Well…

I guess the things I want to say are this: this isn’t the fault of third-party voters or lack of minority turn-out or discontent with the economy. This is the government white people–men and women–want. It’s one they enthusiastically at every level have voted for. And that I think the rest us white people need to face honestly and squarely.

For as long as I’ve been an adult, most people I know have scoffed at the idea of whiteness being an affirmative identity in the United States (by “affirmative” I just mean something that people recognize as being a definable thing). It was “invisible.” It was “the default.”

At the same time the people who participate in the general public discourse were advancing this line of thinking–and I don’t think they were completely wrong. I do think that one trait of whiteness is that white people can be steeped in white culture without having to consciously decide that’s what we want.–racists and white nationalists were talking about white culture and defining it and shaping it and their ideas about what it means to be white permeated out into the broader white culture. Whiteness defined by white racists.

So, the lesson I take from this is that every white person was raised up, to some extent, in a white culture heavily shaped by white racists and, since those of us who would like not to be white supremacists have stupidly neglected to think that whiteness was anything other than a non-thing, we don’t have a way of understanding ourselves that isn’t racist (though, in fairness, it’s hard to imagine with white America’s history, what that could have looked like). And as such, now is not the time for me, a member of the group that wants this, to run myself to the front of the parade that doesn’t want this. Obviously, part of white supremacy is believing you should be a leader, that your proper place is at the front of any movement. We should resist that urge.

I am afraid.

I have fielded calls in the past from dear friends, from my own mother, asking me if this comment or that comment at Pith was a veiled threat, if I was in danger. And I have said that I don’t think that’s the majority of people and I don’t think anyone would act on that.

But it is the majority and they will act. Am I important enough for them to act against me? No, probably not. But am I an easy enough target? That I don’t know.

And even in typing that paragraph, I want to cry and roll my eyes at the same time. It seems ridiculous. We don’t live in a country where people bother with third-rate pundits at the alt.weekly. At least, that’s what I think. But I didn’t think we’d elect Donald Trump and here we are. So, I don’t really know how to process this, except to be afraid.

And I am afraid for my friends who will lose their health insurance and who could see their marriages broken up. I’m afraid for the people who will be assaulted and brutalized. I am afraid of the mob. I am afraid of the fever dreams of white Christian America and how they will play out for me and the people I care about.

And I feel despair because I see so many people who are like “We’ll just do the work and hold the line” and I want to know to what authority you’re appealing when you think the work matters or the line matters. The people that hate us?

Which, also, please, don’t tell me now is the time for coming together and healing. You don’t get to hate me and then expect me to love you. You can hate me, but I will hate you back.

I know this happens. I know it happened after Reconstruction. I know my great-grandmother was a star athlete in high school and my mother was told if she ran more than two miles, her uterus would collapse. There’s always backlash. This is backlash.

It still stings.

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2 thoughts on “Well…

  1. “Which, also, please, don’t tell me now is the time for coming together and healing. You don’t get to hate me and then expect me to love you. You can hate me, but I will hate you back.”

    This. So many times, this.

    Also afraid for those people who’re gonna get seriously hurt by this weaponized rage. We just elected a dumpster fire, and we’re about to tip it over in the dry leaves.

  2. You’re absolutely right about the culture of affirmative whiteness.

    How do we root it out of ourselves? I don’t know much. I only know a couple of things that help. One is noticing when some thought fragment of it crosses our minds, being horrified, and stopping to admit what it is, and *root that shit out*. Taking the trouble to be ashamed and swear to do better even in the privacy of our own thoughts.

    Another is choosing to identify with our neighbors. Actively, positively, down to the core. Finding ways to re-imagine what “people like me” means. My profession helps me do that, since it involves working side by side with people from a whole lot of countries — if you say something racist that could include one of my coworkers, my gut reacts like you’ve insulted my own family. But that’s not inclusive enough — I don’t have coworkers from EVERYWHERE. Yet.

    I’ll keep reading, B, for the same reason I’ve been reading what you say for 9 or 10 years now — you chew over things in a way that pushes me up against these questions of identity at the corners and makes my mind expand.

    You pull at words and push at meaning on matters where we don’t want to look at ourselves and don’t know how to even find something to grip enough to pull on and push at. You let us see the struggle of that pushing and pulling and wrangling with meaning, which is a brave thing to share, but lets us see what it looks like all through, including before some polished end thought or expression, how it grows to that full meaningful thought or beautiful profundity. So then we think we can wrangle with the hard bits too. I don’t know how to thank you enough for that.

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