POC: Stop Waiting For The White Savior
The media’s treatment of Charlottesville victim Deandre Harris has made it clear this will always be our fight
In case you missed it, one of the victims of the events this weekend in Charlottesville is this man pictured, Deandre Harris. Deandre is an aspiring rapper and special education instructional assistant who was beaten to near death for standing up for himself to KKK members. He recieved a concussion, an ulnar fracture and eight staples in his head among other various injuries. While the media has obsessively and perhaps myopically used the events to highlight both the inextricable ties of Trump to the disturbingly swelling movement of white nationalism coupled with the tragic death of the white comrade Heather Heyer if for no other reason than to enforce their rhetoric, they’ve unequivocally failed at reporting on Deandre Harris, a person of color seemingly unworthy of equal attention perhaps in comparison with a slain white woman.
The fact of this lopsided coverage should by no means take away from the tragedy of her untimely death at the hands of a disgusting fascist nor should that fact’s cynical nature undermine her commitment to solidarity, but in that disproportionate coverage in comparison with Deandre’s, the media becomes an ironic, metastasized examination of its own inherent racial biases while also noting it’s own questionable morality and commitment to social justice.
Three days in, condemnations of the alt-right and its cohort, proclamations of commitment to equality, revisionist emotional appeals in argument of the illogical and disingenuous nature of American values and a war cry that says resoundingly “fuck __ism!” all seem unavoidable. Yet within that deafening outpour of ostensible solidarity with the victims of this bizarre but familiar menace, one group is noticeably, though, probably typically absent in representation: the victims.
Save for smaller publications and alternative news outlets, you’d be hard pressed to find even a mentioning of Deandre Harris. Ironically, the Daily Mail, a notably, unapologetically conservative (ahem, racist) UK news outlet seems to be the only major publication to cover his story. CNN, Washington Post, New York Times? Hardly front page news. To be fair, ignoring the swift coverage of Heyers, it is only three days out and CNN briefly mentions Deandre in one sentence in the article “Charlottesville Activists: Love Trumps Hate Eventually” but only as utility to serve a greater narrative of “this isn’t our town” which may be true and great PR for Charlottesville (the same town that allowed this bullshit in the first place, mind you), but hardly justice for Deandre. As a result of this gross failure to call attention to Deandre’s case, it’s understandable if you weren’t familiar with him before this. But it is frustrating. On one hand is illustrated the conspicuously vile trappings of for-profit journalism in an historically and intrinsically racist state and on the other, an inherent indifference, credit to seemingly insurmountable unfamiliarity (I hesitate to say ignorance) with the systemic oppression marginalized people face, given foundation by the privilege enjoyed by that same consumer base who wield the most influence over this media.
Yes, I’m talking about white people. Yes, I’m even talking about liberals. However, this writing isn’t to shame whites for racism or for not doing enough to combat it. It isn’t to shame them for enabling a milquetoast media. It isn’t to shame them for being born into a system that favors them, as if they prenatally opted in. There is no value in furthering the self lamenting of whites. In fact, this writing isn’t really for white people though it is encouraged to extract whatever lessons of value they might find here. This writing is by a working class queer person of color for working class queer (and straight) people of color, women, religious minorities and all other marginalized groups. My exhausting abuse of language here and inability to consolidate my thoughts is to convey one simple message to those people: stop waiting for the white savior.
Yes, while the acknowledgment of privilege and the expressing of solidarity from our white allies is important, these things cannot be the end game. To be frank, no one deserves a medal for not being an oppressor. That should be a given morally, intellectually and even pragmatically. Unless we’re actively in the streets directly confronting capitalist interests and the oppressors capitalism demands to sustain itself (be it through class and/or ethnicity), we aren’t doing enough. We can’t rely on centrist efforts of centrist policies by centrist politicians who head centrist organizations supported by centrist moralists that delusionally choose to work within a system that by design counteracts those very efforts, not out of preference or malice, but of necessity. So long as capital is the metric by which a system quantifies a persons value (never mind their culture, character or soul) and then by that doctrine demands that for one to be valuable exclusively by amassing capital, many must then have little capital and lesser value and so the result will always be that the pursuit of capital will supersede all else.
Because of this simple truth, it should take no greater scrutiny to arrive at the unavoidable conclusion that true social justice is incompatible with capitalism in any and all capacities. Period. You cannot fix a flat tire on a cracked wheel on a broken axle with tools that are built to fail. So given the liberal media’s lack of coverage of Deandre Harris, its hesitance to call James Alex Fields the terrorist he is, the exploitative treatment of Heather Heyer’s death, years of short sighted if not purely opportunistic empty promises and the willingness of those people to compromise with others whose status can only exist by way of your lack their of, ask yourself: are these really your saviors? If history is any indicator, the answer should be a no brainer.
It should be noted that my criticisms here are not directly aimed at white progressives, liberals or any other left leaning capitalists but rather the media and the inadequacies it promotes within those allie and vice versa. It is not my intention to undermine the value of that solidarity expressed, even if misguided, short handed or different in method. To all white allies of marginalized peoples, please keep fighting with us and to marginalized people, never forget that this is our fight that no one can win for us but us.
Feel no shame for being victimized but never accept being a victim. Read. Get informed. Get involved. Get active. If you’d like to take action right now, even in a small way, there’s a gofundme up for Deandre Harris. If you’d like to help ID the person responsible for the attack on Deandre, please share the photos displayed here. If any of this seems off putting, if this has made you uncomfortable or if you’re just curious about anything and would like me to expand, please feel free to contact me and I’d be more than happy to talk to you! Thanks for reading and keep fighting!