In the era of right-wing populism, white Americans are not monolithic in their support of Trump but rather are reacting to the current circumstances in different ways. Donald Trump did garner a majority of whites’ votes in last year’s presidential election with his ‘dog whistle’ slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ that appealed to white fears about losing their country and his overtly racist talking points. However, beyond his core base of supporters that embraces his reactionary policies of white nationalism, other white folks have decided to resist by packing Congressional town hall meetings, protesting in the streets and organizing for positive change.
Still another group of whites has taken a far different approach. Just as the civil rights movement had the SCLC, SNCC, CORE and the NAACP alongside the Deacons of Defense, the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement, some white anti-racism groups are employing methods of direct action to seek justice and fight back against their racial brethren.
Redneck Revolt is one of those organizations. The word “Redneck” conjures up certain images, particularly for a Black audience, and those images likely involve Confederate flags, pickup trucks and overt racism. This, however, is not what the Redneck Revolt is about. Think John Brown, the Free State of Jones or the Young Patriots. The Young Patriots, in particular, were a group of poor, white migrants from Appalachia who found common cause with the Black liberation and freedom struggles of the 1960s and joined forces with Fred Hampton of the Chicago Black Panther Party. This was part of the original Rainbow Coalition, which included the radical Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. Together, the coalition fought against racism and capitalist exploitation in Chicago and beyond.
Fast forward 40 years. Redneck Revolt formed in 2009 as an outgrowth of the Kansas-based John Brown Gun Club, a firearms training project, as Alternet reported. The group seized on the contradictions of the Tea Party movement, which attracted working-class folks who were hit hard by the policies of the wealthy, yet came out in favor of those same policies, which benefited the rich and exploited the poor.
According to its organizing principles, the group is anti-racist and anti-fascist and is comprised of working-class and poor people standing up against white supremacy. Redneck Revolt also advocates for “organized defense of our communities” and calls itself an “above ground militant formation” that is here to defend community and takes a stand against capitalism. The group believes that it is working in the tradition of working-class whites who have a history of “rebellion against tyranny and oppression” as opposed to the other working-class white tradition of being “foot soldiers of genocide and oppression.”
“In the periods before widespread adoption of white supremacist ideals, the white working class openly rebelled and found common cause alongside slaves, natives and other people being attacked and exploited,” the group says in its statement of principles, noting that in light of this cross-racial unity, the rich created laws in favor of white workers at the expense of nonwhite workers and servants to drive a wedge between them.
Redneck Revolt says it wants to incite a movement of white working people that will lead to the liberation of all working people regardless of race, religion and other designations. They occupy white spaces such as gun shows, NASCAR races and flea markets, according to Raw Story, and offer themselves as an alternative to the right-wing militias and white supremacist hate groups.
“In an age of a growing reactionary right wing and continued attacks on marginalized communities, it is paramount to discuss the role that armed defense can play in growing and developing liberatory social movements,” the group says.
“This is the sort of organizing essential to combating right-wing populism,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., a racial justice and labor activist who is the former president of TransAfrica Forum and a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies. “This organizing must confront race while directing white workers toward a realization as to who their actual fight should be with, as opposed to blaming Black people for the ills of the white working class.
“This is not about diversity trainings but organizing against the Right and centering the struggles against racism and capitalism.”
At a time when the white reactionary politicians and organizations racially scapegoat Black people, Latinos, Muslims and others, groups such as Redneck Revolt are part of an antifascist (sometimes referred to as antifa) movement that acts as a militant left-wing counterforce to neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and alt-right nationalists in the streets.
In areas where the extremist white-nationalist right has held pro-Trump “free-speech” rallies — places such as Portland, Oregon, Harrisburg, Pa., Pikeville, Ky., Berkeley, Calif., Asheboro, N.C., among others — a coalition of groups including the Redneck Revolt is responding and challenging the rhetoric and actions of what it sees as a dangerous trend in America of a new outpouring of pro-white groups that are ready to be violent against those it considers a danger to the country and their way of life.
Redneck Revolt sees itself as embodying the fight-back spirit of John Brown and laying claim as a white working-class organization that will challenge the policies, rhetoric and actions of Trump and his supporters.