Six Months On: Much-Needed Support from my January-Self, to My July-Self. Àṣẹ, àṣẹ.
I posted an article on Medium.com months ago, in January (I think maybe three people read it). It was truth-to-power, then, but it hadn’t touched home with quite as much force as it did, recently. Not even for the person who wrote the damn thing.
“The Audacity of the Caucasity,” or: “What — and I Cannot Stress This Enough — THE ACTUAL FUCK?”
Before I wade-in, let me just primal scream the thing I most often primally scream these days, after, “FUCK!!!!!”
But lately . . . it’s touching home. SO MUCH BAD-TOUCH. As essayed about here:
We Are Not Friends. But Thank You. And Goodbye.
I see you, now. Very clearly. And I’m DONE ignoring what I see. The time for ignoring/sleeping on failures of character…
And yet, I’m firmer than ever. I wavered, because . . . losing people we thought were friends can be painful and disorienting. For many reasons.
But the keyword is “THOUGHT” not “WERE ACTUALLY.” Because ACTUAL FRIENDS . . . are ACTUAL. FRIENDS. And once the difference between real and fake can be seen, we can’t un-see it. And if we’re true to ourselves, we MUST act. To not act is to be COMPLICIT. I believe that with every fiber and atom in me. And I WILL NOT be knowingly complicit in racism, misogyny, lack of representation and erasure, and any of the other shitty -isms that humanity lets plague itself. I will not be complicit or tolerate anyone in my life BEING COMPLICIT. But you do you.
And I do get that sometimes, it can be difficult to tell what’s what with the subtler iterations of racism — not everything is Jim Crow laws and lynchings, after all. The subtler stuff, at least, can be easy to miss for people who haven’t been on the receiving end of it for a lifetime. Tough to spot, even in this day and age, one supposes. . . .
Though, it seems that with ALL the info, and all the people who are willing to teach and share . . . you have to be actively NOT WANTING TO LEARN to NOT LEARN.
But SOME SHIT is just so glaring, however, that one has to ACTIVELY IGNORE IT or just not give ANY SHITS WHATSOEVER about anything other than one’s own comfort zones and the easy outs. Even knowing that those stances are wrong and contribute to the misery, suffering, and even death of POC . . . Blacks, especially.
The word I’m telegraphing here, and so eloquently, is HYPOCRISY. Or . . . (TOXIC) WHITENESS. Technically, that second one is a phrase, but it works. Sadly . . . it works.
If you KNOW and SUPPORT a fandom or franchise — a BUSINESS that deals in white supremacy, erasure or lack of representation of Black people and other POC, YOU ARE NOT A FRIEND OR ALLY. You’re not even a person of BASELINE DECENT character.
To see racism and other bad -isms in a fandom that you like, then keep supporting the fandom in spite of that, because . . . whatever bullshit excuse . . . that’s your right. That’s your fucking RIGHT. But don’t be surprised when people for whom ignoring racism, etc., would be a fucking PRIVILEGE — as in a PRIVILEGE WE WILL NEVER HAVE — walk away.
This isn’t abstract and random, rare quibbling. This is the lifeblood of some fandoms. MOST fandoms, really. Believe it or not. And if you have a CHOICE about believing it or not, lucky you. Some of us have seen enough and felt this knife in the gut. We don’t have a choice and never did. And never will. We can’t un-see OUR WORLD and entire lives. Can’t see the unhidden and multiple efforts on multiple front to erase us.
Claims of upset and regret or whatever don’t absolve one for supporting racist ideologies, companies, and fandoms, with money, time, attention, and love. And your phony, I-didn’t-realize-me-supporting-racism-and-erasure-would-hurt-you-friend-of-color doesn’t ring true . . . only hollow.
Despite the clear opinion expressed in that sort of sentiment — that I’m both subhuman and stupid . . . I’m neither. And I have feelings and a moral code. I’m seeing strong evidence that some fans really don’t have either. Not judging by the company and favorites they keep. These companies and fandoms that are PROUD of their bigotry and not working to change it.
I can think of a few fandoms where the canon content creators addressed diversity issues. They listened to fans of color and TRIED. And are trying.
But some are simply unrepentant. Why should they repent or change, when their stance costs them nothing and the fans won’t put the weight of their voices, whether its literal or in the boycotting sense, behind a call for inclusivity?
It’s every fans right to support or not support companies and fandoms that not only accept but actively use bad -isms as part of their push for dollars and relevance. But if you support such a group and its ideology . . . then don’t EVER again claim to NOT be racist or misogynistic or homophobic, or NOT . . . whatever hatred aimed at minorities these companies and fandoms have taken up. Don’t claim to care about the people you have LITERALLY SET YOURSELF AGAINST. Save your breath. Because it’s only a matter of time before POC in your sphere see you for who you are and judge you for the fandoms/faves you keep.
And trust me: Your actions will ALWAYS speak louder and more powerfully than whatever hastily-grabbed words from the White Liberal Guilt Phrasebook seemed best for your limp and lying non-apology.
But you’ll undoubtedly have a multitude of friends, just like you, with the privilege to ignore stunning lacks of character and ethics and compassion — EMPATHY — to huddle around and woobify your problematic faves.
If I had it in me, I’d wish THOSE FAVES of yours would be as good a friend to you as you’ve been to REAL, ACTUAL PEOPLE who’d mistakenly counted you as such. To their eventual lament.
If I had that in me, but . . . I don’t.
Even now, I don’t want bad things for you. It wouldn’t serve anyone. Wouldn’t make you better or my hurt stop existing. Wouldn’t solve racism, and the lack of empathy that allows white supremacy to flourish in you and others.
So . . . good luck. And GOOD THINGS. You WILL need them, even if you can’t see the problems waiting in your road because of craven hypocrisy and passive racism. Bigotry doesn’t just stop with POC. Eventually, it moves on to other minorities and smaller majorities, and when it does . . . you won’t have anyone to turn to because people have LONG memories for betrayals and unkindness. Or maybe because all the people who would have stood with you, even grudgingly, will have been consumed by the very bigotry that will eventually threaten you in immediate ways you can FEEL. And will actually CARE ABOUT.
Even now, I don’t wish you ill. You may not be your best you, or even the you I’d thought I saw when I looked at you. But that doesn’t mean I ALSO have to willingly sink down to a lower level of me, as well.
I’m glad I was smart enough to get out before I started to.
MASSIVE PROPS AND SHOUT-OUT to the beetle of January who knew what the fuck they were about — even though they didn’t ENTIRELY know, not then — when writing this missive. They were writing it not to the world, or not just. They were writing to ME. To THIS BEETLE, their future-self. Reminding this sad and wavering coleoptera that it’s NOT JUST THEM and that there AREN’T two sides to every issue. That I have every right to “do me” and walk with confidence because I know I’m living my truth and sticking to my ethical sets. The ones I currently have and the ones I’m still aspiring to.
Sometimes, wrong is just WRONG. And right is right. And there’s NOTHING WRONG with standing up for what’s right for you and others. Nothing wrong with speaking truth to power and NOT COMPROMISING on ethics and empathy, compassion and humanity. Not keeping a viper, whether an on-purpose one or an accidental one, pressed to your bosom. It is our RIGHT to walk away — or run . . . sometimes, running is smarter — from sweet, lethal harm. Or, we can “dance” away, with some of that mediocre white man-confidence. . . .
People who can’t tell the difference between what’s good and what’s not, or who simply don’t care need to stay the fuck away from people who do. And we are VERY easy to spot. Standing up for ourselves and others like us is not something I, nor anyone, needs to apologize for or excuse or except. Nor even explain. You either get it (right and wrong, humane and inhumane) or you don’t.
And if you don’t . . . neither I nor other Black people are your Mammy, here to love and teach and Bagger Vance humanity into your GROWN ASS. We don’t have to take care of and better you. We only have to SURVIVE YOU. Like our ancestors before us and the likely GENERATIONS after us. That’s it. That’s our plates, filled to the edges. Surviving this shit and trying to wring even a little joy from our lives, even as we struggle nonstop to better them.
You either pitch in on that, or sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up forever. You’re either friend or foe. Ain’t NOBODY got time for your made-up in-betweens and easy equivocations.
We ain’t ‘bout it . . . and we ain’t got time for it. Do ya hear me? Do ya feel me?
Turn that shit UP!