Whiteness, Globalization & Working class grief: Protection Spells (part one)
whiteness, globalization and working class grief: protection spells (part one)
On the way back to joshua tree, after a weekend of doing and thinking about protection spells, i drove down route 66. I found ‘americana’, cultural nostalgia. I learned that route 66 was the way that folks from the south and the midwest went to get to california, los angeles, the pacific ocean, year round warm weather, beautiful people; a dream world.
As someone with an academic background in community development, anthropology, and public health, I spend a lot of time thinking both about the modern day struggles in a world ravaged by globalization and big box capitalism- which are the result of the failures of colonialism. When europeans came here they stole land and killed the folks living here, with a pipe dream promise of a better tomorrow. The height of route 66 was the time that trump refers to as the great days of america. The days before civil rights, before queer/trans visibility, before 2nd and 3rd wave feminism, and before the occupy movement, before intersectional feminism and black lives matter. The days when social oppression of folks who aren’t heterosexual white men was largely invisible in the larger cultural discussion. When women, queers, folks of color, asked for human rights,the pipe dreams of the white, male, descendants of colonizers felt their entitlement questioned, and that felt like an attack.
Working class white folks are missing the part about their ancestors enslaving africans and killing indigenous folks to build a pipe dream world wouldn’t be able to sustain. American rule turned into corporate rule when cheap labor was sought overseas. So when rustbelt communities, logging communities, old highway tourist communities started to fall, working class whites blamed brown people. When capitalism fails, fingers are pointed; as Brene Brown states, blame is a way to discharge pain and suffering. We can look at the result of failed capitalism when we see many of the social problems that have arisen. The opiate epidemic, meth manufacturing and addiction in rural areas, gang violence, gender based violence and hate crimes. All can be linked back to the loss of an American dream, one rooted in a denial of basic human rights, and the entitlement of white men.
This is what i think of when i think of Americana. Nostalgia rooted in a false idea of entitlement, rooted in white supremacy.
So how does this inequality, the loss of small business, the growth of global capitalism and corporatization of goods, relate to collective healing?
When we talk about trauma, it must be acknowledged that trauma is collective. My time working in rural america, serving the needs of working class and poor whites, being from a lineage of working class whites, allows me to see what hope and entitlement looks like when it goes to the grave. It looks like resentment and blame placed on immigrants and people of color. The illness, and sickness, the lack of jobs because jobs have moved overseas. They can’t see that we did this to ourselves. Working class white America is so blinded that we couldn’t see that these shopping malls were our graveyards. No, not a win for China, India or Russia, not a win for the black and brown, a loss for all working people, a win for the richest of the rich when we go blind to see their violence. And that’s how we all remain unaware, unwoke.
Collective healing means telling the truth about our pain, and listening to that of others. Collective healing means protection magic so that we don’t seek protection in bigotry and blame.
To feel protected, to feel safe in our skin, brings forth the ability to disarm our privileges. No longer, white ladies, can we call the police or report to instagram when we see black and brown folks taking up space. Nope, that is not real protection. Men who feel disenfranchised by loss of entitlement can not abuse women and femmes as a way to gain power back. The act of weaponizing our privilege, of reacting to loss of entitlement with anger and blame, will not protect you. We are most protected when we face our traumas and our fears, we name them, and we work to heal them. We are most protected when we learn to call out the injustices in our community. And when we remain protected, to learn about our own harms will not make us feel weak- we can stay strong in our fight to do and be better only when we stand protected in ourselves.
So, as a witch committed to social justice, racial equity, intersectional feminism, and tearing the white supremacist capitalist seeds from my capricorn heart, i seek ways now to remain protected, when engaging with working class whites, white folks with fragility due to mental illness and trauma, and all beings willing to open up and listen.