COVID is the Battle; White Supremacy is the War

Black people make up a mere 14% of the American population but they make up 60% of cases and fatalities under COVID. Heat maps of the virus’s attack clearly outline working-class communities packed with black and brown people who cannot afford the luxury of staying home. Instead, workers on the front lines in health and service industries are pushed by a homicidal federal government to staff the reopening of the economy knowing the cost this will have, knowing that cost will be born by communities that Trump says have nothing to lose, and who, in fact, have everything to lose, balanced precariously at the edge of American safety nets not designed to catch them.

And still that’s not enough.

Black people are 14% of the population but make up 100 percent of the videos I’ve seen of people hunted down by klansmen and their modern boss-hog-hat-wearing descendants,  assailants who go uncharged and are ultimately unconvicted, avoiding altogether the prisons where COVID spreads among unadjudicated people awaiting trial, people who are overwhelmingly poor, and, you guessed it, POC.  And as soon as one killer walks free there is another and another. Some assailants wear uniforms are are paid by the communities they terrorize. Sometimes they laugh over the still-warm bodies they hunt down; they laugh about killing people they are sworn to protect on video broadcast live and return to work the next day.

And still that’s not enough.

Science says that we are months, perhaps a year or two away from vanquishing this virus. Any story that we can rapidly return to our already bubblicious economy of 2019 is a lie.  Already we’re seeing 20% unemployment.  The old adage says when White America catches a cold, Black America catches Coronavirus. The economic inequity, set up in antiquity is scheduled to continue, the next tsunami on an already ominous horizon. 

Death by health inequities and by cop,  and by hunger by the heartbreak of racism: where does the overlap of COVID and death at the hands of white supremacit systems add up to genocide? We are there; we are living in the time of the black death and if I didn’t know we had survived the violence of white supremacy before I might think it impossible to survive this moment.

The counter-narrative to the Black Lives Matter protests said that if only black people would respect the law, the law would respect us.  That is a lie that only those willfully ignoring white supremacy can believe. Obeying the law is only mandatory for some Americans. No face of our government is smiling on us. There is no system that reciprocates our compliance. There is no social contract enforcing the empty promise of all of us being created equal. 

So no we’re not #AloneTogether, unless you’re in your house watching this horrible spectacle of Black death in every corner and wondering which flavor of death your country will serve you. We can’t all #StayHomeStaySafe. We can’t all get some exercise while social distancing. We can’t all expect the law or the leadership to protect us. 

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How about a new motto, or perhaps we can just repurpose a great American motto for our new time: Live Free or Die.  A two-part motto for our tiered and racist society.  Let this be the clarion call for 2020, a moment of honesty where the world no longer allows us the comfort of ignorance of who we are, or who we have always been.   

Some Americans are free to carry assault rifles while marching on our statehouses.  Some Americans are free to sunbathe in the park while flouting recommendations to stem the virus. Some Americans can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and get away with it.

But not you, Black America. Die but deliver my Instacart first, Die, but do it quickly so my hair doesn’t grow in the meantime. Die but make the hunt thrilling. Die, but make it fun.

The officer in the video has been placed on modified desk duty and stripped of his gun and badge, according to police sources.

Fuck that.

People showed up this week to call for justice and run in memory of Ahmud Abery. Many people recognize, thanks to the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement, the injustice involved in the justice system, and are ready to step in when we need the community to show up and demand justice.  The trickier part is demanding racial justice when doing so requires more skin in the game.  As states lift stay at home orders knowing that black and brown communities are being decimated by the disease, will the same Americans who ran for Ahmud demand that black people be protected from calls to return to unsafe workplaces, overwhelmingly staffed by people of color?  When the economy pits us against each other will we fight for ways to lift all boats?

Being in this together requires real solidarity. We all must stand up and demand better testing and tracing. We all must support access to vital support services in the communities of color and poverty hit hardest by this disease.  You can contribute in big or small ways to the economic support and recovery that will be needed in the weeks, months, and years ahead in communities that will face unemployment at the highest rates.  Be where you are, help where you can, don’t stop.  

We continue the 400-year-old war.  This is the war that we’ve always been in in America, and COVID is the battle, lynching is the battle, economic harvesting is the battle, and still, there are battles yet to come.  But we’re fighting back better, we’re masking up and dapping with feet to protect each other.  We’re all we got and we refuse to live free or die.  We are the truth in #StayTogether.  It is the only way we can live.

What’s Wrong with Kanye?

Just days before his new album drops. Kanye West has been trolling the world with a series of provocative tweets, comments, and hat choices. Whyyyy? First, in case he hasn’t been able to reach you with his blankets of bullshit, here are some highlights.  He started off professing love and shared dragon energy with Donald Trump. This sounds like something Stormy Daniels’ lawyer should be in on, but Kanye promises us the love is real. Looking back, this really is some expert-level clickbait
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His comments about Trump were enough to prompt Questlove of the Roots to wear a shirt that says “Kanye West Doesn’t Care About Black People,” a take off  Kanye’s own comments about George Bush during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. Questlove sported the shirt this weekend in Montgomery, Alabama at the Concert for Peace and Justice celebrating the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial to Peace and Justice commemorating lynching in America–peak black excellence. Kanye’s cookout privileges have been revoked.
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Not to be denied the right to scream from the sunken place, Kanye told a TMZ reporter that slavery was a choice.

Wooooooooooooow. At this point, it seems like his Brittany Spears level meltdown is too crazy to be anything but an act, right? I mean he went to TMZ. He’s breaking the internet without even taking his pants off. Can it be that the person who called out George Bush and Taylor Swift has become race traitor numero uno?
There is another explanation, maybe less interesting but also more insidious. Kanye has been drinking the elite Kool-Aid and it has scrambled his brain. A lot of the hoopla is about these crazy words coming out of the mouth of Kanye West who, in case he forgot, is a black man in America. When so much of the black community is trying to get their passport stamped for Wakanda, Kanye West seems to have bought a one-way bus ticket to the heart of white supremacy.
Here’s the thing, being woke isn’t automatic. When someone *cough Kanye cough* is disconnected from their community and buys into the hegemonic ideas that the elite chomp on all day, they start to believe some crazy shit. Like a lot of other people in the 1% Kanye is driven to amass wealth knowing their business directly contributes to rising income inequality, especially among their target consumers. Kanye has no problem exploiting cheap labor to manufacture his overpriced clothes. Kanye has no problem marketing said clothes to young people who can ill afford it but are enamored of the lifestyle marketing he employs. The mindset that feeds on exploitation and degradation is the same mindset that ignored the brutality of slavery as profits piled up. It’s the same mindset today that ignores the demands of the resistance as the rich and powerful continue to reshape our democracy into an oligarchy for their own profit. Its the mindset that says sure Trump is a nightmare but hey, my taxes are great!
There were black slave owners. There are black people today who continue to believe in the ideology of white supremacy even though their skin is black. This small but real group remind us of the power of the lies the elite tell to maintain their ability to manipulate others for profit. You don’t have to be white to believe in white supremacy. Hmmm, maybe that’s what Kanye meant when he declared his right to free thought.  He’s right–he has the right to believe in white supremacy and the lies it tells about black people and their history.  He won’t be the first black person to believe it, and maybe not the last so check your cousins and them.
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When I say stay woke, I recognize that staying woke is an intentional act, a place not of race but choice. A place anyone can decide to stand when they stop believing the lie that some people deserve more than others. So stay woke, no matter who you are. We’ll be here when you’re ready, Kanye

Just a Guy: How Whiteness Fuels Terror

For white men, acts of extreme violence are ubiquitous, they are normalized, and they are celebrated.  This makes sense in a country where we read perpetrating genocide as brave.  This ideology trickles down to individuals, loading them like weapons and unleashing them in a world full of potential victims.

A 64-year-old white man, retired from gainful employment, living in a retirement community sprayed a country music concert with automatic rifle fire, killing 59 and injuring more than 500 people. The news is describing him as nondescript.  Retired detectives and police chiefs clog up the pundits’ chair in cable news, assuring us there is nothing about this man that would cause suspicion. His brother, at a lost to shed any light on his motives, calls him, “Just a guy.” This guy had 34 guns.  He had ammonium nitrate, often used in bombmaking, in his car.  He had tannerite, another explosive material in his home. This is not like any guy I know.

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A round-up of news reporting from the left and the right details the methodical attack, they describe a killer that planned from his room for days while he brought guns in in no less than 10 pieces of luggage and conclude with “we can’t know why he did it.”  Some are already asking about his mental health, his Asian girlfriend.  Everyone is looking at everything but his whiteness.  He’s not crazy, he is living out the tenets of whiteness.

Across the internet, good writers of conscience are pointing out that white men are the primary perpetrators of terror in America.  Facts.  Authorities claim we need more information to know what motivated him.  But do we? White supremacy is at the heart of the “lone wolf” terror attacks perpetrated by white men in America.  This is not just about avowed Nazis and the alt-right.  The ideas central to whiteness are contributing factors to rising violence in our country.  It’s not just that white privilege allows the shooter to face fewer consequences or receive better media coverage.  Before the first victim is harmed, these ideas central to white supremacy encourage and embolden evil men to rain terror, yes terror, on America. Whatever we find in the coming days and hours, these ideas, central to whiteness in America are contributing factors

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The myth of America is centered on the rugged individual. The narrative of white supremacy erases the contributions of people of color and centers the cis white male at the center of every story. Taking the law into one’s own hands, ignoring the rights of others and doing whatever you want whenever you want even if it results in genocide or homicide is totally acceptable. Davey Crocket, John Wayne, Batman–all lone wolves celebrated for doing what they think is right, no matter what the natives thought.  The focus in America on the individual instead of the community encourages extremists to think they have every right to willfully affect the lives of many others.  Recall when Trump “boasted he and he alone” could fix America.  Can you remember the last time a Superhero held a town hall to make sure everyone was heard before deciding on a course of action?

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This (country) is a man’s world. America has any number of problems related to our outdated ideas about men–rape culture, the wage gap and massive numbers of domestic violence to name a few.  Toxic masculinity tells us boys don’t cry and men don’t show emotions.  Men who are unable to navigate their emotional response to a changing world are acting out that anger. Not only are men engaging in toxic masculinity as individuals, but that anger is being stoked nationally by our Angry White-Guy-in-Cheif and results, time after time, in violent attacks: think Charlottesville, think post-election violence. America has long encouraged its men to solve problems with violence instead of diplomacy. And they do.  According to the Washington Post, all but three of the mass shootings since 1966 have been perpetrated by men.

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White supremacy is enforced with violence.  Slaves didn’t remain enslaved because they wanted to.  Lynchings weren’t suicides. Civil rights leaders didn’t shoot themselves.  Native Americans,  Japanese Americans, women–anytime someone steps out of line, white supremacy claps back with violence.  Those in power use violence to maintain it.  Even in the movies, your white savior kills his way to peace–Mission Impossible, Die Hard, Every Cop Movie.  The message is clear: violence is your birthright. For white men, acts of extreme violence are ubiquitous, they are normalized, and they are celebrated. Trump’s easy assertions that he will wipe North Korea off the map is so what less than alarming, dismissed as bravado.   This makes sense in a country where we read perpetrating genocide as brave.  This ideology trickles down to individuals, loading them like weapons and unleashing them in a world full of potential victims.

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Mexicans are taking your jobs.  Black men are taking your women. Chinese are taking everything else–these complaints, the Mein Kamph of whiteness is the story fueling white anger.  The idea sometimes unspoken is that whiteness believes it is entitled to all the jobs, all the women and everything else that life has to offer in an endless individualized pursuit to conquer happiness.   Want to put countless mom and pop shops out of business to build an empire?  Sure. Want 5 houses and 10 cars? You got that.  Want a team of humans to dedicate their lives to serving you? Coming right up, sir.

If you can take what you want in life then certainly you can do the same in death. Stockpiling guns, collecting the highest body count and a dream of going out in a blaze of glory isn’t typical behavior for the mentally ill, it is a disease of entitlement. Entitlement is believing it is your right as a hypermasculine rugged individual to take the lives of as many people in the pursuit of your own end as you like.

WebThese ideas are not the markers of mental illness, these are ideological positions: beliefs and values at the heart of white supremacy.  It is the pathology of a culture, not the pathology of the individual that stokes this violence.  The skewed news coverage and the claims that he is mentally ill are a dodge to avoid deeper examination of whiteness, the culture that spawns such killings.

If this had been a Muslim shooter, airwaves would have been filled with pundits debating “radical terror”.  Instead, we are focusing on the uplifting stories of people helping people.  While these stories celebrating the heroism of first responders make us feel better, and rightfully so, we also need to take the time for honest critique. Until we start calling our own homegrown terror out, we will face more mass shootings.  So let’s call it out, let’s fill the airwaves and your social media feed with a deeper examination of the dangerous ideas of whiteness.  Let’s identify terrorists no matter their color.  Let’s critique ideology, no matter the origin, so we can all be a little safer.

 

 

Familiar Fruit: Nooses’ Return

Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, Russian spies and soldiers, terrorists and freedom fighters:  the play of children mirrors the conflicts of their times.  Play fighting takes on the shape and character of the very real fights the adults are engaged in when they think the kids aren’t watching.

A young Biracial boy was lynched in Claremont, NH while his little sister watched.  The boy survived the attack and his mother posted pictures of his injury to social media in hopes of getting justice, which had been slow in coming from the small town’s police chief. Three teens were identified by the victims, but the police chief refused to release any information to the press in order to “protect the boys”, though I’m sure he did not mean he wished to protect a boy whose neck was sawed bloody with a rope that almost killed him.

Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, Russian spies and soldiers, terrorists and freedom fighters:  the play of children mirrors the conflicts of their times.  Play is practice, takes on the shape and character of the very real fights the adults are engaged in when they think the kids aren’t watching.    With the year(s) America is having around race, it should be no surprise that kids might play at practice America’s oldest game: racism.  The noose has long been a symbol of terror for black people.  Lynching is not just history, it is American present.  Nooses are everywhere--playgrounds and schools, videos and news reports.  So what better way to practice playing power than to knot a noose?noose_1503672085342_3968413_ver1.0_640_360

That the incident was referred to as an accident is unbelievable. Like cocking a finger into a gun, these kids knew that a noose was a weapon, playtime or not.  That they’re being protected by the Cheif Chase seems unfair when we regularly see like-aged young black boys splayed on the street dead, cops hands washed clean by our justice system. But the concern that outing these boys could ruin their lives is also real in a world where infamy is instant and infinite, ruining lives in the blink of a black twitter dragging.  He’s not wrong that that one act could be enough to ruin the perpetrators’ lives forever. So should we just shut up about it?

Hell no. But let’s not go after the boys, let’s focus on the ideas that supercharged their behavior. Cheif Chase is protecting something else besides some boys old enough to know better.  He is protecting racist ideology, rendering it invisible in his “just some kids playing” approach. Far from just giving the kids cover, the police chief is covering for white supremacy itself.  This is where the real danger lies. As an actor of the state, the police chief has a responsibility to name a hate crime what it is and not try to pretty up the racism in his town. Instead, he chose to swerve and reject any calls of racism…until the state AG decided to open a case to investigate what was happening in the tiny town.

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Monuments and symbols of racism–nooses and ni**er, white hoods, Confederate flags–trickle down to all parts of the culture, including child’s play.  This is how the old racism that we always think is owned by the old racists alone is reproduced in the next generation, a virus fighting to stay alive by infecting young healthy hosts to carry racism for their long life.  In the fight for justice, no matter how many bad apples we cull, the bunch will be forever tainted until we remove the ideas that shape and govern racism.  Racists come and go but the American ideology of racism is as old as America itself.

North or south, kids or adults,  we say our towns are no place for hate but the fact of the matter is that racism is rampant in our country, and I’m quite sure Claremont, New Hampshire is no exception.  That’s not to say we aren’t in the fight, but make no mistake there are real racists, people weaponizing the old symbols of power and privilege for a new generation.  And those symbols of hate are everywhere these days.  To see such powerful symbols and reduce them to an accident is to render the very real, very modern ideology of white supremacy as just normal, a game children can play, ensuring that it will remain untreated in the body politic–and therefore live on to keep poisoning who we are and what we could become.

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We have to be clear in naming the symbols of terrorism that permeate our culture.  Think about the images of torches in Charlottesville. The Confederate flag, still flying all around the country even as activists try to excavate the monuments to racist rebels; the nooses hung in schoolyards (remember Jena?); the white hoods on the evening news:  these are not just throwback symbols, they are contemporary messages to black people to stay in their lane–or else.

Imagine then, HBO’s new show Confederate–a drama with a budget large enough to guarantee slick and powerful visuals.  The shows’ creators–the pair that brought you Game Of Thrones–announced that the show will present a world where slavery is still legal in the Confederacy.  Creating updated images of what slavery would look like is only likely to load the gun of ideology, remaking what we thought we had left in the past in our own present.  The images from the yet-to-be-made show may be shocking, or even transformative in the best case scenario, but what will they mean to boys like those in New Hampshire, out playing Confederate in a backyard?  What happens when we greenlight images central to perpetuating the legend of white supremacy?

The easy availability of racist images in our culture ensures another generation will continue our tradition of demonizing and demeaning people of color in this country.  The incident in Claremont reminds us that these images are not without consequence. Citizens of that small town came together for a vigil when the boy’s story came to light, but the work to eradicate racism and its symbols won’t be won in an evening of solidarity. And the work won’t get done with the outing of three boys.  Instead, the ideology of white supremacy must be plainly named and properly shamed, every time it appears.

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James M. Patterson/The Valley News, via Associated Press
When we pursue justice are we required to extend it to those who would not extend it to us? We must, or else any justice that we achieve will be seeded with the same inequality we are trying to eradicate. If we believe that racists are redeemable, especially if caught early, then we have to support the idea that these boys can learn from their actions and that healing and reconciliation can keep them from being lifelong racists who go one to hurt others.  But we can extend no mercy, give no quarter to the ideology of white supremacy in our towns or in our hearts.  This virus of a vision has been poisoning America from the beginning, blocking us from truly become the dream we dreamed ourselves to be.

Dedicated to my sister-in-law Barbara McDonald, who is from Claremont, NH and who is raising four badass woke kids

 

 

 

When Losers Win

Remember when we were going to win so much that we were going to get sick of winning?  Still waiting. Speaking of losers, Sean Spicer made an appearance at the Emmy awards, playing his ol’ lying self.  He reprised his role as the liar of the liar in chief for a bit with Emmy host Stephen Colbert. We are not amused, Spicey.

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Yeah, Colbert has made his transition to host of Late Night a success by railing nightly against the lunacy of Trump’s Tenure.  Sure, Melissa McCarthy has delighted audiences with her role as Sean Spicer on SNL. Of course, Alec Baldwin earned an Emmy for his portrayal of Trump.  But should we be laughing at Sean Spicer?  He wasn’t playing when he stood up and told the American public lie after lie, cementing an expectation that we would not hear the truth from Trump as early as inauguration day.

But white guys winning while being losers is not a new TV trope.  We have had a steady stream of TV characters and real-life media personalities that have cashed in on being total douches: Walter White, Don Draper, Frank Underwood and also Sherriff Joe Arpaio, Bernie Madoff, Donald Trump.  In fact, from Ironman to Breitbart the media is full of white men behaving badly and being rewarded for it.

Laughing at Spicey only legitimizes our longest running trope: bad white guys who win. Positive stereotypes about whites are as old and as prevalent as negative stereotypes about blacks.  Because whiteness is often just represented as “normal,” the stereotypes about white men often go unnoticed.  This means that there is little chance for us to really analyze how often the innocuous-looking suited-white man is lying cheating and killing the country without facing complaints or consequences.

Spicer made an appearance at the Emmys on a night filled with black excellence and powerful women.  In fact, the night really underscored the reality that diversity wasn’t just a nice add-on, but it made for damn good TV.  The awards represented people of color and women crushing it not only in front of the camera but behind the camera, and in the writing room.   While seeing diverse actors win is certainly important, seeing so many faces of color winning for directing and writing holds even greater promise.

Winning an Emmy isn’t just a chance to shout out your moms, it’s also a career credit that opens future doors.  These winners create shows, opening up opportunities for new directors, writers, cast, and crew. Hopefully, the recent Oscar and Emmy accolades help grow opportunities for a diverse crop of winners to hold the power behind the scenes, yielding fresh voices and perspectives shows like Insecure and Atlanta have.

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And while women and people of color are working their tails off to get new perspectives on air, Sean Spicer Segways into celebrity on the strength of his lies.  Bad white guys get a pass, get a laugh, and get a pat on the back on their way to a new career as they burn down the world. It’s not funny. It’s not new.  It is the same old trope that is at the very heart of reproducing white supremacy.  Stay woke, lest your progressive media heroes start feeding you the same old toxic trope.

Call It War

I see a line of armed militia invade an American street; khaki clad men with pith helmets and pepper spray;  I see Klan members and skins heads–young men, a new generation marching with torches–with torches; a car runs into a crowd. I watch. I watch it again. I watch it over and over and over–new angles, overhead shots, bloody money-shots. I don’t cry.  I don’t feel surprised.  I barely feel sad.  I am outraged. I am weary of outrage. This is how war strips you of your humanity.  Atrocities surround you, good times become tense, tense times become terrorizing: is this it?  will this be the shot that starts a race war?

tcp_virginia-protests__tcp_large We are already at war. The hammer claps of racist cops’ nines punctuate the tension, gun sales are up, lynching’s making a comeback. Over and over we see violence motivated by ideology, a battle determined to take and hold territory on both the earth and in the heart of America.

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Before you say this doesn’t look like any war you know, consider the face of war in our time.  Gone are the days of massive mobilizations–instead, our wars are made of terror, skirmishes to seize and hold territory, battles for political power, and most of all bombs of narrative, payloads of ideology exploding in breaking news blasts and streamed live. The violence goes nuclear as stories rain down on you weekly, daily, hourly.  Your phone is the front line, your television battle-weary from images of black and brown death.

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Charlottesville was an organized attack, powered by 4chan and Info Wars and the dark corners of Twitter. Armed militias lined the streets, the air full of tension.  Cops held back even as things started to get violent right in front of them. They had a permit for this.  This was a legal gathering.  These were people wearing U. S. marine uniforms, armed with pistols and long guns, chanting heil trump yelling at blacks and Jews.  This is not a gathering of bigoted individuals, this is a battle of ideologies. There is nothing new about a battle in a centuries long string of battles that defines the worst of who we are and hides the promise of the best we may become. America has been waging this race war since enslaved Africans first arrived in 1619.

Official silence in the face of this fight does not mean it is not already happening.  We are at war in Afghanistan.  When was the last time you thought about it?  When did it last force you to make a different choice, to sacrifice or suffer to support the war effort?  When was the last time you checked on combatants and citizens who are collateral damage in America’s longest war?

The fact is it is not difficult to hide a war in plain sight, buried beneath a flurry of headlines, and clouds of chaos unleashed in twitter storm after twitter storm.  This “skirmish” is not new or mysterious or worthy of a second of questioning.  The events in Charlottesville are nothing less than acts of war on our streets, being fought by servers from Top Dog and college boys in polo shirts, grinding up your daughters and sons.  There is blood on the streets from a Nice style attack.  A terror attack. There is no question here.

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In war, we don’t debate if there are simply two sides equally wrong or equally valid–no one on the allied side was saying Nazism was merely a difference of opinion.  In war you take an ideological stance; we as a nation-state pick a side and organize our systems and institutions in the service of that ideology, mobilizing all parts of our society under its principles.  Will those principles be hate and division, white supremacy–the sickness that has plagued our country for years–or will we finally heal ourselves and embrace the healthy diverse nation we are striving to become?

Call it a race war, not a war between races but a war against racism, where we all take the side of America, the land of we the people, and take aim squarely at the rot that eats at the foundation of our country.  The casualties of this war are not just minorities–this weekend they were white, and they bled blue. Heather Heyer. Lt. H. Jay Cullen. Trooper Berke M. M. Bates.

The truth is that the racism negatively affects everyone in this country.  The same systems that disadvantage minorities also met out class and gender oppression, as well as a kick-ass sleeping potion of culture that keeps many people fighting against their own interests.  Racism hurts everyone…no not in an anti-white-racism-is-real way, but in the way that three victims are dead and they had white faces.  The fight does not neatly divide along racial lines.  This fight, in the end, is about power. To be clear this is not a war against white people, but against systems of racial oppression and inequality. There is nothing anti-white about wanting our country to deliver the equity promised in our founding.013-large

Don’t be alarmed to call it a war.  America knows how to wage war.  Wars mobilize resources. War requires coordinated and cohesive narratives to win hearts and minds. They engage our government in taking sides for the people it is sworn to represent. A declaration of war makes sure our military and homeland security are vigilant, prioritizing white hate groups as the deadly threat that they are.  This administration already knows how to do this: they rolled out a blueprint in the war it declared on MS-13 just two weeks ago. Copy, paste–wage war on the criminals and thugs that spatter our streets with blood: white nationalists. No challenge has so plagued America as race. No foe is no more worthy of eradication than racism.ZZ0D9BDB29Too late for it to have any real meaning, Trump calls white nationalist thugs and criminals–not the same language used for terrorists like Isis.  Be clear though, these hate groups are terrorist organizations.  They are not motivated by drug money or bad parenting: they are motivated by ideology, an ideology of hate and evil that has had too much of a hand on the wheel of America for years.  A century ago members of the Klan wore hoods in the evening and suits, badges and campaign buttons in the day.  In 2017 they still do.  People who espouse this ideology are not just outliers, they are people with White House badges like Stephen Miller and Steve Banon, founder of ultra-racist Breitbart News.  It is past time for this administration to oust these hatemongers from the government payroll.

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Don’t be fooled by a foot dragging weak response.  Like any addiction, acknowledging you have a problem is only the first step. That 45 could force the words from his mouth is meaningless as his policies and inner circle cheer on white supremacy.   The administration is far from declaring war on racism. But that doesn’t stop you–yes you–from speaking up, speaking out and getting involved wherever you are and however you can.

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I’m done with outrage. I am outraged again.   I’m not done fighting–I’m a soldier in this fight and you are too.  I conscript you.  I need you to destroy this mad brute of White supremacy. You cried for London, you prayed for Nice; now, fight for America.

 

 

 

WTF Did He Say?

With the Republican convention under way there are tons of speeches from the podium to pick apart–not least of which is Michelle Obabm’s Melania Trump’s opening night speech. With all that political rhetoric it can be hard to know what the party really thinks.  But Congressman Steve King wants to lay it out plainly for you: Whites rule, the rest of you subhumans drool.

Just in case the shock was too much to hear it all, it went a little like this:

King: This whole “white people business” does get a little tired, Charlie.  I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these categories of people you’re talking about .  Where did any  sub group of people contribute more to civilization?

Hayes: Than white people?

King: Than western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe Eastern Europe and the United States of America and everyplace where the footprint of christianity settled the world.

Look, if you have an old drunk uncle that wants to spout that from a broken down recliner after Thanksgiving dinner, this kind of claptrap may be expected.  Let’s be clear, though, this guy is a sitting congressman–he makes decisions about how our country will run, and he just laid out White Supremacy Theory #1 live on TV with no shame to his game. The only appropriate reaction may be this:

He seems ignorant to the fact that writing, law, math, science, architecture and all other civilization was born on the continent of Africa, and was well in evidence in the advanced civilizations of the Chinese, Egyptians, Incan, Phoenicians and others.  Even the Greeks he credits with civilization were studying in the great libraries of Timbuktu in Mali before Europe was Europe.

So while the mainstream media is chewing up Melania Trump, this little gem of racism goes largely noticed by the people this man is sworn to serve. That’s a good reminder that just when you are least expecting it, if you listen close, the GOP will tell you exactly who they are.

Why We Must Call The Charleston Shooting Terror

The story that we tell is the life that we live.  Each word is a critical building block in what we come to regard as truth, a truth so massive and all encompassing that we have a hard time imaging the giants hands that build these cities of words.  But we build them.  We tell the story of America every day in a million voices, some soft, passed from mouth to ear while others squawk at us for hours across the airwaves.  The loudest voice tell us what we believe, what we saw.  The tell us what to know–with or without the facts.  So it matters if we call the Charleston Church massacre terrorism–or not.  Here’s why we should.

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What we know is that on the evening of June 17th in one of the most historically significant black churches in Charleston, South Carolina, a room full of people came together in peaceful worship and prayer, welcoming into their midst without a second thought one who would, moments later, shoot nine people in cold blood.  What we know is that the killer intentionally and with great malice and forethought chose to kill those people because they were black.  What we know is he has made this clear with a manifesto of deep racial hate fed by the crop of white supremacy that is marked by segregation, feeds “bad” cops and grows inequality in all of our systems.  Fact: this is an act motivated and expressing hate of black people, intended to inflict fear and terror.

Have no doubt that what happened in Charleston is an act of terrorism.  According to who?  How about the US department of defense:

 The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

Or perhaps you prefer the FBI’s definition:

Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Still don’t believe me?  Well neither did the FBI–they have yet to declare the attack terror, though the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into what they term a terror attack.  It’s not just these agencies that disagree.  In fact, there is ample debate in the mainstream media about what to call this act–hate crime?  terrorism?  Rising above the debate and cries of mourning–is the steady drumbeat of apologists:  he was a quite boy.  he was a good boy. this is a lone wolf.   Don’t make this about race.  Define racist.  Define hate.  Define humanity–and then we’ll decide if he violated yours.

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Now it the time to push for crimes against black bodies rooted in racist ideology to be called terrorism.  Far from purely academic, calling the Charleston shooting terrorism recognizes that this attack is one of a larger battle–one we are loathe to admit exists–against the ideology of white supremacy.   A war on terror requires us to root out the very ideology at play–in this case the white supremacy that has been fueling violence across our country since its birth.  Calling it terrorism requires us to use time, and money and human capital to cut off the legs of supremacist groups to stop them from spreading a net of propaganda to lure in the hateful and the violent.

Calling it terror means we won’t stop at prosecuting Roof, but we’ll also go after the organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens who helped radicalize him.  We will be able to use the considerable resources of the FBI and the department of Homeland security to go after white supremacist radicalized hate as stridently as we go after radicalized islamic hate groups.

Calling it terrorism would keep presidential candidates from taking money from hate groups to assure political support free from the eyes of their constituency.  This war on terror could cut off funding streams that fuel hate groups and their supporters. I’m looking at you  Rick, Ted and Rand…and Mitt, in case you return.

Hate group campaign donation recipient Rick Santorum sitting next to activist DeRay McKesson. No,Rick, this does not absolve you.

Calling it terror will make clear to all Americans that a black man shot by a white man over ideology will receive the same justice as a white man killed by a muslim over ideology.  Calling the Charleston massacre terror won’t politicize it–it will depoliticize our one-note approach to terror so we can finally begin to attack it.  Assuming that all terror is committed by radicalized muslim extremists ignores that most victims of ideologically motivated hate crimes are victims of racial hate. And Blacks are more likely to be the victims of a hate crime than any other racial group.

Calling it terror requires us to remove the ideological roots of the hate–like  recent calls for removing the rebel battle flag flying by law over the South Carolina state capital and removing it from official government items like the Texas license plate.  Before we celebrate these most recent victories, the SCOTUS decision was 5-4 and the flag will only come down after 9 (more) deaths and (another round of) protest. We’ll have to be vigilant about being honest with the remains of racism that still permeate the symbolic life of America.

Roof’s manifesto–available on the internet in case any investigators had been tracking him–reveals a deep complex narrative of hatred for blacks, not one created by Roof alone, but one that is the heart of white supremacist ideology for hundreds of years.  Have no doubt these statements are weaving the same old story that has sanctioned violence against blacks in this country since the days of the lash–a continuous story that says blacks are not human, that violence is required by those policing whiteness to keep black bodies in check.  Refusing to call the attack terror and searching for mitigating factors to excuse the killer’s evil intent are salt in an already painful open wound.  This resistance to recognizing and acknowledging this incident as terror is an indicator of white supremacy’s chilling effect on racial dialogue.

The fight against terrorism is a multibillion dollar effort in the United States and around the world waged with American tax dollars.   But terror lives among us, too.  If you believe black lives matter, if you want to live in a world where we can all truly be human, then it’s time to strap on your helmet and turn our resources and our minds to the terror at home. To acknowledge the violence perpetrated against a select group of humans doesn’t take away from our humanity–it ensures it.  It ensures that we see where inequality exists so we can cut out the disease and begin to heal.