Sunday, December 11, 2016

Whites Will Never Find Greatness (by Themselves)

***Updated 12-14-20 to remove ableist language. I acknowledge my mistake and apologize for any harm I caused in using ableist language. I am committed to unlearning and re/learning every day.

I knew Trump was going to win as soon as I knew he was a Republican candidate. Why? Because I know how base humans can be.

That sounds pessimistic, bordering on nihilistic, but humor me while I work through some of my thoughts (and emotions) after the election.

This will not be a white guilt or white woman’s tears post.

I hope I never detract from those voices more silenced than my woman’s voice. After all, I am still white and still enjoy privilege. Instead, I want mostly to address my thoughts toward that white woman audience.

People of color (especially those women who continue to lead the charge even though white women do everything in their power to hinder and silence them) know how white people screwed them—continue to screw them. Hell, they know their history. White people are the deliberately, willfully ignorant and tunnel-visioned voters. This post is for them.

I have maintained a constant state of dread and nausea since I first heard Trump connected to the Republican Party. Sure, I did my share of laughing early on. Come on, he’s a buffoon. He’s going to deport Muslims? Force Mexico to pay for a wall? Tiny baby Jesus. How asinine are those two ideas?! How could intelligent people vote for someone so clearly unqualified, so clearly wrong? Yes, that last rhetorical question is stupid because even then I knew the answer to that: People hate losing their power, whether they earned it for real or “earned” it by being born with white skin.

I took my Latinx students seriously when they asked me what would happen to them. All I could say was, “I don’t know.” And I would try to be optimistic for them, “Nothing will happen. There’s no way he will get elected.” Ahhhh, if only that were true.

I spent the next several months watching in horror (but not surprise) as the Facebook “friends” showed their true colors and refused to listen to reason. I’m not going to pretend I’ve always been aware. However, I’m a personality type that will listen to other sides, ponder them, dig for any truth, and then can change my mind—if presented with truth/facts/logic. When I realize something is right/wrong, I make that appropriate change. While I’ve squirmed in embarrassment, discomfort, and guilt over the last five-ish years, I’ve also come to see how wrong I’ve been about being "not seeing color," about respectability politics, about objectification of women and ownership of their lives, about LGBT+ issues, and so many other issues.

I thought I was out of the cave before. The last few years have shown me I was still enjoying the shadows, chained to the floor. I thank so many people on Twitter for their patience, their brutal honesty, their anger, their emotion, and their bravery in sharing their lives with stupid people like me. I believe in educating myself, but I thank them for sharing their stories so I have material to use in my education. The pain of the blinding sun as they shone the truth of their experiences…wow. I admit I unfollowed people like Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) because she pissed me off for so much. Then I realized why I was angry—she was right. I had been doing the “not all white people” crap instead of acknowledging hers (and others’) experiences.

Although I teach literary theory to students and the importance of looking at more than one side, I had developed a blind spot about my own egocentricity. I’ve learned the danger of only “reading” one narrative. So, I found @mdawriter and many other important voices, followed them, shut my mouth, listened and amplified them, and reflected on myself whenever those voices upset my precious little white fragility. Actually, it’s been awhile since I was offended by anyone other than white people. So, let’s discuss that now…

To reiterate, I’m angry, disgusted, saddened, but not surprised by the election. I know people can be better; I know they can work to improve themselves and their world; however, people are generally such selfish assholes that they rarely surprise me. Sadly, acts of generosity and kindness surprise me more than violence and hate.

Mostly, I’m so incensed by white women I could actually do harm. white women, here’s the message we’ve sent to the world:

1. We’re okay with the patriarchy as long as they take care of us and buy us pretty things. More candidly, men just need to buy us red hats and Trump T-shirts to make us happy. Or, gold-plated rooms. Okay, I can’t prove this point with empirical evidence—well, I could, but I don’t have the time/energy—so this point is simply emotional.

2. We would rather elect a man who brags about “grabbing [us] by the pussy” then elect someone who actually has a vagina. Good job, White women. Way to be leaders of the “free” world. Way to send a message of equality. No, I definitely don’t advocate voting for Hillary simply because she has the same anatomy, but I do advocate thinking for yourself and what’s actually best for society. This time, it was Hillary.

3. We will do anything to make sure our white men retain their power. Why? Because it benefits us. Makes me think of that scene in Gone With the Wind, with the thinly veiled reference to the KKK: The men created their “political society” to protect their women. Sure people died, but by god, those White women’s reputations went unbesmirched. For all our f*ing platitudes, we really want men to protect our “purity,” maintain our social status, keep us on those mythological pillars. Fools. We’re fine with White men catcalling, disparaging, discriminating against, harassing, sexually assaulting us as long as they continue to place us on pedestals to show we’re better than other women. Which brings me to my next point…

4. Jesus, white women. If you're really wanting equality, it ain't comin' from your white men. Why do we need to completely sh*t on women of other races? Those women could be our allies, our sisters in the fight for equality. Instead, we are such competitive and power-grubbing bitches, we can’t acknowledge help from women of color. Honestly, women of color are doing more for equal rights than we are, especially before and after this election. They were those prophets in the wilderness, calling out our doom if Trump were elected. Being stupid and perverse, we white women heard those messages and blithely said, “Who cares? Men will still take care of us.” And we flipped off those marginalized groups, those groups who wisely voted against Trump because they know the ugly side of America. Dear god we are deliberately dumb and hateful.  That takes me to my next area of contention…

5. Allow me to wax idealistic on this point…Why couldn’t whites vote for humanity instead of their own selfish desires? Why can’t white men release their death grip on their power and the government and the nation? Why can’t white women realize a vote for marginalized groups would also (selfishly) serve their own equality? Any positive step toward equity for one group is potentially a step for all groups…if we would only realize this. You know the cliché, “We are only as strong as our weakest link,” so why do white people deliberately create those weak links? White people continually beat down and beat down and beat down anyone who isn’t white (or cis or hetero or “Christian” or binary or whatever the hell makes one acceptable to the white people in power). White people should be afraid of other races gaining power and staging an “uprising.” Those groups are rightfully pissed at us. We’ve earned their ire—and continually stoke that fire; then we castigate them for their anger.

Why couldn’t white people (especially women) realize a vote against Trump was a vote for all of the society? Why can’t white people realize strengthening the groups we’ve deliberately weakened would, in fact, improve our entire society? When will white people realize this incestuous exchange and sharing of power is not a healthy symbiotic relationship, but is parasitic? White people are sucking the life from America, denying our country any possible chance at greatness. No one and nothing can ever be great if you’ve stolen, murdered, pillaged, and raped to achieve power. Power does not equal greatness—it’s simply a show of strength. If your pathway to “greatness” is littered with the torn, bloody, broken bodies of others, you are not great. You are a bloodthirsty tyrant, only great in your own bloated, egotistical, warped mind.

Greatness is not a quality one achieves by hurting others. Greatness is a higher quality: something one aspires to by throwing off the baser qualities. One becomes great by realizing one is nothing without others. Those “others” are not simply people who look and believe like you. Those “others” are people who challenge you and push you and expect you to be a better human being.

If we really want America to be great, we need to finally admit we have royally screwed everything up since the first White landed on the continent. We need to finally admit white people do not have all the answers, nor should white people hold all the power.

To truly (and finally) make America great, we need to stop finding scapegoats and admit the reason America is screwed up is because white people have tried so hard to keep those “others” under our heels—and they’re sick of it.

White people need to finally admit we, by ourselves, will never find greatness.

Those “others” will be America’s salvation…if white people will stop screwing up that real search for greatness.