This past Saturday and Sunday, white supremacists screeched, “You will not replace us,” in Charlottesville, Va. Neo-Nazis howled full-throated on American soil. These inarticulate battle cries came from Americans who believe they are losing their country. They believe the world, not just America, is and should be theirs because they are from a people who have conquered and created the entire world in their image.
As these self-proclaimed "defenders of America" marched toward and rallied around the (soon to be taken down) statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, one could debate that the removal of the statue is a symbol of how they are indeed losing their symbols, losing their America, and losing their American dream that always represented world domination. Yet their true fear is a fear of losing their safety and therefore their power. And this imagined safety that has been holding their world together is starting to crack.
White supremacists believe, regardless of whether it’s the 1920s when they called their black brothers and sisters the n word or it’s the 21st century and they march against their Jewish brethren, that they can and should dictate the terms of their existence and ours strictly based on an account of history that they have never learned with any real accuracy and fidelity.
They vehemently reject words like privilege because they must believe, in order to attempt to face another day, that everything they’ve ever accomplished has been generated and earned through their own capacity to be bigger, stronger, faster, and always smarter than all others. These white nationalists don’t believe in social justice nomenclature like patriarchy, feminism, or gentrification because they have intentionally and with great attention to detail manufactured a world to fit and constantly adapt to their lives. They also demand with deadly force that everyone and everything within their world assimilate and kneel at the altar of whiteness or be extinguished.
These sullen white supremacists would rather mutilate and demolish their own treasured America than turn on the television and cheer for a Latino James Bond, read bedtime stories with Muslim characters, or attend church with a Jesus donning skin of brass and hair of lamb’s wool hanging on an old rugged cross.
Any oppressed group knows that its oppressor has always feared the day when the slum seeks its revenge.
That fear has been affirmed by their president, Donald J. Trump, and his supporters, including white nationalist and Holocaust denier David Duke. Part of their fear is based on an understanding informed by scarce knowledge of the atrocities they have committed against those whom they have always needed to believe they are better than.
This grand display of domestic terrorism offers America yet another opportunity to confront white supremacy, not just white supremacists. And only self-identified white liberals and progressives are the individuals who should answer the call.
Yet the call cannot be answered by the same type of white progressives who perpetuated the racism against the black Americans who fled the Jim Crow South. The call cannot be answered by the same type of white progressives who for the last hundred years have sat in the suites and boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies and made excuses about why there’s a dearth of women, folks of color, the differently abled, and LGBT people in senior positions. The call cannot be answered by the same type of white progressives who lived in California and blamed blacks for the passage of Proposition 8. The call cannot be answered by the same type of white progressives who have consistently sat back and watched on live television the bodies of black and brown folks become still in their name by officers of the law and turned away.
Only a new American can resolve this cry. This new American will not have to be part of an occult practice or be metaphysical, but they will be one that the world has never seen. This new American must understand and embrace the changes happening in America and globally. This new American must know America's history in order to understand its present and its future. And this new American, who was once a "white American," can only diminish this uprising if they cease to be a white American.