Saturday morning, I woke up to a timeline full of pictures of angry white people misappropriating Tiki torches during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Organised by white nationalist Jason Kessler, who according to the Sothern Poverty Law Centre “relies on familiar tropes of “white genocide” and “demographic displacement””, the Unite The Right march brought together white men and white women so comfortable with their right to be hateful, they didn’t even don the hoods of their Klu Kulx Klan forefathers. I mean, even tight face skin owner and former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke arrived at the rally and was thankful to you lot’s president as the event fulfilled his election campaign promises. The rally was organised to protest the removal of a statue of confederate civil war leader Robert E Lee. Cos God forbid one of the one thousand confederate monuments, honouring those who fought for the preservation of slavery, in thirty-one states in the United States is torn down.
Violence erupted at regular intervals throughout the two-day rally between anti-fascist protestors and those decrying imagined oppression and escalated until James Fields rammed his car into peaceful protestors, killing an, as of writing, unidentified 32 year-old woman and injuring nineteen others. News organisations floundered, failing to call the atrocity what it is, an act of white, Christian terrorism and somehow documented simpleton Melania Trump was quicker off the mark to denounce the violence than the meat filled balloon she married who has clearly forgotten the divisive campaign he ran to get elected calling for everyone to be united.
Right on time like her collaboration with R Kelly no one asked for and was taken to task for, here comes Lady Gaga claiming what’s happening in Charlottesville is “Anti-American” , encouraging her followers to use the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs. Lady Gaga is not uneducated about the mechanisms of racism and how it manifests as her fans remind those critiquing her about the star’s relationship with Black Lives Matter and the song she wrote for Trayvon Martin so I’m going to address this with unfettered passion- you’re wrong, sis and your hashtag is the very reason white supremacy is able to live and breathe out in the open.
#ThisIsNotUs is a lie. It is the same as the lie Toupee Fiasco told in his press conference when he claimed there was “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” Akwugo Emejulu’s side by side of the pictures of Elizabth Eckford walking into the first desegregated high school in 1957 pursued by a hateful mob and Charlottesville’s white supremacists proves this is you, everything that happened in Virginia is a representation of who American has is established itself as in the world. And let’s stretch imagination to its outer limits and pretend it isn’t you, who is it then?
According to senior fuck-head Julian Assange James Fields “is a suspected white supremacist picking up terrorism tips from ISIS (crowd ramming).” To claim #ThisIsNotUs is to co-sign the deception that white supremacy, white nationalism and neo-nazis are a fringe element of American life and not occupying key positions in the current White House administration. To entertain #ThisIsNotUs works to deflect accountability for the fact the people participating freely in that rally are everyday people, with families, neighbours and co-workers, who have been radicalised into believing the lies of white supremacy, that America belongs to white people and white people alone. #ThisIsNotUs stops white people doing the work of dismantling white supremacy in their homes, in their schools and allows white people fearful of the prospect of the labour and heavy lifting necessary to engage with the people they love and know who harbour hatefulness, expecting to leave this very real, very hard work to black and brown people.
You lot’s favourite trope in times of violence Dr Martin Luther King Jnr warned against lukewarm responses in times of racial crisis. In ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ on April 16th 1963, Dr King wrote “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"…” I propose, along with many others on Twitter, white people finally reconcile with the reality every single act of violence that took place in Charlottesville is American. Denial will only allow the hatefulness to thrive. To continue to ease your collective consciousness with empty hashtags instead of actively combatting white supremacist beliefs your loved ones hold dear will see California’s food crops rot in perpetuity because your president’s hate speech and immigration policies alienate the migrant workers you need to farm your land. Be honest about the history of racialised violence in America; it’s as old as the birth of your nation.
Why am I so passionate about #ThisIsNotUs when I live in Britain? As Kelechi said on Twitter early Saturday morning “to all the white Brits watching what's happening in Charlottesville and saying "at least we're not that bad!" Spoiler alert: you are.” Fifty-two percent of Britain voted to leave the European Union after a campaign based on fear, racism and xenophobia. According to the Independent “The number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces rose by up to 100 per cent in the months following the Brexit vote…” And guess who the victims were? That’s right folks, brown and black people. So, excuse me Lady Gaga I cannot afford to be complacent, blindly retweeting #ThisIsNotUs. And I get it, I really do, Holy books speak of covering hatred with love but in this instance, you are inadvertently disallowing your nation room to dig up the this rotting tree, investigate the roots in order to locate the issue and genuinely pursue the effective combination of solutions you so desperately seek. There is hope for the rehabilitation of those with these racist mind-sets. Shazia Awan of the BBC interviewed Arno Michaelis, a former white supremacist who now works to change those who, like him, bought into the lie. Do not stand in the way of the de-radicalisation and re-education work that needs to take place in order for this cycle to end.
Own it. Then pass the mic and use your platform to boost the voices of those equipped with the solutions.
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