It’s hard to be healthy and whole in a diseased Democracy.
Yesterday, many of U.S. breathed a sign of relief as The Chump left his post. I, for one, will not miss his hateful vitriol and disgusting slander. I believe that hope is a powerful force, and encourage anyone finding hope in this moment to hold fast to it.
However, I must urge caution. I must remind myself that the ICE Detention centers were built under a Democrat, that police killings of Black men and women have not increased, they’ve only been dragged into the light, and that international corporations not known to give something for nothing donated millions to Biden’s campaign.
Many on the left cheered when The Chump was kicked off Instagram and other (anti)Social Media platforms. But the @InsideOutWholeness Instagram account was disabled in the same week, despite having strictly followed all rules, Community Guidelines, and standards of common decency (we did post several pictures of 100% legal Hemp flowers in the days before our account was disabled, but they were labeled correctly and should have been well within the so-called Guidelines). In fact, many accounts were disabled in the past few weeks, some of which were following all the rules but expressing ideas that strayed too far from either party’s line. As much as I despise the grotesque rhetoric of the outgoing Commander, I worry when I see people citing it as a reason to applaud censorship in any form.
A friend of mine, a Northerner living in the South for the last few years, made an interesting comment recently. She felt that some of her neighbors had gotten their identities wrapped up with The Chump’s in very unhealthy ways. This meant that, when he said things, even things they knew were wrong or hurtful, some of his supporters were reluctant to criticize or even question him, because they felt so strongly the need to defend him. “People need to know the difference between themselves and the candidate they voted for,” she told me in exasperation. I want to extend this caution to everyone, including, and maybe especially, those who would have prefered another candidate, but voted for Biden as a last resort.
It is a dangerous logical fallacy to believe that because Black, Indigenous and People of Color, women, immigrants and genderqueer folx have been discounted, disrespected and disenfranchised for so long that it is somehow now fair or just for White cis men to be treated this way. The rich, powerful White men will never be the losers in such an arrangement. They will learn the right things to say, the right minimums to meet, the right tokens to show off, and will be able to comfortably uphold most of the status quo. The losers will be the working poor. The White working poor, yes, but that ebbing tide will sink all ships, and the whole rainbow of poor people, scraping together their bare existences, sated with reality shows and GMO corn chips will look around at the brave, new world and wonder why they fought so hard for it.
Biden talks about unity. However, real unity amongst the working classes would be as dangerous to his presidency as to any other. Those in control NEED the working classes divided; it’s the only way their fabricated power can compete with out “our brain and muscle” turning the wheels (quote from Solidarity Forever).
So if you hate stereotypes and division, please be wary of anything that makes “Trump supporters,” or “the far right” sound less than human. Here’s a test: plug in the name of an identity you care about into any statement you feel compelled to say or share. Saying, for example, “[women] are such dupes,” is very different from saying “some [women] really bought into that candidate’s rhetoric.” The desire to turn from victim to victor is strong, which is why some of the worst genocides in history have been commited by historically marginalized people. And in almost all of those cases, the temporary victors, the victims-turned-brutal-avengers, lost all the gains they had made socially/politically and suffered unthinkable losses themselves.
Whole, free people have to trust ourselves. That means being extremely critical of ALL authorities and experts, evaluating all information for ourselves, and being willing and able BOTH to change our views when presented with new information AND to stick to our beliefs in the face of social pressure. When the many are confused, wavering and fighting amongst ourselves, the few can easily take and keep control.
The most radical thing we can do to free the globe from the forces holding it on its destructive path is to build solidarity within the working classes. If you have White skin privilege and/or rapport with people who have swallowed racist, sexist, xenophobic lies, it is vitally important that you confront them about it. But if you do so in ways that make them defensively stop listening, you haven’t actually helped the situation much. There are certainly some people who believe these things so deeply that attempts at reason will fail, but these will be the exceptions. We who are so sickened by these attacks on identity that we can’t listen to them miss the fact that they’re couched in well-crafted, though patently false narratives pitting the needs of poor Whites against the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color, the importance of freedom against the importance of community, the value of family against the value of love. Calm, rational, respectful conversation can help people see the common interests between working people, and can help shift the understanding of who is us and who is them.
This is hard work, and it doesn’t happen over one cup of coffee. It involves asking and listening more than talking and explaining. And it’s certainly only one tactic amongst many. Support Black, Indigenous and People of Color owned businesses. Period. Look them up. Because that’s the other side of the equation for White people—rather than giving to organizations that purport to “help” marginalized folks, buy things from Fellow Workers of Color so that those workers can have autonomy and sovereignty to deal with the unfolding drama of this world as they see fit.
I realize that the above suggestions applies mostly to White people, and I know that many of the people who will read this—many of the people who make InsideOut Wholeness possible, many of my best customers and strongest supporters—are not White. But I am. So if you’re not, just know that I trust you to participate in the politics of the moment in the way that makes sense for you, and I’m here to talk, but I can only share my experiences as a White, genderqueer-but-fairly-female-presenting, dang-near-40-year-old Anarchist Witch.
But one thing I can say for everyone: If you’re waiting for someone in the White House to save you, you’re going to be waiting a long time!