From Walk Out to Vote Out -- Dred Feminist Rant #11 -- March 14, 2018
I am so proud of the students today who walked out of school to protest gun violence and the cowardly politicians supporting the NRA. I hope young people understand that this journey is not a sprint, but a marathon as they organize the help bounce these puppet politicians out of office by voting as soon as they are eligible. My message to them: Don't ever let anyone persuade you that activism and voting don't make a difference. The earth is counting on you to save the planet, and humanity is counting on you to save our futures.
Along the way, I hope you learn about the real history of guns in America, and why opposition to gun control is always linked to white male insecurities and white supremacy as an ideology. White supremacy is a body of ideas -- it is not a race of people. It’s a collection of ideas to structure a hierarchy in society to generate wealth for a privileged few. People mistake it for simple hatred, but it's much more than that. It's a way of organizing society to protect the financial interests of a few people at the top. They manipulate those who somehow think they're only a lottery ticket or college diploma away from joining them.
As a worldview, white supremacy in the US is comprised of racism, homophobia, Christian nationalism, ableism, sexism, anti-environmentalism, misogyny, transphobia, war mongering, and Second Amendment absolutism. There are so many parts of this thing called white supremacy that I think the most frequent mistake people make is working on only one aspect of it (such as racism) and thinking they are seeing the whole thing. You have to see it as a totalizing system, a toxic sea in which we all swim, so that in the final analysis every white person is not a white supremacist and every white supremacist is not white. White supremacy is the ideology, while white privilege is its practice. This is similar to how sexist and racist pornography provides a violent theory of how people should be treated, and rape becomes the practice.
Most people are unaware they have beliefs that support white supremacy. That's why calling people names never works. Ever call someone a racist and have them listen to you?
We have the opportunity to help people -- even angry white men -- understand they can make different choices about how to be in the world as a human being with human rights.
White identity is not the problem. White supremacist ideas are. These fearful men think they are defending themselves against the terrible "other", but instead the guns are most often used against their families and in their own suicides. Too frequently it's a tragic combination: mass murder as a prelude to suicide. Those who blame this violence on mental illness are under-analyzing the problem, and unfairly blaming people with mental disabilities for the toxicity that is in America's DNA.
The most self-righteous claim they are protecting themselves from the overreach of the government. That is foolish. If the government wants to kill someone, they don't have to send in the police or the military anymore and risk officers getting killed. They can use a drone and just drop a bomb. All the guns in the world will not protect anyone from a drone bomb. This is evidence that their fears have not caught up to reality. If they are going to challenge the power of the government, at least they should do it in a way that makes sense without the suicidal bad theatrics that hurt so many innocent people.
They cannot fill the hollowness of their souls with bullets and other weapons of destruction. Their fear will not protect them. They have no control over themselves so they seek power over others. It's not just about toxic masculinity; it's about the emptiness of the human soul that discovers consumerism and gluttony doesn't make one feel less anxious and hungry. We have a president who has every material advantage possible in our society but his insecurities are projected out as obviously as the McDonald's arches down the road. More is never enough for a hollow, shallow person.
They must first learn to love themselves in order to love others. Forgiving others requires forgiving yourself. This requires being honest with oneself to engage in self-recovery, self-empowerment, and self-determination. It also requires avoiding the call-out culture, using one's "wokeness" to criticize others' humanity just because they don't share one's views. Calling in is an radical practice that seeks accountability through love. The goal is to not give oppression a pass, but to give other human beings a chance.
We elders are willing to teach and students are ready to lead. We need to continue to build human connections to each other, to protect each others' human rights to live safely in a society free from fear of violence, not just in our schools, but in our homes, our communities, our stores, our movie theaters. We must see human rights as a way of life, not only as aspirational dreams cynics tell us will never be achieved.
Young people will not be confined to the identity boxes of the past, or the lies from naysayers that nothing can be done. They live intersectional lives and understand how to create connections to others in ways unforeseen by those who provided these marvelous, dangerous tools of social media. Those seeking to control or contain young people better get out the way before they get overrun by the fury of their outrage at the injustices they have inherited as bloody artifacts of the past. I salute their courage and eagerly look forward to their next steps for justice at the ballot box and in the streets.