Victim and victimiser: Why guilt doesn’t work in activism

Identity politics are thriving right now in race activism.
But instead of fighting the existing systems that are perpetuating inequalities, politicians such as Clinton only seeks to make the world seem more inclusive. This, according to ‘No is not enough‘ author Naomi Klein is how shock politics have spat out Trump and Brexit.
The fear of the other and national pride identity are stronger than mere ethics.

“‘Thank you for the umbrella, I didn’t realise I was wet.’
Part of what is raining on us is the message that we’re dry.”
– Ibram X. Kendi

In ‘How to be anti-racist‘, Kendi talks about the value of fear and ignorance in dehumanising people. Language is used to unconsciously redirect blame, such as drug addiction and prison reform becoming intrinsically linked to black people. In this way, black and white people cling to racism because they believe it to be beneficial to them. Either it keeps immigrants out, criminals locked away, or keeps our daughters safe: by becoming both the victim and victimiser, we do politician’s and corporation’s dirty work for them.

“Trevor voiced a literal willingness to die for his place in this hierarchy, rather than participate in a system that might put him on the same plane as immigrants or racial minorities.” – Jonathan M. Metzl

Metzl talks about the system that prevents people from helping themselves in his book ‘Dying from Whiteness‘. White people end up reproducing racist ideas, such as calling Medicare Obamacare and thus rejecting it, even if it is to their detriment. He talks about gun control and suicide rates, linking guns to patriotism and the need to protect yourself from the great ‘Other’ that goes all the way back to the Civil War in the US. And when attacked for these beliefs, people feel personally attacked, and thus cling even closer to their ideologies.

“Public scarcity in times of unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis, designed to extinguish our dreams before they have a chance to be born.” – Naomi Klein

Our society does not cater for what the soul longs for, so we react to fear mongering, consumerism and addiction. We hope that the hole inside of us can be filled, and when it is not, lash out to those who cannot speak back. Guilt does not work on people who are already suffering. If our goal is to change our abusers, only education will enlighten them to their messages hurting them too.

Often individuals become blurred and generalised: boys to thugs, numbers to an epidemic.
And sometimes, individuals become more than, rise to become an entire movement that pushes society forward. But it seems in order for a black person to do so, they needed to die first.

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