Dispatch #40 July 22nd 2018
Day 633 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 558 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy- Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
A piece by Khadijah Costley White entitled “For Hope in Trump’s America, I Read Sojourner Truth” inspires and directs me to return to writing. She says:
I have been feeling so much despair that, even as a media scholar, I’m often tempted to avoid the news.
The unending stream of political developments that I know will deepen the suffering of my fellow Americans and others around the world is heartbreaking: migrant children separated from their parents, mass shootings that don’t inspire gun control, the crisis in Yemen, threats to women’s rights, and so much more.
It might be surprising to hear that what’s been keeping me going lately is meditating on slavery. I’ve been reading Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman.” …….
When Truth asked the group of mostly white women in her audience whether she was a woman, she was not simply pointing to the hypocrisy of Western thought in which nations and “civilized” societies were built on the enslavement, murder and exploitation of women and children. Truth’s question was a provocation, a challenge to a racial structure built on the dehumanization of an entire group of human beings. It was a philosophical gauntlet. Like Black Lives Matter, it was a call to bring clarity to American oppression. Today, it’s also a reminder to me that black people have lived through the very worst of what this country has inflicted. That we have survived.
The barbarity of American slavery should be recalled more often, if only to truly understand the significance of its demise. It was the grief of losing one’s child, being raped, beaten, tortured and separated from your own language, family and friends at a whim. It was a system that normalized and codified its everyday brutality. It was life in constant fear and punishing, exacting labor. And it was completely legal.
It took a war, radicals, lawbreakers, advocates who risked their lives and careers, a shift in power, economic opportunity, profoundly oppressive conditions —— but things changed……
In part, searching for hope by reflecting on slavery requires meditating on how little progress we’ve made toward liberation, too. As Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor of Princeton University notes in her writing on contemporary black activism, exactly 150 years passed between the day in 1865 when the Civil War came to an end and the day in 2015 when Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was killed by Baltimore police officers. A Department of Justice investigation later found that the department routinely violated the civil rights of residents of the predominantly black city. “Freedom in the United States,” Prof. Taylor notes, “has been elusive contingent, and fraught with contradictions and unattainable promises — for all almost everyone.” She’s right. And yet, we push toward freedom.
For black Americans, the struggle of emancipation is riddled with its failures: sharecropping, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement and brutal, unfair treatment by the criminal justice system. This suffering demands rage and anguish, but it also provides the fuel to push forward. It serves as a reminder of what is at stake if we stop. As the civil rights hero Representative John Lewis said in a recent tweet, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”
For many of us, justice and equality remain elusive. And, yet, we have hope. If we are to be the people we aim to be, it is really our only option. There is a quote borrowed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., attributed to a 19th-century minister, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But if it is, we will be the ones to bend it. www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/opinion/sunday/trump-politics-hope-sojourner-truth.html
I am finished out-raging about the PeeeOTUS and his quislings and collaborators; we have witnessed much worse suffering and destruction at the hands of US Presidents.
With the election of Reagan in 1980, the aggressive backlash against black activism gained full force: inner city neighborhoods left to blight and to imported drugs and guns; hundreds of thousands sentenced to death either literally or in prison; HUD dismantled and public housing left to decay; social services cut. I was a legal services attorney in Tennessee in 1980; in every year of the Reagan Administration legal services faced defunding because we gained a few victories for uppity poor people. EPA and DOE shrank under radical cuts so that toxic waste could be located or left unremedied in poor neighborhoods and communities of color, and so big energy companies could have free rein. Huge tax cuts for the wealthy and deficits driven by military spending. US covert support for the violent overthrow of democratic governments in Central and South America. US covert support for soldiers who brutally raped and massacred thousands of indigenous peoples in Central America. I could go on….but I won’t.
Reagan had that cowboy hat and movie star smile; he followed the norms of civility and convention. He rode his horse and cut brush at his ranch. For the Republicans, he is the shining star of a golden age. For the country, he ended the nascent efforts to ameliorate poverty, redress inequities, and value the collective good over individual greed. He lifted up white supremacy, misogyny/patriarchy and unbridled capitalism.
American mainstream media and pundits are consumed with shock and confusion at the current President aka PeeeOTUS who defies convention and civility, who breaks all the rules and norms, who blithely encourages hatreds and bigotries, who creates and thrives in a chaotic environment; they are intent on finding some acceptable rationale for how the fabled US democracy came to this. Yeah, well, since they begin with a false predicate (aka democracy), constructing reality-based reassuring rationales becomes impossible.
Among many excellent writers, Masha Gesson stands out for her incisive analysis and blunt assessment of what the ascendency of the PeeeeOTUS represents for America – autocrat/demagogue spinning Hitler-Putinesque smoke and mirrors by cultivating fear, exhaustion and eventually surrender.
The most qualified person EVER to run for US President lost to a venom-spewing pussy-grabbing ruthless-reality-TV-charlatan who proudly promoted racism, hatred, misogyny, and xenophobia. Yeah, well… the woman never had a chance against the testosterone-toxicity of White Supremacy and Misogyny in 21st Century post-industrial America. And yet, self-styled progressives continue to ignore/exclude/dismiss this original and foundational oppression.
“It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly. Maybe I’m a bad feminist, but I am deeply committed to the issues important to the feminist movement. I have strong opinions about misogyny, institutional sexism that consistently places women at a disadvantage, the inequity in pay, the cult of beauty and thinness, the repeated attacks on reproductive freedom, violence against women, and on and on. I am as committed to fighting fiercely for equality as I am committed to disrupting the notion that there is an essential feminism.” Roxanne Gray, Bad Feminist