Progress stunted by extreme perspectives


Robert Clinton

By Robert Clinton, Opinion Editor

In the wake of this month’s events in Charlottesville many government officials and average citizens have made a point to denounce acts of violence spurned by racism and white supremacy.

However, denunciation is a very low bar to meet.

We all saw the repercussions of unchecked, unabashed violence as James Fields Jr. plowed his car through a crowd of sign carrying peaceful counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer and injuring many more in the process.

Sadly, despite years of black people railing about the intermingling of violence, oppression and systemic white supremacy, it took Heyer, a white woman, to die fighting the same flaws in our unjust system for people to lend a sympathetic ear.

Maintaining a successful system of white supremacy means getting rid of one thing — brown people. Meaning, the American Dream is more of a living nightmare for those of us bold enough to fight back.

Condemning extraordinary acts of white supremacist violence rings hollow, because by definition its rarity makes these atrocities uncommon.

Violence is the iron fist of white supremacy and is no match for the viciousness that comes from governmental strategy, implemented through unjust laws.

Sure, in this incident we see white supremacy as complicit in a murder, but generally it is institutionalized white supremacy that ruins lives every day.

These aren’t Southern rebels or local yokels. These are politicians, students and top law enforcement officials who enact race-based policies aimed at slowing racial progress.

In fact, earlier this year in February Trump began action to change the Obama era “Countering Violent Extremism,” program or CVE, which put violent white supremacists like Dylan Roof under its jurisdiction as a homegrown terrorist.

One of Trump’s first silent actions was to propose removal of groups like white supremacists from homegrown terror-watch lists. This cozying up to white supremacy is part of the reason “Unite the Right” marchers in Charlottesville felt emboldened enough to leave their hoods at home.

Unlocking your own complicity in systemic white supremacist oppression means closely examining yourself, your privilege and the interaction between the two.

If you vote for tough on crime candidates, with total disregard for the disproportionate numbers of black people unjustly in the prison system, you may be complicit in white supremacy.

Whenever you support candidates who work to cut health care or reproductive services to millions of underserved people in hopes of receiving a lower health care premium, you might need to examine your proximity to white supremacy.

If you support removing transgender veterans from the ranks of the military or favor rampant anti-immigration laws that destroy lives and rip families apart, you probably hold white supremacist views.

When shifts in education work to whitewash history and erase the learned culture of hyphenated Americans and it doesn’t bother you at all, you might sympathize with white supremacy.

It’s time for white people to do their part.

Where are the revolutionary white thinkers, the modern versions of the abolitionist John Brown?

Lead your people to the moral high ground. Allow our collective progress to be a product of your sacrifice. Dare to speak the truth to your friends and family.

It is not the words of our enemies that we will remember throughout all of this­ — it is the silence of our so-called “allies.”

Robert Clinton is the opinion editor for The Advocate. Contact him at [email protected].