I decide to take the scenic route north from I40 to
Fayetteville thru the Ozark Mountains and it is stunningly gorgeous. Lots of
woods, hills, rivers, forests! Not many animals, at least live animals: a
couple of dead possums along the almost 50 mile windy, steep, meandering road.
But several beautiful birds: brilliant red, glossy
obsidian, even a blue bird. Then a beige bird with the longest double feathered
It seems I’ve been on many 2 lane highways across the
u.s. since and including North and South Dakota – roads with no shoulder on
either side, no clearing really at all, let alone a sidewalk. The morning mist
from the valleys mingle with low hanging clouds making the landscape seem
mysterious and magical.
I want very badly to speak person-to-person with someone
from Arkansas, some tRump supporter, but I haven’t been able to approach anyone
willing to talk. Or anywhere (closer to the reason) I feel comfortable
stopping. There are about 4 or 5 VERY small towns along the route but they all
sport huge u.s. flags at their predominant churches with scalding jesus christ
signs (where will YOU spend eternity???), visible gun shops, and appear to be
very white if not all white.
So I’m not stopping until I get to Fayetteville where I’m
going to the Food Co-op, maybe to find tRumpers but alsoto stock up on food and maybe find a Y –
and see what the progressives are doing in town.
An older white womon approaches my truck, telling me how
much she admires my messages including the form, letting me know when I ask why
is she here, she’s an artist whose family has ‘lived’ in the Fort Smith area
for 200 years…
Then she gets a good look at my t-shirt, which today says
“Death to Racism”. She vehemently objects, telling me that this is violent.
“They” believe in killing, we can’t stoop to their level” she definitively
proclaims, as if wanting to terminate racism is the same as wanting to kill a person
you view as sub-human.
She tells me that even though she loves my truck – so
much so she just spent 15 minutes inside the co-op getting people to come out
and look at it – but if she had seen my shirt and the violence I’m advocating
by saying ‘death’ to racism, she would have never talked to me, never told
anyone about my truck.
I look at her and say really? Don’t you think we need to
kill racism? She physically flinches when I state racism needs to die. She has
told me how she fought the systems many decades ago to become a doctor and so I
ask her does she think misogyny, sexism, patriarchy need to die?
She nods and I see
decades of fight, strength, and success flash across her face when she states
the depths of misogyny womyn experience is unfathomable.
So I say racism needs to die just as sexism needs to die.
She looks a little conflicted and remains silent pondering when I ask her, what
would she do to racism? Have it hang around another 4 or 500 years? Put it in a
corner or exile it to someone else’s country? Why does she not want to kill
She tells me it is violent and makes me just like the
violent alt-whrite. I tell her killing an ism, killing a practice, killing a
structure, killing an institution is not the same as killing a human or the
mother earth or any life on the planet.
It is killing the
disease, it is eliminating the infection, it is destroying the contagion.
I tell her, but I don’t think she really hears me, that
the ONLY reason you’re saying ‘death to racism’ is too violent is because
you’re white. You don’t have to care deeply, you don’t have to make the
strongest statement you can summon, your life doesn’t depend on eliminating
I know the mentality she’s coming from, or the frame of
reference. It’s almost- except it’s not, it’s racism – like the people who say
we can’t be against anything, we have to be for something. Fuck that. There’re
LOTS of things I’m against – and for.
It’s using the “new age” or extreme ‘nonviolence’ blanket
to not face what is REALLY violent, and that is racism so I tell her calling
for the death of racism is not violent, but what IS violent is white silence.
Every moment white people go thru life without saying anything about racism,
every time we are silent or we accept the ‘comfort’ of walking into a place
(like the co-op I just went into), or go to a job, or live in a neighborhood
that is all white or mostly white & we don’t say anything, do anything,
THAT is violence.
Painting “Death to Racism” on a t-shirt is NOT violent.
I can see she’s reaching as she (kindly) accuses me of basing
my statement on hate, of being hateful and it is the hate that echoes the hate
I ask her, well how DO you feel about racism? She shifts
uncomfortably, and I think she’s trying to come up with a strong feeling that
does justice to racism but is not ‘hate’ for she really wants to be a ‘good’
person but one that hate and death doesn’t enter her field of vision.
I tell her I abhor racism, I detest it, I loathe it – I
wish there was an even stronger word, and I believe it is not just right to
despise and hate racism, but it is our duty to do so.
She’s nodding slightly so I ask her what message would
she paint on her t-shirt, should she decide not to remain silent about racism,
how would she say it? She doesn’t know but she acknowledges it’s a good
question and promises to think about it.
Weeeeellll, not the conversation I thought I would have
but I think it’s a good one.