Look, now is not the time for jokes or petty jabs. Now is not the time to sit back and hope things eventually get ironed out. It’s not enough to punt responsibly on race relations to our political figures. We all share responsibility. The day of reckoning with Americas original sin is quickly approaching and history will not speak fondly of those who sat on the sidelines watching it play out. Our politics do not match our morality. Our congressional moral leadership is stuck in the mud of their own selfish political agenda. Our executive moral leadership is a white nationalist who encourages and emboldens a group of people hell bent on “cleansing” America of millions of blacks and Jews.
Welcome to America in 2017
Public Relations: Words and Hollow-Points
Anyone with a soul who witnessed the video of the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, VA knows that the actions of the white nationalist, alt-right and neo-nazis was unconscionably abhorrent. Many of our political leaders correctly yet predictably issued a statement condemning the actions and values of these groups. The only one to show up late to the condemnation party was our President. Yet, if history can be used as a compass many of our political elites words will not be followed up by action.
What does it mean to condemn someones behavior? It sounds nice and gives people the impression that you care deeply. But what does that actually look like in practice? Lets be real, there will not be any new laws chilling the free speech of white nationalist who are marching for ethnic cleansing. Police will not more eagerly jump to defend the black and brown bodies who have demanded equal treatment up in down the streets from Baltimore to Ferguson. Jeff Sessions will not switch gears from his white affirmative action strategy and collegiate investigation of reverse discrimination. The newly signed laws in Missouri which raise the legal standard to an unachievable stratosphere for demonstrating discrimination will not suddenly be lowered because of what happened in Charlottesville.
As the country learns what the word ‘condemn’ means there has been a noticeable absence in the amount of coverage on what to do from here. What types of legislative and political things do we realistically have the ability to change and what things are out of grasp. Unfortunately there are some hard truths about what we can do to prevent events like Charlottesville from repeating. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
As nice as it sounds to say that white nationalist, neo-nazis and alt-right individuals have no place in America the reality of the matter is they are not going anywhere anytime soon. We cannot kick them out of the country and absent a crime they cannot be incarcerated. Which means we have to find a way to coexist. For many minorities, particularly blacks, coexisting is a daily exercise that often takes withdraws from our emotional bank account and rarely makes a deposit.
Our constitution will not allow us to prevent them from speaking but what we can do is prevent them from protesting with military grade fully automatic assault weapons. The Gov. of VA said he believed that the white nationalist were better armed than his local police. We don’t need to arm our police forces more heavily to combat this threat when we can simply outlaw military grade body armor, clubs, bats, knives and automatic weapons from being used during a protest. In most instances you have to obtain a permit to protest and as a part of that permit we could assign certain requirements. Can you imagine the response if BLM showed up to a protest with similar gear? I can assure you they wouldn’t be told just to ‘go home.’
A hollow-point bullet is designed so that it expands upon entering a target to help maximize the damage and remain lodged within its target. DJT’s second response to Heather Heyer’s death in Charlottesville were nothing more than hollowed out words whose purpose was largely to inflict more damage on his targets by giving a false sense of solidarity. His third response to the events makes clear who the target those words were intended to hit. Knowing that he will never stand up to defend us or the allies who support us, even if someone is senselessly killed, is the lasting impact that sticks in my craw.
Taking Sides: Stand for Something or Fall For Anything
DJT is clearly on the side of the white nationalist. Anyone who chooses to defend him are implicitly supporting neo-nazis and tiki torch wielding klan members. You earn no moral brownie points for defending him and in the same breath claiming not to be racist. There is no moral or political high ground to stand on when you defend a domestic terrorist who killed someone by running her over with his vehicle. So if we are taking sides I know what side I am on and it ain’t anywhere close to DJT, neo-nazis or white nationalist.
I’d argue that in black America today there are more Huey Newtons then there are MLK Jr.’s. There are more black folks with the spirit and determination of Angela Davis then there are those unwilling to claim their blackness like Tiger Woods. Huey taught us that when violence is inflicted upon us we should believe in self-defense for ourselves and for black people. Heather Heyer understood this call to action and gave her life fighting inequality and rejecting bigotry. Heather’s name is added to the list of white martyrs like Rev. James Reeb who was beaten to death by segregationist after he joined the Selma marchers after the attack at Edmund Pettus Bridge. Heather should remind us that there are plenty of white allies who share our outrage.
On the other hand we have a number of Trump voters who are now claiming that they either didn’t know he was racist or they say they only support his policies (jobs, taxes, border wall) and not his other racist beliefs. Huey Newton has another good quote on this topic, “You can tell the tree by the fruit it bears. You see it through what the organization is delivering as far as a concrete program. If the tree’s fruit sours or grows brackish, then the time has come to chop it down – bury it and walk over it and plant new seeds.” The policies that these individuals suggest they support are the fruit of the Trump tree. It just so happens that Trump’s policies closely match his racist and bigoted beliefs. The fruit of the Trump tree issue a travel ban that , immigration reform, health care, the border wall, minority judges…the list goes on and on. As Huey said, you can tell the tree by the fruit it bears.