This post is going to cost me (even more) friends. Oh well.
Following EWWI (Electronic World War One) over #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter over Friday and yesterday, I hereby make a case for as broad-scale a return of full-blown, institutionalised white supremacy as possible.
We Live White Supremacy Anyway
It has been generally known that Persons Of Colour (POCs) around the world get “the talk” in some form or another.
Growing up, we are made aware that there is a system that should, but does not, treat POCs the same way as white people. This systemic racism most starkly shows its existence in instances of overt racism; the rest of the time it is subtle and insidious. We are made aware that ignoring this system’s existence has graver consequences for POCs than it has for white people who never have to come to grips with their place of privilege in it. This is why movements like #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) started.
On Friday, July 8 2016, this historic experience shared by countless POCs was supplanted in the imaginations of at least three white persons I know on Facebook, by the rantings of right-wing conspiracy theory mongers that explained police brutality as a measured response to black people’s unprovoked, unilateral violence against law enforcement agents.
How did these ill-founded speculations and distortions of fact get more airtime and traction on social media? How have they come to so quickly shape a disproportionately larger part of the narrative than the lived experiences of many, many persons of colour?
How did mountains of video evidence of police brutality come to mean less than rumours?
Because black lives do not matter as much as the maintenance of white supremacy and the myth of the moral whiteness of whiteness, that is why. Call people racist for believing this, and you become the bad guy. Why? Because whiteness is God.
Said conspiracy theorists say BLM proponents are playing into a scheme Obama’s backers cooked up to get him to power off of the back of (otherwise illegitimate) complaints about police brutality on black bodies. They chose to believe that black people would prefer perpetual victimhood, the systemic mollycoddling and the “special rights” attendant to that, than to believe that real statistics really reflected real trends; they chose to believe that Obama’s speaking on gun violence and racial injustice was motivated more by political expediency than by actual events. How was this explanation legitimised, oxygenated and entertained? White supremacy. We are already living it.
How did the cry of one girlfriend of one black shooting victim get chosen to override and represent black voices who would otherwise say black lives matter? How did these media sources manage to find this one black woman when they hardly ever give airtime to BLM proponents? Is that how finely their ears are tuned to the voices on the ground? They must then know why the other voices are saying black lives matter, and not care. So you must first give in to white supremacy for it to consider your voice worth hearing and your soul worth saving.
How did Dylan Roof’s assertion that black men were raping white women override, in white people’s imaginations, that it was white slave-masters who bought black Africans and abused them physically and sexually? That black people have had horrendous medical experiments conducted on their bodies without their consent by the US government? How did statistics and history get re-written? White supremacy re-wrote it.
I could continue, but I think it is now plain to see that we live white supremacy.
White Supremacy and the South African Government
What if I told you that voting ANC is many black South Africans’ best chance at overriding the Constitution they see as blocking the path to the substantive equality demanded by the Freedom Charter? Would that help explain why the ANC’s corruption and flouting of rules doesn’t lose them their core support base?
Government corruption, the melding of different entities’ powers or State to Party is how many of them make reparations happen when the beneficiaries of apartheid won’t admit how they got where they are.
The Mandelification of the 1994 transition served to turn our collective attention away from two questions: one, would it be possible to fix the wrongs of the past without making white people or businesses give up many of their gains? Two: could there exist non-corrupt reasons for the ANC not to use State power to bring about substantive equality within a short time?
The answer to both questions was, and remains, No.
The fabulous wealth gained by a few struggle veterans who are now corrupt enrichers of their connected few friends was not a surprise or an aberration of the rainbow nation that began as apartheid ended. It was the pre-planned 30 pieces of silver members of the incoming ruling elite were prepared to accept to maintain the status quo.
Two hypocrisies become clear:
One, the corruption of the ruling elite and those connected to them is railed against while what the status quo let white people keep is not. Meanwhile, these are two sides of the same coin.
Two: the current government is judged by a standard the previous one was not when the current one really gets away with what it does because members of the previous one were not punished for their crimes. Had they been punished, white supremacy would have crumbled. Therefore, the two hypocrisies are one.
We tried to cheat history. We tried to square the circle. At best, it pushed out the real end of apartheid out another couple of decades. At worst, it postponed an inevitable (and hideous) day of reckoning. These two, also, are the same conclusion.
The case for apartheid, then, is this: bring the whole thing back so it may stand or fall in its totality. The alternative, which is where we are going, is too frightening to contemplate.
The trick isn’t to fight white supremacy but to scrape and bow before it. Let us worship all white people as though they were God, so that if they have any fear of God (conscience) they will fight white supremacy themselves and in so doing, avoid that terrifying alternative we are headed towards. I see no other way to fix South Africa or, for that matter, every place that is ruled by white supremacy.
We must forcibly deny them and their children opportunities to develop or demonstrate virtues like humility and patience. They must not be allowed to wait for anything, must always get undue credit for everything that goes right and no blame for anything that goes wrong, even when it is their fault. Imputing perfect moral track records to them against their choice is how we would reject the superficial virtue-signalling that accompany condemnations of overt acts of racism but never covert and on-going racism.
Many white people have accused us of forcing them into the same mould in our discussions of whiteness. This is actually a pretty telling (and disingenuous) suggestion on their part, one I think we must take literally.
The “woke” ones would understand why this is being done to all white people; the semi-woke ones who’d have us settle for less than complete intellectual dishonesty, however, would be disoriented by this subversion of their claim to distinctness from oppressive systems. Their denial of complicity would be rendered meaningless until they all agree to overthrow the system (now in-your-face and out in the stark open) that favours white skin.
White supremacy would be forced to fully come face-to-face with its unmasked self, no filter option. Brought into the open to rule by daylight, none of white supremacy’s beneficiaries would be able to deny that they have benefitted and continue to benefit from systemic racism.
We would have to make it blatant: “You are getting special treatment because you are white,” we would say as we force that special treatment on them. They would be damned for accepting it and damned if they don’t. The only way out of this trap would be their dismantling white privilege in its totality and not a convenient, partial dismantling thereof in its less essential parts.
We would put up signs reading, “whites only” on places: full-on segregation. This would serve to ensure they can never just take some of the privilege so as to deny having had any of it on account of whiteness alone.
Force them to the front of lines because they’re white. Imagine, entire supermarket queues chanting the words, “because you’re white!” When waiters try to pick tables to attend to first, we would yell that they should start with those occupied by white people. This is assuming we would be in the same restaurants. Car cut you off in traffic? Everyone yells “you may because you’re white!” Refuse equal pay for equal work or access to comparable opportunities (assuming you have been getting it). Where the world would whisper of rumours of white superiority, let us accept nothing less than it being shouted from rooftops.
Where they previously took it for granted that their discomfort at hearing or reading about white supremacy was sufficient reason for us to not talk about it, let us reject our complicity in our oppression by rejecting the pretense that neutrality was an option or that white supremacy was gone. Where we were expected to explain white supremacy, let us return it so no explanation is necessary.
You do not have to hate white people to see the logic in what I am saying; you simply have to love intellectual honesty. Indeed, a love of white people not founded on intellectual honesty is not love at all.
The cost on black lives can be managed once white supremacy doesn’t have to fight black resistance in order to reach total domination. If we let it win without a fight, we let it revel out in the open in all its glorious shame. Who, then, will be able to deny that it exists?
For these reasons, I submit that if we cannot completely get rid of apartheid, we must completely bring it back.
The tragedy is that though a lot of black people will agree with this method of confronting white supremacy, I would have to hunt down and entrust right-wing white supremacists with its rollout. We hate the status quo, but not enough to beat it at its own game.
I would rather have apartheid that calls itself that than apartheid that calls itself democracy.
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