White people, you need to organize your people. White allies in the struggle for social justice who are truly anti-racist need to be out in white communities now more than ever. White people need to be organizing in white communities, not just against Donald Trump, but against the pervasive ideology of white supremacy in all of its manifestations.
This doesn’t mean all white people, of course. That’s not realistic. But for those well-meaning and well-intentioned white people who have claimed to be allies; those who are appalled at the current rise of a rhetoric of hate and isolationism; those who believe in a free and just democratic America, one that is better than even the founding fathers could have imagined, you need to speak with your feet. As the old African proverb says, “When deeds speak, words are meaningless.”
Activist and writer Thandisizwe Chimurenga has pointed out that while white supremacy must die and is dying, we cannot and should not expect its supporters to let it go without a fight. She further pointed out in a piece following the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that we need to protect ourselves and our movement in deliberate ways. Chimurenga reminds us to stop taking these right-wing white supremacists so lightly because they are planning how to take us out.
This was evidenced this past Saturday. After Twitter spent Friday making fun of the cheap TIKI torches white nationalist marchers showed up with in Charlottesville, the right came back strong on Saturday, killing one of our allies and injuring scores more in a targeted attack. Similar to how terrorists used planes to attack the United States in 2001, these terrorists used automobiles. But the intent was the same — to attack America, to attack American citizens.
We just passed the third anniversary of the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. When the Black community took to the street after his murder, the response of the law enforcement community was swift and forceful. Peaceful protesters were met with riot gear, tear gas and tanks. Yet, when the extreme right, many of whom are openly anti-government and anti-American, show up in Charlottesville, they are granted a permit to march. And even after their Friday march in Emancipation Park turned violent, there was very little police intervention. One would have thought after such a violent showing on Friday, the police would have been out in force on Saturday to quell any possibility of these extremists getting out of hand, and yet they were allowed to roam the streets armed to the teeth, beating counter-protesters and causing mayhem, culminating with the attack on a peaceful crowd by James Fields Jr.
To the degree that the police were present, it was to protect the white nationalist marchers. On Sunday, they responded quickly to escort “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler from his botched press conference to the police station for his own safety. While there were few if any arrests on Saturday prior to the terror attack, despite multiple incidences of unprovoked violence by white nationalists on peaceful counter-protesters, the police arrested and charged a man with assault on Sunday for spitting on Kessler as they escorted him to his vehicle.
Because they have the police on their side, and they seem to be better organized at this point, counter-marches and protests against the alt-right are not effective.
We need white allies to join Kessler’s organization. We need you to join as many of the alt-right organizations and chat groups as possible. Infiltrate them. Join their organizations. Go to their meetings. Join them at the gun range. We need you to infiltrate and work your way into leadership positions of these organizations. We also need our white allies to share intelligence about their actions, their strategies, their strengths and their weaknesses. Expose their members when they are in education or law enforcement or other positions of authority where their racism has a direct impact on people’s everyday lives. Infiltrate them in order to share information that can help undermine their ability to organize and grow.
In the past, we’ve had white allies like the United Freedom Front and before them the Sam Melville-Jonathan Jackson Brigade. This group had done surveillance of Klan and white supremacist groups in and around the Boston area and planned to infiltrate groups in order to stage an armed action against them. Unfortunately, their plan to infiltrate and attack the Klan never came to fruition. However, they did make significant contributions in support of numerous movements by and for people of color in many different forms including political protest for over a decade. But we need more groups like this. White allies willing to infiltrate and fight back against white supremacist organizations.
We need to work with white people where we can — and work against them when we can’t. As our allies, you can go places we can’t and we need you to first realize it and then strategically and intentionally use that to benefit the struggle against white supremacy. Is it risky? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes. But that is all the more reason for you to step up if you are as committed to equality and justice as you like to tell yourself you are. This is actually your fight. These alt-right extremists come from your communities, your schools, your families. People of color put their lives on the line every day just living in a white supremacist and reactionary America. But we should not have to, and the primary responsibility for dismantling racism and white supremacy should never fall on the victims.
It is also important for you, our white allies to have a nuanced understanding and critique of white supremacy so that you can see that it does not just manifest itself in overt organizations like those who make up the alt-right. We also need allies to infiltrate and push back against racism and white supremacy in the Democratic party and many centrist and left-leaning organizations.
Many well-meaning wannabe allies have responded to post-election acts of racism and overt hate crimes as though it is all a new phenomenon. Sarah Fuchs, a longtime educator and activist from Berkeley, Calif., says white allies need to “get over the faux surprise and innocence that is a function of whiteness in this country and use the considerable space and privilege whiteness allows to do the work. And don’t take up space doing it.”
Fuchs reminds our white allies that we need them to “create as much space as you can, however you can, and then as soon as possible, get out of the way and support in any way you can.” So, if you are white and outraged at what you see in Charlottesville or in your own community, step up. We need you. America needs you.
Dr. Gaidi Faraj is a Pan African scholar, writer and entrepreneur. He holds a PhD from University of California Berkeley in African Diaspora Studies and resides between the US and Mauritius.His twitter is @iamgaidi