Who's Schooling Who?

Who's Schooling Who?
Photo by Tamara Gak on Unsplash

racism and its discontents

I am trying to use my internet social media addiction for good. My first step was unfollowing folks just because they were popular. If I remember anything from high school, it’s that popularity and accolades do not necessarily equate to intelligence or common sense. There’s a lot of doo-doo out there covered in glitter. As I began unfollowing (and even blocking because I didn’t want to see folks in any of my timelines), it instantly gave me a lighter feeling — probably because so many folks are disingenuous on these apps. Yes, even your faves.

As I continue to purge my social media — even deleting a couple of accounts — I get to pay more attention to the folks, ideas, and products I am truly interested in and I keep seeing posts that are appeals for and to Black humanity. Posts that seek to validate our worth and belonging. Posts that are teaching, but to whom?

Now, it’s one thing to direct this work towards Black folks. We’ve collectively and globally been dealing with white supremacist-driven capitalism (or is it capitalist-driven white supremacy?) for over half a millennia. That cultural, historical, and generational trauma is in our DNA and we continue to live within these systems. However, when the work is geared to white folks or is a response to their shenanigans, I (as the young folk say) feel a type of way.

As author, philosopher, and ancestor Toni Morrison once said:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

How does it serve you/us/me to constantly push back on the foolishness of these systems? And I am not just talking about social media. I teach an Intro to African American Culture class and the viewpoint that I express is that the foundation of Black American culture had no choice but to be based on a series of responses to racism/white supremacy. But when will we stop collectively responding and be more strategic? When will we stop having to come out from under and get on the attack en masse? At what point will we be on the offense and not the defense?

This is not to discredit the moments and movements, past and present, that have allowed us to gain social and political traction, but what do you think Harriet, Martin, Bayard, Fannie Lou, and Sojourner say about the contemporary space we find ourselves in? Have we really made progress or have we just become complacent under The New Jim Crow?1 As long as there has been a Western world (and prior), we have been living under white supremacist systems. We have been shown who “they” are and how “they” are for centuries. From the covert to the obvious — we already know who they are and can predict their movements. It’s time to get out of tactical mode because there is always going to be one more thing.