Part 1 of 2: It’s time to stand up against White Rage
by Regie Stites
On August 29, 2023, a public elementary school in my neighborhood in Oakland, California was closed for the day because of an emailed bomb threat. Incredibly, the threat of violence came about as a reaction to a weekend playdate at the school for children of color and their families, an effort by the school community to create a safe and welcoming space for all children.
If you are a compassionate human, you might be thinking:
Why would anyone threaten violence against children because of an invitation to Black, Brown, Asian and Pacific-Islander families to come to the school on a Saturday to play, socialize, and create a sense of community?
The answer: White families were not invited.
Welcome to the upside-down world of MAGA-fueled White Rage.
I don’t want to take you down the rabbit hole of “great replacement” paranoia to look for an explanation for how a simple and ordinary social event — a playdate— for children of color and their families could lead to racist threats and promises of violence. There is no rational explanation for irrational fear.
Is it really so hard to understand that Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) children and their families might need some additional reassurance of their welcome and safety in a mostly white school?
And yet, however irrational it might seem to be, we don’t need to dig deeply to find instances of White Rage leading to acts of extreme racist violence by white people. Just days before the bomb threat in Oakland, a white man in Jacksonville, Florida set out to kill Black people at an historically-Black local college but fled when confronted by a campus security officer. He then looked for other targets and murdered 3 Black shoppers at a nearby store.
As it happens, these recent racist murders in Jacksonville coincided with the 63rd anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday. On August 27, 1960, in Jacksonville, 200 white people armed with baseball bats and ax handles violently attacked Black civil rights activists conducting a peaceful sit-in at a local diner.
American history is saturated with incidents of White Rage and violence. Carol Anderson illuminates this history and its persistence in current events in her 2016 book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide.
White Rage is triggered by right-wing extremist rhetoric, incendiary words that play on the deep-seated and often subconscious anxieties some white people feel when confronted with a perceived threat to their privileged status at the pinnacle of America’s race-based social hierarchy.
For white anti-racist activists, now is not the time for complacency and silence. We need to speak out against MAGA-fueled White Rage whenever it erupts. This madness must be stopped.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series.
A link to Part 2 will be added here once it's live.
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