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.
What does it look like when white people defect from the traditions of white supremacy? It probably looks (and sounds) like South Carolina Representative Jenny Horne talking about removing the confederate flag from the South Carolina state house.
Welcome to W. Honky territory. I just discovered his videos and appreciated his accusatory tone and salty authenticity. Turns out he has a youtube channel with his rural truck-cam post-work pov videos.
It took three videos from W. Honky before I ran into this nice gem where he calls upon white Americans to acknowledge the benefits they get from white supremacy. Specifically he calls upon white people to film themselves articulating their understandings of white privilege. “To get white people to take some responsibility.”
Honky is light on intersectional analysis. Consideration of ability, sex and nationality in relationship to race sort of enter in the late part of the video. Thinking about all layers of oppression at the get-go, what Mari Matsuda calls: “ask the other question,” foregrounding multiple frames of identity at the same time might help support Honky’s key suggestions of accountability and public dialogue.
And of course, given that the key problem is white supremacy might one try to privilege non-white speakers? Many other persuasive people of color have made almost the same arguments and yet not had the same traction as W. Honky. We might note that those who are most deeply to benefit from white supremacy may not be listening to thoughtful women of color, but they might listen to W. Honky.
People like Honky (and myself) benefit from white skin privilege, which means access. A good example of W. Honky’s articulation of what to do about white privilege is his piece on the Bass Pro Shop (boycott).
It is an interesting arc and you come to wonder about the creator (Jorge Moran). I have a suspicion that this is a character, a performance. Even if it is, I’m impressed with the quality of the arguments, the passion and the realness. More is the accessibility – I would like to drink a beer with this guy and talk about race. He seems honest about power and at the same time ready to think slightly out-of-the-box about class, race and identity in general. He seems like the kind of guy I’d like on my team.