Last summer, screens filled with black squares. White progressives publicly proclaimed, most for the first time, that the nominal condition of “mattering” should be afforded equally to Black bodies.
We White women put anti-racist books on our nightstands and considered buying a Black Lives Matter shirt from Etsy. We wanted to feel better. We wanted our Black friend(s) to see what we were doing. We wanted people of color to know that we weren’t like “those” White people.
Last week, screens filled with an angry mob storming the Capitol. Politicians—including some Republicans—proclaimed that the behavior was reprehensible, even treasonous…that it was not America.
We watched the news, replayed the video clips, zoomed in on the boots on Pelosi’s desk. The horned and camouflaged MAGA mass screaming up the Capitol steps, a Confederate battle flag waving in the rotunda, a noose hanging from a makeshift gallows. Again, we knew “those” White rioters were nothing like us.
Yet, the ideology of white supremacy that seethed within most of the domestic terrorists and the white privilege that allowed nearly all of them to walk back out over shattered glass and catch their return flights home are our collective responsibility to dismantle as White people.
Savala Trepczynski wrote (albeit following a different incident), “I hope [White people] will become radicalized by this moment and begin to fight fiercely for racial justice; but more than that, I hope they start at home, in their own minds and hearts.”
Our own words can be, and often are, fumbled and uncomfortable, but the conversations and questions are necessary.
We may not directly foment the fear, stoke the anger, and repeat the dangerous rhetoric that fan the flames of their conspiracy theories, but we benefit from the opportunities and privilege that white supremacy long ago set in motion.
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