What’s happened in Charlottesville, Virginia may as well be happening in Anywheresville, USA. The ugly display of White Fragility that took the life of one woman and leaves another in critical condition is not at all unique. Ordinarily, I’d pen an essay condemning white supremacy and calling for Christians to do the “greater works” commissioned to us by Jesus in dismantling systems of oppression. Today, instead, I am simply numb. And so exhausted.
I’m exhausted because there is an expectation that we [people of color] do the work of explaining racism to you every single time America shows its true form. It is expected that we will give you the palatable explanations of how this is racist, why it is harmful, and how you are complicit in it. I’m tired of doing the emotional labor of swallowing my rightful indignation and anger so that I can delicately explain to you, once again, how to use your position of privilege to push change.
I’m tired because each time these things occur, you feign shock and surprise. You pretend as if we haven’t told you that racism is alive and well until our throats are raw and our fingers are sore.
The Klu Klux Klan Never Left
The White Supremacists who led and marched in this weekend’s Klan rally [because make no mistake, this is exactly what it was], are not some sort of anomaly of Whiteness. They are the product of a society that has told them, for generations, that their mere whiteness was enough to qualify them. They are a product of you pretending that, at their core, they’re not really racist but instead frustrated with their seeming erasure. They are a result of you pretending that everything that the seceded southern states and subsequent civil war stood for was so much bigger than the rights of whites to inflict oppression on any and everyone that didn’t look like them. It’s as a result of you pretending that “rebel pride” is not more than a thinly veiled celebration of white nationalism.
What people in their right mind would take pride in a history that includes the murder, rape, and subjugation of other human beings? But I suppose that doesn’t go down quite as easy as it should for you, so you turn a blind eye to it and call them misguided patriots instead.
White America, By and Large, Elected Racism in 2016.
I’m tired of explaining racism to people who claim to be totally shocked and outraged that Donald Trump didn’t outright condemn White Supremacy by name. How could he condemn what he is a participant of? How could he condemn what he has filled his staff and administration with? It’s a mighty cold day in hell when I’m forced to agree with David Duke, but he is absolutely right in his response to Trump. Trump could not and would not condemn the very people who are responsible for his election. White Supremacy not only elected him, it has also been the underpinning of his accumulated wealth as a businessman. Lest we forget Trump’s active role in housing discrimination and the Central Park 5, it’d take mental Olympics to rationalize that he’d do anything beyond his weak-willed, politically correct but meaningless call for unity.
Right now, White Supremacists are behaving like cornered feral animals. Everything that has undergirded their existence has flipped. For every advancement that equalizes, White Supremacists feel a little more betrayed by the land that they love. You ask yourselves how they can support a president who is so far removed from their lived experience, but deep down you know the answer. He enables their victim complex; victims of a nation that is attempting to eradicate white as the default for all things. He feeds into their self-described victimization of social movements that seek their place at a tables that were once Whites Only. And every time I have to spoon feed you arguments in defense of my humanity, you enable them too.
White Christians Aren’t Exempted by the Blood of Jesus.
I’m tired especially of explaining this to white Christians. I’m tired of you pretending that you cannot fathom where this hatred comes from. I’m tired of you pretending that you don’t recognize that our Sunday morning worship services are the most segregated hour in this nation. I’m tired of you pretending that you cannot understand why Conservative Evangelical Christians are bending the biblical text to support Trump, and subsequently his constituents, en masse. Their embrace and, more importantly, justification of His behavior really shouldn’t be shocking. White Americans have used their whitewashed Jesus forever as an arm of White Supremacy and oppression. I will not patiently explain to you again how White Slavers decided that God ordained slavery as our rightful place of subjugation.
Now is not the time to pretend that White Supremacy didn’t tell us that slavery was God’s means of protection for my ancestors, the inferior race under the curse of Ham. I refuse to explain how deplorable it is that these people are marching against the erasure of history that justified UNPAID, PHYSICALLY DEBILITATING LABOR by saying Slaves were treated more benevolently than workers in northern factories. I refuse to explain to y’all again how painful it is to pray to attend a church service the Sunday following such a heinous act KNOWING that those very men who marched for my erasure on Saturday are praying to the SAME GOD my people are.
THIS is why Vicki Yohe & Paula White had to be called out. They have unabashedly supported Donald Trump’s regime, policy, and political maneuvering while becoming fiscally fat off the calf of Black Church/Christianity. Make no mistake about it: what’s happening presently is not a “new” America. It is not what America has “become” under Donald Trump. Trump did nothing more than provide platform for public display of privately held beliefs that have been passed from generation to generation of Whites. I’m exhausted of explaining racism because you tell me to let go of the multi-century enslavement of my ancestors as easily as you let go of the reality that racism has never left.
Racism Didn’t Leave, Only Your Awareness of it Did.
The only difference between what’s happening in 2017 Charlottesville, VA and 1950s Jim Crow is your delusion that racism has receded between the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the election of Barack H. Obama in 2008 and 2012. We told you existed when Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, MO. We told you it existed when officer after officer was acquitted or never charged despite clear evidence of their crimes. We told you of racism’s strong beating heart when congress went out of its way to oppose every major policy piece of President Obama. We told you racism was alive and well with the hundreds of racists we saw come out of the woodworks at the onset of the Trump campaign.
You cannot feign ignorance anymore, whether you’re a centrist, leftist, liberal, or a self-described “good White person.” You knew racism existed; Charlottesville is merely a glaring reminder that it does and you cannot bury your heads in the sand over it.
Or maybe you can. Just know, I’m tired of explaining it to you.
Image Credit: NY Daily News