You may have noticed that this blog is dedicated to writing about books. You may have also noticed that the United States is a fucked up place right now. What happened in Charlottesville should embarrass every person in this country and it is not something I can stay silent about.
I’ve been sitting back and listening for the last few days. I have been listening to my black and brown friends and taking their words to heart. I did not want to speak up for others who are capable of speaking up for themselves, nor did I want to dilute the voices of people who are being oppressed so that I can whine about how sad my heart is. But as I’ve listened I have seen black and brown people repeatedly ask their white friends for more. Asking white people for more. Here are the things that I’m doing. I am grateful for any other suggestions.
1. Listening to the words of people who are oppressed and doing my best not to filter it through my own experiences.
2. Believing them.
3. When I have questions, doing my own research. Not expecting any black person to speak for black people and understanding that it’s my job to get educated – not anyone else’s job to educate me. The internet exists. Google can lead me to answers to any questions I have.
4. Thinking critically about the people I surround myself with. I saw people saying over and over again that they thought the nazis were wrong but it was “only 20 of them” in a large group of non-racist protesters. A) Bullshit and B) Even if that were true, walking next to someone doing a nazi salute makes you a nazi. Punch nazis in the face, I’ve been saying it for months – I mean it. It’s not a joke. If you see a person openly being a nazi, fucking punch them in the face.
5. That brings me to 5. I don’t have any nazis to punch in the face because the nazis I know are hiding from me. Note that this doesn’t mean I don’t know any nazis. It may mean that I have done a good job making it clear that if they are open about their nazi-ness, I will punch them in the face. Good for me, but it means that others are going to have to punch them in the face when they are acting like nazis. This is why I’ve just made a donation to the Chicago Community Bond Fund (https://www.chicagobond.org/) which provides help to people arrested for various offenses, including protesting. They helped several people today who were arrested at SlutWalk. I hope that my money will be used to help someone who’s punched a fucking nazi in the face.
6. You may say, “Punching nazis in the face doesn’t change their hearts and minds,” to which I say, “I don’t give a shit about their hearts and minds, I give a shit about them being punched in the face.” Yes, I’d love to live in a world where we can sit down and talk to nazis and they’d stop being nazis. I don’t believe that’s possible. I will settle for A) All of them being repeatedly punched in the face and B) It being unacceptable to openly be a nazi. This means they go back to their holes and are quietly nazis, but I’d rather they sit around being nazis at home. They should feel ashamed. It’s a start.
7. Being willing to be uncomfortable.This means that, as I’ve seen said again and again by black and brown people today, talking about racism even when there is not “big” racist thing happening. It happens all around us, every day. I don’t want to see people posting on the internet or telling their friends about the awful thing they saw. I want people speaking up. I used to think this was hard – it’s not. It’s actually very easy. What I took for difficulty is just discomfort. It is a pittance to pay.
8. Putting my body on the line. The oppressed have given enough. It is not their job to change the system – white people are the system. If your knee jerk reaction to that is to say, “But *I* don’t . . . ” then I would encourage you to consider that this isn’t about you. None of it is about you – except the part where there are too many bystanders who swear they’re not racist but let nazis walk around without having ever been punched in the face. I live in a very liberal, smallish town where it’s easy to think that since non-nazis are in the majority, I don’t need to go out and protest. I don’t need to stand in solidarity. But I do. It is inconvenient and it is uncomfortable but it is important. It is literally a matter of life or death.
Normally I would link to a black or brown person because I believe that #ownvoices are important. But, again, what I’ve heard again and again is that a lot of black and brown people would really fucking appreciate it if white people would get their own shit figured out. So, here is a very uncomfortable thing to read, written by my friend Stan. If you think that you aren’t racist and that you aren’t part of the problem, then I would encourage you to read this with an open mind. I would encourage you to think about how these people are recruited and what they actually think.
Very few people would be willing to say, “I hate black people,” and very few people would even think that. But they don’t act accordingly and people are literally dying as a result. I think he explains where a lot of this comes from better than I can.
GO PUNCH A FUCKING NAZI IN THE FACE.