Fuck centrism

If you say you love this country, then you must understand that America has always been like this — it was founded on white supremacy [1], and it will continue slouching toward its violent white supremacist ends unless we use all of our power to destroy it.

If you say you love this country, then use your love to imagine a wholly different world — one where we work together to dismantle not only white supremacy, but also the white supremacist imperialist capitalist ableist cisheteropatriarchy. [2]

Not sure what these words mean? Not sure if they are actual, real problems? Google them. Read this. Before you draw false equivalences, propagate strawman arguments, and swallow the myths of American exceptionalism, do your homework. All of the research has already been conducted, all the literature has already been written, and all the conversations have already been had. [3] Go read them, and inform yourself. Before we learn to imagine the new, we must unlearn the old. [4]

Not comfortable with these words because they are too “extreme”? Oppose Trump, yet prefer a more “centrist, moderate” approach? Then be honest with yourself about what you are willing to stand against, and what you are willing to tolerate.

Look. Centrism protects the status quo. Centrism is an accomplice to oppression. Centrism sticks its head in the sand and pretends that oppressors and oppressed wield the same power. Centrism equates destruction of property with destruction of human life. Centrism sends one police unit to protect KKK/Nazi “protesters” and another to open fire on black/brown/indigenous protesters. Centrism mourns the death of a single white woman more than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of black and brown people.[5] Centrism says, “Be patient. You haven’t suffered enough yet.”

Fuck centrism. [6]

If you say you love this country, then understand that “justice is what love looks like in public.” [7] If you want to learn more about what justice looks like, start here (literally click anywhere).

We are now at a precipice. One day, when you are old and grey, will you look back upon your life knowing that you did not speak up when it mattered — because it was easier to stay silent, because centrism was more comfortable, more convenient?

Or will you be at peace knowing that you helped write new laws, save lives, and build a new social order — that you helped alter the course of your country forever? [8]

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[1] See, e.g., indigenous genocide, indigenous land theft, slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, prison exception to 13th amendment, Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment, U.S. covert/overt interference in other democratic regimes. This is obviously a non-exhaustive list. Also, by “America,” I mean “the United States of America” because America is the name of 2 continents.

[2] See bell hooks, Understanding Patriarchy. Note: there are many other -isms I have omitted.

[3] Scott Woods, “A Conversation On Race Is A Horrible Goal” (Nov 11, 2015), (“A conversation is a horrible goal. I’m not interested in having your version of a race conversation. . . . I want your race activism. . . . I don’t want to have any more conversations as goals. All of the necessary conversations have been happening. We published the conversations. We recorded the conversations on video. We turned the conversations into poems and memes and songs and TV shows. We gave the conversations away for free. We put the conversations in all of your libraries​. .​ . . We codified the conversations and made them classes and presentations and conferences. . . . All you got to do is sit down and listen.”).​

​[4] Nancy Scheibner, “The Art of Making Possible” (“And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle / For all those myths and oddments / Which oddly we have acquired / And from which we would become unburdened / To create a newer world / To transform the future into the present.”).

[5] See, e.g., Hari Ziyad, “Heather Heyer and the white ‘allies’ who have ‘done more’ than us for our own liberation” (Aug 15, 2017).

[6] See Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (Apr 16, 1963) (“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'”).

[7] Cornel West, “Justice Is What Love Looks Like in Public.”

[8] Audre Lorde, “Your Silence Will Not Protect You” (“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. . . . Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.”).

Stop white supremacy

A lot of black and brown and Muslim people were murdered recently.

Stop white supremacists. Stop anti-blackness. Stop Islamophobia. Stop xenophobia. Stop the police. Don’t stop reading yet —

1. If you’re not an alt-right white supremacist, why are you mad? I wasn’t talking about you.

2. Wait no, I was talking about you. I was talking about all of us. This isn’t just about white people (even though it often is). Anti-blackness is everywhere. The police officer and self-appointed vigilante who killed Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, respectively, are Hispanic. The police officer who killed Akai Gurley is Asian American. Three of the six police officers who killed Freddie Gray are black. (None of them are in prison.)

3. We are all complicit.

When we talk about “bad/sketchy/ghetto” neighborhoods, but we just mean “not white.” When we “don’t see color” but all of our friends are white or light-skinned. When “some of our best friends” are black/brown/Muslim/gay/bi/trans, but we wouldn’t want to fuck them. When we would want to fuck them, but we wouldn’t want to marry them.

When we smoke pot on the weekends and take molly at Coachella but also think unarmed black men are dangerous for selling pot or cigars. When everything in our IG and Snap is #lit, goals, bae, and YASSSS, but black people who speak African American Vernacular English are “uneducated.”

When we change our Facebook photo to stand with Paris but not with Beirut or Baghdad. When we pull our #DicksOutForHarambe and want #JusticeforCecil but don’t know about #FinsburyPark or #NabraHassanen or #CharleenaLyles. When animal deaths make us sad but not human deaths.

When we love that new expensive white-owned “fusion” restaurant, but don’t want to pay more than $7 at an immigrant-owned Chinese/Mexican/Arab/etc. restaurant.

When we think Arab mass murderers are “terrorists,” but white mass murderers are “gunmen” and “van drivers” with “mental illnesses” in no way radicalized by fundamentalist Christianity / Reddit / Breitbart.

When we think it’s okay to bomb Syria to protect its children from chemical weapons but that’s definitely not the same thing as Syria hypothetically bombing us to protect our children from being chemically poisoned by elected officials in Flint, MI, or to protect indigenous people from being gassed by police officers at Standing Rock.

When we say Islam oppresses women with the hijab and the driving ban, but we love celebrities who rape, beat, and sexually harass women like Kobe Bryant, Casey Affleck, and Bill Clinton (don’t fight me on this, just google it please).

When we talk about how Democrats have alienated the “working class,” when we really mean the “white working class,” as if black and brown people and immigrants aren’t part of the working class.

When we say we don’t like “identity politics” or “silly bathroom bills” and would rather focus on the “real issues,” like “the economy,” as if the white working class isn’t an “identity.” As if police brutality and vigilante violence aren’t “real issues.” As if safety for transgender people in bathrooms without fear of being murdered by transphobic people isn’t a “real issue.” As if loss of income and wealth from employment discrimination and housing discrimination aren’t “economic issues.”

When we heap praise on white / non-black / non-Muslim, etc. people for allyship but don’t give the same credit to black and brown mostly women and LGBTQ folks who have been saying the same thing for decades and centuries.

When we say MLKJ would have wanted protesters to be “more peaceful,” even though Dr. King was considered a radical in his day. Even though he said the greatest threat to racial equality was not the KKK but “the white moderate” who agrees with your goals but not with your methods/tone. (The same Dr. King who called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”)

4. If you agree with my post but think I’m being “too aggressive,” I will refer you back to what MLKJ said about moderates. Don’t create a false equivalence between criticism of violence and actual violence.

I wish I could also say that I don’t care if you think I’m being an aggressive anti-white/anti-male bitch/etc. I care a lot, but fuck it because as the brilliant Nayyirah Waheed wrote:

‘no’
might make them angry,
but
it will make you free.
– if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger.

5. If you want to learn more, I can recommend some great insta accounts to follow. DM me 🙂

If you would like to put your money where your hashtags are, consider donating to the families of Nabra Hassanen, Charleena Lyles, and Philando Castille.

If you would like the system to change, please VOTE in every election, not just the presidential one. Your state and local officials are often the ones legislating (and adjudicating) on policing, education, housing, etc.

6. Nothing I said here is original — thank you to the brilliant and tireless advocates (almost all of whom are black women, NB women of color, and LGBTQ women of color) who educate and inspire me every day on fb and insta.