New England: From Puritans to Liberals
Warning: This post contains sarcasm as well as graphic language including racial slurs.
Guess what everyone! I learned something new last weekend! It was truly amazing, mind blowing. I learned that America has loud and proud racists which exist living and breathing, working and everything. They were even kind enough to hold a candle light vigil for White Fragility, truly awe-inspiring.
As someone who grew up in the Northeast and spent the vast majority of their adult life there, I had no idea that there were White Americans who still were racist! It never crossed my mind. In a “liberal” state like Connecticut, where people proudly wave the Confederate Flag outside of their house, I thought it was an invitation for me to come and be friends with them, with my little nappy head and all. Guess I missed the chance to have some really positive dialogue, right? Because it would have been fun to have someone question my humanity at every turn, that sounds like a blast. That is the thing all little girls dream of when they are growing up, defending their humanity, right?
In this shinning beacon of liberal ideology, Connecticut also has lots of diversity, it’s called a zero-white people in the city policy. Suburban drivers go downtown to work and flee before nightfall, because we all know after the sunset that’s when the really scary 3rd shift workers come to take your pumpkin spice lattes.
The suburbs are also a shinning lighthouse of hope. There are two Asians for diversity, and a lost interracial couple who believes they have managed to take down systematic oppression through the beauty of their love. Due to this love and comfort from the astounding diversity when I go into the suburbs, I feel like there are no micro aggressions, because you know, I speak really well and such; it keeps me out of trouble (although I have been told I am scary at the same time, contradictions, what are those?). Through these backhanded compliments on my speech patterns, dress, style, and vehicle I truly felt connected with people in our very diverse suburbs, like they saw me for a person, but maybe just a person who would probably not rob them today, but tomorrow, that was a toss up. Their views were not racist or problematic, no no no, they were the simple views of people who were worried about economic hardship, something which I clearly knew nothing about as someone who worked as a canvasser.
Before the hope in my soul completely fled my body, I had a great job, canvasing. To sum up this job it was sunshine, rainbows and degradation wrapped all up into one wonderful and truly unforgettable experience. I grew as a person, grew in the ways of how to imagine punching people in the face when they said something rude. The imagination is truly one of the only gifts you have when you are a top dog in the American economic ladder. We just have so much respect for the working poor, its mind blowing. We treat them nicely at restaurants, are understanding when they make a mistake, the public, they are just really special, you know.
So as one of these highly praised low-wage workers I had the pleasure of being treated with respect by people. Maybe someone was so kind as to call me colored, or a nigger. But the compliments did not end there, kind words were always showered upon me. Not only kind words about myself, but kind words about my fellow Americans, particularly the people of color. Things like saying single mothers should keep their legs closed, Latino and Black kids are lazy, the minimum wage is unamerican, I had a rude knock, telling me to go the fuck away, yelling at me in the most positive of ways. It was truly the most glorious of experiences. After weeks and weeks of one glorious experience after another, I came to a real startling conclusion, most people really do care about others, there is zero racism and sexism is basically non-existent. My fellow Americans, particularly the ones in the suburbs are truly an embodiment of the American spirit, one of respect and upstanding character.
On a Serious note about Charlottesville
How are people surprised by this? I know where the KKK headquarters is in the state I live in. America would spout it being for everyone as they were still having KKK marches in this town until the 1980s. I also know people who have seen KKK rallies no more than 25 minutes from where I live. This does not shock me, and I don’t understand why we are surprised these people exist. There needed to be a distraction from the truly troubling things happening in the White House and this sure has been one hell of a distraction.
The conversation surrounding Charlottesville is something which has barely scratched the surface. Have you ever had a conversation with an 18-year-old where they think they are digging really deep into a subject matter? It’s like talking to Bran from Game of Thrones. Just being obtuse, vague and all over the place with their teenage minds. Having a conversation with Bran Stark is the equivalent to the conversation we are having about Charlottesville. It’s vague and superficial and is truly not revealing anything about the past at a time when we could really use some insight (Bran for real, do a better job of being useful, why are you out here talking about your sisters rape, and can’t even tell people about Jon, foolishness).
Not acknowledging the true racism which America was founded on and thrived on until the mid-20th century is belittling the people who have fought for their freedom before the founding of our country until the present day. People have died, been tortured wrongfully imprisoned, exiled all because they were fighting bigotry in the United States and we love to gloss over that. Until we stop this self -celebratory freedom chant, we will continue to allow hate and mis-understanding to fester.
We love to stand by and congratulate ourselves for denouncing Nazis however, why don’t we start with just denouncing the people around you who say problematic things and won’t let it pass. This is where the real work is, this is what matters in our daily lives. It is the day to day reactions that show people’s true colors not the overt insanity.
We tend to operate under this assumption that America is the good guy, the one doing the right thing the one who wants to fight for good things, I am as sure about that as I am sure about Black men in power using white spouses as a status symbol.
You would be surprised how people so entitled to belittle you, belittle women, belittle people of color, in the face of a woman of color in the span of 30 seconds. I experienced this personally when I worked as a canvasser. These observations were not made on one bad day, one bad visit no, often when you take contracts to canvass a town you will be there for weeks knocking on doors, getting treated like shit. So many people come out against the Unite the Right protest, but here is a better test of character, how would they treat some Black kid who came knocking on their door trying to sell something or make a living, right there in that moment or in those small interactions is where you see the face of racism everyday. Its not grand gestures, it is the small gestures which comprise our lives.
Not only do we simply have a problem with race, but we have a serious problem with how we as Americans overall, treat people who are actually struggling economically. If we actually had a true and meaningful conversation about that we could dispel this myth which fuels racism and hatred and that is that simply working hard can allow you to beat the system. This whole idea of Americans working hard and pulling themselves by their boot straps is total and complete bull based solely on the fact that people who are working clearly because they have to, are shat on. We have a real people with the way we look at the working poor, and because we only respect wealth and wealthy people, and no one who is working a low valued job is work their time, they are treated as such. So please, I am tired of hearing the hardworking Americans are valued. Talk to anyone who has worked in customer service or the service industry overall, and they will give you a picture of just what America thinks about people who are trying to work and pull themselves up one step at a time. The way we tie race and economics into each other this false and troublesome idea and the myth of everyone having an equal shot is what causes ideas of white supremacy to flourish and we need to take this opportunity to talk about the way we treat and view our working poor and how much this ties into our unwillingness to have a real discussion about racism and class.
What really has been getting me is when people have been talking about the “Unite the Right” protest they are making it seem like this is something new or something which has just magically re-appeared again. Racism and hatred in America are just as new as Kim Kardashian’s accessorizing Black people. TV hosts from Steven Colbert to Cenk Uyghur have come out and call this march un-American, but that is glazing over history. Hatred, racism and bigotry and are what America was founded (let’s not even get into our issues over class and disdain for the working poor) on and it did not just magically reappear with Trump it has been around and continues to live near us. Racism has been a constant in my life, where is the inclusive discussion about what this means for minorities in our country? This is a perspective which seems to be completely lacking. How does this continue and how has it affected many of American’s citizens. Where are the voices of people who have suffered their entire lives at the hands of White Supremacy? Why are we not talking to them or about them, and what more we can do for them?
While one could argue the numbers at Charlottesville were small, remember these were people who were willing to show their face, people in surveys did not even want to admit they were going to vote for Trump. It’s not the visceral obnoxious hate, which gets us, it’s the lack of understanding and discussion of how despite all of the problematic things our current president said, he was still able to get elected. That was normal everyday people giving racism a pass, and while we do see people out there combating fascism, we need to stop pretending like we thrived off of that.
So please, let’s stop acting like racism and racists are something which is shocking, let’s stop talking about this through a superficial lens because it is an un-productive conversation.