As a cis-white-male, I have struggled my whole life to understand, to accept, to embrace, to come to terms with, to empathize (NOT SYMPATHIZE), and to aid the voice and the struggle of marginalized communities and peoples. When John Sinclair asked Black Panther co-founder Huey P Newton what white people could do to help aid the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Movement, Newton told Sinclair to start the White Panthers (which ironically enough was mistaken for a white supremacist organization).
I have tried to give room for these peoples to be their own platform, to work everyday to try to embody the belief that not everybody needs white cisgender men to help them. I often challenge the rhetoric used by the parties I have come ally myself with, in hopes of creating better dialogue, but it is always seen as an attack. I have taken a violent stance against racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, but I just get chalked up to as a thug. I have worked everyday to embrace newer feminist and gender theories and criticisms, but I must admit I am often still in the dark.
It is always white self-described liberals who are the ones to cast the first stone. Interestingly enough, it is also such people who think that Facebook likes and shares, holding placards and chanting unoriginal and uninteresting slogans, and those who abide by the law when they are protesting things that throw the stones. Slam poets who call themselves revolutionaries for writing poems. “Kayaktivists” who float in the middle of the river (in a kayak made of plastic I might add) to protest the movement of an oil rig through their local waterway (fucking NIMBY slime). These passive aggressive types who will march against police brutality but call them when you threaten to kick their ass for their enacting their white privilege in public and denigrating actual activists. Portland has filled up with them flocking form all over the world to appear all the more progressive in their social media feed to their friends they met while backpacking through Europe on their parents dime.
You see real Oregonians founded the fucking Earth Liberation Front. Oregonians burn down ski lodges, tree-sit, riot, blow up car lots, etc. etc. That is activism. Not this panty waist bullshit I have been putting up with ever since moving back home 5 years ago. I remember the Occupy Portland eviction. The town came out in force, which I was moved by, much like the initial march. The cops started to move in to forcibly remove the Occupiers as I stood not but a few yards up the hill trying to decide if I was going to start throwing bricks that lay in a pile at my feet. Yet again this wasn’t my fight, and I didn’t want to fuck up somebody else’s desire to be non-violent.
But then I heard one the most painful things to ever enter my ears:
“Don’t hurt me; I’m non-violent!”
Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rolled in their graves! It echoed in my head like a ricocheted BB “Don’t hurt me; I’m nonviolent!” Without the catalyst of violence, nonviolence is just pacifism, which is the opposite of activism. What makes one nonviolent is not the outcome but the intention. If you are just avoiding fighting or getting hurt (cause you KNOW you’re going to lose against the heavily militarized Portland Police Department Riot Squad) that is cowardice. Gandhi and his followers walked into gun fire in the salt mines. King walked into fire hoses, police with batons, and police dogs. They used their own bodies as a display as to what violence achieves. Their intention was to get hurt, imprisoned, or even killed. That is the very point of nonviolence.
But white progressive America has forgotten (if they ever knew). They are under their suburban delusion that they are never going to get hurt, that life means possibility and pleasure. But if you ask any marginalized community, specifically those of color and poverty, we know that everyday is gamble. And when at the end of our wits, sick of being subjugated, we cannot expect to be heard. We cannot expect to be listened to. We cannot expect our chance will ever come. We must take what we can, stake our claim, demand our justice at the cost of white middle-class “decency.”
So when white America chastises the #BlackLivesMatter Movement (hash-tagging that is not activism for those who haven’t been paying attention) I want to crawl into a hole and die. When my own mother equates her sexual marginalization with race marginalization, and wonders why those vicious black people did that to Bernie Sanders, I want to cut out the veins that carry her blood. When Bernie Sanders castigates the girls for their “attitude,” right before he tells a large group of well meaning white liberals how he marched with Dr. King (fucking hypocrite), I want to belly up to the bar and make the rest of this kangaroo court election blur away with every drink. When the progressive media denies Marissa Jenae Johnson her claim to her views against white privilege by stating that she has “Christian privilege,” I want to cut out my liberal heart and eat it before every black person I meet as an apology.
Moderate white America, here is your answer. Middle America, well meaning white liberals, and progressives of all genders, sexes, and preferences, here is our mandate. We must find creative ways in which to negate our privilege, if even for a moment, and actually join these causes we claim to support. I can say for myself, from this moment forward, I will do my utmost to shelve my privilege for the sake of racial equality, much the same as I will also try to do the same for sexual, gender, and economic equality.