White Men Who Fear Falling

Feminist movements have to answer for a lot of Whitewashing. Check out Audre Lorde (classic) or Brittney Cooper (contemporary) for analysis if this is a new concept to you. But the oppression of women does have a longer history than the oppression of Black and Indigenous people, both because Race is a construct and because you can’t oppress people if you don’t know they exist. It shouldn’t be a competition. The fact is, if we don’t work together to ensure equity for all people, we will continue to fail.

The source of the oppression is the same: Greed and Fear

I’m just doing a brief blip on this today, not a whole economic history. I’m a little out of sorts: tropical heat? feelings of White lady pressure & inadequacy? Coronavirus month 4? hormones? Take your pick; it’s been hard to write this week.

The overall theme is pretty simple:

If we don’t oppress women and people of color, they have the potential to be just as successful as us. Which would force us to confront the lie of our own superiority and work as hard as they do to succeed.

Primarily economic, but also deeply psychological. White male identity, historically, is grounded in an idea of God-given superiority. Perhaps some even fear they are less capable than women and Black folks. It’s okay, guy! If you work hard in a society that doesn’t stack the deck, you too can achieve greatness! Even if White people have committed most of the greatest atrocities the world has ever known, that doesn’t mean you are inherently evil. There is no superior or inferior race of people. Look at that! anti-racism can work for you, too!

Faulkner said it much better than I:

That’s what the white man in the South is afraid of: that the Negro, who has done so much with no chance, might do so much more with an equal one that he might take the white man’s economy away from him, the Negro now the banker or the merchant or the planter and the white man the sharecropper or the tenant.

William Faulkner, from “On Fear” Harper’s Magazine June, 1956

For the love of love, we have to stop thinking of opportunities as pie. There is not a finite number of people who can have a life of dignity and joy and peace. The world is not Jehovah’s Witness heaven. The only people who lose in a just society are those who profit off of injustice. The rest of us will be okay. Really.

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