lips suggesting that there’s something deeply disturbing and reprehensible about a racist police culture that treats poor and especially non-white communities as ‘Indian territory.’ More importantly, not a finger has been lifted by his ‘Justice’ Dept. to investigate or prosecute the crime. Obama is pandering to the racists, and to liberals who’d rather have ‘civility’ than pursue justice.

    Anyway, it’s a perverse kind of privilege that depends on the brutalization and immiseration of your neighbor, and it’s an even worse kind of mentality that finds comfort or even joy in the state-sanctioned murder of their children. But I suppose it’s to be expected, given how this country was founded and expanded.

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