Dear Mr. VP,
Since Twitter is apparently the official spokesplatform of your administration, I took a look this morning to see if either you or 45 have condemned the white supremacist march in Charlottesville last night. Unsurprisingly, no. Nothing. But what a lovely official portrait of you.
What I have seen is lots of white people exclaiming “How is this America in 2017?” And yes, while it certainly is disturbing to see such a public display of racism, it’s an incredible privilege to think we put this all aside after the Civil Rights Movement. Talk to virtually any person of color and they’ll probably tell you they aren’t all that surprised that this is America 2017, given that danger from empowered racist white people has also been America 1776 – 2016 for basically anyone who isn’t white.
Let me be clear: I’m white, and I benefit from white privilege. That said, getting married and taking a last name that indicates I probably married someone of Latinx heritage has given me some insight into racism in this country that I got to be pretty comfortably blind to previously. While dating other white folks, no one ever felt they needed to subtly (or not so subtly) let me know I was doing something wrong (“You’re changing your name to that? You know that ain’t right” was one response to an email about my name change), or suggest that I’d done something to irredeemably sully my white purity by my previous relationship with my ex-husband (first date: “So you like dirty ‘Ricans, huh?” in response to my answer to his question about my last name, because I “looked too white” to have it. I’ll let you guess if there was a second date). Or, you know, suggest that I must have “a thing for Hispanics” (direct quote) and suggest that I’m somehow betraying white men by not dating them exclusively. Right.
This was all pre-J20. So while yes — torch-wielding white supremacists opening marching is a big fucking issue, and one that y’all should probably be condemning with every fiber of your Twitter beings, I’m also not on the “how in the world could this be happening?” page because…it’s happening because we’ve always been a country full of white supremacists and racists, and if you didn’t realize that before this, you’re probably white.
So what’s the point, Devon.
The point is, we all need to be actively fighting against this latest public explosion of white supremacy and hatred, and working to keep our friends of color and local communities safe. But we also can’t just rest on our laurels in the face of quieter or more insidious racism. When white people feel like we’ve won and we stop actively fighting (Hey, Obama is president and I voted for him! Racism is gone!) we betray people of color who we’re supposedly allied with. They know, personally, that the fight isn’t really over. Ending our fight also lets things slowly build back up to this point. And this point is resulting in sheer terror from many of the people of color I know, along with some big feelings from me as the mom of a mixed race kid who these neo-Nazis think is a racial abomination. It is an absolute national disgrace that you aren’t responding.