How I Became an Anti-Racist

Liberal Currents is a publication by some of my friends, mostly libertarians and ex-libertarians. Last week they ran How I Became an Anti-Racist. Here’s my contribution:

Cathy Reisenwitz

As a public advocate for libertarianism I noticed women and people of color were underrepresented in libertarianism. I wanted to understand why that is, and share with them what libertarianism had to offer. 

Step one for any marketer worth anything is to understand your target audience. So I started following Black women on Twitter (why not kill two birds with one stone?). 

Reading these women share their experiences and their scholarship taught me what racism is. Before, I thought racism was exceptional, deliberate, and aggressive. What I now know is that, first, racism is different from anti-Blackness. And second, that anti-Blackness is default, ingrained, and usually passive. In American culture, anti-Blackness is the air we breathe. It’s the assumptions we make about Black people. It’s the fact that we consider whiteness default, and in so doing leave it unexamined. I learned that because racism is default, we are all racist by default. And that racism won’t go away by ignoring it. We must purposefully, persistently, actively dismantle racism.

I also participated in a live-reading and discussion of Polyamorous People of Color: An Unvarnished Look & Call-To-Action, which I co-wrote with Ivy Summer. She’s the Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Organ House, the sex party cult I’m a member of and blogger for.

It’s been a weird, awful, amazing, wonderful, hopeful time. On the one hand, police are beating, tear gassing, and shooting rubber bullets at unarmed, peaceful protestors. Many of them showed up to the protests in Seattle and other cities wearing masks, with tape over their badge numbers. Fun fact, rubber bullets are designed to be shot at the ground and to ricochet into rioters who won’t disperse. But police shot them directly at peaceful protestors at close range. Police permanently blinded a journalist in one eye last week. Another fun fact, the tear gas police used on protestors is banned by the Geneva Convention. At least one protestor has died of an asthma attack after inhaling the gas.

How many levels of untouchable do you have to be on to respond to accusations of exessive force by maiming and killing peaceful protestors?

If you’re confused about what exactly people are protesting, this video is a good 30-minute summary. I find John Oliver frustratingly one-sided, but on this issue he kinda nails it.

So all that is terrible. But on the other hand, I’m seeing a lot of momentum on police reform/abolition/defunding.

When confronted with irrefutable evidence of police misconduct, police defenders like to say that there are a “few bad apples.” Which is a weird choice of words, since the rest of the phrase is “spoils the bunch.”

The problem isn’t a few bad apples. The problem is that the system is rotten to the core. America’s system of policing selects for violent, white supremacist, low-IQ bullies who are attracted to policing because it offers them the ability to physically abuse marginalized people without repercussion.

Firing the worst cops is one thing. But or real change, we need to completely rethink the way we do policing in this country.

What makes me hopeful is that I’m finally seeing widespread support for banning police unions, ending qualified immunity, de-militarizing the police, ending civil asset forfeiture, delegating traffic enforcement, mental health assistance, and wellness checks to unarmed bureaucrats, legalizing drugs, decriminalizing sex work, and banning violence against press and peaceful protesters.

This makes me really happy, and hopeful.

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