This is a Facebook post from Aug. 15, 2017 by Elon James White. I think it is poignant, uncomfortable and absolutely necessary to read. I hope my students, former students, colleagues, friends and family will take the time to read it.
In the wake of the tragedy and hate we've all witnessed in recent days it's very easy to tune out. I'd argue that for some of us it's key to our overall mental health. But there's a lot of you, and I'm specifically speaking of white folks, that are silent right now, literally as Nazis (this is not hyperbole, actual fucking Nazis) march in the streets and plan events throughout our nation.
I've read a lot of white folks expressing that they are not responsible for what we're seeing. That they never owned slaves, they aren't racist, and that they have nothing to feel guilty about because of a few bad people. I'm writing this to say "bullshit." Living in America you benefit daily from the systemic oppression of myriad peoples. It is an absolute fact that America was built on slave labor. The wealth it was able to accumulate couldn't have happened without the subjugation of the indigenous and enslaved.
(Photo by Molly Yanity on Jan. 21, 2017 in NYC)
I'm fortunate to live in a place where I can freely love who I want, marry that person and not be discriminated against because of it.
But, this fortune means nothing if I can't breathe the air, drink the water, live without violence and war. It means nothing if I do not have safe shelter, or can't put food on the table.
It means little if women are "less," if votes are manipulated, if journalism is overrun by propaganda, if tyrants rise.
This fortune is only here because all of the other, true American fortunes have been fought and died for, protected and valued. I take none of it for granted.
Memorial Day has nicely segued into Gay Pride Month. Yet, on the same day, the 45th president of the U.S. has withdrawn from the only global attempt to stave off global warming.
As Vice President Mike Pence cast his “Aye” vote for Betsy DeVos, breaking the tie in the U.S. Senate on the billionaire’s confirmation for Secretary of Education, I could feel it.
The result was no surprise. Two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski -- broke party lines, but for a week, no one else even considered budging. And, the feeling was palpable across social media.
Like air being let out of the balloon. Like a rapid heartbeat slowing to a thump, thump, thump… It was a collective hands-in-the-air, a giving-up – even if temporary.
Molly Yanity, Ph.D.