On Not Being Unworthy: Antifascism, Racism, and Trump
by Jonas Weaver
Donald Trump is president. And I’ve already yelled at my father, cried alone, watched friends cry, witnessed friends worry, seen friends planning for the worst as best they could, partaken in this planning. I’m still processing. I posted initial thoughts on Facebook but there’s more to work through. Everyone has a hot take. Everyone has a desire to explain how we failed. It’s most certain that someone failed. But shifting blame and responsibility to third party and non-voters (statistically improbable), to Clinton’s pandering to the elite (evidenced and clear but not primary origin of people’s hatred), to the failure of the two parties to reach out to working class white people, all these are shifting blame and all them true to some extent.
Can we straight up give people the barest dignity of agency? White men and women, the majority of whom voted for Trump hold a lot of blame. They voted, they chose. Whoever voted for Trump consciously is to blame. I don’t care why so much as they did this. Do all these persons support Trump fully? Of course not. But they clearly support Trump enough to vote for him. Today at an event to lament and express anger and sadness two white men spoke. One spoke, scared shitless, of how he was a Republican but wanted to try to understand people’s hurt. No one said anything except encouraging him to look at the faces. The second white man spoke and stated how he had voted for Trump because of the same fears as everyone there. He hadn’t listened. And much has been sad about the failure to listen. Also true.
I don’t have clear thoughts. But it’s worth noting a few things, scattered thoughts:
- Liberal fantasies are failures. The liberal consciousness cannot account for white rage. Liberalism has become the location for celebrities and easy memes. It’s predicated on a naive cosmopolitanism and humanism that makes Trump being elected unfathomable.
- Leftist politics needs to exercise caution. As my friend Sean has stated in various places: suddenly remembering that poor white people are harmed by capitalism and systems must not mean we ignore racial antagonism.
- What this moment, the next succession of moments, demands of us is hard. It demands that we somehow find a way to sit with the family we have (though no one is obligated to do so) who voted for a man we find repugnant. It demands radical education. If Jared Sexton is right that ” Blackness is theory itself, anti-blackness the resistance to theory,” then radical education is an encounter with Blackness. It is, as Frank Wilderson states, trying “to develop ways and means for your speech and action to be authorized by a Black/slave grammar of suffering rather than the grammar of suffering of subalterns.” It demands disruption. When the KKK take to the streets in December to celebrate: throw rocks, stop them, disrupt their movement. It demands getting involved with local organizations. It demands staying angry. It demands that if Trump follows through with his threat to create a registry for Muslims you register. It demands that disrupt walls being built. What it demands is everything other than checking out, sitting out. Be creative, disrupt, think more from the grammars of suffering and not those of dominance.
- If you’re white: start educating yourself; start listening; don’t question anger; don’t question ideas. If you want to question ideas educate yourself and find friends who will engage with you. Build relationships. The work is on us. The goal is not to get persons of color to be our fans, to ignore their distrust of us, their anger. The goal ought to be to find ways to be comrades together, to keep working to fight in good faith as best you can. The goal is to educate yourself and step back. Anger, distrust, that is all valid and okay. All we can do is to sit with those who hurt and do the work to educate ourselves, to think new ways. That is on us. Never on our friends of color. Ever.
[Addendum: If you’re white and “woke” get off your ass and do the work to educate other white people. Correct white people. Call them out. Shame them to be better.]
- If you’re male identified/straight: listen to your LGBTQ friends. Care for them. Educate yourself. Stand with us. And learn to see how the World favors you.
- The World is anti-Black.
- Antifascism is always self-defense.
I’ll probably have more theoretical and articulate thoughts later. But these are concrete thoughts I can articulate right now.