Another example of America’s struggle with itself, at right (courtesy Fauquier Times), appeared just prior to anti-hate marchers, traveling on foot from Charlottesville, Virginia to Washington, DC, arriving for a night’s rest in Warrenton this past week.
It is an evident American cultural failing that quoting Dr. King and Malcolm X decades after their respective demises still yields timely, relevant learning. Their truths should have become cultural identities by now, as surely as did the Golden Rule.
But we do not learn from our past. We glorify the parts that comfort us in the Dream, and vilify those who would wake us from it. After the realization that white middle class complacency choked the civil rights movement, or that we are ultimately all of a single kind, these men went to their graves hoping for and expecting an awakening among the majority population.
But non-violence and shaming didn’t push us across the finish line, nor did universal faith.
The best we can hope for today is an awakening to the illusion of any finish line at all; that the cancer of racial identity struggle among us rarely fades for long (and then only by willful ignorance), and that it never dies. Hypocrisy is evergreen.
Some of the “aggrieved” white majority, sensing the sun setting on their Dream as masters of the universe, have adopted the language of the Israelis and the American civil rights movement. It’s a language that has kept a people with their backs to the sea and surrounded by enemies alive, and it’s won us the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ushered in desegregation and made it socially unacceptable to talk down people of another color. For a while.
Witness the pathetic rabble-rousing found recently on posters around Warrenton, Virginia: a Rockwellian print depicting white children in a classroom, saluting the American flag over the words, “We have the right to exist.” Pity the poor, oppressed white people behind those words.
Yes, indeed they do have a right, and have enjoyed it and been the royalty and owners of this country since before its founding.
Ask a Native American Indian how his people fared sharing this land. Ask a black man, and his father, and his. You get the picture?
Who, exactly, are these posters beseeching for “the right?”
Coates was correct: those who think they are white will do anything to remain in the Dream. Here, clearly, they’ve turned the table by playing the false victim. What a pathetic display of humane and social ignorance.
From this I learned what Coates meant when he wrote that not all those with naturally teased hair and dark skin are “black,” and not all with straight hair and blue eyes are “white.”
Apparently as a possessor of pale skin I’m to identify with these posters and others reading “Honor your history.” I reject that notion. I reject the false victimhood of those self-trapped in the Dream. Their heritage of violence, hate, and domination is not mine.
Settling in Virginia was no accident of birth for us. We chose to move here, and we chose to remain and invest our brief time on this Earth and no small portion of our treasure in a home and a business here. For the first time since arriving, though, I feel the urge to leave this place, to flee its mindless hypocrisy.
There is nowhere to go. Our recent election result maps informs me so. Acquiescence to and ignorance of our dog-whistling president, rousing misguided anger among us informs me so. Serial examples of over-policing in non-white communities informs me so.
The long, bleak struggle will continue through towns and cities rich with comfortable living for some, but not for others. The law is a straightforward process, but hearts and minds have always been difficult things to change. As the man in the movie said, “welcome to the desert of the real.”
As a close friend said, as well, “this is unsustainable.” He knew not how broadly his words would find relevance in my life. The Dream is unsustainable.
There will be no peace without justice. A lot of people have said that. These posters do not represent justice. They represent ignorance and hypocrisy.
Get more woke.
#racism #class #white #privilege #ignorance #hate #hypocrisy #King #Malcolm #Coates #Trump