PEERS READ THIS!
Updated: Apr 22
I think we could survive this. I think we could have a chance as a society if white people didn’t exist. By white people I mean those that believe themselves to be white conceptually. "White" as in, those who adhere to an ideology of supremacy, imperialism, and those who don’t actively push against their inherent privilege. (For more on whiteness as a concept, seek Frantz Fanon)
And there are those with non-white skin who are perpetuating and adhering to this dangerous ideology as well. Because there's nothing you can do about the color of your skin, or the way that you emerge from the womb. But there are actions you can take to unlearn bias and push back against racist ideologies that literally shape and maintain the world to oppress specific groups of people.
I hope I'm not speaking too much in generalities.
I really believe that without whiteness we could survive this (Corona, I mean, and life/existence in general).
We could reverse climate change. Electric vehicles would be incentivized. "Developed" nations would stop raping and pillaging for oil in "developing" nations. Single-use plastic would be forsaken for more efficient products. We'd prioritize re-use and efficiency over waste for the sake of a controlled economy and billion dollar corporations.
We could fix the healthcare system and stop the for-profit schemes of Big Pharma. We could allow for equal access to education for all. People would open their minds once advancing outside of their hometowns and let the cold rigid dogma that had shaped their worlds melt away as it is tested by the fires of Truth, love, and acceptance.
We could end slavery and transform the prison system from one of dehumanization to one of rehabilitation. We could end the "war on drugs" and every other war that targets and vilifies specific communities like young black men and black people in general.
We could give young people of limited means other options rather than the military (or the police academy). They wouldn't have to choose between feeling like a "nobody" and adhering to a propaganda based way of thinking that sends young people out into the world to kill other young people in the name of patriarchy and liberty but for the sake of profit and greed.
I think that whiteness thrives off of two main things 1) money and 2) superiority. I think that ideals of whiteness give the followers of its philosophy those two things. By adhering to whiteness you will always have access to money, or at least you will maintain that illusion of being closer to the lap of profit. But for sure, you will always have your superiority. Because whiteness suggests the idea of blackness, a polar opposite, an inferior. If there is rich, there is poor, if there is better, there is lesser, right, wrong, pure, dirty.
Even in minor, non institutional ways, your whiteness affects us. You believe yourself to be untouchable. You believe yourself unworthy of anything bad, you subconsciously distance yourself from the woes of others, as though they do not concern you, as though we are not all connected, as though we are not all one. Your ignorance is incredibly dangerous. Your biased decisions elect leaders with the power to slay thousands from incompetence and intentional greed. Your neglect and majority has left us in terrible hands.
Imperialism is fundamental to this nation. Obama did his best but that is the fact. Racism is not a tumor to be removed but a spinal system that predicates and sustains this nation's identity (For this direct quote, seek Ta Nehisi Coates).
I am not the first to say this and I will not be the last.
There is a long road ahead for those who seek to infiltrate this US political body and redirect the intention and identity of this nation. It is as tricky as operating the hardware/body of an octopus with the software/mind of an eagle.
They have allowed this to happen, they have brought us as humankind to the edge of ruin, they are actively ruining us now (For this direct quote, seek James Baldwin). And catastrophes like the corona virus only highlight the inefficiencies and injustices of our society. These are the problems that corona has exposed. I can only hope that after the curve is flattened, we don't return to the way things were. I can only hope that with all of the death and chaos the candle of late stage capitalism extinguishes and is blown away.
And me. What am I doing to help? What can I do? What am I willing to do?
Vote? For sure. Give money? For sure, though I act on the inclination to give far less than I should. Speak out? Okay, but my feed is full of like-minded individuals. We all set our own algorithm to see and hear what we want to, what we agree with.
I don't see Trump's tweets, I see the snarky reply left by a non-binary liberal teen or celebrity of color. I don't see the boomer article, I see the parodied headline revision left by The Onion. But this is beside the point...
I have INCREDIBLE privilege. It is gigantic in countless ways. And yet, at the same time, I feel powerless. There are people who look like me, who are from where I'm from, who believe what I believe, that I don't feel that I can help in any large-scale or substantial way. There are people who are polar opposites of me that I don't feel that I can help in any large-scale or substantial way.
Of course I dream for myself, and for my family, and for the world. I want to give like Rihanna. And to contribute like Beyoncé. Real money, real institutional change, real government redirection. But for now...what can I do? What should I do?
I have this education, this knowledge, this unique perspective: reaching back into the conservative, situated in the creative, enamored with the liberal, respectful of the realistic, related to the delusional and naive, protective of the optimistic...All of these within me. All very much real. So I contribute that, marking myself down on this page of history. This is what I think, feel, and hope.
As I am mapping myself out within this point in history, this landscape of corona, I must address Argentina. As corona spread across the world, I was in Argentina. I was meant to be there for four months, a full semester.
Before I arrived in Argentina there were talks of students in China delaying their semester for two weeks while waiting for the impact of the disease to blow over. At that point the administration figured they'd make up for lost time by canceling the spring break.
About three weeks into my semester. I started getting disappointing reports about students in Italy, who had to be sent home entirely because of the spread of the virus. A few weeks later and this included all of Europe.
In the last few weeks that I was in South America I took a trip to Sao Paolo, Brazil and later to Tigre, Argentina. I traveled, desperately hoping to be exempt from the global sites closing one by one like falling dominoes.
This might have been my delusion. This definitely was my selfishness. But this was also my self discovery. At this point in South America I had been truly living, unlocking parts of life that I'd never been able to before. It was like for the first time, I was absolutely unhindered. Free.
So I kept corona in my periphery. I barely uttered the word. I treated it like the name of Voldemort. I wanted to remain in my revelry, my fantasy. I wanted all of the bad and disease to go away as I stayed in South America to find myself.
And to experiment with a language foreign to my tongue.
And to experience strong wine, warm breezes, and Latin dances.
When it was time for my domino to fall, I took it personally. I had the weekend to leave before the border closed and prevented all travel.
Where the virus left me, and yes I made it about me, was in a state of feeling extremely robbed. You have to understand that I speak with my Higher Power everyday. And so They understood how much this life, this freedom meant to me. They understood that they were relinquishing me back to a life of half-living, of limited expression. Because when I say I was experiencing things, I was EXPERIENCING things.
And for the sake of my poetic rumination, I am going to further make this about me, just for a second. I feel like I have connected myself, perhaps absurdly, to a long history of people, who have had to leave Argentina suddenly, with a day's notice or less, without getting to hug and kiss those they love goodbye. These leaders, reporters, activists, homosexuals, and youth fled military dictatorships, persecution, and economic collapse.
There were elements of unrest within Argentina that drove them to exile, but there were also elements of life, love, and home that made their expulsion incredibly painful. In my case, Argentina was not the turmoil. Argentina was merely arming itself from the turmoil surrounding it. Still in my case, I found something in Argentina, and in South America as a whole, that pulled me close, that I deeply regretted letting go of. The brief life that I had there, I seek to find again, in a more lasting way. I will form my life out of the raw freedom that I encountered there.
4 I wonder if God grows weary of watching the same things happen time and time again, Didn’t this happen 100 years ago and 100 years before that? There is some truth to being taught the same lesson repeatedly, forced to remain at the same level until you learn it. Meanwhile, there is some truth to scaling a mountain in a circular fashion, seeing similar sights but being higher than before. I can only hope that I am ascending. I can only hope that we are all ascending.
In 1990 at a Pride march in NY, there was a leaflet entitled QUEERS READ THIS that was distributed. It contained several essays written by anonymous people who identified as queer. It had numbered passages and was written in a similar fashion to my essays above. I just wanted to shout out this work as a main inspiration of this piece.
In the same way that QUEERS READ THIS is written by several different voices, I attributed a different primary line of thinking, or a different persona to each section. I agree with just about everything that I state above although I'll admit that each section represents only a facet of my personality and personal beliefs.
I hope you were able to take something from this piece. Writing it has been very therapeutic. I think that I'm rarely political but, like I mentioned earlier, I really want to mark myself down in this time period and publish my voice in some way. So, here it is.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe!