Racial and Gender Equivocation

Excerpted From:  Historical Amnesia About Slavery Is a Tool of White Supremacy:  Where we have (mostly) condemned slavery, we as a country have refused to condemn its defenders by Mychal Denzel Smith

“In order to continue accepting unchecked white-male power, we all must believe, on some level, in the enduring heroism of white-male villains. We must buy into the idea that, even when white men are violently wrong, in reality there are, as the president implied, many sides who are violently wrong. White men’s violence must be viewed as protection of core American values, thus making any response to it a threat to a perceived natural order.”

“I sometimes wonder how much violence I have accepted in my lifetime as a result of this equivocation, how much authority I have ceded to the notion of white male power as benevolent. It is frightening to think of how colonized your own mind has been, but more frightening to remember that the colonizer is prepared to kill to keep you terrified, and afterward call himself a hero.”

When you combine this with girls and women being responsible (through their existence, behavior and clothing choices) for man and male behavior as well as themselves and their own behavior, it becomes obvious that equivocation is fundamental to American society and societies worldwide.  It is okay for men to be violently wrong because women “provoke” them and it is okay for white men to be violently wrong because men of other “colors” are even more likely to be violently wrong – for less important reasons.  (Note:  I am trying to stop calling people of different ethnicity a “race,” unless I am referring to the “human race.”)

The dress and actions of girls and women in homes, schools, businesses and public places are not an excuse for male behavior.  Boys and men are responsible for controlling their own responses and behaviors.  Intimidation and violence remain intimidation and violence regardless of male whining about their uncontrollable urges provoked by the mere presence of girls and women.  We need to mean this and to challenge this bias wherever we encounter it.

Hearing about the white male athletes who have stayed seated during the national anthem (and taken other public actions against white racism and hate) since Charlottesville and President Trump’s poor response, gives me hope.  Perhaps athletes of other colors and genders will not have to act unsupported and be ostracized as uncontrollable like NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  Kaepernick had the support of his teammates and inspired others to also act responsibly.  The NFL owners responded by shutting him out of football despite his positive influence and abilities both on the field and in the locker room.  He has refused to apologize for taking a knee during the national anthem and similar actions both on and off the playing field.  And, he shouldn’t.

We just speak out against injustice and violence in all spaces and places … because that’s where they exist.