White Democrats, centrists, liberals – basically the white folks who did not vote for Donald Trump – are having quite a time.
After four years, they are able to sleep. They feel calmer, lighter, they have a pep in their step. There are rumblings about spring break. “It feels good to only have to worry about a deadly pandemic now,” tweeted Jimmy Kimmel.
If only Black, Indigenous and Brown folks could only worry about a deadly pandemic, but alas we cannot. Make no mistake – we are still dealing with a legacy of deadly white supremacy in the US, something many white people think left town along with Donald Trump.
This week, I woke up to a message in my inbox, riddled with racial abuse. A message telling me to “go back to my own country”, written and sent with Joe Biden in the White House and Kamala Harris as our Vice President.
Miraculously, even with Donald Trump out of Washington and off all major social media platforms, including Instagram, women of colour are still receiving hate direct to their inboxes all across America.
While Kimmel sings a version of Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, Black, Indigenous and Brown people are still being stalked, harassed and attacked online and in person.
“For every white supremacist that gets knocked off, there are more who are still there. They can organise on other apps like WhatsApp or Reddit,” Shireen Mitchell, Founder of Stop Online Violence Against Women, explains. “It doesn’t matter what these random moments of success or relief feel like for white people. It doesn’t change for us. They aren’t their main targets. We are.”
To those of us who speak often, loudly and openly about racism and white supremacy, this social media purge of Trump and his Qanon sycophants feels like a game of whack-a-mole.
Not only do more moles appear with each whack, the whacked moles have already set up cities, towns, nation states elsewhere. In addition to WhatsApp and Reddit, the platforms Shireen Mitchell highlighted, there’s Gab, Telegram, MeWe. And that’s just to name a few.
Kicking a few bad actors off a few social media platforms does not “deplatform” them in a universe where new, heavily funded platforms are cropping up regularly.
The only thing that will end the violence of white supremacy is ending white supremacy. White supremacy has survived for centuries in this country. It was here long before Trump (psst: it gave us Donald Trump). It was here before Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. It was here before Lauren Boebert, Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
So where do we go from here?
A good place to start is with the sea of Kimmel-esque white liberals and centrists.
We can absolutely celebrate the new administration without erasing America’s white supremacist foundation. We can rejoice that President Biden has already signed a slew of Executive Actions aimed at racial equity while simultaneously acknowledging the rampant anti-Black racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that infects every institution in this country.
We can celebrate each day that white supremacists do not commit an act of mass terrorism, as they did on January 6, while acknowledging that white supremacists have been committing acts of mass terrorism in this country since its inception, well before January 2021 – and will continue to do so until and unless we dismantle white supremacy.
We can be grateful that more people weren’t killed during the Capitol attack while simultaneously acknowledging that had Black or Brown folks been the ones behind it, they would be dead or in jail, or, at the very least, not attending the presidential inauguration.
We can be hopeful without erasing the very real violence that BIPOC people experience in this country regardless of who is in the White House.
We can be hopeful without the toxic positivity that pervades white culture.
Black, Indigenous and other people of colour have never been safe in America. We have never had the luxury of relaxing. We have also never had the luxury of losing hope. If more white folks could hold these multiple truths simultaneously, it’d be a good start.
And we can still celebrate President Biden and Vice President Harris.
Saira Rao is the daughter of Indian immigrants, a former congressional candidate, co-founder of Race2Dinner and co-author of forthcoming WHITE WOMEN: EVERYTHING YOU ALREADY KNOW ABOUT YOUR OWN RACISM AND HOW TO DO BETTER (Penguin).