I am still trying to cope with the event in Charlotteville. I have been quiet on my blog; haven’t said much, haven’t read much. I try to understand what happened and the more I try the more I feel lost.
I wrote numerous posts but didn’t publish any of them. “Perhaps too dramatic, perhaps they are not dramatic enough. Whats there to say that hasn’t been said already.
Then I found it. In form of a modern poem that I would like to share. He is right. We are drowning. It is harsh but honest and raw.
How to explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist
Sometimes, you are a lit match dropped into a boiling ocean. Sometimes, you are a stray dog proud of the sunrise after a long night of barking at the moon. Sometimes, you scream at the television, shadowbox mushroom clouds; your hand-to-hand hatred outclassed, outdated. You: post-apocalyptic litterbug. You: venomous spider in the basement of a burning building. You: whose anger is so vast, and so empty—all teeth, and no mouth, just that white rattle.
Remember: white supremacy is not a shark; it is the water. It is how we talk about racism as white hoods and confederate flags, knowing that you own those things, and we don’t… as if we didn’t own this history too, this system—we tread water.
And you: chum in a bucket. How many skinheads do you think are in the room when they set immigration law? Or decide curriculum for public schools? Or push policies like redlining, mandatory minimum sentencing, benign neglect, gentrification, broken windows policing, voter, ID, stop and frisk, three strikes, the drug war? Remember: the eye of the hurricane is the least destructive part.
You: meanest glare in the chatroom, all poker-face and no cards. Was it your politically incorrect YouTube comment that made the median net worth of black families in this country nine percent the median net worth of white families?
Which individual Donald Trump bigot bogeyman are we supposed to be angry at about the millions of people impacted by discrimination in housing, and banking, and education, and employment, and the criminal justice system, each year? Remember: sharks kill about one person each year; thousands drown.
So, when there is a new name hashtagged each week, when police create more black stars than Hollywood; how long do we keep pointing out the bad apples, ignoring the fact that the orchard was planted on a mass grave? …and that we planted it there?
Because of course, this isn’t really a poem for white supremacists. I don’t know any white supremacists.
But I know a lot of people in this room. And I know myself. And I know how white supremacy is upheld, whether through our action, our inaction, or just through paying our tuition and taxes. How it isn’t just the broken treaty; it also the treaty. How a gavel can speak as loudly as a grenade. How a white fratboy in blackface on Halloween and his friend, who knows it’s wrong but doesn’t say anything, begin to blur together.
How the real racists, today, are so often not even racist. Those teeth, sharper when smiling, sharper still when smiling, and meaning it.
A burning cross is so dramatic. Just say: I don’t see race. Just say: we all have an equal chance if we work hard. Just say: all lives matter. Just say nothing; surround yourself with others who say nothing, and convince yourself that silence is the only song: this muted, underwater melody, this pulsing quiet.
And when a chorus blooms in Baltimore, when trumpets sound in Ferguson, when every one of our cities breaks… into song, will we hear it? Will we choose to listen? Or will we just continue treading water, watching for that great, white, shark… not realizing that we’re drowning?