The migration to a new site and hosting service left quite a few DH the Blog posts behind. Frustrating at first. Now I’m enjoying or reflecting while returning to posts from two and three years ago.
This one, a quote from Leanne Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love, I posted over and over in the midst of a wild semester for black folks in general, Black Lives Matter as a movement, the (latest) rise of black students on PWI campuses around the country, and Mini Wiconi protests.
Seems appropriate to return to this now, again, with the murder of the young white woman protestor Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, but also with the Trump on the verge of pardoning Joe Arpaio, the truly disgusting racist and vile sheriff in Arizona whose detention centers were notorious spaces for rape and humiliation. This is also a Now when well-meaning liberals and humanists are expressing their fears that dismantling Confederate statues may lead to dismantling monuments to people like Columbus (Story of OJ “…..ok?” shrug), and news has been circulating that a Puerto Rican man, Alexander Ramos, was identified as one of the white supremacists marchers beating young Deandre Harris in a video from the rally.
Organizers don’t like it when people exclaim, “How did we get here?!” Normally, I don’t either. But this here…it isn’t the same here as there. I don’t have the same questions. I don’t want to know how we have KKK-affiliated or sympathizing women and men (didn’t see children in the video, but who knows) marching on UVA’s campus.
I want to know how we, Latinxs folks of all races, have failed so miserably at learning the lessons of empire that a young man from a still colonized island feels empowered to beat a boy who looks like he could be his neighbor in black ass Carolina, P.R. in the name of White Power? White-presenting Latinx folks have white privilege. We know this. As in the past, some of them are also activating their white nationalism. So what are we, Afrx Latinx and African Americans, calling for when we call them–many of whom are, to be really honest, our own family members–into coalition? What about brown-skinned and Afrx Latinx folks who also harbor and act on their own racist ideas, self-hate, prejudice, and antiblackness in this moment?
And Heather Heyer, my god. But also Tyler Magill, library staff member at UVA, was assaulted during the protests and suffered a stroke as a result (donate to his GoFundMe). White protestors who, in the tradition of others who came before, showed up and held space.
Then there’s the white nationalists, the ones who would call me animal, beast, bitch, (black) cunt, and other ugly things, the ones who would rather I didn’t exist (although they need me since, as Spillers pointed out, “if I were not here, I would have to be invented”) who are now posting post-rally videos nearly in tears because their paranoia and rage has turned inside out against them. To watch one of them (no I won’t name him) on the news, anxious, twitching, defending himself against charges that he is cruel or unfeeling, look around the room as though a terrible monster (or perhaps a clawing black miasma, musky, gorilla ready with claws out and shackles shaking) is about to get him at any moment…
I couldn’t help but feel for him. Pity. Disgust. And, in the end, terror.
This is what white supremacy hath wroth. This is a poison designed for you and for me and for our children and for the water and the earth itself. It is the only equal opportunity elixir left in the world. White supremacy has left no one unscathed. We aren’t all dying at equal rates, but in drinking it we are all still burning alive. Or walking dead.
And despite that, saving him, the man who was at that rally with multiple guns and at least one knife, ready to carve people who look like me from the world from himself and the world cannot be my job.
And it can’t be my job to save you, Alejandro Ramos, from yourself or the world either.
[And even as I write that, with defiance and rage, I am not sure…I’m just not sure]
I do know I only feel pity, true pity and disgust, for one of you. I feel pity, disgust, and the pain of betrayal from the other.
When I read we are all “from places that have been fucked up through no fault of our own,” I read it as a call to those on the other side of those Tiki torches (that name, wow, speaking of coloniality and branding, never mind their refutation of the white nationalist hands holding them). As a way to make the space to do more than reach across people of color, the poor, colonized, murdered with impunity, and abolitionist and conspiratorial white people. It is a way to deconstruct what we think we know about who we are when stop drinking the poison: What will we need to heal and confront if we want to be human again (instead of some of us being Human and some of us not)? What do I feel when I know a man hates me so hard his teeth hurt but I still find a way to bear some of his torture and I do it despite myself? Who do we call kin when we know kin can kill us? What does the work of being human do to me, what does it do to him (who has no idea), what are we doing to each other, where do we go from here, and so on, and on, and buffalo on…