To the white woman who crossed the street to avoid me today:
I saw you coming, masked and middle aged
Down the street of my church
Toward me, a minister of faith
As I waited to meet a different white woman
Who I had not seen before in person.
Unfamiliar, I searched your face from a distance
And surmised it was not you I was meant to meet.
But you fully introduced yourself to me
Without a word or a gesture
When you visibly stiffened
And “New England avoided” my gaze
While I stood there
As you deliberately and most intentionally
Crossed the street
To avoid any proximity to me
Like I would do you harm.
There I stood
On the other side of your whiteness
Looking more youthful than my 56 years
And also masked
The only darkness in the bright afternoon of your sunny spring day.
There I stood
A threat to you
And I watched as you force stared steely eyed
Into a distance beyond me
Where you would be safely
Away from me
And this “confrontation”
Between your peaceful white walk
And my dangerous black gaze
(On my street.)
And I thought to myself
“I’m standing beside my church…
The one I lead
As minister/ CEO
The one with my name outside
The one I work to keep safe
The one for which I memorialize the dead
And name the newly born For fuck’s sake, even at my church, I’m not safe
From goddamned white fear.”
On the anniversary
Of the murder of George Floyd
That whiteness is a weapon
Wielded suddenly, irrationally
And whiteness doesn’t need a knee for nine minutes
Or a tazer or a gun to murder
In a thousand different toxic ways
In the world he has built for himself, the presumptive Republican Nominee for President of the United States has never had to think about or navigate his own racial identity. Growing up in privilege, schooled in a regimented, segregated environment and being sent into the world with a blessing and bank account, there was never any need for that part of his education. He may know some of “the blacks” or “the gays” and be loved by “the hispanics” but I’m convinced that he hasn’t the slightest clue about how he actually exists as one of “the whites”. I’ve come to realize that the main reason “The Dump” (as he will be referred to from here on) is so absolutely dreadful on issues of race and class is because he suffers from a lethal case of racial amnesia. He is incapable of seeing his own social location.
Whiteness is, in fact, a very peculiar kind of opposite – a position, a privilege, a presumption, a pride, a propertied entitlement, a protected comportment, a way of walking, talking and “being” that operates not simply as an equal and inverse form of the thing it differs from, but rather precisely as its supreme judge. Whiteness here is not so much one term of a comparison, as the eye that compares in the first place. And like any eye, the one thing it cannot see is itself. It is rather, for itself, a strange form of invisibility.
“The Dump” cannot see himself. He has built a world in which he has his own language, his own aesthetics, his own morality and ethics and where everything and everyone is designed to serve his dictates…or they are “fired”. It is a world where he has no culpability, offers no apology and everything is justified because he owns it, or so he thinks. The best examples of this are his statements about how much he “loves women” and then when they are not serving to bolster his fragile ego, he attacks and/or divorces them. He must have Ivanka drugged.
Let me be clear, I am not in the least bit invested in condemning white people. I think, however it is crucial to understand that we are in the midst of watching a global re-evaluation of white identity and it is (to use British MP Chuka Umunna‘s term for the Brexit situation) seizmic. The United States is seeing the shift in both the growth of white supremacist groups right along side an explosion of white involvement in fighting issues of oppression against communities of color. But the convulsions are not just in the United States. With “Brexit”, we have just witnessed the implosion of the most significant historical expression of white domination, what was once the “Great Imperial Family” solely responsible for the largest global colonization in human history. The racial and ethnic power vacuum that has been growing over the last 60 years is unprecedented and was sealed with the Brexit vote. As a result, although I believe that the UK leaving the European Union is potentially disastrous for the global economy, it is most certainly catastrophic in terms of how it will now embolden the likes of extreme racialized nationalists (like “The Dump”) to point toward the UK and say, “look, they did it…why can’t we?” Let’s all just pick up our toys and run away, or build walls or reject refugees or ignore pandemic disease, because it doesn’t involve us. Although this is not done with quite the racial boldness of an Adolf Hitler, it is hard to miss the “us and them” parallels in the basic psychology.
“The Dump” has spent a lifetime building a world for himself. He and other “would be” leaders like him, want to see their narrow minded, mono-cultural world flourish and thrive. And the world they are working toward does not see “the blacks” or “the hispanics” or “the women” or “the poor” let alone “the gays”, “the Muslims” or “the Asians”. “The Dump” world only sees threat..from religion, skin color and language. It only sees anger and fear. Most tragically for everyone, this is all because The Dump world is utterly incapable of seeing itself.
God save us all.
 James E. Perkinson, White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2004), p. 153.