The Damage of Kumbaya

If you’re white, the damage isn’t yours to forgive.

Narrator: Don’t be like Bob or Sally.

As of writing Biden hasn’t announced that he’s won the election and I expect Trump will concede in the next *checks watch* never. But at this point as the blue shift if in full, well, shift it looks like Biden will be the President elect with about 306 Electoral College Votes. So great. We did it guys. This collective nightmare we all had for the past five years is at an end.

Oh yeah, except it’s TOTALLY NOT.

And actually while for white people this has only been a nightmare for about five years maybe a bit more depending on whether you’ve got family members with an accent or not this same nightmare has been playing out since the implementation of Jim and Juan Crow laws by the most conservative estimate. This has been a national nightmare for generations. It just recently culminated to a point again where it kinda sorta effects white people.

There was a joke back in 2008 that we had hired a Black guy to come in and clean up the mess left by a white man. And while that is both true and a bit funny in the why-do-you-hurt-me genre Obama as President and even Obama as Presidential candidate was used as a carte-blanche for white people to be open about their racism. It was, “I can’t be racist; there’s no racism in America because we have a Black President. YOU’RE racist for not criticizing him.” And if you want to delve into that and other entirely irrational statements may I refer you to my recent article on QAnon.

We as white people done f***ed up. And sure, you might be a “nice guy,” or a “good woman,” and your intentions might be great, but the minute you say “not me,” or “not all white people,” you’re putting the onus on BIPOC to negotiate your feelings about their experience of discrimination perpetually and increasingly messing up their lives. So glad you didn’t vote for Trump. Well done. Statistically though, we done f***ed up and yes, it is the responsibility of anti-racist white people to undo the damage of racist white people. Stop absolving me, and stop absolving yourself.

Additionally, intentionality doesn’t matter. My mom used to tell me that, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and being autistic and therefore quite literal I was rather confused as to what that meant and my mom also likely being autistic couldn’t really explain it to me so it was a bit of a kerfuffle all around, but I have since figured it out. Intentions don’t inoculate you from doing damage. I mean, it’s a start so you meaning well is great, but you kind of have to take responsibility for your actions. So with that in mind, I would just love to hear why all of you have “reservations,” about Kamala Harris.

Speaking of Biden and Harris, they are going to have an uphill battle repairing the rifts in our country as well as the government and democratic system itself. Trump fired people, he forced people to resign, he destroyed our economy, he lowered international respect and confidence in America, he tried to run the government like a dictatorship, and he broke roughly all of the laws. But more importantly Trump’s action and inaction directly lead to death, injury, and financial ruin for an unconscionable number of Americans many of whom just happen to be BIPOC. And don’t fool yourself: it was intentional. Yeah BIPOC were already disadvantaged within our system, but Trump made it MUCH worse.

You as a white person are probably not doing great regardless of what you choose to tell yourself but you need to be cognizant of your white privilege and relative damage. Trump wasn’t great for you. But he was an epic nightmare and wiped out entire families for some BIPOC folks. You can forgive Trump and third party voters if you want but remember that when you’re doing that you are really operating from a place of white privilege. Your light skin inoculated you from the damage done to a lot of other American’s lives. So you befriending the people who enabled the man who killed their mom or stole their child or caused them to be sterilized against their will is kind of a hostile move.

The dean of my high school enabled a rapist to access and then terrorize one of my best friends. Do you think I’ll ever forgive that dean? He didn’t rape my friend himself but he was more or less an accessory. A lot of my classmates have no problem with him, but because of that I don’t trust a lot of my classmates.

Same goes for you and Trump voters. If you really want to heal the divisiveness in this country you’re going to have to be honest about who is really at fault and stop forgiving things you don’t really know about.

At this point you might be wondering, “well, if we don’t forgive them, how do we move forward as a country?” Or you might be the ornery type and be going, “did you not just say in your QAnon article that deradicalization involves leaving options open to “detrain?”” And yes. I did say that. But I also said you need to set boundaries.

As white people regardless of how we voted we are living in a land that isn’t ours built almost entirely by people of colour. Real Americans by action and by definition are BIPOC rather than white. And this doesn’t mean you’re stateless and need to leave the US and learn Gaelic or something, but it does mean it’s on you as a white person to heal the nation. We as white people are responsible for the transgression and we can’t just erase it by saying sorry.

So, yeah if you have a relative who is being radicalized then it’s really important for you to do what you can to bring them back. Again, set boundaries but radicalization comes from a perception of disconnection and powerlessness so if you can be that connection and that conduit to self-determination and responsibility you can interrupt a radicalization. But you also need to care for yourself and set those boundaries to ensure you don’t fall off the mountain with them.

But honestly, until the Trump supporters and third party voters truly work to undo the damage they’ve done to our country they do not deserve friendship or support or forgiveness. Hell, even if you as a white person voted for Clinton and Biden chances are you still need to do a lot of anti-racist work to make up for our massive privilege purse. This country needs to be healed. But that can only happen if we white people take responsibility for the damage we’ve done.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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