I am not confident in my ability to speak eloquenty or cogently on the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville. I am too fucking angry to be a critic, an essayist, or a theoretician. In this moment, I am almost fully the furious id of a poet and a revolutionary. I am angry. I am sickened, and above all, I am done with racism and the persistent culture of white supremacy always just under the carpet in America.
I am also tired. I am tired of fighting this same fucking battle. I am tired of having to tell racists to fuck off. I am tired of soothing the feelings of white people, myself sadly included. I am tired of pointing out the ways in which every day life in America has always been and continues to be racist. And if I, a white woman from a segment of Florida so northern that it’s indistinguisable from southern Georgia, feel this tired and this angry, you can bet your ass that my black and brown comrades were justified in feeling angry and tired countless years before I was ever born.
This afternoon, I attended a board meeting for the non-profit I work with, and as we sat down, one of our board members shared with us that in the same neighborhood where we were having our meeting, someone had painted a swastika on the side of one of the houses overnight as an act of vandalism/terrorism. This happened in Gainesville, a very progressive and liberal university town, a shining blue dot in a sea of conservative red. Tell me again about racism is over and we live in a post-racial society. I’m more than happy to call bullshit on that.
White folks, I tell you this with all sincerity and with the understanding that I’m talking to myself just as much as the rest of you: It’s time to grow up and take ownership of our shit. We are responsible, each one of us for letting this ideological shit fester instead of flushing it down or composting it. Every time we’ve ever let an older relative slide because “they came from a different time,” every time someone made some kind of “ironic” joke and we didn’t say something, every time we have rolled our eyes and talked about our racist relatives instead of confronting them and calling them on their bullshit, every time we’ve shied away from posting about politics on Facebook, we perpetuated it. We have perpetuated it every time we have been satisfied with a society that is comfortable for us and unfair to those who don’t look like us. When we buy into racist bullshit narratives about welfare queens, we are part of the problem. When we use school vouchers as a weapon for re-segregating our schools, we are making the problem worse. When we treat drug addiction as a criminal issue when it’s happening to black folks but a health issue when it’s happening to white folks, we are espousing a form of white supremacy.
Does hearing that piss you off? To be frank, I don’t give a shit. No one’s feelings are more important than the tangible and very harmful effects of ignoring the problem. We need to talk about this shit, and—even more importantly—we need to get off our asses and actually work to fix the problems. When it comes to wounds involving social justice, you can never really heal from them if you’re unwilling to look at them—and not a quick glance, a real and meaningful examination that seeks to understand causes, factors, and the role your silence played in making the wounds possible in the first place—they will never heal, and even worse, they’ll only get more septic with time. To extend the metaphor, daylight is often the only effective medicine for such egregious wounds.
Nazis are like cockroaches. If you can see one in the light of day, you’ve probably got ten more hiding in the walls. And we just saw a metric shit-ton of Nazis this weekend. It’s way past time to clean house.