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For all of us engaged in the fight for the hearts, minds and souls of white people, what’s happening with Trump and the Justice Department taking on affirmative action and “discrimination” against white people on college campuses, is critically important.
We cannot dismiss “discrimination against white people” as right wing delusion. This is hundreds of years old, sophisticated strategy, to align white people’s deepest fears, resentments, and aspirations of security and prosperity, to white supremacy. To mobilize white support for structural inequality that actually keeps most white people poor and working class, while blaming people of color rather then the ruling class. To pay the “wages of whiteness” as W.E.B. Du Bois called it, giving white people license to assert their “superiority” over people of color, to take out their anger and pain on people of color, to take everything they can from people of color’s labor, cultures, and lives, all the while the ruling class consolidates wealth, power and legitimacy.
Our primary task is not to tell white people that they are racist and have white privilege, although that is at times necessary. Our primary task is breaking the hold of white supremacy on white lives and moving white people into multiracial democratic struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. Our primary task is to awaken as many white people as we can to the nightmare of white supremacist capitalism and what it is doing against communities of color, and how it is maintaining and expanding economic misery and spiritual poverty in white communities.
We must confront the spiritual crisis in white communities that turns we who are white into moral monsters, as James Baldwin named decades ago. The spiritual crisis of hate developed, nurtured, encouraged, and celebrated by institutional power that turned poor and working class European Americans into anti-Black, anti-Indigenous white people who, consciously and implicitly, understand racism as a path to getting a better life for their/our kids, a path built by extracting wealth, power and dignity from people of color.
We must confront the spiritual crisis that led white parents to bring their children to lynchings as a rite of passage. The spiritual crisis of everyday that Trump is in power. The spiritual crisis of the ritual in white society of drinking the poison that people of color, and Black people in particular, are lazy, inferior, criminal, conniving and trying to take everything from hard working Americans.
And we must resurrect the culture of solidarity deep in poor and working class European cultures, and ignite the radical imagination that has over and over again existed in European American communities and scared the hell out of the ruling class — from indentured European servants joining enslaved Africans in revolts, to European Americans breaking the colorline for love, family, friendship, and community, to European Americans fighting for multiracial democracy and socialism.
For those of us working in white communities, working against racism and for justice, our primary task is to unite as many white people as we can to multiracial movements to slow down and bring down the agenda of white supremacy, to advance and win the agenda of racial justice on every level, and to do so with the prophetic message that racial justice means we end the evil, we throw down the poison, we reject the agenda of hate, that turns white people into moral monsters, and that we embrace, nurture, support, celebrate the values of solidarity, of a commonwealth of justice and liberation, and that we who are currently racialized as white, awaken and take action, to be abolitionists, freedom riders, allies, accomplices, and comrades for racial justice, comrades in the struggle to all get free.
My work isn’t primarily to convince white people that they have white privilege. My work is to awaken the hearts and minds of white people to the reality that white supremacy devours our humanity, and turns us into monsters against communities of color, and that racial justice is key to all getting free.
My work is to support racial justice and anti-racist education, organizing, leadership and action in white communities and with white people building multiracial alliances and justice efforts — born not of white guilt and shame, not from “wanting to help people of color”, but born from rage for this brutal system, love for our shared humanity, and a spiritual awakening to beloved community and collective liberation.
Let’s get free!
This post was originally published on the author’s Medium blog and is republished here with his permission.
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