Community Voices: White People Don’t Hold Each Other Accountable and That’s Why We Have Trump

By Ryley Rubin Pogensky

If you are someone who frequents Black Twitter, or sites like Blavity, Very Smart Brothas, or Wear Your Voice Mag you will see a constant thread in content: Black people calling each other out. Whether it be Black men calling out misogyny, POC writers calling out the lack of queer inclusion in the Black Lives Matter movement, or the often “cancelling” of certain celebrities. Black folks do the uncomfortable work of calling out those who are doing the most wrong. We do the work because we know in order for progress to be made anywhere we have to hold each other accountable. There can’t be excuses. We can’t let certain things slide. Any Black person will tell you that to be met on any level by a white person we have to come with the most polished proposal. We do the interior work because we want our exterior finished project to shine as brightly as possible. And when the white world tears into our work, we will have done it before them, leaving them nothing but a solid finished project.

But white people? Y’all don’t do that. And that is why in staggering numbers your brethren voted for Trump. White feminism is a cancer that has spread for far too long. It’s lack of accountability and intersectionality has led us here.

When Black folks and LGBTQ folks have called out the Amy Schumer’s and Lena Dunham’s of the movement, y’all didn’t listen. You let them keep on keeping on, as their exclusionary “humor” based on white lady privilege prevailed in doing nothing more than creating division. And yet nothing was done. No actions. No call outs. Sites like Jezebel this election cycle refused to acknowledge that a Trump presidency could in fact be a reality, and it’s not just them, as a whole the mainstream media laughed at the possibility.

schumerWhite feminist hero making same disparaging remarks as Trump and his supporters!

You know who didn’t laugh? LGBTQ and POC. We have been telling you for years that this hate exists. But no one wanted to leave their white liberal bubble and accept the fact that white people across this country are in fact racist. That for every liberal white person there are a few aunts and uncles in the family who are absolutely kind of sort of racist, and guess who they voted for?

While are voting system is private, leaving us only to assume the actual people who voted Trump in power, we do have polls. As polls show us exactly who did all the work: Black people. We protested Trump. We showed up at the polls en masse and performed the ultimate clapback.

It became a massive trend on Facebook to write statuses bragging about deleting sprees. “I’m unfriending all of my family and friends who are Trump supporters.” Well congratulations. You deleting them didn’t make them disappear. Your lack of clapback and interaction with them even if it was through liberal media posts, enabled them to slink back into their all white racist world.

Discomfort does in fact facilitate change.

The thing is white folks simply don’t need to clapback the way minorities do –because this system was built to uphold them. We were taught to celebrate things like The Boston Tea Party and The Women’s Suffragist movement. We had photos in our history books of young white kids burning their draft cards during Vietnam. How was your uplifting section on the Black Panthers? Oh you never had one? Me neither. Protest is celebrated in America when it is white.

“I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” – Susan B. Anthony

Well guess what? White people are actively protesting. They protested and organized so well in fact that we now have a president who was endorsed by not only the Nazis but the KKK.

So now, now that we as Black people did the most we could do, what are you as white folks going to do? Will you go past pouting on the internet? Will you check your relatives on Thanksgiving? You may, but you also don’t have to. You know why? Because just like always cis straight (and hey — gay) white people are gonna be just fine.


Part II: Shock is Privilege, by Louise Akers, a grad student at Brown University. She is a committed poet, activist, and scholar.

As a white ciswoman, I hold substantial privilege in the United States. On November 8, privilege like mine–white privilege–held by white men and women in this country, was wielded as a vindictive, retributive tool to punish our most vulnerable, marginalized citizens for the progressive gestures they have made toward equity/equality in recent years. White America voted. White America chose white supremacy as manifest rule of law.

My first reaction was shock. This is reprehensible, but I think important to unpack as a white person. It betrays my willful ignorance after years (decades, centuries) of rampant and unreprimanded police brutality against Black people and people of color, after well-documented, mainstream outcries against mass-incarceration, after conversations with friends and people that I love recalling their lived experiences with racism, after a rapist gained the nomination for the highest office in our government by running on a platform of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, the list goes on. I have been comfortable in my whiteness, my financial security, my blue state, low-impact “allyship”. Again, my shock is my privilege. I have not been listening, not really. My eyes have not been open, not fully. My empathy was curtailed by my experience. This boundary, this self-preservative, conscious or unconscious white myopia, is the bedrock of injustice. This is the unforgivable crime of white people in US America.

My feeling of shock was also rooted in another dishonorable symptom of whiteness. As a critically engaged person with an internet connection, I have been aware that systemic, institutional, and individual racism and misogyny are not only embedded, but foundational in US American society. Still, there persisted a kind of unspoken understanding–spearheaded by white liberals–that those practices and principles should not and would not be made explicit. Packaged in more ambiguous, agreeable monikers like “capitalism,” “free trade,” or “law and order,” bigots are allowed to exercise their prejudice with government sanction and financial reward–as long as they knew which particular words to keep to themselves. Donald Trump and his victory has not only made the fundamental US American principle of hatred explicit, but has declared it acceptable–even admirable, and worst of all: normal. I was not shocked that almost 60 million people in this country proved themselves to be bigoted rape-apologists. That, tragically, takes no real stretch of the imagination. I was shocked that they actually dared to admit it–and were consequently rewarded for it. To be shocked by something is to claim innocence; how could you have perpetrated something you cannot even believe? White sentiments of shock and dismay are the result of a need to deny culpability for the phenomena that led to a Donald Trump presidency. But the blood is on our hands–and will be for the next four years.

White supremacy has always been the rule of the United States. We erected a country on the rhetorical premise of equality and freedom, but with the intention and reality of capitalism, imperialism, genocide, white supremacy, and patriarchy. I am ashamed that I was for a moment shocked by the outcome of this presidential election. It only speaks to the ability my privilege offers me to be unaffected by the relentless, virulent hatred and intolerance that defines my country.

I am a woman, and I am queer and I am a survivor of sexual assault. Watching Donald Trump win this election was profoundly traumatic and has immediate, real-life consequences for me–far more than any prior election. Will I be able to marry my future partner someday? Will I be able to get an abortion if I need one? Will I have access to birth control? Was open season just declared on my body? Will any rapist or sexual predator ever be held accountable for his crime? However, despite these fears, for the most part–I will be just fine. I have the privilege of my whiteness, my presentation which is usually read as straight, my class, and my education. I will be safe from the worst of what his presidency has promised. I am subsequently terrified, not for myself, but for people of color, immigrants, other LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, mentally ill people–everyone, everyone surviving in exquisite difference who was told on the morning of November 9–in no uncertain terms–that they are hated and worthless in the United States of America. My heart breaks. Looking at the electoral map yesterday morning was a truly nauseating experience. I am haunted by the knowledge that for others, that same field of red was not only revelatory, but a cause for jubilee.

I feel depleted. It is hard to hold your friends as they weep and weep and be unable to come up with anything to say. It is hard to wake up in the morning with a pit in your stomach and trails of salt on your cheeks. I feel depleted–but I am determined to do anything I can to celebrate and protect the wellbeing and livelihoods of the United States’ most vulnerable populations. I will throw my considerable resources (financial, educational, emotional) where I can and use my access to empower and enrich others. I will do fucking whatever it takes to make this better. There is and must be work that I can do. I take ownership of my complicity in the society that created a Donald Trump, President-elect, and take responsibility for the preservation of our collective future. “Hatred is the bedrock of a settler nation,” Saidiya Hartman has said, but so is resistance. I believe in citizen action. I believe in effort. I believe in love.

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you

*dapperQ’s Community Voices is a platform for and by the community to share stories, opinions, and essays. We embrace diverse points-of-view and welcome you to join the discussion in the comments section below, on Twitter, or by pitching your own pieces for publication via [email protected]

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Ryley Pogensky

dapperQ's Community Voices Editor, Ryley Pogensky, is a native New Yorker currently residing in Brooklyn. He has walked runways from coast to coast, including Oakland's Queer Fashion Week; dapperQ's VERGE New York Fashion Week show at Brooklyn Museum; and dapperQ's VERGE Boston Fashion Week show at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Ryley was named dapperQ's 2014 "Person of the Year" and was cast in Barneys' groundbreaking “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters” campaign featuring 17 transgender models. Ryley can often be found behind the scenes of New York's biggest queer parties and in front of the camera for various queer photographers. You can read more of Ryley's work on the Huffington Post and on his blog Queergrub.

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