Many people fear that we’re about to become a fascist police state. I think it’s truer to say that America has always been a fascist police state, we’re just worried that it’s about to happen to us—the white people, and particularly white women. I’m definitely not the first person to observe that “dystopia” usually just means “what already happens to people of color in real life, but applied to white people.”
Of COURSE I’m worried that RBG’s death will lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. I wrote a play about that in 2016. But that happened in the SAME WEEK that we learned that we, America, were forcibly sterilizing women in our immigrant concentration camps.
Of COURSE I’m worried that the visible, gradual merging of right-wing militias and police forces will result in increased violence from the state. And that’s happening in the SAME WEEK that the only charges to be filed in Breonna Taylor’s murder were against an officer whose bullets missed her and damaged an apartment of hypothetical white people next door.
Pretty much everything that white people fear will come true is already here, has already been here, and in fact has been in this country from the beginning. We’re just becoming the targets of what we’ve historically done.
There are drones flying overhead? People are getting disappeared, taken who knows where? Armed men with no accountability patrol the streets and do pretty much whatever they want? Think about what America has done to the people of the Middle East.
We’re worried about a coup? About “losing democracy?” We literally overthrew the government of Guatemala because an American fruit company was worried about the price of bananas.
One of the most impactful experiences I’ve had this summer was watching panel of mostly BIPOC folks talking about how to make things more just. The majority-white audience had one overarching question: “What can we do?” And the response from one of the panelists absolutely floored me: “What CAN you do?”
The truth is that we’re conditioned to think that certain actions are for other people. “Someone will fix that.” “Someone will do something.” “Something ought to be done.” It’s not gonna happen, friends. We’re not going to wake up tomorrow with everyone suddenly agreeing that actually, we shouldn’t let police hunt Black people for fun. We need to take action. It’s not enough to be down-with-the-struggle. We need to do everything we can with what we have.
A dear friend of mine caught COVID, and told me that she was having trouble breathing. She needed a humidifier and medicine. I thought about ordering her one online. And then I thought, “CAN I move my afternoon meetings and hand-deliver this potentially life-saving medication TODAY, rather than have it arrive by the end of the week?” And the answer was yes, I CAN do that. So I did. And in the process, I ended up getting exposed to COVID. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we took precautions, but in the end, it needed to happen to make sure my friend was safe and could breathe. I don’t regret it.
So here’s my question to you, with gratitude to you for reading this far and really considering your answer:
What CAN you do?