This is very telling because it’s a reminder that at least part of what made her an LGBT ally is this willingness to have a calm, reasonable discussion, not to mention the fact that she was willing to consider a lesbian a friend.
I’m not knocking it. I think her experience sets an important example for others, but also serves as a reminder that there will always be those who are unreachable because their identity depends on keeping others down.
I learned this lesson some years ago, in a classroom setting, and it was really painful. I was really hung up on being the oppressor class, and what can I do besides deny, or wallow in guilt? Listening to conservatives talk on this topic, it is clear they’re in exactly that place. “I personally never enslaved anybody, therefore shut up about racism.”
Hughes is right - don’t take stuff personally, unless it’s personal.
The circular firing squad is as old as activism, as old as the People’s Judaic Front. It’s premised on the assumption that there is a finite audience of sympathetic listeners, and there are only so many people who will get the mic.
The problem with this assumption, is that there are multiple problems happening at once, and in order to effectively address them, activists need to trust each other to some extent. The police certainly have a bigotry problem, and white folk can’t be expected to grok that as deeply as the majority who are nonwhite. But the police also have an accountability problem, that isn’t really related to their bigotry problem. And the accountability problem is blind to race. White people are going to have more available privilege to address the accountability problem, and black people will benefit (disproportionately) if and when that is solved.
But if people working the bigotry angle don’t trust people working the accountability angle, it leaves us vulnerable to the divide-and-conquer tactics of COINTELPRO and the like.
If only black people get to have something to say about reforming the police, then it places a group of people with very limited political power, against one of the strongest political factions, the police unions. It’s easy to see how this kind of asymmetrical conflict benefits the status quo.
TLDR: If white victims of police oppression can’t learn to to work together with black victims of police oppression, then we probably don’t deserve to win.
Words to live by!
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