November 12, 2016
Dispatch #1 Day 4 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
On Wednesday, Day 1 PAWSM, I participated in a gathering at the Washington Peace Center. About 100 people, mostly young (20s and 30s) and most people of color (POC). The rage, grief, sense of betrayal, disbelief that this is America, shock, and fear scorched me. My own deep grief and piercing outrage, which choked my breath and paralyzed my spirit, had to be leavened by this larger reality. I will personally suffer very little while thousands and millions will suffer a great deal.
For me to move forward with personal integrity, I am determined to resist every day the normalization of white supremacy and misogyny (along with their close relatives xenophobia, white nationalism, Islamophobia). I am sending this e-mail to my colleagues, comrades, sisters and loved one because part of my resistance will be urging others to “see” these dangerous times, to understand how our country is poised on the abyss. I/We cannot turn away. I/We cannot continue with life as usual.
Gloria Steinem posted a thoughtful and melancholy editorial in The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/after-donald-trump-win-americans-organizing-us-politics?CMP=share_btn_fb Here is an excerpt:
“The truth has been revealed. The next few years are going to be hell. However, we know from family violence – the paradigm of all violence that isn’t in self-defense – that the most dangerous time is the moment just before or just after escape. This is when a person is most likely to be beaten or killed because she or he is escaping control. I think this country is in a time of danger because most of us are escaping control by some of us. Just as we would never tell a woman, man or child to stay in a violent household, we will never go back to the old hierarchy. Despite ongoing threats, at home and in other countries, including a very racialized and gendered terrorism, we have many leaders who inspire democracy, who model it, and who know we are linked, not ranked. Luckily, real change, like a tree, grows from the bottom up, not the top down. We have Hillary, Barack and Michelle to guide us. We will not mourn, we will organize. Maybe we are about to be free.”
Hmmmm….about to be free?! Media, Democrats, Liberals, and their ilk are now busy (1) soft-pedaling white supremacy (i.e., really just racial resentment), (2) dismissing misogyny (i.e., HRC had her problems/couldn’t connect with white working class), and (3) covering over the results of the election where mostly white people voted for a President who unapologetically and gleefully espoused fascism, racism, white supremacy, misogyny, and Islamophobia by offering a class analysis (i.e., white working class angry that they have been screwed).
Class analysis alone simply hides white supremacy and misogyny that have long provided the foundation for economic inequities in the US. We must call out white supremacy and misogyny. We must call out excuses and superficial analyses. Yes, we must organize and act instead of mourning. But, without proper analyses, there will be few lasting victories.
In the speech Wednesday, Ta-Nehisi Coates called the election of Donald Trump “a mortal threat, not just to black people, not just to the country, but the whole world. “[after Obama’s election in 2008].. ….We had deeply, deeply underestimated ourselves. We had deeply, deeply underestimated our past.”
Do you need to get a perspective on white supremacy/nationalism in the US?
Read Ta-Nehisi Coates The Case for Reparations in the Atlantic.
Read The Warmth of Other Suns. Read The New Jim Crow.
And consider the one issue that animated white evangelicals to vote for Trump – making sure that the Supreme Court would never free women from having their bodies controlled by others.
We cannot accept status quo behavior by our so-called leaders that normalizes the poison/toxicity of Republican leadership that has cultivated power premised on white nationalism and institutionalized racism. Misogyny is the oldest oppression and facilitates racism. Republican leadership starting with Nixon has created a killing field for black people and poor people and women in the US.
Here are instructive words from Makani Themba-Nixon (https://highergroundstrategies.net/leadership/):
“I think it’s important to remember that the majority has not spoken. This takeover was only made possible by the systematic suppression, repression, depression and oppression of our communities by rule of law and force. The popular vote was very close. The electoral college is rigged to reify white power under the racist premise of so called states rights. Six million mostly Black and Brown people are stripped of their voting rights for serving time. Black and Brown people routinely face barriers at the polls once they are registered. And organizing infrastructure has been decimated as funders play out their own version of the Hunger Games in our communities.”
“This “victory” was less about animating white anger than suppressing our power. If we don’t understand that then there will be another set of ineffective “strategies” to put more money into “reaching” white people – an idea that, without a broader justice strategy, has failed repeatedly. This is not a democracy. A democracy expects and supports its people to vote. A democracy is one person one vote, not the biased madness that is the electoral college. In a democracy, states have no rights, corporations are not human beings and every human being is treated humanely, with the right to express themselves, to participate in the decisions that affect their lives as long as they do not thwart that right for others.”
“This is not a messaging problem. It is about confronting/replacing the interlocking systems of white supremacy, patriarchy and capital with new, interrelated systems of love, respect and justice. Let’s begin by recognizing that if we don’t change the rules, if we don’t redistribute resources, whatever rhetoric gets developed will only catch in places for moments and slip away.”
Alright, the conclusion to my first post. Many wonderful colleagues are leading with solidarity and love. While I don’t believe that solidarity and love are inconsistent with outrage, I will not have my outrage and grief dulled and lulled. White supremacy and misogyny will never show any quarter. As Frederick Douglass noted “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
On the first day of Obama’s first term, Mitch McConnell announced that his only goal was to block everything from the new President. President Obama was not allowed to speak to schoolchildren in Texas about the importance of education. Republicans cultivated and thrived on racist and nationalist lies spread across the country during Obama’s 8 years. And now we are supposed to reward these white men, whose pedigrees reach back to white slaveholders who created and grew this country on the blood of black and brown people, who have led our country to ruin in their bid to keep white power.