It never fails – each time Black people are murdered by state violence via police, or by some vigilante pretending to fear for his life, or by a mass shootertrying to avenge white man unvirility, the President of the United States calls for “unity” to stem racial hate.
We heard this clarion call six years ago when President Barack Obama asked the nation to engage in “racial understanding” after 21-year-old Dylann Roof killed nine worshippers during a Wednesday night Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
We heard it again from President Joe Biden on May 15, a day after 18-year-old Payton Gendron killed 10 people at Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo, New York. He drove three hours from Broome County, a hotbed of Trumpism and white nationalism and where Confederate flags are omnipresent and sold at the county fair. Gendron was dressed in tactical gear and the n-word was written in white on the barrel of his AR-15. During his livestream of the attack, he apologized to another screeching white man for almost shooting him. His 180-page manifesto made it very clear that his goal was to “kill as many Blacks as possible,” “avoid dying,” and “spread ideals.” Despite all this evidence, he had the gall to plead not guilty”during his arraignment.
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“We must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America,” the President said while citing this shooting in an address at an annual law enforcement ceremony held at the US Capitol.
Who is this we, Mr. President? That stain on the soul of America – isn’t that the blood of the victims of race hate? And you want us, the people who are potential future victims, to help clean that up? Calling for unity places yet another burden on Black people.
Black people don’t need anymore “thoughts and prayers.” We don’t need to clasp hands, march or sing together. I hope the President doesn’t plan to show up at a victim’s funeral to sing “Amazing Grace,” that song written by a former slave trader who raped Black women. We don’t need to hear anymore rhetorical calls for unity, racial understanding or talk about forgiveness while yet another degenerate white supremacist hangs out in some dark corner of the web, studying other mass shooters, being irradiated by Fox News, drafts yet another manifesto inspired by the Tucker Carlsons and Donald Trumps of the world and makes plans to kill us again–because white folks can’t keep their cradles filled. Because white folks are afraid of immigrants taking over the land their illegal immigrant ancestors stole. Because angry entitled white men aren’t thriving in a racist capitalist system that their own people designed and maintain.
Do I need to remind folks that the Buffalo massacre is just the latest high-profile mass shooting that was motivated by hate? Remember the killings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; a Kosher grocery store in New Jersey; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Asking Black folks and other targets of racial hatred to unify while we are being harmed by systemic racism, dehumanized by right-wing pundits, and serial killed is the penultimate form of gaslighting. What exactly are we supposed to unite with? The repeated calls foreveryone to “do the work” to unite against hatred overlooks the fundamental fact that it’s whites — and only whites — who must work to fix the racist structures in our society and do the serious long overdue therapeutic and spiritual work of cleansing their bodies and culture of congenital racism.
When I look at young white dudes like Dylann Roof, Kyle Rittenhouse, and Payton Gendron, it reminds me that these virulent forms of racism are not the bastion of impending dinosaurs. I am not deluded into thinking that a new generation of white people has finally evolved into enlightenment and just basic humanity. No, these youthful killers remind me that racism in America is a family heirloom, that upholding it is an intergenerational mandate, and that white parenting is a death cult. White supremacy requires a new generation of young people to refresh itself by shedding our blood while law enforcement, the FBI, state legislatures, and the White House pretends to be feckless.
President Biden even included a reference to white supremacy as “poison” in his address. Yet there is never any acknowledgement of the white supremacy of our government, its leaders, and its policies. Still, this platitudinous call for “unity” is forever trotted out as the antidote to this poison. As if Black people are doing anything to deserve these terroristic attacks and slaughters because we, somehow, are falling short in “unifying” a nation built and run on racist divisiveness.
Tell me, how exactly are Black folks supposed toaddress communities filled with angry white people who feel defeated by powerful forces and are looking for revenge? How are we supposed confront the plight of these angry white men, whether it is their declining life expectancy, the rampant heroin epidemic in white communities, their jobs that aren’t coming back, their deteriorating education and health outcomes, and their withering nuclear families? How are we supposed tohelp them deal with the fact that their older notions of patriarchy and racial superiority are being frazzled? And that their precious notion of “majority rule,” which dates power and control in the USA, is rapidly dwindling?
According to a growing number of studies, it is white men who are stockpiling guns at an alarming rate. Data shows that Americans who are most “emotionally and morally attached” to their guns are 65 percent male and 78 percent white. What are the targets of racism supposed to do about that, or the hundreds of hate groups that The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking and attributes their growth to racially divisive language and actions by Donald Trump.
And it is this very dynamic that is driving our federal government and several states to outlaw access to safe, legal abortion a half century after Roe v. Wade became law. Their only goal is to increase the white birthrate—by any means necessary.
Black folks bear no blame or shame in this crisis of whiteness. We never told white men that if they work hard and pay their dues, they will be rewarded with a living wage, a good family, a roof over their heads, safety, and security. We know that America ain’t no meritocracy. We didn’t lead these angry white men to believe that they are entitled to all these things simply by virtue of their exceptionality, work ethic, and being the bedrock of America. This is their belief system, their narrative, their whites-only definition of the American Dream.
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And Black people aren’t responsible for the right-wing media propaganda that promotes disenfranchised white men’s sense of victimhood and feeds their rage. We’re not the ones giving birth to, raising, brainwashing, and recruiting these racists. A Washington Post article from 2019, warns white parents about how white supremacists are recruiting teen boys online.
These. Tragedies. Are. Not. Our. Fault. And these insane calls for unity completely overlook all history, facts, and realities to shift the blame onto our shoulders. Just who are we supposed to unite with to address the fact that whiteness is ground zero for public and racialized violence in this country?
As their rage grows and festers, many of the White people finding community and a sense of purpose via maniacs like Donald Trump, racist websites, Tucker Carlson, FOX News, are being whipped into a frenzy of fear and self-preservation, too vested in whiteness to realize that their anger is being exploited. The oligarchs don’t feel their pain, nor do they empathize with their fears in a shifting world. They have no plans to take any action on their behalf. Likewise, the government is not going to do anything substantive to protect Black people and other marginalized groups from racial violence.
The day after President Biden gave his tired rhetorical call for unity, relatives of shooting victim 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield paid tribute to her in an emotional press conference. Whitfield had stopped at the Tops grocery store after leaving the nursing home where she provided daily care to her elderly husband. Her teary-eyed son Garnell Whitfield Jr., the retired fire commissioner of Buffalo, spoke about his family and community’s anger. But it was especially heartbreaking to hear him describe how a community of Black folks have tried to be the best kind of citizens and are still slaughtered by a white supremacist.
“We try our best to be good citizens, to be good people. We believe in god. We treat people with decency, and we love even our enemies,” Whitfield said. And you expect us to keep doing this over and over and over and over again. Forgive and forget. While the people we elect and trust in offices around this country do their best not to protect us, not to consider us equal, not to love us back.”
Not to love us back.
Whiteness will never love us back. It will never respect our humanity or good citizenship. We don’t bear any responsibility in this mess. Our own country has declared and is waging war upon us. We know who the enemy is. They have stopped hiding. They are in plain sight. The only people that Black folks need to unite with are each other and perhaps the handful of white folks who have proven to be actual allies—those willing to put their whiteness and their very lives to stop the next mass murder. It is the white people who live among these fascists who need to identify and isolate their most dangerous neighbors and family members.
Decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who white America has a necrophiliac relationship with, said, “The thing wrong with America is white racism . . . It’s time for America to have an intensified study on what’s wrong with white folks.” Meanwhile, Black people need to turn inward, marshal our resources, arm ourselves, and have serious discussions about practicing self-defense. Because trust and believe, this tragedy is going to happen again. And again. And again. As will the hollow calls for unity that inevitably follow.
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