“The whole world is watchin’, the whole world is is watchin’, something in my family tree is rotten.” – The Flobots, American Dreams, NO ENEMIES
Charlottesville, Virginia. A terrible and awful group snake their way through the land, chanting horrific chants thought to be relics of a bygone era. The Nazi’s, the White Supremacists and the “Alt-Right” (as if they’re not all the same) banded together in a single night and day of hatred and anger. This is unfortunately what was expected after the election of The Great Pumpkin, as he has been and still is unsurprisingly sympathetic to their cause.
But what does this mean to a person who is both black and white? Well, to put it simply: I’m still not sure. The quote above, from the Flobots album “NO ENEMIES” is a good summary of my overall feelings. In practice, I’m angry. I try to be on the front lines of No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA.
I’m a 18 year old black kid in 2017 who should not have to hear about nor fight against the KKK or the Nazis. However, as a black person, I will forever fight for the rights and protection of disenfranchised people. Period.
But, it is tough. I am half white, and that’s important. It’s a part of who I am, as a white person, as a black person, and most of all as a mixed person. I can’t deny that my white genes give me light skin and that gives me a certain amount of privilege. I don’t believe in white supremacy at all, I completely disavow it, but there’s no denying that I do benefit from it. My sister benefits from it, my mother benefits from it. And to be completely honest, that hurts to think about. Events like this sometimes make you wonder: Am I where I am today because of my white mother? Because of my light skin? Because I “Talk White”? I honestly don’t have answers to these questions at this point in my life. Something in my family tree is rotten.
Another important questions that gets brought up is: How can I fight this? There are Blacktivists (black activists) who reverse the “one drop rule”; that is to say that because I’m half white I don’t actually get a say in African American social movements. But I can’t just sit idly by and hope that other people figure it out. That’s not who I am, and that’s not who I care to be. But something can be said about the clear Light Skinned Privilege I do have, and bring that privilege into a activism platform can at times be reductive.
But there’s an even more pressing issue: Who should I be mad at? I know the obvious people, the Nazis, the White Supremacists, the KKK, the Alt-Right, Confederate Flag Owners. However, from my perspective it’s much more complex. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er 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 can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.””
So should I be mad at some of my friends, who refuse to really talk in depth about race relations? Should I disavow my own mother, who constantly ignores my thoughts on race, even though she, as a white woman, does not fully understand?
None of the questions I’ve brought up in this passage are answerable right away. This stuff takes time, effort, and determination, sometimes even a lifetime of it. I don’t know the answers to this issue. I may never. I leave you with this, my plan as a mixed race person going forward:
As long as there is suffering, as long as there is pain and hatred and genocidal intent in the world, I will fight. I will fight for you, for your children, for your parents and siblings and spouses. I will never stop the quest for a better world. I will fight for future generations, and when I die I will look upon the world and know that not only did I venture to find equity and equality for all, but I fought alongside brave men, women, and people for the greater good.
And that’s all a man could ask for, in the end.
White & African American
22 August 2017
photo credit: Langston Shupe-Diggs