There’s been a lot that I’ve wanted to say in this past week. The events of last Wednesday — the Insurrection of January 6th, 2021 — are historic. I doubt we can really even grasp just how historic. I suspect that we’ll need some distance from them to full get there. And I hope that they prove to be a turning point, and not the beginning of something bigger; something worse. My body tenses just considering.
The thing is, these events didn’t happen in a vacuum. They didn’t come out of nowhere. They were shocking, but not surprising. Personally, I was expecting them. I’d long thought we were heading there. But, as I told a friend in an email, the nervous system is more powerful than the imagination. Nothing I’d imagined prepared me for what I watched unfold.
Right now white manhood is on a suicide mission. It is standing at the edge of disaster with a gun in its hands, and it’s willing to take us all down with it. For centuries, violent definitions of white manhood have cost countless lives of women, disabled people, queer and transgender people, people of color—and plenty of cis, straight, abled, white men themselves. Now, as we reach the apex of hypercapitalism that makes it harder and harder for white men to hold out hope that all they’ve been promised will actually be theirs, we see their desperation lead to terrorism, self-harm, and the catastrophic destruction of our environment.
~Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, p. 276 - 2771
As a cis, hetero, abled, white-bodied man, it’s important for me to slow down the experiences that we are experiencing, and look into myself. I have to understand how the energies that were unleashed in DC last week live in me. I have to understand my relationship to those trauma stories. Without that kind of inquiry, I’m afraid that we won’t be able to eliminate these oppressive forces.
What are all the ways I see myself in the men in the countless photos? Where are my violent impulses? Where am I dangerous?
The conditioning that lives in us runs deep. It’s part of who we are as men — who I am as a white-bodied man.
It’s my hope that this moment proves to be a turning point toward something new, something brighter. That, however, requires those of us in bodies like mine doing our work.
This is a must read book. It came out just five weeks before the events of January 6th. It reads, in many ways, like a response to it. But it was a warning.↩︎