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August 5, 2019

White America, this is your Tribe.

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I drove up behind a vehicle yesterday with one of those fun little alternate stick figure families on the back glass.

It had two AK-47s as the parents and then little handguns to represent the kids.

The rest of the decals were there in the usual grouping: the yellow one with the snake, the bold red political affiliation, the pledge of allegiance to the gun lobby.

I looked at this and thought about all of the profiled communities in our country. The mosques with FBI monitoring, the stop and frisk encounters in the projects, the demand for papers of people with Hispanic skin tone and accents, and I wondered, “Where is the police tail for this vehicle in front of me?”

How many lives will it cost before white, right-wing, extremist ideologies are treated with the same gravity as these other threats to our lives and liberty, or even just treated with the same gravity as a person of color selling cigarettes or bottled water?

Even as I write out these thoughts I can hear a chorus of “not all white people” and “not all Trump supporters” and “not all gun owners.” And while I understand the protest, make no mistake about it: this is your tribe.

This is the natural progression of people with their teeth gritted, screaming incendiary rhetoric at rallies. It is the natural progression of treating immigrants as an invasion of less-than-human species to be dealt with through any means necessary, and of treating racial and ethnic minorities as some other to be “sent back,” regardless of their citizenship status. It is the physical manifestation of the same ideas that are repeated every day and passed off as civil political discourse.

It is on the hands of white America.

If this feels unfair or offensive, then where are people’s voices on this issue? If gun owners don’t want to be lumped in with these people, where is the push for legislation to keep guns out of the mass shooters’ hands? Where are the proposed solutions to domestic terrorists arming themselves in our midst?

I’ve heard the line about a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy, but the official response time in the Ohio massacre was 60 seconds—one minute for police to kill the shooter. How much faster can you be? Is nine lives an acceptable price to pay for a good guy with a gun being the only solution? Are people really so basic that this is the only solution that can be envisioned?

If people in your circle start saying “send her back” about black and Latina congresswomen, do you challenge them and point out that these women are American citizens? That the American flags they are flying are supposed to represent all Americans?

I am so sick of white America endorsing these policies and this rhetoric and then averting their eyes from the consequences. Giving lip service to a dislike of white supremacists, but happy to stand arm-in-arm at the ballot box and let them be counted among you. In what space are you disavowing them? If this isn’t the party of racism, xenophobia, and terror, where are you pushing back against those ideals and which representatives do you engage to turn that into policy?

Everyone gets to choose the ways in which they contribute to the conversation, but the scope of the consequences may be far beyond what that person imagines when they embrace hateful ideals. They think of themselves as an individual pebble and deny that they are part of the avalanche.

All I know is that for all the talk of America the free, I feel less free in this country than I ever have.

I fear the violence inherent in the ideals of my neighbors and wonder if the person in that car in front of me wishes me harm for my thoughts and ideas.

Maybe that isn’t what’s intended, but it’s the reality nevertheless—and I haven’t heard anything otherwise.


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