The white-boy smirk and making America great again: It’s dangerous!

I’m going to need a lot of grace on this one; much like the grace that a Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, extended to those punk-ass white boys in Washington, D.C., recently. Let me be clear about my meaning of “punk-ass white boys,” defined as privileged white boys who are confident and comfortable hiding behind their shields of white supremacy, to taunt and dehumanize Black and brown people. Without that sort of corrupt power and privilege, those white boys may actually have been the angelic ”kids” that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and many others claimed they were; but clearly, the devil beamed through the face of young Sandmann and his klan of fellow students. 

I commend Nathan Phillips for being a peace-maker in the midst of several Trump-clones, reiterating the ridiculous and pointless idea of building 45’s wall. Face-to-face, eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe with MAGA hat-wearing white boys, is not a situation I’d ever want to be in as a Black man; those sort of demonic smirks are dangerous and could easily snatch a man’s heart like mine or Elder Phillips, right from his soul. As much as I would’ve been tempted to punch that white boy, Nick Sandmann, right in his face, as a Black man, I also realize that would not have gone well for me. The situation in general had me furious beyond measures, and I’m sure you’ve noticed that by now. 

I have never been this angry in my entire life. I’ve experienced a lot of evil things in this corrupt world that could’ve easily turned me into Lucifer’s puppet years ago, but lately, the one thing that has been pushing me over the edge (as I’ve told my therapist), is white people who have been emboldened by Trump’s racist rhetoric. White hate has been served to many Black and brown communities over and over, throughout history, continuing right into 2019; whether it be the theft and murder of indigenous people and their land or the enslavement and destruction of Black people and our prosperity. 

The regurgitated “BUILD THAT WALL. BUILD THAT WALL” mantra, whether those Covington students chanted it or not, was evident and has erupted into the winds of America once again. Those red, white-lettered stitched hats are no different than the white hoods worn by Ku Klux Klan disciples and belligerently announces that America is being made great again—for white people, that is. As activist Aylssa Milano tweeted recently, “the red MAGA hat is the new white hood. Without white boys being able to empathize with other people, humanity will continue to destroy itself.” Part of that greatness includes building a wall that Donald Trump can’t even seem to scrape up the funds for; which is straight-up pathetic. 

Many Trump supporters are so focused on the viral video of “very fine people” and the typical, extreme protection of their reputations that they’ve somehow neglected to address the lies of the good ole’ Catholic Saint. During his interview with Savannah Guthrie on The Today Show, Nick Sandmann stated, “We’re a Catholic school and it’s not tolerated. They don’t tolerate racism, and none of my classmates are racist people.” White boys are phenomenal at lying their way out of racist behavior. If you are white and are wearing any sort of MAGA apparel, then you are a racist! What in the hell do white people rocking Make America Great Again gear think the slogan means? Great? For whom? For Black people? Native Americans? Other POC? I would love to hear Sandmann and his crew get on television and explain to this country when America was “great” for Black people and the like. 

The white-boy smirk is threatening and I realize that it was the cocky smug on Sandmann’s face that truly had me wanting to fuck some shit up. But how then would I be setting the example of one of my favorite leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.? To lead and respond in a non-violent manner? Then again, as a Black Christian myself, always leaning more towards turning the other cheek, allowing white people to have their cake and eat it too, results in a burdensome depression. Lavishing niceness upon white supremacists is one of many reasons white boys like Nick Sandmann, Brett Kavanaugh, Dylan Roof, Brock Turner and so many more are freely able to exercise and abuse white privilege to begin with. Many of us Black and brown folks have seen that smirk over and over again in America and as 64-year-old Nathan Phillips expressed, he felt threatened by those teens.

Those smirks of whiteness are dangerous and present a sense of comfort for whiteness that is impossible to be accessed by people with prominent melanin beneath their skin. White teenage boys wearing red MAGA hats, mocking Native Americans, adds a layer of confirmation to the reality of what white parents are teaching their kids at home. This sort of hate didn’t just start with Donald Trump. Like many other white parents raising their well-behaved Catholic boys, teaching them that they’re supreme and innocent in the face of a God, blinds them from even seeing how racist they truly are. 

I can recall a time where I experienced the white-boy smirk myself. A white male had been taking advantage of me by excusing himself from a task we were working on, to take several breaks. I hadn’t taken any breaks from the task because like in most cases, the white body has more authority and superiority than its Black peers. Again, part of the Christian faith involves letting a gentle light shine in the presence of darkness so that corruption may witness the acts of God and praise him, according to Matthew 5:16. While attempting to let my little light shine by “being nice,” allowing my white rival several breathers and breaks, I eventually noticed that he wasn’t going to permit me a time to rejuvenate. The situation escalated very quickly after he returned from what seemed to be a vacation; me being frustrated with both his lack of involvement on our task and the fact that he was continually dismissing my request for a break! 

I think I lost it that day. The white man started yelling at me and during that time, yelling at me was a recipe for disaster due to some PTSD; thankfully I’ve gotten better at that. He then decided to step to my face; with the same valiant stance  Sandmann presented to Phillips. Disrespectfully yelling at me is one button to push but getting in my face with the white-boy smirk is hazardous on both ends. Our task was almost over and when he stepped to my face with his perilous grin, invading my personal space, I wanted to feed him an uppercut. Instead, I walked away, gave no explanation as to why I did and took my deserved and overdue intermission. That white dude did many other things that day including stealing, lying and physically abusing another bystander. I reported it all to the appropriate authorities and the result came down to me being suspended from the task, for three days. 

I asked if he was going to be suspended for stealing? Lying? Abusing another human? And for abusing his power by manipulatively denying me the breaks I was entitled to by law? I was told that the white dude would be suspended as well and that I shouldn’t be concerned about what was going to happen to him. But the fact is that I should have never been suspended in the first place. I was suspended for, “exposing dirty laundry.” Whiteness didn’t like the idea of me getting the law involved and so to protect itself, I was retaliated against. I shortly learned that whiteness had lied to me—that my white peer hadn’t been suspended at all and that my blackness had again been demonized and subjected to inequity.

This whole situation boosted that white boy’s ego and I had to see him again, with his smirk of triumph proudly flaunted on his face. The white-boy smirk represents conceit and vain glory. It cateres defiance to indigenous people, who do not believe in walls meant to sustain white supremacy. And so it also was that Sandmann’s smirk was aggression—overdosed entitlement and a silent form of bullying a well-respected adult who displayed wisdom and a strong, pure example of resilience.

The smirk replicates many other young and old white men who get to sweep their nasty behavior under the carpet. These white boys (and men) are protected by their parents, their “just being kids” card and constantly escape from situations where Black boys are shot, racially profiled, unfairly arrested in or killed. White boys know this to be true about Black and brown bodies, and that is exactly what the smirk on Nick Sandmann’s face equated to for many of us.

And, only a few weeks later, here we are again with MAGA white men, this time breaking a Black man’s (EMPIRE star Jussie Smollett) rib, pouring bleach on him, calling him “nigger” and “faggot” and placing a noose around his neck. The white-boy smirk is day-by-day making America greater and greater again for white people with harmful intent and clearly, it’s dangerous!

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Calling All White People, Part 31: Those Covington teens are no angels

Calling All White People, Part 31

(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: Wearing MAGA hats should have been the end of the debate  

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

I don’t know how you could have missed the news, but in case you don’t know what I mean when I say I’m going to talk about the Covington teens and Nathan Phillips, here is a link to a Vox article that I feel may be among the more balanced/neutral of the bunch.

So, we started with a viral video that had people decrying the teens as racist and aggressive…then we had the release of a much longer video that shows a group of Black Hebrew Israelites having shouted unpleasant things at the teens and other occurrences that add a ton more context and nuance. The release of that longer video had conservatives shouting “fake news” and saying that the teens were rushed to judgment, though frankly a lot of people have noted that the longer video, while it may make the adults look less sympathetic, might make the teens look as bad as before, and maybe even worse.

Regardless, I’m going to focus on the teens. All indications are that their school is fine with racism (students in blackface taunting opposing Black athletes at games) and that their parents are largely racist as well, because that’s where kids tend to learn this stuff the most strongly.

And I am going to say this: Those teens, especially the smirking future Brett Kavanaugh we see in the face of lead Covington teen Nick Sandmann, are racist.

I said it. I’m not taking it back. They’re racist.

Whether or not the adults in question made the best choices, and whether the initial story was skewed, those teens are not victims here. They were heralds and foot soldiers for white supremacy, and in my mind they got what they deserved.

And no, don’t give me arguments about how they’re just kids when Black children and Black teens are so often killed or harmed by police and civilian white people and we’re told “they should have known better” or “if they had just complied better”…

More importantly, if you’re one of the people who initially thought “those teens were repugnant” and now, in the wake of the longer video and wider discussion, you are ready to defend them or cut them slack, let me break some things down for you:

Those teens were in DC to march against women’s bodily autonomy. Yeah, so what if that’s not related to racism? It sets the stage. The kids weren’t there on some random, innocent trip. They were there as religious foot soldiers. They were there to agitate and apparently did engage in taunting of women while there. Certainly, any pro-choice woman would have rightly seen them as aggressors and opponents, and rightly so. Sure, the teens have every right if they want to espouse extreme views that advance a religious and patriarchical agenda that takes away women’s autonomy. But it establishes that they weren’t innocent bystanders.

They were wearing MAGA hats. This is the most damning thing of all. The whole “Make America Great Again” motto, and especially with those red hats, is a rallying cry of the Trump regime. He has marketed and used it profusely. And the “great again” part of that clearly aims to elevate white people generally and white men in particular. If the teens’ purpose was to rally for the right to life on behalf of unborn children, why are they so prominently wearing what is essentially the modern-day equivalent of a KKK hood? Because they were there to proudly declare their allegiance to Trump’s agenda, to white supremacy and to intolerance, not simply to a “pro-life” stance.

They took that shit right to some Black people. Say what you will about whether the Black Hebrew Israelites were obnoxious or out of line. Perhaps they were. But those teens took those MAGA hats and their MAGA agenda to a spot where there were Black people. Bottom line: Wearing a MAGA hat and approaching any person of color, but most particularly Black or Indigenous people of color, is an act of aggression by its very nature. You might as well be wearing a Nazi patch or some white supremacy pin on your jacket.

They surrounded, blocked and mocked an Indigenous elder. Even if you argue that Phillips should not have intervened to try to head off potential trouble between the Covington teens and the Black Hebrew Israelites…even if you say that his chanting and drumming was “in the face” of Sandmann and therefore aggressive…that boy stood there defiantly with a smirk on his face and a MAGA hat on his head blocking Phillips, and his friends were all around that old man, and they taunted that Indigenous elder with “tomahawk chops” and “war whoops” which is about as classically anti-Native American racist as you can damn well get. And threatening, too. Multiple high-schoolers against a single old guy?

Those teens stuck their foot in it, and they got pushback. If you don’t want trouble, don’t start trouble. And they were there to start it. And when they got caught going too far, they suddenly cried “victim” and the mainstream media gave them all the airtime in the world to humanize themselves. The most peaceful person in the situation, Phillips, is made into a villain, as countless Black and Indigenous and Latinx and Arab and Muslim people have before him.

Whiteness is always allowed that chance to redeem and humanize itself in this country, while people of color rarely get that chance. And that is the ultimate “race card.” Sandmann and the other Covington teens and their parents are playing that card…that “Get out of jail free” card that most white people get in multiples while non-white people get few second chances…and that makes them racist. Out in the media crying “foul” when they were the foul ones to begin with.

Not just racist, but white supremacist. Trayvon Martin and other Black youth have been tagged as “they’re no angels” after they became victims, as a way to make them less sympathetic. Well, these white teens are no angels either, and they aren’t victims of anything but their own hubris and cockiness.

And so, while there may be blame to spread around, most of it lies at the feet of white people, yet again. Because they started the shit to begin with.

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The lies can mount, but whiteness still prevails

Late Thursday night last week, Buzzfeed broke the story that the president is doing that shit we all thought he was doing. We’ve pretty much known since November.

Cue the avalanche of think pieces proclaiming yet again that this is the beginning of the end for 45. Finally, this is the lie that the American People will not tolerate! But then Friday comes and objections emerge from Mueller’s office and I can’t help but wonder if any of this even matters.

The question seems to be “Has the president committed a crime?” Well, there are problems with that question. First of all, we’re conflating illegal and immoral. Some of us know who he’s always been and hate it, and some of us are OK with that and wish he’d be a little more of himself. Two versions of right and wrong, but there aren’t two versions of legal and illegal. Of course, that’s no great equalizer as so often the difference is decided by corporations and the wealthy elite. (For other examples of moral/legal differences involving the will of the rich and powerful, please see: Jim Crow, Slavery, Native American Genocide.)

In the end, it comes down to what 45 symbolizes, which is whiteness.

I know, I know. Hang on, hang on! Whiteness?

Yup. Whiteness. Again. But if that word gets in your way, try to think of it as permission. Like if you’re white, you have permission not to be pulled over for the color of your skin. Or if you are white and get pulled over, you have permission not to be killed for your skin color. Or if you’re convicted of a crime, you have permission to get out of jail well before a Black person who has been convicted of the same crime. You get the idea.

Anyway, yes, the president symbolizes whiteness. It’s the apparently invisible through-line for his entire political party. Some republicans will justify their political stances with their Christianity. Others with ideas about fiscal conservatism and others still with some kind of semi-patriotic notion of defending a noble, fly-over, white working class. That was all perfectly plausible right up until they voted for an east coast elite with an exclusive personal history of fiscally irresponsible extravagance and at the very least amorality when it comes to lifestyle.

I know I keep saying this, but…

For five years before he even ran, 45 got in front of every camera he could find, pointed at the Black president and screeched all about how that n*gger ain’t from around here!If you didn’t know anything else about his politics—which you didn’t because he’d been on both sides of every other issue—you knew that.

The hope is that it’s unsustainable. Like, stacking the religious lies and the fiscal lies and the cultural lies of the party, and then the individual lies of the politicians, and then the personal lies of the members and finally, the infinite amount of lies of the president will create some sort of Tower of Babel situation and the whole thing will come crashing down.

That could be true. It’s probably not, but it could be. In the end, whiteness—that is, giving legal and social permission based on skin color—should be a crime, but instead it’s the glue that holds the tower together. And as long as 45 continues to be that glue, I can’t see any limit to the heights he can climb.

On the bright side, just before Rome fell, rather than the wealthy admit the end, they allowed the poor to fall into such desperation as to cannibalize one another!

Wait. That’s not a bright side.

Maybe there’s no bright side.

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