Calling all white people, part 19: Chuck white feelings in the wake of Charlottesville

  1. Calling All White People, Part 19

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Get real about what Charlottesville means, and get out of your feelings  

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

Look, I’m not going to tell you what’s been happening in Charlottesville, Virginia, the past couple days. If you’re deep enough under a rock that you haven’t heard about it all, get online and hit up Google search, OK?

But I have some feelings about what’s happening in Charlottesville and in particular how my fellow white people are feeling about it. And I have some words for those who are experiencing fear, dismay, outrage, guilt or affront (or anything else) with regard to said feelings.

Fuck my feelings.

Fuck your feelings.

Fuck all of our white people feelings.

I’m not saying we can’t have feelings about the way racists of all stripes straight-up decided to instigate a race riot and declare that white supremacy is willing to harm and kill Blacks and other non-whites to survive and prosper. I’m not saying you can’t be emotionally wrought by this horrific set of events.

But we white people love to get in our feelings, especially when we want to make sure people know we aren’t like “those white people.”

But instead of getting *in* your feelings, get *out* of them.

What are you going to *do* about all of this?

Again, not saying you can’t share tweets and Facebook posts; I sure have. But what are you going to do beyond that? What will you do to demonstrate that you won’t tolerate racism and white supremacy in this country?

You can declare all the outrage you want online or among friends about the racists in Charlottesville but what are you going to do about them and the system that both props them up and that they are trying to preserve? A system that, by the way, nurtures all of us white people at the expense of people of color, especially Black people…and which was built on the blood and backs of Native Americans and Black people.

What are you going to do about the white people around you who feel attacked by the Black people who point to Charlottesville and say, “See, white supremacy at work again, in plain sight and unchallenged by authorities” or will you remain silent because you don’t want to have uncomfortable feelings or don’t what those other white people to feel a certain way about you?

Screw your feelings and theirs.

When they say “The Ferguson, Missouri, situation and all the BLM protests were just as bad,” don’t let them get away with it. It’s not the same. Tell them that. Don’t allow them to have a dissenting opinion that is patently untrue. Don’t let them be entitled to feelings of sympathy for racists that are entirely misplaced and undeserved.

Ferguson was a place where Black people protested an injustice and had shrines and memorials with candles and such that were vandalized, and when they marched they were met with police and they were accused of burning down their neighbors when in fact there were more protesters putting out fires than outsiders or people negligently setting them. And yet they were met with tear gas and tanks and had to deal with being occupied in a military fashion.

Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, you have white people carrying not candles but torches, surrounding a church and being threatening toward people conducting vigils, while other racists dressed in fatigues and armed themselves and helped spur on actual assaults of counter-protesters and one guy drove a fucking car into a crowd of them…and the white people even threw tear gas at the people of color…and the police did nothing. No tanks. No sweeping show of force among the white people.

It isn’t the same and no matter how much Trump wants to say there is hate and violence on multiple sides, that isn’t the case.

The hate and the violence is overwhelmingly on the side of white people, used against Black people and other POC in overt ways like Charlottesville and in subtle ways with daily discrimination.

Fuck. Your. Feelings. And mine.

It’s time to change, and change will begin by standing up clearly for what you believe in. If you believe racism is wrong, stop hiding that from the people it will bother. Stop allowing non-white people around you to be misused or actually harmed and say or do nothing. Do *something* damn it. Something to show you’re on the right side instead of just saying you are. Something to support or protect people of color instead of hoping someone else will be there for them.

This isn’t, as BGIM and others have pointed out online recently, a “both sides” thing. This is a thing where racists are openly using violence and intimidation to ensure that white supremacy not only remains alive and well but shoves people of color down even harder than it has been for decades even with civil rights legislation in place.

You need to stop worrying so much about feelings and start worrying about which side you are on. Because being in the middle essentially makes you a supporter of the villains who will do anything and everything to harm people of color in order to make sure oppression remains the norm and becomes so normalized that it doesn’t even need to be done subtly anymore at all.
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Calling all white people, part 18: The mythical beast that is reverse racism

Calling All White People, Part 18

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Reverse racism is a damned unicorn  

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

There is a photo of me in a family album (the bulky old physical photo albums that are no doubt being phased out quickly by our electronic libraries of digital photos) at a Renaissance fair of some sort, sitting next to a unicorn. Of course, that “unicorn” was a small goat with some sort of genetic abnormality that had him growing just a single horn. Kind of hard to ride into battle as you wield your magic sword against some evil dragon.

Perhaps you’ve seen a real unicorn in a zoo someplace? No?

Maybe in a fairy tale forest preserve? No?

OK, blurry but believable snapshots of them in the wild? No?

Hmmm.

Well, I have another unicorn for you, then. Reverse racism. It doesn’t exist, and white people need to stop citing it as a real thing. Most people don’t believe in unicorns; time to stop believing in reverse racism too.

Part of the problem is that white people who don’t want to deal with race issues (and that would be most of them) also don’t want distinguish racism from bigotry. They want them to mean the very same thing. Except that to have honest dialogue about racial issues means you cannot do that.

BGIM has often used (here at the blog, or in Twitter/Facebook posts), as have many other people of color, the equation: prejudice + power = racism.

That is, you have to have a significant edge over the other person socially in order to be racist, not simply have prejudices and bigotry toward them.

The thing is that bigotry can be rude. Bigotry can be mean. Bigotry can hurt feelings. No matter what the color of the perpetrator and what the differing color of the recipient. Sometimes, bigotry can turn to violence, as can almost anything (from disputes over a baseball call to a fight over a parking space).

But racism is capable of far more than minor irritations or hurt feelings or sporadic violence. Racism *is* violence. More than that, it is a force for destroying lives on a vast scale.

Racism in this society toward people of color, Black people being among the biggest victims, leads to having your car searched and having three police cruisers show up for a simple broken taillight. To being stopped and frisked by police for no reason whatsoever. To being punished more harshly for infractions (at school, at work, in public). To being passed over for jobs or even interviews despite being qualified…even when *more*qualified than the white person who ends up with the job. To being paid less than white peers who have less education than you. To being killed by police for any number of innocent activities or very minor non-violent crimes. To being seen as “angry” or “belligerent” just for stating an opinion. To being denied loans you have the ability to repay. To being harassed by police for jaywalking or simply even doing your job or looking like “you don’t belong” in your own neighborhood.

And that’s a short list.

A very short list

This is why being a white person and hearing “honky” or “cracker” from a Black person does not equal a Black person being called the N-word by a white person. White people, by and large, face little danger and threat from Black people as a whole. But Black people face all kinds of serious threats from white people, from being fired for your hairstyle (that is actually appropriate to the texture of your hair) to being falsely accused of crimes or other misbehavior by white people (and those white people largely being trusted even when evidence doesn’t exist) to actually being killed by white people for no good reason (like being injured and knocking on a door asking for help) and no punishment befalling that white person.

Black people, however, do not generally have the opportunities to exert power and threat over white people throughout society. White people, however, can make Black people’s lives hell with relative ease and often without repercussions.

Yes, there will be the occasional white person who goes on some Twitter or Facebook tirade filled with racism and hate, and they will lose their job. But it’s not that common an event, really, especially when you look at how many white people are out there with pretty racist views. And still holding down their jobs.

And when you get right down to it, most white people have seen very little harm, if any, at the hands of Black people—yet they feel justified in seeing them as a threat and see no racism in such baseless views. Black people, however, regularly suffer harm, from repeated insults to their character to actual threats against their livelihoods or lives, and are called reverse racists (or just racists) if they label a white person as doing something racist. If you can’t see how twisted and unjust that is, chances are you are white and you are a racist.

The truth is that the horrible things that so many white people feel toward people of color (Black or otherwise) are almost never rooted in any kind of statistical truths or often even any lived experiences. And that’s why it’s racism. The reason it’s not racism when people of color expect the worst from white people and express that (aside from their relative lack of societal power) is largely because we white people have actually been doing the worst on a regular basis to non-white people. And when we aren’t the ones doing the worst, we’re often the ones looking the other way or remaining silent.
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If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense