(I originally posted this entire discourse on my twitter feed, but I felt that I needed to have it all saved in one location. So, if this style seems significantly more truncated than my usual writing style, that’s why. It’s not easy having a complex political conversation in 150 characters.)
So, I’ve been refraining from participating in the conversation about what’s happening tonight in Ferguson for a couple reasons.
I’m ashamed of the first reason. Which is that my stomach is literally in knots and I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack any time I see more footage of what’s happening.
But, that’s me coming from a position of privilege. I can walk away from this when it gets to be too horrifying. As horrible as it is, my immediate life isn’t affected by it. And there’s something decidedly inethical about turning away when it all becomes too real, and I don’t want to do that.
But, the primary substantive reason that I’ve been staying out of this tonight is I’m worried that I’ll become that dude who’s trying “whitesplain” the suffering & indignity faced by PoC when it’s not for me to explain it.
There are people who are more personally and innately affected by this then I am, and their voices are more effectiveat talking about it than I could ever hope to be. It’s why I’ve RT’ed so much lately. That’s a lot more than I could add to the convo.
But, I’ll leave with my observation of the evening.
People are going to try to say that this issue is about the militarization of the police. And, obviously, that’s part of it. But it’s only a small part of it. People are going to try to say that this is about the freedom of the press. Once again, yeah, that’s part of it. But that’s not the whole thing.
What Ferguson is about is racism and class. But, those two issues didn’t just appear out of the ether. Both issues are inextricably linked to structural inequality built into our American system. And that’s not just economic inequality. Although that’s as big a part of this as anything else.
Social capital is as important to the functioning of diverse groups in modern society as financial capital. And a confluence between the everlasting legacy of de jure racial policy in America and de facto racial policy in American economics, the myth of an equal American has never been as demonstrably false in American history as it is in the 21st century.
We can’t solve the tensions of racial animosity in America until equality isn’t just a matter of statutory de jure equity, althoughif you think there’s even de jure racial equality in America, you are sadly deluded.
We have to radically overhaul a system that exists now to protect property and the social order. We have to foster a sense of national fraternity and empathy that is wholly missing from the American political culture. We have to accomplish radical, progressive economic changes that eliminate the constant marginalization of PoC, women, LGBT, etc.
The problem is that American capitalism and American legalism is so utterly entrenched in a philosophy that only succeeded on the back of slave labor for hundreds of years and then neo-colonialism when they couldn’t defend slavery anymore. But, Americans are so unwilling to acknowledge that capitalism has failed that we’ll blame anyone else for its shortcomings and then we will work our absolute hardest to dehumanize those that we’ve painted as our scapegoats.
And I’m not trying to co-opt the tragedy of Michael Brown’s murder and the horrors being inflicted upon the populace of Ferguson to score political points. I’m saying these things because these issues are so intrinsically linked. You can’t talk about race in America without talking about economic inequality. You just can’t.
If you’re a white cishet male and you can’t understand the way that your race/gender/sexual orientation provide you immense social capital and the way that lack of said social capital creates lack of opportunities/income/social standing for others, then you’re willfully walking through modern society with blinders on and there’s no having a conversation with you.
And if you question the rights of protesters to be furious right now and especially if you protest their right to be violently furious, you can’t comprehend what the real world is like. I hate to be so dismissive, but it’s not a fucking conversation anymore.
Any sane, empathetic person hopes there’s no violence or looting, but what the fuck would you do if your people had been systematically oppressed for centuries. If you’re white, you don’t have a point of reference there cause it’s never happened to you.
So, maybe, kindly shut the fuck up and listen to other people’s real suffering instead of hiding away in your sheltered existence.And, I’m a cis white male. I recognize my own privilege. But I’m also capable of basic human fucking empathy and basic ratiocination. And, on that note, I’ve said my piece.
R.I.P. Mike Brown