I’m not a white supremacist because I don’t live in fear and because white supremacy is Fears’ own religion.
I’m sorry the truth hurts. I’m not joking either, I’m honestly sorry even though that empathy doesn’t change any facts here.
Yes, yes, *snort* I know all about it and I know all the bullshit stories y’all tell yourselves to make it feel and smell better because I heard them all coming up, but lookie here I’m family looking out. I’ve seen the shit show and it’s underbelly. I’ve had those stories told to me by folks I grew up around and they’re all just whistlin’ yourself past the grave yard. Every last one.
Let’s really dig in with a bit of history:
I originally hail from Tennessee and I think one of the largest reasons I’m not a white supremacist, coming out of the culture and era I did, is that I wasn’t taught to be one by fear filled people as I grew up.
My family are thinkers and explorers so even though there were lots of folks with racist and supremacist leanings around us in that place and era; from my youngest memories, I was allowed (even encouraged) to seek out friends wherever I found them. I was in a Head Start program at age 5 and 6 in the Knoxville area in ’66 where my curiosity led me to the kids who were different from me, and of different cultures, rather than the white bread kids who looked like me but just sounded stupid because of their hubris over skin color. I was reading pretty well by then and the family had me into things like Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, and they were reading /explaining JS Mills to me. Gramps had just bought me a full Encyclopedia Brittanica and an unabridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary which outweighed me.. Or so it seemed. Two new words a day was my joy. Some days it was three or four.
I suspect part of being an explorer type is genetic and one of the “tells” for it is an insanely high curiosity quotient. I definitely have both, and I have them such that I’m insanely curious about the details of why folks do things the way they do them. Everything from phonologically correct pronunciation of odd names to the traditions behind why they cook certain food ingredients with certain sets of spices.
So while I had a few friends who were racist and one who was from a supremacist family (he wasn’t but he needed to hide that); for the most part I found folks like that to be just too hide bound and fearful of anything new or different for my tastes. On the flip side I think my curiosity also scared them a good bit as well. I know it scared the b’Jesus out of one Southern Baptist preacher man because he beat me for it. (A different story for a different time)
Damned if any of ‘em will ever admit it, but evangelism and white supremacy have a strong common thread in outrage against change and in fear of anything seeming the least bit new or different. One of the commonest sayings when their ideas are challenged is “Walp.. If’n it were good enough for gramps, and good enough for pappy, then it’s damn shore good enough for me!” That statement, whether it’s coming from an evangelical or white supremacy is a statement of fear of the unknown and a fear of ANY investigation outside of what’s approved by your family. Deny it all y’all like but that IS the defining statement for both these fearful mind sets. So too is another common expression from such folk: “Curiosity kilt the cat.”
Back to my history of whys:
Dad’s side was Norwegian and gramps jumped ship here in 1932 because he met this gal on liberty and fell head over heels for her. He got caught and shipped back to Norway where he worked, saved, begged, and borrowed until he had the $5,000 immigration bond required to come here legally in ‘34 (“so that the new immigrant should not become a burden upon society”) and apply for citizenship. Five years later that bond was released and it paid the down payments on a business and their home.
Dad got that same curiosity/explorer gene and so did I. (and there’s actually a bit of research to back this up: Restless Genes)
Ultimately I’m not a white supremacist because of that gene AND because I wasn’t inculcated into it. On a more personal, experiential, level.. and even though I came up in a time and place that was encouraged.. I’m not a white supremacist because I find the fear of change which drives it (and evangelism) to be painfully and mind numbingly stultifying. As I grew older and traveled on my own I retained my curiosity about folks and their ways. Part of that curiosity is a love of music and art forms which is best described as eclectic. Along with loving Rock, most Rap, Motown, Classical, and Shamisen music, I absolutely adore Bluegrass, Zydeco, New Orleans Jazz, and The Blues. Oh my god those Blues!!
Because of that when I was at Great Lakes I spent a fair amount of Liberty time in ostensibly (by custom rather than any stated rule) “black only” clubs in supposedly rough areas, yet oddly I never seemed to have any of the problems other guys described. Why? Because new situations DON’T SCARE ME. That left me free to explore who these folks were, honestly. Now don’t miss me.. I did catch a bit of shit at first but when I answered honestly that I was there for The Blues and I honored their behavior codes in my actions, that suspicion flipped almost immediately to protection. Part of what caused that flip was my honest, even joyful, curiosity.
How could I possibly be a white supremacist when I pity them for their fear? How could I when I pity them because their fear kept them from knowing folks like KK and Eliza, Skittle and Boonie, or Jamarl? (one of the smartest guys I ever met) I had the honor of knowing these folks, sharing laughter, music, tears, and bread with them for two years. I still wonder how they fared in life even though our paths parted 35 years ago now.
How could I be any sort of supremacist when I pity them for letting their fear stop them from even meeting folks like these; much less sharing bread, music, stories, and joy with them?
How could I when I know about Fred Hampton and how he united Confederate flag waving conservative young men in a common mission with Black Panthers to stand peaceful armed guard over Vietnam War protesters so cops could no longer beat and tear gas them with impunity?
How could I possibly become what I pity so deep? Y’all have no fucking clue what or who you’re missing by letting fear run your little asses ragged.
Yup, I’m an Asshole, and a blatant one at that, but I’ve seen shit and savored joy you’ll never even get to sniff of because your fear won’t even let you look.