‘Divide and Conquer’ ~ The American Way

Dear President Biden,

If you are keeping up with what’s going on in the world, you probably did check out the clip of The Linda Lindas’ performance of Racist, Sexist Boy that I told you about yesterday since it was splashed all over the place, from NPR to the Washington Post. If you did, then you got to hear the drummer’s backstory to the song wherein she explains that before the COVID lockdown a boy at her school told her that his dad said to stay away from Chinese people and then when she told him she is Chinese, he backed away from her.

She didn’t elaborate on what he said or the look on his face, but I’m guessing that his backing away wasn’t out of embarrassment or confusion that he’d just said something incredibly mean and offensive and that he now had a major conflict on his hands set up by what his dad told him about Chinese people while this nice girl at school who is Chinese clearly isn’t what his dad said she must be. I doubt such a reaction would have engendered the song calling out his behavior. No, it’s much more likely that he sneered or recoiled in disgust (or both) and said something racist (and sexist – given the lyrics), showing himself to be yet another of those White boys who’ve been dangerously brainwashed to believe their parents’ bigotry over their own experience of others.

Then there are the Texas Republicans who are trying to quash curricula about critical race theory and the 1619 Project or anything else that might puncture the increasingly fragile bubble protecting White supremacy. And shit, we’re not even talking about critical gender theory or intersectionality and how all hell would break loose around any curricula squarely focused on those issues.

It seems not unlike what the wealthy light-skinned (predominantly male) slave owners in pre-US Virginia did when poor, light-skinned indentured servants and enslaved Africans rose up in 1676 against those who were oppressing them both, which was to invent race as a way to turn the poor light-skinned people against the poor dark-skinned people. Obviously, if poor light-skinned men could be convinced that their shared light skin meant they had more in common with wealthy light-skinned men than with poor dark-skinned men, then there was way less danger of the vastly larger number of poor people overwhelming the wealthy oppressors. Ergo, we got the social constructions of the White and, at the time, Negro, races complete with the fantasy that one is superior to the other, a fantasy that’s been honed to a very sharp, dangerous point for about 350 years.

I know, this is super basic Critical Race Theory 101, but I felt the need to spell it out before going on to draw a parallel with White parents, school administrators, and GOP State Legislators who, at some level, must recognize that if they don’t inculcate ugly racial stereotypes and discourage critical thinking among their White children, those White children will get hip to their bullshit and might just team up with Black and brown children to dismantle the systemic racism that keeps the whole messed up system lurching along.

And this, sir, is why you and VP Harris need to be honest about how America, our America, the one we all live in today, was founded on racism and sexism and continues to not only tolerate racism and sexism, but is propped up by it. It is who we are currently and if our leaders continue to deny this basic reality, it will be who we are forever. Also, if our leaders don’t shake some sense into that most-difficult-person, Senator Joe Manchin, on the damn filibuster, it likely won’t matter what you, Harris, or The Linda Lindas do or don’t say (or sing) – the GOP will gleefully carry on with their merry mission of plundering the planet and robbing the poor to keep enriching their wealthy White patrons, the hoi poilloi be damned – for real.

May we all be safe from lying liars.
May we all be willing to be honest about the racist ‘divide and conquer’ strategy upon which the US is predicated.
May we all trust we are strong enough to radically reimagine who and how we are together.
May we accept that far too many parents don’t know what’s best for their kids.

Tracy Simpson

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