Even in South Florida, we need to talk about white supremacy

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On June 24 I was facilitating a racial justice training when three men and one woman wearing a body cam came in and stood in silence with a banner that read, “No regret, we apologize for nothing.”

A couple hours before, one of the men had come in and asked to use the restroom. Immediately, my alarm bells went off – he was acting suspicious, refusing to make eye contact with my friend. He used the restroom and cased out the place – and came back later to terrorize us.

These men and women were members of  Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group that aims to recruit college students into the white nationalist movement.

This is what happened: Four young, white nationalists walked into an inclusive space armed with racial resentment, misplaced anger, and a long history of white domestic terrorism that supports their white fragility.

Identity Evropa was not in the room for more than two minutes, but the terror they made us feel will be seared in my mind and those in that space for a long time to come.

I would have never thought that white nationalists would show up to Stonewall Gallery in Wilton Manors – a white, liberal, gay male oasis – with their organized hate, but there they were. As a diverse city in the South, racism is as much part of our city as fried plantains and cafecito.

In the room were people committed to scrutinizing their white identity, people who want to have a deeper conversation about white supremacy. This group was made up of activists, organizers, queer folks, a heterosexual person, a non-binary person, a transman, and a 15-year-old, white people, Black people, and white-passing people.  All of them were there because they believed that white supremacy is going to destroy all us if we do not all divest and dismantle it.

Essentially, I talk to and organize the choir. The intended audience for my racial justice institutes are self-described liberals, progressives, social justice warriors, newbie activists, and Pinecrest mothers who, due to the election of Trump, have been violently awakened from their privileged-induced coma.

As a social justice practitioner I believe that racial healing is not only possible, but it is a prerequisite to making America great for the first time for everyone. Our greatness can only come about by collectively confronting our racist past and being real about how racism impacts us now currently.

A great America is one where  all bodies are valued, honored, considered worthy by default, where no one is considered illegal, undesirable, defective, or inherently dangerous.

I hold space and create spaces for these people to ask themselves hard questions like: What is strategic allyship? How am I complicit with white supremacy?

And, the most important question of all: What part of my privilege am I willing to give up for the liberation and radical inclusion of others?

My use of the word white supremacy is not only relegated to groups like Identity Evropa. Our entire country has been built on white supremacy, and there are many iterations of white supremacy in our culture.

Lately, I have been using the term “white liberal terrorism,” which shocks, angers, and confuses white liberals. The belief is “if I am not a member of the alt-right, then I am not a supporter  of white supremacy,” but to Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile who was killed by police in liberal Minnesota, the distinction doesn’t matter.

When my training was disrupted by white nationalists, a level of fear coursed through my veins that I have never truly felt before –  but it is not the first time that I have been terrorized by white people.

I live in society where the question that W.E.B. Du Bois once posed so long ago still haunts me: “How does it feel to be a problem?” I live at the intersection of Blackness, being femme, first-generation, queer, fat, and unapologetic about my Blackness.

By simply showing up in spaces, I feel how my Black body disrupts these spaces. My Black body is both highly visible and invisible in this anti-Black country. I am accustomed to being policed by white liberals and progressives who use their white silence, paternalistic policies, and opportunity-hoarding to keep people at the margins, at the margins.

Every time I post a Facebook article that pushes white people to scrutinize their whiteness and I have a white woman crying in my messages, unfriending me, or inviting me out to lunch to interrogate me on why I post what I post, violence is being enacted upon me.

Every time a white-passing Latinx person aligns themselves with white supremacy with the hopes of subjugating me, violence is being enacted upon me.

Every time a Black unarmed person is shot and killed by the state and the white people on my timeline share the video on a constant loop violence is enacted upon me.

Every time I am invited to be at a social justice table that has already been set and the menu has already been decided upon, and I am simply invited to be the token, violence has been enacted upon me.

Every time I enter a queer white space and I am asked to leave my Blackness at the door, violence is being enacted upon me.

White supremacy is not just neo-Nazis or the KKK. It is about the inherent belief that to be white is to be human and all others must qualify for their humanity.

White supremacy is also white liberals profiting off anti-racist work even though they can never truly experience racism, while I as a Black woman who has both the academic foundation and lived experience struggles to be taken seriously on the subject matter.

White supremacy is the inherent belief that white people are not dangerous.

Miami is a beautiful place to live. There is no city like it. However, it is a young city that is still waking up to social justice and it is also a city firmly planted in the South, a truth we tend to forget.

With the myriad of culinary fusions, the different languages, and the strong Caribbean presence, it is easy to forget or assume that Miami does not have racial issues like the other parts of the United States.

However, the incident last Saturday should remind us all that racism is interwoven into the fabric of this country, and no U.S. city can escape its grasp. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the resistance and we must remain vigilant in our fight against white supremacy and get serious about divesting from it.