What We’re Reading: on white supremacy, racism and self-care

First Class Racism by Jamelia

…On Thursday my daughter and I boarded a Train at London’s Euston station after I took part in a photoshoot. We’d had such a fun day together, and looked forward to our journey home. Tiani, my daughter, wanted the window seat, she scooted in and looked for the book she was currently reading as I readied myself to be seated too. As I took my place, a woman in her early 40’s approached me and in quite an accusatory tone asked me “Do you have a first class ticket?” I was genuinely confused at her question, why would I be sat in the 1st class carriage without one? I look at her, she isn’t dressed as if she works for the company, I glance around and it clicks…My daughter and I are the only black people in the carriage. I feel it’s necessary to give her the benefit of the doubt, and for clarity, I ask “why did you ask me that?” she leans in, and in a hushed tone, as if helping me out says “well i’ve just seen the conductor, and he wont let you travel in this carriage” again, I ask “why?” she replies “you need a 1st class ticket” At this point I feel her assumptions are crystal clear, i’m offended and my daughter’s face shows she has understood the rhetoric too. I feel this is a teachable moment, for both the woman in question and my daughter. …

Inside the Lives of White Supremacist Women by Kate Storey  via @MarieClaire

White supremacists may believe the country belongs to white men, but it’s an increasing number of white women who are fighting for the cause, says Kathleen Blee, University of Pittsburgh sociology professor and author of Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement. The movement appears to be growing overall—the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups and their activity, tallied a 48% increase in membership over the last 15 years, and estimates that of the 892 hate groups in the U.S. today, most are dedicated to white supremacy.

“Some have been actively reaching out to women,” says Blee, who has interviewed members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi groups, Christian Identity sects, and white power skinhead gangs across the U.S. “They’re interested in women because they see them as less likely to attract police attention and less likely to be police informers. Some of the leaders tell me if you recruit women, you get their kids and husbands, too.”

Generation treat yo’ self: the problem with ‘self-care’ by Arwa Mahdawi

Yes, it’s true: Donald Trump is gaslighting us all, and the media is lending him a helping hand. The news gets more surreal every day: secret sources, Russian rendezvous, pizza-based pedophile conspiracies. A constant cacophony of the outrageous and the outraged; an increasing disregard for the distinction between fact and fiction.

Every time I look at Twitter, I feel like I’m going slowly insane.

So I don’t read the news as much as I did. I don’t go on social media as much as I used to. I’ve started to retreat inwards. I read books and walk my dog and try to ignore the dumpster fire going on outside, the smell of democracy burning. I’m not sure how to usefully engage with what’s happening, so, for the time being, I’ve stopped engaging at all.

You could call my behavior “selfish” or you could call it “self-care”. You’ve probably heard the term; it’s become a bit of a buzzword. As the political climate has grown more turbulent, interest in self-care has risen. Google searches for the term reached a five-year high immediately after the election last November. …

Dylann Roof Is An American Problem via @bimadew

… Dylann Roof wanted the jury — and by extension, the world — to know that this was not a crime of passion. Despite the bullets that had wound up embedded in the floor and in walls of the room where the victims had been assembled, he had been in control. Those 11 bullets he pumped into 87-year-old Susie Jackson? That wasn’t a frenzy you might want to associate with a mentally incompetent person. In his opening statement, Roof told the jury, “My lawyers forced me to go through two mental competency hearings.” In his journal, he had written: “Also I want to state that I am morally opposed to psychology. It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.” In his closing statement days later, Roof’s words were almost defiant in showcasing his lack of remorse. “Anyone who hates anything, in their mind they have a good reason,” he told the jury. In a “you’re the real racist!” narrative switcheroo, he said: “The ones who hate me have been misled. Anyone who thinks I’m filled with hate has no idea what real hate is.” So Dylann Roof needs his sanity. It’s part of how he sees himself. It’s also a lucid metaphor for this crime, and its place in the continuum of American identity.

What will it mean when Dylann Roof dies by the state? Forget the possible martyrdom other white supremacists get to bestow on him — what would it mean for America? Dylann Roof is an American problem. His death may seem akin to excising a tumour — a clean and decisive move so the rest of the organism can thrive. But what if the whole damn body is riddled with disease? Cutting out the one part is not doing anything about the rest of the ailment. In the rush to call Dylann Roof every name under the sun (an evil monster in a borrowed human suit, essentially), there is a subtle rejection of the idea that he is more common than is comfortable to think about. To reiterate: Dylann Roof is not a Dylann Roof problem – he’s an American problem. And to constantly reject this, to isolate him as a one-off — until the next one-off, of course — does us all a disservice. …

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