8.14.2017

white blight

For the past several years I have visited my son's school to tell his classmates a little bit about him and his epilepsy and explain why he can't talk, doesn't walk well, still wears diapers and behaves so unusually. Then, I open it up for questions, offering to answer absolutely anything the students might want to ask. At the end of each conversation I encourage the kids to be kind to Calvin and others like him. I tell them that Calvin is the best person I know because he doesn't have a mean bone in his body and, most of all, he doesn't discriminate. Then I broaden my appeal, asking the students to show the same kindness to others who may look, sound, dress, speak, behave, dwell or worship differently from themselves.

"Because inside we all have the same heart," I tell them, reminding them that none of us were born knowing hate. I make sure to look into each and every one of their solemn faces so they know I am talking to them.

When I first heard of the mob of White supremacists descending upon Charlottesville brandishing torches, some wearing paramilitary garb and carrying weapons to protest the removal of a confederate icon, I cringed. I read that one of the White supremacists deliberately slammed into a crowd of counter protesters with his car, killing a young woman and injuring scores of others. I read accounts of black men being beaten and bloodied with poles, of anti-fascists being pepper sprayed, and saw a woman being sucker punched in the crowd. The gang was chanting, "white lives matter," and "we will not be replaced," and "blood and soil!" The latter made me marvel at their blatant ignorance and the irony of their words considering this nation's soil was never theirs; men like them slaughtered this land's native people by the millions, raped their women and torched their villages, wrongfully claiming the blood-soaked and sacred soil as their own.

Inevitably, when I hear of these kinds of atrocities wreaked by the least oppressed demographic in the country—white men (and by the way, some of my best friends are white men)—I think about how the Nazi's, prior to coming for the Jews, systematically murdered people like my beloved son who were deemed a stain on the Aryan race. I also think about some of the folks I've gotten into debates with about White privilege. Over and over, I hear the same flabby platitudes and baseless bootstrap theories—that they've worked their asses off for everything they've achieved. It's not that they haven't worked hard, but their success wasn't achieved in a vacuum. Some can't seem to admit that the color of their skin has given them every advantage in the playbook: the benefits of White-sounding names on resumes; the benefit of not being discriminated against by teachers, employers, loan officers and landlords; the benefit of not being pulled over by cops just because of the color of their skin; the benefit of not being suspected of breaking into their own homes; the benefit of not being seen as a threat and a menace, unjustly maligned by society. While I can't know why they hate—and perhaps they don't even know—I deeply lament their willful ignorance and inability to comprehend what it means to be truly oppressed, and I resent their militant tactics, particularly because they're not oppressed.

Photos of the mob in Charlottesville reveal angry White men, some ratty old-timers hiding behind masks and shields and guns, others who look like your average frat boy, each one essentially threatening that their privileges—the same ones that most of them likely deny enjoying—best not be taken away. It would seem that they fear being treated like the oppressed masses—African Americans, Japanese Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, Latinos, non-Christians, LGBTQ people, women and other minorities—have been treated for centuries in this land of White male politicians and policies, banking industry, criminal "justice" system, law enforcement, White prosecutors and jurors and wardens. Had these angry thugs carrying torches and semiautomatic weapons provoking peaceful protesters in Charlottesville been Black? We can be sure things would have turned out differently. In this nation, White terrorists carrying weapons—yes, this is what terrorism can look like—strut our streets with impunity.

And, yes, The Ass in the Oval Office has fueled their flames and incited violence time and again.

No doubt in my mind, the weakest in this country are White supremacists. Insecure and small-minded bullies, they scapegoat others in a feeble effort to feel better about themselves. They are so incurious as to fear other without first knowing what other is, and to baselessly discriminate, something that my sweet, innocent son Calvin doesn't do, and wouldn't if he could utter a word.

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