Thin white skin

Dear President Trump,

Yesterday when Nina Totenberg quoted the R.E.M. line “it’s the end of the world as we know it” in reference to Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement, I started crying. It does look like it’s the end of the world as we know it and I don’t feel fine. You, however, must be beyond fine. I bet you are giddy with delight that you get to fill another seat and further undermine the checks and balances meant to safeguard democracy against would-be autocrats.

There’s another faction that’s aiding and abetting the demise of checks and balances meant to safeguard civil society, and it’s the legions of white women who voted for you and the not insignificant subset that seem to be seeking honorary membership in the Daughters of the Confederacy. As I thought more about Darth Becky, I realized that white women instigated almost all of the situations in recent months when authorities were called about people of color living their lives in public. There are definitely some exceptions, but a raft of incidents involved white women acting on over-conditioned fear and unchecked and unbalanced racial animus calling police on black and brown people who were in no way threatening anyone. Here’s a (partial) list: Starbucks manager who called about two black men waiting for a meeting, college touring mother who called about two Native American brothers who joined her campus tour, Yale student who called police on a black Yale student who fell asleep in the common room while studying, picnic mother who called on a black family barbecuing, rule-governed neighbor who called on an eight-year-old girl selling water to go to Disney Land.

It’s tempting to think you all planted these white women to be “crisis actors” who fan the racism flames, but I don’t think you needed to go to that much trouble. The messages you are promulgating get under thin white skins quite easily and lock in with old, manufactured fears to create tinder not unlike what was set ablaze in hundreds, if not thousands, of lynchings. I don’t know whether the incidence of these situations is increasing or the veil is simply being pulled back, but either way it’s clear we are not fine.

May we be safe from one another.
May we be happy to engage our frontal lobes and see racist messaging for what it is.
May we find healthy paths forward that put no one at risk.
May we creatively engage peaceful protest to save the world from you and yours.

Tracy Simpson

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