Posted October 9, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Community

POC Talk

The relief of Brett Weinstein and Heather Heyings’ resignation  was accompanied by the hardest of eye rolls following the news of the $500,000 settlement they will be receiving. As POC, the settlement reminds us that the damage and trauma that has been inflicted upon our community by a combination of ignorance and negligence has deep and empty pockets. Normally in POC Talk I do not take the time to address white people but this time due to the cathartic nature of this letter, I am making an exception.

This situation is a great learning opportunity, for the White community that rallied around Brett as a “good guy,” who “isn’t racist” (read: morally or personally bad), something better explained by Peggy Mcintosh, white feminist and anti-racist activist and scholar when she says, “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”

Brett is the definition of white privilege and fragility—the fear and “danger” he and his wife felt they were exposed to was only the slightest sliver of what POC deal with on an almost daily basis. The fear they were experiencing is not unique or even new to those of us who face backlash by fact of our mere existence. None of this is to deny the legitimacy of their fear, but instead to point out the privilege there is in being able to make the decision to place yourself in a space of vulnerability by publicly expressing opinions and ideas. This authority over the way people will treat you is what makes Brett and Heather the textbook definition of white fragility and privilege.

White fragility, a term I was recently accused of “creating,” is defined as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”

The White woman and scholar who actually created the term, Robin DiAngelo, explains that this fragility arises out of “a social environment that protects and insulates them [White people] from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress.”

Brett’s class had to be moved for fear of angry protesters interrupting it while my class and many, many others had to be held in a park and the school had to be evacuated for fear of being shot. While people talked about these two things as if they were equivalent, being yelled at and being threatened with death are obviously not comparable. Obvious that is, unless the former is being faced by a Privileged White man and scared white women. Privileged white men and scared white woman have been our deaths for centuries and this case put us in no less danger. Ask my fellow students, friends and faculty who received an onslaught of death threats. Black and Brown people had to avoid campus, miss classes, leave their jobs, and, in some cases, even move their entire lives and families because of death threats and doxxing, because of fear of being murdered, because of organized groups who would see us exterminated.

Dear White Liberals let me be blatantly clear: all this is directly tied to Mr. Weinstein’s TV appearances, the massive Alt-Right following his Thiel Capital executive brother’s possesses and the dangerous ignorance of “tolerant liberalism,” that can see the storming of our school by Alt- Right groups and death threats to students, staff, and faculty as equal to a group of students yelling at a faculty member.

This is classic white fragility, the inability to deal with the fact that maybe you are not the authority when it comes to issues of race and that your personal opinion isn’t only not needed but in the long run doesn’t really matter. It’s laughable that he thinks he should be entitled to $500,000, much less the almost $4 million they originally attempted to get because a group of student yelled at him. PoC, LGBTQIA+, disabled and other minority groups face harassment on an almost daily basis, it’s horrible and it’s traumatizing but ain’t nobody going to pay us $500,000 to deal with it.    

Our work environments are hostile, our personal relationships are traumatizing, academia is a hotbed of racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic garbage and Brett is example #1. As minorities we do not have the privilege to believe that we could be rewarded $500,000 for getting up every day to deal with white supremacy. We don’t deserve subjugation but we expect it, Brett does not deserve $500,000 but we expect him to get it. The system works flawlessly and the obfuscation from the white liberals eyes is all a meticulously crafted part of the plan. Black and Brown people deserve reparations and respect but we know we won’t get it because we are not a middle aged, college educated, White man with the money, time, and experience to bring a lawsuit against the people who oppose us. Brett is the epitome of what we are fighting against, not just the Neo-nazis in the streets but the “well meaning” highly educated freedom of speech liberals who would see us murdered in an attempt to offer tolerant free speech to the hateful among us. Brett is a reminder that even would-be or self-identified allies may be dangerous when they reclaim the power they have always had. The fact that Brett is in fact a jewish person shows how the concept of Whiteness is ever changing and morphing, giving and taking privilege to fit its own purposes. Brett holds true to form when we think of how capitalism, White supremacy and classism intertwine to keep each other standing.

So after almost one full year of anxiety-provoking coverage of Brett’s antics I am proud to say, Good bye, Good riddance, so long, farewell, See ya next never! I am 100% sure you will take your disparaging tour on the road in an attempt to not only further place students of color in danger but to keep reveling in that sweet, sweet alt-right fame you appear to have gotten a taste for. I hope your “liberal” mindset was more appreciated at the Ayn Rand Institute hosted “Are We Killing Free Speech?” event you spoke at on the 19th.

-POC Talk out!


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