People are talking about Racism and white supremacy in ways they were not talking about last year, or the year before. Dylan Roof killed Black people in a church and made clear that his intentions were explicitly aligned with a politics of White Supremacy. The usual “but why?” that we come to expect from the media gave way to a swift call to action to remove symbols of historic American White Supremacy
With the stream of white noise as filtered through the unfettered facebook feed and 24/7-news coverage, the immediate moment once again drowns out the vested understanding. Its time for anti-racist action, based on ideas that have been kicking around longer than last week.
People are seeking to understand how the culture of white supremacy is related to the violence that we keep seeing over and again. What is missing from the analysis of white culture and the confederate flag is something missing from the American discourse on race as a whole. Culture is material. Culture is in a constant state of being produced. It is structured by what we inherit; it is also fluid insofar as it embodies the qualities of our world – it changes. When I say produced, I am not talking about memes. I am talking about physical, corporeal, environmental and economic effects. America is racist and this needs to change.
We cannot use the word “change” in a nebulous Obamafied manner. Others want change too, but not the kind we want. White-supremacist nationalism has emerged as a menace to American ideals. The change sought by many in this country is to revert to brute exploitation and away from governance, oversight, justice, peace or any idea that we could place our hope in. The vast armed movement of White Supremacist, anti-government, Right-Wing militias in the Southwest have called for open war against immigrants and People of Color. They intend a genocidal campaign, and have not been scared to say so. However, these are not the actions of a fringe, but a reflection of a historic political legacy this country owns.
Symbols of Racism and Antiracism
In our era we focus too much on symbols. We forget, or are led to believe, that these are representations of lived experiences. I have heard calls to remove statues, change names, stop using words and take down certain flags to a much higher degree than I have heard calls for redress to the lived conditions that these symbols represent. I have seen slogans to either increase or limit insignificant bureaucratic oversight of everything from banks to prisons to elections – but I have seldom heard proposed solutions to these problems taken seriously. I have seen college kids protest frat parties for making fun of the treatment of undocumented immigrants, but not protesting the actual government policy incarcerating the immigrants. We are accustomed to focusing on the phantoms – we miss the much more nefarious beasts.
I would rather see Obama disarm White Supremacist militias than ban symbols of racism. The confederate flag looks and feels racist, and makes many People of Color feel trauma. It is nice to know who the white supremacists are though. Walmart will not sell any more White Supremacist emblems, but they will continue to sell White Supremacist killing machines. Not exactly comforting.
As long as we are doing away with the Confederate flag, here are some other anti-racist actions that we can take in the USA:
- Disarm the KKK, the Minutemen and all other white supremacist militias. It is a good time to implement the 2nd amendment right to a “well-regulated militia” and regulate all militias to the same standard as we hold for flags.
- Stop detaining and deporting immigrants. People who clean up after you, take care of your kids and elderly, and build everything should not be kept in cages or treated like animals!
- Tear down the border wall. A violation of our territory that is used to make money for the worst of all our people.
- End all foreign military operations. Imperialism is another form of racism. We should focus on caring for our own people – not controlling others.
- Stop supporting Israel. Few countries enforce segregation based on race and ethnicity. Why does the US support the most egregious contemporary example?
- Kick the White Supremacists out of the military and police forces.
- Give back all contested Indigenous lands. From The Black Hills to the recent government acquisition of Oak Flats there is ample room to begin land reparations to Natives.
- End mass-incarceration and the Drug War. America has more imprisoned people than any society in history. This is largely due to non-violent offenses.
- Redistribute wealth. The 1% richest have way too much money. Make them give it up!
- Free all political Prisoners. We know the institutionalized racism has been wrongfully imprisoning people. Let’s keep our hands off Assata and Free Russell Maroon Shoats
I’m sure I’m missing many more. Feel free to add to the list