A letter to white liberals, my family and friends,
Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and that of the people who support him, makes each of you uncomfortable.
I share your discomfort, anger, sadness, and, at times, terror over what might come as Trump rolls out his nightmare vision of technologically armed white supremacist government.
But I am writing with a frank reminder and an urgent plea.
First, the reminder: radical queers, trans people, black people, Muslims, incarcerated people, Native Americans, immigrants and the undocumented, people with disabilities, and those who live at the intersections of these identities—all have lived with this discomfort and terror for decades or centuries. So, to watch this may feel like a nightmare unfolding, but its contours are not new.
Unfortunately, marginalized people have often appeared in liberal and Democratic efforts as tokens, people whose lives and value have been invoked in order to win elections but whose humanity has been negated by actual policy. In particular, too many liberals have been complacent toward mass incarceration, police violence and global militarized capitalism, which have kept whole groups of people vulnerable and unsafe in the U.S. and around the world.
Even before this election, we have been asking for something bigger, something more visionary than token diversity: A world in which Black lives really do matter. A world in which trans bodies are celebrated and safe. An end to white supremacist policies of incarceration and border control that take many lives each year. Economic justice and a rebuke of neoliberalism and privatization of basic needs like water, a demand that people across the globe have access to land, work, water, shelter and power.
These are beautiful possibilities, full of hope and solidarity. And yet when we ask for those things as a comprehensive vision, we are portrayed as absurd, as outsiders with impossible dreams.