What’s worse than a racist? What’s worse than a person who burns crosses, uses racial slurs, toes the line of offense to be edgy, or outright commits acts of violence in the name of bigotry? Their friends, their family, and everyone else who all observe their behavior and go “They mean no harm.”
We often forget that people can hold multiple beliefs, that a person may consider it polite to take a hat off indoors but perfectly acceptable to throw a rebel flag on the back of their truck. It’s the illusion of racism as a cultural value, as a quirk that allows people who may be “good” on the surface to turn their heads away when the air grows thick with tension and hate. People of color know this feeling too well and in this cultural epoch we are witnessing prolonged cries and admonishments from the oppressed being appreciated on social media platforms, but hardly being acknowledged in the real world. Before social media, folks erased any doubts of latent racist beliefs by diversifying their relationships and now, we diversify our friends lists. This is not a trite observation; while the idea that what you do online fails to manifest in the physical world rings true, we continue to have a problem.
Black people’s time is thought to have come, because we are the generators of culture, the makers of memes and practitioners of “petty”. Still, what have we gained? It appears that the world is changing, that people are listening, but Donald Trump is still our President, Bill O’Reilly still received a huge severance package for calling a Black woman “hot chocolate”, and feminism still excludes Black narratives for a “stronger together” message.
Often folks react to our stories and written explorations with genuine “eureka” moments. We also receive our own fair share of backlash; with some pieces we see people retreat. We see them coalesce around folks who were “nice to [them] when they hosted [them] at [their] house”, who “came from a good family”, who “were always sweet”. This narrative forms protective layers around privileged men who do heinous things. It also persists in this time of social awareness even when we know better to let it do so. We saw this narrative in action with the publication of our article on Black Lips’ bassist Jared Swilley. It was harrowing to see folks shrug and ignore the facts or to lash out and say terrible things in his defense.
So what do we do now?
Well, we do not back down and grow discouraged every time a person of privilege shirks off a despicable act like a hero walking away from an explosion. We continue to tell the stories of those who suffer, and we continue to tell the stories of those who would otherwise go unheard. We continue to navigate the collective trauma of these sometimes troubling stories with irreverence, humor, and passion. What WUSSY does has never been easy, and even we as a publication have so much to learn, but what we do know is that we are not scared. We never have been, and we never will be.
Thank you for your continued support,