America Needs More Than Denial Right Now
Moving Forward Through Racism
A friend posted "Beaumont to Detroit" written by Langston Hughes in 1943 on her social media profile the other day. For anyone unfamiliar with this piece, it is a very powerful reflection on America during WWII. Comparing the propaganda that was publicized about Hitler to the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and very powerfully speaking against the actions of white America through comparisons with Mussilini and Hitler. It's a powerful read and is very appropriate for the current climate.
Some may ask, "How is a 74-year-old poem appropriate for this stage of the new millennium? How is there a parallel with life during World War II?"
This poem moved me. With the recent climate of Charlottesville, VA taking over the country's social media outlets, it's been a true culture shock. The "Progressives" that have been so passionate since November 2016 are actually surprised that white racists are willing to kill for challenging their racist beliefs.
Similar to the days of the early Trump Presidency, the white people around me are acting so surprised that this is the America that they live in. They are shocked that America can have such out right and blatant racism. Taken aback that there is a mass of white men and women that feel so strongly about their "American" heritage that they will fight and kill to not have their beliefs challenged. With so many people experiencing issues of grief following the August 11, 2017 march of the nazis carrying torches and chanting "We will not be replaced" and "White Lives Matter," all I could do is find the positivity around me and celebrate its beauty. The entire spectacle was being tweeted and re-tweeted for hours. Just when I thought that the situation couldn't get any more attention, an angry racist drove his car through peaceful protesters, injuring at least 19 people and killing a 32-year-old paralegal named Heather. A young woman that had made meaningful choices in her life, and decided to speak up against angry racist hate, by going out and protesting against an angry nazi march.
She died. She lost her life to an angry racist. Not because she threatened him or his family. Not because she did anything to him personally. She died because she was brave enough to stand in a mass of people, and challenge the systemic privileges of white racism. That is all she did and she died for it.
I am shocked because with it being 2017, and numerous black men, women, and children being killed by police, and having an arrogant, racist president in office to "Make America Great Again," there are so many people that are "unable to believe" that this is their country.
There are so many "progressives" that can not understand how this is the country that they live in.
I am honestly over it. I am tired of marching and chanting for civil rights and equal rights when the people that "understand" are so distraught with disbelief when a nazi is willing to kill a white woman. Can we say "This *clap* is * clap* Not *clap* New *clap*!" This is the reality of America, and we all live here. This is what Colin Kaepernick has been kneeling for. This is what Martin Luther King Jr preached about. This is the reality that the families of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and all of the fallen victims to racist hatred have been dealing with for years... decades... centuries!
I, like Langston Hughes, no longer want to unite against the nazis while the police continue to kill and bully black and brown people, and the discrimination and hatred toward people who are different is continued to be standardized as "the American way." I am sick and tired of white people (mostly white men) who feel like it's okay to kill someone for disagreeing with them, getting media sympathy, and American compassion, while their victims get moments of remembrance, and then forgotten, over and over again.
I am tired of hearing a sea of voices that sound like my own by people that only look like me! I am tired of judgment from people that look like Dylan Roof disavowing his actions, but completely accepting media claims that he was "just a kid" or that he was "troubled."
The killer (James Alex Fields Jr.) that ran over and killed Heather Heyer, while injuring at least 19 other peaceful protesters, with his car, is a white man. He was upset that his beliefs that "only white lives matter" were being negated by a group that was bold enough to tell him that "Black Lives Matter too!" As a result, he felt like judge, jury, and executioner, and acted on his impulse, taking a white life. So (just to re-cap really quickly), though women are stereotyped as being emotional, and "unable" to control their behavior, it was a white man who was unwilling to control his discontent, and killed someone. However, this is not the beginning. For years white racist killing has been swept under the rug by the "media spin." When the police do it, it's considered "an act of necessity" because they feel "threatened." When Presidents do it, it's considered a part of the job or running a country. When angry, racist nazis do it, it usually gets turned into some form of "mental illness" or an "inability to cope." Needless to say, the white ability to kill someone else, just because they are in disagreement with white privileged thought and belief, has for a long time been a practice, and is now a very uncomfortable reality for white people.
It means that there is a history that is richer than our government-approved educations allow us to believe, and that these incidences that are recent, and quite serious may actually be powerful symptoms of a much much more powerful diagnosis.
The reality of this relationship with freedom from a white man's perspective is no longer alarming to those of us of color. It is ironic, because as black people, we have known since the beginning of the formation of America, that white privilege and racism are the roots of the white oppressive system of freedom. What "Progressives" don't understand is that includes all white people, not just the overtly ignorant, but also the "safe," the "comfortable," and the "silent."
Sorry America, in order to deal with this uncomfortable reality, you're going to need to look at yourself, and make honest judgments about who you are, not who you want to be.
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