A Letter to (White) Liberalism

To Whom it May Concern:

You’ve moved on. Placing a cute emoji behind my hashtag, your conscience is cleansed, and you’ve now moved on to other things — Donald Trump, perhaps, or maybe your continued self-assault on your own children through gun violence. I no longer register to you, and truthfully, I never did. You pimped me for ratings; your coverage of my deaths wasn’t about raising awareness concerning your continued assault against my existence, but about how much money you could gain from replaying my deaths on a loop. You don’t mind me kneeling, as long as I make sure to say that I support the troops (but I don’t). Your life is only made possible by me, but you cannot say my name.

Lena Dunham.

To you, I have become nothing more than a slogan. Your cheap identity politics are killing me; despite your claims that you sympathize, despite your desire to “understand” my so-called humanity, your continued erasure of my existence lets me know you don’t give a damn. And you don’t have to; why would you, when your wealth, your security, your very existence is only possible through my erasure? No matter how much you claim that I and my lives matter, deep down, if you really thought about it, you’d realize that you don’t really think that my lives matter to you. And despite your neurotic self-delusion, somewhere, even deeper than your denial, you know: my life is the very matter that makes your life possible. Emma Gonzalez is only possible because of me; Rose McGowan is only operative off the back of my existence.

I am the source of your queer resistance; I was trans before you even knew what the term was — which is why you made laws denying the possibility of our intimacy. You consume me for sustenance; my existence peels back the layers of your epistemological certainty, your thirst for so-called “evidence” through the profitable production of body cameras. Your feeble attempts at legislative “reform” and your bastardized usage of the term “intersectionality” are only possible because I am the originary moment of your thought.

Your liberal “allyship” is a detriment to my life; Kim Kardashian cannot set me free, and even if she could, I would never take her offer. And don’t mistake my escape from prison as freedom. Greater mobility is not freedom; presidential pardons are not liberation. Your allyship has costs that I am no longer willing to pay. Your liberal preference for Reagan over Trump is the witchcraft of your existence; you forget that Reagan was just nicer when he killed me, and that allows you to think that we’re friends, that I could somehow overlook the shittiness of your political crumbs. I cannot, because I know that I am the source of your technology, the well to which you continually turn to develop your musings, your cultural formations, your “boxer braids,” appeals to so-called “diversity and inclusion,” and your stolen Grammys — and yes, even your strategies of so-called “resistance.”

This ain’t resistance or reform, fam.

Your cheap rhetoric, your turn to me during election cycles, your ridiculous refusal to call yourself out for the demon that you are, is killing me. But I will still live. Indeed, I have always lived beyond your attempts to kill me through outright hatred or liberal sympathy. Neither works for me, and if you actually slowed down long enough to realize this, you’d agree. But agreement with the truth of my existence would entail nothing less than a reduction of your hegemony, which would feel like death to you. In order for you to recognize me, in order for you to actually get the “change” that you say you seek, you would have to feel death’s sting; you’d have to undergo such a radical transformation that you would no longer exist as you do. And for you, that is too much.

Yes, I am asking you to kill yourself. Not because of some vengeful streak in my existence. I don’t want revenge; I never did. What I want is for you to stop telling the lie that you are the pinnacle of human existence. Your truth is a lie; Donald Trump is the monster you made, and your continued attempts at “resistance” are merely attempts to get rid of the very thing that you made, of the very thing that you are. If you actually thought about it, you’d realize that your Democratic Party is nothing more than the other side of Donald Trump’s coin. He may be the heads, but you are the tails; your continued attempts to keep the military and police, and your continued failure to grapple with the violence of capitalism (and specifically “racial capitalism,” as Cedric Robinson once coined it) has nothing to do with me. Don’t recruit me for your resistance, because your resistance is not really resistance. You don’t know what resistance is, because you don’t know the cost of resistance; you don’t know that resistance costs you your life; and because you remain unwilling to die, you will never experience the transformative possibility of resistance. Yes, I’m asking you to kill yourself — not because I hate you or want revenge, but because your death is what it will take to get the change you rhetorically claim you seek.

What you also don’t understand is that there is life beyond death. You’ve killed me millions of times, and in recent times, you’ve killed me on tape. But my deaths don’t stop my life. My life, my life force, extends beyond your crass and unsophisticated pragmatism, as well as your violent claims that white supremacy is “not you”. You don’t think that it is, but, really, really, it actually is you. It is who you are; you’re just nice about yours. And that’s actually worse. Your claims to diversity and inclusion, your push against “divisiveness,” your desire to try and “humanize” everyone is really a misguided attempt to make everyone in your image. But no matter how much you try, you are not God; you may have made a world in your image, but there is life beyond your world. There are people who live in your world, but are not of it; those people are my people.

So yes, please, die to yourself. Die to your smug, safe, liberal compassion; kill the instinct to cry in the face of my deaths. Eradicate the attempt to sympathize with me, and allow the veracity of my otherness to penetrate into the depths of your being. De-center yourself; yes you matter, but not as much as you think you do. Don’t ask for my votes; get out of the way. Don’t run for office; support those who do not placate to you, who refuse to offer you the cathartic satisfaction of contributing to some historical achievement. You’re not that important; and realizing this will feel like death to you. It will entail nothing less than a complete reorganization of your existence. I don’t want to be included in your frames; I want to live my life unencumbered by your suffocating desire to make things right.

I want to live without having to placate your interests; I want to live free of your political strategies.

I want to divest from your whole enterprise.

I don’t want to have to be collegial.

I don’t want to have to make you feel good.

I don’t want to subsume your violence against me under your now self-inflicted violence. I want to be able to say that your opioid crises and school shootings are your chickens coming home to roost without having to elaborate or nuance that claim.

In short, I want to speak my truth, freely, thoughtfully, and passionately without being threatened with “shutting down conversations” or cutting off dialogue.

Because, the truth is, your dialogue is only a self-dialogue. It is a monologue in two.

And while you draw from my sustenance to continue your delusional self-conversations, I am not a consideration. My otherness doesn’t pierce you; my life doesn’t register to you.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this if you didn’t draw from me to make your life possible. What I am asking for is that you see, not recognize, my otherness; and if this is an impossibility, then I would like to be left alone, free to not pay taxes that will enable your beloved officers to kill me here and your beloved military to kill me abroad. What I want is to live unencumbered by your shit.

And while I know that this is probably impossible, I thought I’d write this letter to you just to let you know.

Now, you no longer have to ask about what I think.

Although, given your history, I’m sure you’ll do it anyway.

Signed,