BY LISA MARIE BASILE
For a lot of us, this past weekend's “Unite the Right” barbarism in Charlottesville, Virginia came as a shock. For others, not so much--in that they have experienced racism for as long as they have walked this earth. White readers, let it sink in that you move through this world uninterrupted, without the constant threat of racist violence and oppression. This is a privilege that we have; it's not something we get to ignore.
What I want to say firstly is that white folks have a responsibility to really think on the uncomfortable reality of our privilege and any biases or racist ideas we may have--and we have to encourage others to do the same. That goes for your mother, your best friend, and the people you interact with online. That goes for your politicians, your professors, and the people you casually chat to at parties. There's no room for silence, although for many, it feels hard to speak out. That's still no reason for silence. The point is that we must move through that uncomfortable place because our uncomfortable place does not matter.
But what I really want to say here is that I find there to be no excuse for white people trying to "understand" or "get into the mind of" these white supremacists. I know we, as a nation, dedicate endless hours to what could have been the problem with school shooters who murder people because they can't get laid or what happened to that cop to make that cop pull the trigger on Philando Castile. And I'm sure there's a time and place for the psychological deconstruction of these atrocities. But there's a greater urgency at hand now. And our language influences change. So when you say things that humanize or show compassion for these racists, what you're really doing is downplaying the suffering of POC.
As much as we want to explore how mental health affects our citizens, being a straight-up racist or white supremacist (or white nationalist or alt-right white dude or woman or whatever ideology-ladden euphemism you want to pick for racist nazi son of a bitch), means they have thrown away their rights for compassion. To me, people who want to oppress others don't deserve for us to sit back and try and deconstruct their badnesses. They deserve to have us call it what it is. Racism. Cruelty. Worthlessness.
Look at this thread: https://twitter.com/JayShooster/status/896411903152594944
Racists aren't boys who "went wrong along the way." They aren't textbook cases that, if given just enough love and understanding and hugs, might realize the error in their ways. They aren't sad boys who have been forgotten. They're grown men (and in some cases, women, let us NOT forget this) who are accountable for their thoughts, views, and lack of humanity. Lots of people have been abused or had a tough lives. They don't go out with torches (tiki torches......) to fight for the "right" to erase diversity. No.
Joy Reid tweeted about how humanize these people; and we ARE are scarily close to not even realizing how we humanize these fuckers. What's more important? Getting into their fucked up little minds or stopping the murder, oppression, and social injustices constantly forced upon our country's marginalized people? Refocus. Step back, and refocus.
I heard a friend saying, "But there must be a way to crack them--to get them to see what they're doing is wrong." If there's a time for rehabilitative efforts, do we think that this time is now?
And for the love of all things good, stop wasting your time getting into debates about whether or not you'd punch a nazi. Of course you should punch a nazi, but that's not the point. The point is that your energies are better used:
- Not humanizing filth
- Not forcing POC to step up; you step up
- Understanding that women too have a part in this and that we must work to change this
- Finding a Black Lives Matter chapter and joining it: http://blacklivesmatter.com/find-chapters/
- Supporting anti-racist legal funds: https://fundly.com/solidarity-c-ville-7-8-anti-racist-legal-fund
- Donating to Dre Harris, who was beaten by white supremacists: https://www.gofundme.com/i-was-beaten-by-white-supremacists
- Talking to other white people about how they can move past their white sensitivity and take action
As you can see, your motivation, outrage, and compassion can best be used when directly applied to areas that need tangible support. If you can't give money, use your voice and platform to educate others. Save the humanizing and pondering and moral punch-a-nazi debates for a time when there aren't nazis running free in office and in the streets.