The struggle for social justice is an all-tilt fight that most people don’t get a choice about. If you do get the privilege to reflect on where you fight, then ethically I think you should double down on your work.
Breai Mason-Campbell outlines the particular tensions with whiteness and the risks that encountering the pain of Coronavirus might encourage some white folks to tighten up and cling to white supremacy even more. The whole essay, published in a new magazine Pipewrench, is a potent read and a compass to guide us through the dark.
“Devoid of the necessary layers of sturdiness and resilience, Nice White Folks were not prepared for a pandemic that required universal suffering under the weight of compounded and inescapable realities. This was a foray into unknown pain where White Supremacy, clad in a MAGA hat, revealed its capacity to make pawns out of its own members. This was unadulterated Whiteness, feudal and indiscriminate in its destructive impulse and maskless irreverence. Being the teacher, and the nurse, and the custodian, and the cafeteria manager, and the boss or the employee, and the significant other, and the caretaker of older parents, bound to keep smiling and keep working because your life or someone else’s depends on it — it hurt in a way that Whiteness is not supposed to hurt. It broke the rules.
It also created an opportunity for real change. This pandemic squeezed empathy from a stone by thrusting White people into the uncharted territory of unmerited adversity; plagues, as the Hebrew Bible teaches us, open small windows of opportunity for liberation. Still, even after the worst pestilence temporarily broke Pharaoh’s resolve, abuse of power would not learn. His grief turned to blind rage and a renewed commitment to destruction and domination at any cost. White Power may be down, but it’s not out. “
Hearing the verdict doesn’t change the necessity for change and one white police officer having a moment of accountability doesn’t change the larger stakes and the necessary work.