We can all agree on a single point: the monologues delivered during the Real World: Xavier Social Issues Monologues were more than electrifying. There wasn’t one that failed to arouse the utmost support and sympathy amongst the crowd of Xavier first-years.
All political differences stood at a standstill. All briefly stood united as allies for a moment before the testimonies, testimonies which openly expressed their issues or concerns with becoming acclimated to collegiate life at Xavier. But out of them all, there was one that stood out as exceptional, insofar that it related to recent developments in the political sphere. Most of the monologues dealt with issues of individuals coping with college life while being physically or mentally disabled in some way or the anxieties that plague the minds of incoming students. But the speech delivered by Rhandi Wallace effectively mobilized not just sympathy, but solidarity.
There was, however, a caveat. The problem is not that it was too radical, too impassioned or too angry, but that it was not radical enough. The moment that especially stuck out was the apparent surprise at the notion that racism could continue to exist today — that “it’s 2017.” That, not only is the issue of a continued discrimination “not caught up with the times,” but that we should “wait patiently” for change to happen.
The problem with this is that temporality is irrelevant — that racism continues to exist today is not “exceptional,” it’s not abnormal and it doesn’t result simply from ignorance. The predispositions of a racist person aren’t found in a lacking education — in fact, one can easily find the most disgusting racism not in Trump-populist circles of what are, wrongly, called “White trash,” but in academic environments, especially in the field of evolutionary psychology and other pseudoscientific dogmas. To treat racism today as an aberration that is the fault of individual ignorance is to fail to recognize that racism is not only systemic but continually reproduced within the contours of human activity today.
What do we mean by “racism?” To define it as bigotry toward other peoples based on external appearance, national origin or cultural identification is not enough. The roots of racism are immanent to the structure of modern society itself, not a dying remnant of a less developed past. What we call racism is a projection of the general misanthropy of capitalist society onto its peripheral citizens.
To put it very simply, the same relationship between proletarian and bourgeois subjects are reified and displaced onto the “Other.” The archetypal unemployed, poor white “redneck” who blames immigrants for job insecurity can feel like his own master when a systemic problem is shifted onto an external intruder. It is too simplistic to frame the issue of a lack of understanding or of ignorance on the individual level. This is nothing more than concerning oneself with the symptom without diagnosing the disease itself.
This is where we should begin: We must not be afraid of a radical critique of a society which not only tolerates the expression of racist speech and behavior, but one that engenders it in the first place. To treat such issues as individual aberrations is to miss the mark completely, because it assumes that the only difference between you and a White supremacist is that the latter is not learned enough in the beauty of a multicultural, colorful society. The naiveté is shockingly weak, intellectually lazy and even dangerous.
Do we think the likes of Richard Spencer could be absolved of their crime by merit of having a #discussion? Is the difference between you, a Universalist liberal, and David Duke merely a misunderstanding? To assume so is to wrongly assert that one operates by the same standards as one’s opponents. If it’s only misunderstanding that separates you and a White nationalist, and if upon understanding their ideas you become friends, then the hostility between the two of you has been ultimately false, and it is evident that for you this is not an issue to be taken seriously.
The fact we must face is that there are real enemies here, and the solution cannot be resolved by word-mongering and self-masturbatory chant hymns. The recent events in Charlottesville are testimonies to the harsh reality that we are not simply fighting a remnant of older modes of thought but that there is a profound resuscitation and even a normalization of “fringe” fascist movements.
We must admit that we as a Left have unilaterally failed in our mission to stop this. Why? Because we have remained “patient” for the revolution to start. We wait for the day where there will be a great overcoming of our problems and a resolution of all differences in society. This mentality betrays an absolute faith in the status quo but fails to recognize that our ills have no basis in anything outside actual people. There is no “Other” that will save the day.
We must be vigilant, and we must not be afraid of confronting the evils that face us. We and we alone are responsible for the society we live in because there is no external figure guaranteeing our existence or our democratic standards. If we do not actively reproduce these standards, they will cease to exist. If we do not actively fight the causations of racist or bigoted behavior in general, it will continue to thrive.
We must begin to approach the world like engineers — the only way to truly change the world we live in, from the ground up, is to subject it to critique. We can radically reorganize society so that racism has no foundational basis of existence. We can end police brutality, misogyny, homophobia and gender inequality, but this is contingent on us and us alone, because only we are responsible for this world. And if we are responsible for a world in which racism continues to exist, does this not make us active participants in its reproduction?
An eye that gazes into evil and refuses to confront it is a participant in that very evil. We must organize, we must theorize and we must be active in the struggle of emancipation. There is no guarantee that things will be all right.
Is there a Left which can effectively provide an alternative? Do we have faith that another world is possible, or are our lamentations over social injustice merely left-liberal virtual signaling? These are questions which will only be answered in practice, through the work of actual men and women for others.
The oppressed and the damned of this world don’t need your tears, and they don’t need your sympathy. What they need is your solidarity. We must become more than allies — we must be partisans. We cannot take for granted the democratic institutions that are now under siege.
By: Grayson Walker ~Guest Writer~