Time to Overturn The Oppressor, Now

If anyone can muster the collective willpower and determination to overthrow racism and other noxious forms of organizing society, it will be Americans who refuse to accept the Trump Effect as a new normal.

The protests could be an important step but it’s going to be the transfer of that energy into daily interactions that makes the real difference. When the crowd isn’t present as a buffer and spur, will you have the courage to speak out? I’m asking this of myself, too. Will I risk physical harm or some other retribution to myself? Millions of us must be willing to put our bodies on the line day-in and day-out.

That kind of courage may come spontaneously for some. For most of us though, especially folks in the middle years — too old for the brashness of youth, too young for the confidence of old age — that level of courage is a muscle we’ll have to build up.

I’m speaking to white people, btw, especially white women. Because we must first overcome the fear of losing the insulation of our whiteness. The mere fact of our support for #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL #HonorTheTreaties, even the presence of friends from diverse backgrounds, does not reduce our unearned inheritance of protection from random racebased violence or denigration. Our own practices of inclusion and multiculturalism do not usually put us personally at risk.

We cannot demonstrate tangible support for people of color unless we put our bodies on the line with people of color. This means challenging the microvalidations at work, in school, within our families, among our friends by becoming beings of transformation. We have to learn new ways of talking that break old patterns of accusation and blame, instead creating openimgs for new relations to unfold. This kind of change within ourselves is difficult and arduous work — as tough as overcoming addiction. But we must discover these alternative pathways of communication.

We also must put ourselves in spaces where we can talk with “the other” whom we don’t (yet) know — maybe not hate group members themselves (at least, not first!) but with the countless white women and white men who believe(d) that Donald Trump would make their day-to-day living situations better.

Getting there, learning the skills of having these difficult conversations, requires diligent practice and commitment. I have started by offering a basic response to white people struggling to come to terms with the reality of complicity with white supremacy: “I’m with you.” I am also saying this, personally when possible, to all the people of color in my life, and as a way to support people of color more generally on social media.

Simply telling someone who is hurting “I’m with you” is a first step in building the tesilve to take the necessary risk of putting your more-protected body (by virtue of whiteness) between another’s more vulnerable body and someone threatening harm, whether verbally or physically. By saying “I’m with you” publically on social media, you are signalling to friends, family and other followers that you’re on the side of justice.

By dealing with the situations that arise from your public stance of standing with people of color, and other vulnerable populations too, and studying how those interactions go, you will begin to develop nonviolent skills of resistance.

The point about studying what works and what fails (by throwing you into familiar, well-worn patterns) is the crucial part: this is where the hard work and determination play out, leading to success or surrender. I encourage everyone who’s serious to find and join WhiteNonsenseRoundup on Facebook, Twitter (@NoWhiteNonsense) and/or Instagram. The modeling and examples they provide are outstanding.

We have to learn new ways of talking, create more courage, and invite and join with more people of all kinds — most especially Trump voters who, for whatever reasons, did not expect white supremacy to become emboldened — in dialogue about the kind of social world we want.

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exploring the resilience factor in human systems

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