In my last post, I talked about the amazing act of democracy in Texas that went down in support of abortion clinics state-wide. Here is something else to think about: while all this was going on, CNN was trying to decide whether or not muffins are fattening.
One of the largest civil rights demonstrations since the 1960s, and not one of the major networks carried national coverage. They pretended that nothing out of the ordinary was happening deep in the heart of Texas, perhaps because to cover it would force them to let go of their “the south is full of backwards rednecks hell-bent on turning the clock back to 1850” narrative.
Without the Texas Tribune and Twitter, there would have been no coverage of the SB5 filibuster at all. The brave and amazing people of Texas would have struggled and fought in obscurity. Instead, people from all over the world chipped in to buy food and water for protesters, and many of them are standing by in case those arrested need someone to cover their bail.
This dismissive attitude on the part of the mainstream media reflects a large and troubling trend toward a xenophobic regionalism. White progressives residing in urban areas above the Mason and Dixon line make snarky comments like “let them seceded” and “can we vote them out?” without considering that with these words, they isolate and abandon thousands of activists down here who refuse to give up the fight.
With jokes about inbred hicks, northerners write off poor southerners who are struggling to hang on to basic freedoms. With nasty comments implying everyone down here is a neo-Confederate, northerners dismiss the existence of the people of color who have lived here for as long or longer than whites have.
We need your help, urban progressives, not your disdain. What happens down here has national impact, as the 2012 election showed. I live in Eric Cantor’s district, and plenty of people are willing to complain about him being in Congress, but when we tried to get him out? We didn’t even get publicity. We got silence and apathy and we got vilified for his presence in the House of Representatives, but meanwhile Eric Cantor got a couple million dollars from the Koch brothers and then he got re-elected. But I guess it was easier to sneer at this slice of rural Virginia than it was to send five bucks or even just retweet the Democratic challenger’s account, right y’all?
We also need urban white progressives to stop pretending that racism in this country is only a problem south of the Mason and Dixon. Newsflash: if you take approximately 30 seconds to actually listen to what people of color are saying, you will hear hair-raising and horrifying tales of racism from all over this nation. Hell, New York City’s stop and frisk policy overwhelmingly targets young men of color and criminalizes them based on nothing more than the fact that they were existing while not white. You cannot claim that we are the only ones with a race problem.
In short, if you’re not here to back us up, then shut up. Stop and listen to southern progressives — the south is not a monolith. We are as diverse as the rest of the nation in our ideologies, and if we are going to make the US safe for everyone then you need to set aside your vicious regionalism, stop making us the butt of jokes, and get down here and get your hands dirty helping us.
After, of course, you get your own houses in order.