If you pay attention to the media, you will become used to a type of language used to describe the events of the news cycle. You will hear terms like “allegedly,” “systematically,” and other descriptive words to characterize the day’s events.
As a Black community, we have been, and continue to be, keenly aware of how language is another tool in white supremacy to undermine and devalue the Black existence. And in the wake of the Buffalo white supremacist terrorist attack, this language is much more critical to our community. We need to understand where we are as a community and, more importantly, where the country is leaning as we approach yet another crucial election cycle.
That language can give evidence to the sentiment of the people speaking it and offer some guidance as to how we as a Black community should be reacting and moving in the coming months and in the future.
Let’s start with the language of white supremacy. After the Buffalo shooting, Northwestern University Professor of American Studies, Dr. Steven Thrasher recently posted on his Twitter that the Associated Press published a story “Noting that in AP copy, 18-year-old Michael Brown was an ’18-year old Black man,’ while 18-year-old Payton Gendron is a ‘white teenager.'”
This opens up a conversation on how mainstream media will adultify young Black boys and infantilize white men. This allows for further discussion about how language in media is still a tool to support white supremacy and infantilize white America as a naïve group that is always reacting to news instead of being the driving force behind it. White folks seem to be surprised at how white folks are acting these days.
This matters because as racial violence increases — primarily due to the blatant and brazen commentary of the neo-fascist GOP and its so-called conservative base — it’s essential to pay attention to the so-called allies on the other side of the aisle and their complacency and complicity.
We have to pay attention to how they talk about racial violence because normalizing white supremacist rhetoric has been a tactic of the right since at least the inception of Fox News. Democratic moderates prop up the status quo in the name of normalcy and tradition and “civility” by directly responding to this rhetoric — or, even worse, bending to it and justifying its use.
So now we have a word: radicalized.
Pretty sexy, right? It’s also an excuse white people give themselves when they don’t’ want to talk directly about how white fragility fuels white terrorism.
You see, “radicalized” has a connotation — meaning someone was once “normal,” and now they aren’t. There are a lot of assumptions in that term. Yet, I hear it spilling out of the mouths of news broadcast pundits, left-wing commentators, and even political candidates as if it makes any sense.
But here’s the thing: How does someone bend to a series of ideas that they otherwise wouldn’t have any knowledge of — changing their entire worldview to a point where they feel there is NO OTHER CHOICE but to murder people to set right what is apparently so wrong?
Could someone convince you that the only way to save an election is to murder people who will not vote your way? This has to be reinforced by other elements of society like religion and media. Notice the connection between Trumpism and the white evangelical Christian right… when did Jesus sanctify the American government under some rich guy? I missed that part of Corinthians, I guess.
The seed of white supremacy is already sowed and waiting to be grown and reaped. My point is no one is radicalized. They are revealed.
But the language leads the way. We hear the same terms, slogans, innuendos, etc., peppered throughout both sides of white America to justify or separate from the issue at hand.
White folks are still white folks. The thoughts and prayers crap we keep hearing puts some white folks on the “good side.” Then we get to hear about the healing of the community, usually after some family members have cried on TV for some amount of time. Then we get to hear about the lone wolf crap — right before we hear about how important gun control legislation is to solve this problem.
We’ve all heard it before — same damn language. It’s the language of the liberal moderate, or should I say the “kind conservative” white politician.
But here’s the rub —there’s no such thing as a moderate democrat or liberal. Moderate democrat is another one of those terms used to diminish the white supremacist agenda. Look at what these moderates do. They negotiate the rights and opportunities of Black people and other non-white groups with the goal of keeping as much of the status quo as possible.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr wrote in 1963 in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”:
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
So now I do a lot of listening to the left. A lot. I catch those buzz words that subconsciously mean, “shut up negro.” I hear white fragility winning. And the only solution to a fragile white mob is violence.
Every single time in history, white people have been pushed, they erupt. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And white fragility is truly the foundation of so-called white power.
All of these “radicalized” young men are scared their whiteness is being taken away. The crazed parents railing against CRT are scared their whiteness is being taken away. And the newest scapegoat, the so-called replacement “theory,” is nothing more than a bunch of white folks scared their whiteness is being replaced.
It’s all nonsense, but that nonsense WILL have dangerous and violent consequences, and ALL white folks know it. I know this because, over the past few years, it’s become a common joke amongst white Americans that Thanksgiving is a pain because now Uncle so-and-so is talking QAnon, Trump, CRT, etc. Yeah, super funny. Every white family in America is laughing at this joke…
My family ain’t arguing at the table. We’re debating which and how many guns to get because it’s just a matter of time before some “lone wolf” finds us at the grocery store. Not so funny.
Even the idea that this white replacement mess is called a theory is white fragility. If words matter, then why do moderate and left-wing political members, and media pundits keep using the term THEORY. Theory suggests enough evidence to accept that something is a fact without having the proper means to test it. At best, this is a white hypothesis and a bad one at that. But I digress.
White folks are unwilling to decentralize whiteness, and it’s having some major effects on white folks — predominately them coming to terms with the obvious and historic nature of whiteness, which is violence. Add patriarchy to that equation, and you have the foundation for the end of the American experiment.
It’s scary to think about, I know, but that ain’t all. White folks love white folkin’ so much that they are watching the democracy end through democratic means.
Don’t believe me? See how the Supreme Court has treated the Voting Rights Act or Roe v. Wade. It’s the legal and democratic stripping of established rights — written out explaining the reason or rationale in simple language.
The most offensive language I think we hear now is the right-winged “traditional” republican unacceptance of the party’s meteoric fascist rise. As if we haven’t been watching this shift in the party since the Civil Rights movement. They are blaming Trump, blaming Fox News, and blaming whomever to distract from their involvement and responsibility, and accountability.
That language again, “real republicans,” “average republican,” fringe extremist members of the base.” Ask yourself, doesn’t it all sound so familiar?
So, where’s the hope, the silver lining? I still believe it’s there, albeit insanely thin and hard to see.
Here it is: This language is being seen more and more, especially by internet-savvy social media people and young Black kids. Yet, the white supremacist’s ideals and tactics are still seen as disgusting and unacceptable by moral and ethical society members. It’s why some of these people won’t just outright say what they are because they know it isn’t right, good, decent, or righteous.
Black people and other groups can still affect the outcomes of elections and societal shifts IF we decentralize whiteness and centralize Blackness and democracy. Even Trump-supported candidates are losing within their own party. So, there is some hope, but they aren’t going away — just more underground.
Vigilance is the price of freedom. So pay attention, get active, stay active, and stay woke. It’s time.
The two-party system is flawed, and as we learned from the right, any faction of a substantial number can push either party in the direction of its choosing with political will, money, and media. Crazy as it sounds, it’s time to take a page out of the Tea Party book, just in the opposite direction.
It’s time for the community to organize around a political agenda and use the money from the group to fund the people who will do the job needed. (We have 47 million black people in America. If just half those people gave $10 a month to a political party that’s $2.82B per year.)
It’s time to put language to use to denounce WHITE SUPREMACY and never placate WHITE FRAGILITY. Understand that BLACK POWER is control over BLACK COMMUNITY RESOURCES and an established BLACK POLITICAL AGENDA.
We must PROTECT BLACK COMMUNITIES and hold these people in office accountable for their lack of ability to get the job done and unwillingness to speak truth to power. It can be done. And since everything is going back in time now, maybe it’s time we as a Black community resurrect the Abolitionist Party and get this language together. It’s time to speak to our community with truth and transparency.
So watch what’s being said about our country today. Who’s saying it, and why. Watch where they choose to say what and how they say it because you can predict the future by just listening to the present.