We Get Mail: A Question From a White Guy

So things haven’t really settled down all that much with Trump. He hasn’t changed from candidate Trump to president Trump. He’s still just the same old big D. So I figured now would be as good a time as any, as protest-burnout might be affect some, to take on an email asking about visibility and resistance. This is specifically in response to Entering Trump’s America as Other.

Do you have any thoughts on how someone who _is_ a white gentile can voluntarily identify as “other” (at least philosophically), without co-opting an actual minority’s symbolism? That is, I’m brainstorming for something akin to your wearing of Jewish jewelry that can be a symbol to those white gentiles who would side with Trump that says “I’m not with you.” I thought that the safety pin was going to be this kind of a thing, but the backlash against that idea was swift; perhaps this is just not something that can be done.

An excellent question that deserves a complicated answer. The short version is “no”. If you wore a yarmulke or a Jewish star you are announcing yourselves to bigots but also to Jews. I got a lot of shit when I wore a yarmulke on a regular basis but continued to eat at non-kosher restaurants. If you were to do something similar then suddenly actions that are completely irrelevant to your stand take on a second meaning.

The reason that the pin got a lot of crap was because minorities were worried that people would pin one on and then expect everything else to fall into place. I know people who wear the pin that DO NOT plan on doing that, but there was a general sense of “I’m wearing a pin, minorities in trouble will come to me if they need help”. It became a very passive way to handle things that still put a lot of the onus on the people in danger.

I would recommend a few things. One is to be active. Passive gestures are nice, and I have heard from a number of Muslims that travel for work that seeing a safety-pin on someone while stopping in a small town gas station made a difference to them and how safe they felt. Do the march thing. Do the call your reps thing.

Punch all the Nazis.

And for those passive acts, which as I said can help, I would recommend something explicit. I have a Black Lives Matter and “I will do my best to fuck up any bigot that fucks with you” pin on my bag. Planned Parenthood sells Feminist pins to raise money. Dan Savage is selling ITMFA (Impeach The Mother Fucker Already) shirts, pins, and red hats.

In addition, your whiteness gives you privileges. Use them! People will say things in front of you that they won’t say in front of latinx people. Say something back and let them know that they aren’t being normal and that not everyone who looks like them thinks like them. You probably also have more family that voted for Trump than a Jewish, black, or Muslim person does. Engage with them.

Another thing that white privilege does is make you safe(er) from police. If you see something going on with cops and minorities, record it. The ACLU has a Mobile Justice app that will record video and automatically send it to your state’s ACLU servers and call signal for help. Being a white bystander, you are more likely to be ushered aside or ignored entirely when recording the police than a POC.

So that’s where I’d start.

Buy some swag to publicly support them, or just donate.

A campaign from the last shithead president, it stands for Impeach The Mother Fucker Already. And really, we should. Proceeds go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

And this app is not a visible show of resistance, but an act of protection. This app lets you record video of police interactions and automatically upload and report it to your state’s ACLU servers for review. It won’t impress the people around you but could save a life.

About Adam

Adam is a Jewish American who's sick of the white Christian male being America's "default" setting. For money he works in a public library because free books and information access are wonderful things. For love he writes here for his pet project, The Chaotic Neutral, which is always looking for more writers. You can follow him on Instagram, Goodreads, and at his oft neglected Twitter where he will try to post more, and probably live-tweet the Eurovision Song Contest.

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