Whoever debases others is debasing himself.
—James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
What does “winning” look like? It looks like “White Sacrifice.”
If you’re a white ally, you need to understand that building an equitable, just society for everyone means that you, your children, your grandchildren will not have the privileges you were born into. They will not have the automatic access, wealth and systemic good will (why cops might give you the benefit of the doubt, or why that landfill just happens to be in someone else’s community) that you enjoy.
If you’re not willing to sacrifice these advantages, then you are not an ally. You want equality, but not if it inconveniences you. An equitable, just society will not be convenient for you.
You are slowing down the Revolution, taking up space that rightfully belongs to the people who understand and are willing to take on the burden that we, the oppressed, cannot choose to set aside.
—A post by Charlotte organizer, Luis Rodriguez
Before I rely upon my own words, I’d like to ask to be called out in comments or responses or DM’s if any of this is misconstrued bull. Thanks. Always learning.
At Monday’s Charlotte Uprising Community Meeting, Sam Poler (they/them), a white organizer, stood up and urged white folks to be emininently conscious of the space they took up at their round table discussions. To center marginalized voices, to organize with and alongside POC, and to understand the radical self-interest of being an ally.
Privileged folks don’t talk about this enough – why decentering yourself, subverting your own privileges, and leaving behind systemic good-will is as deeply selfish as it is revolutionary.
I think white folks (primarily) hear words like sacrifice, inconvenience, and suffering and refuse to hear “an equitable, just society for everyone.” So we sit in indifference, because the status quo is quite all right thank you. Passivity is simpler – leading to this.
But while participating in a system that debases others (a white supremacy putting white supremecists in the white house) anyone with a ‘pleasant life’ is actively debasing themselves – morally and spiritual. It’s a world of endless lethargy and passivity, a world of shallow indifference, of drugs and money grubbing. We live like the blinkers in Neitzche’s end of the world:
“What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?” – so asks the Last Man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.
“We have discovered happiness” – say the Last Men, and they blink.
They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him; for one needs warmth.
Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbles over stones or men!
A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death.
Passivity rejects pain and glorifies comfortable stasis.
In my reading round the internet post-election I came across this piece by Tim Stahmer dubbed Indifference Kills, which relied on a splendid quote by Antonio Gramsci, who died in a Fascist Italian prison in the 30’s.
I hate the indifferent. I believe that life means taking sides. One who is really alive, can be nothing if not citizen and partisan. Indifference is lethargy: it is parasitism, not life. Therefore, I hate the indifferent.
Indifference is the dead weight of history. Indifference plays an important role in history. It plays a passive role, but it does play a role. It is fatality; it is something that cannot be counted on; it is something that disrupts programmes, overturns the best made plans; it is that awful something that chokes intelligence. What happens, the evil that touches everyone, happens because the majority relinquish their will to it, allowing the enactment of laws that only a revolution can revoke, letting men rise to power who, later, only a mutiny can remove.
I am alive, partisan. And, therefore, I hate those who do not take sides; I hate the indifferent.
What I’m saying is that resistance to