Brianna Holt writes for us today on “White clicktivism”, asking why are some Americans woke online but not in real life?
In the winter of 2018, Gwen Kansen, a 33-year-old self-professed liberal, met a man called Elias in a bar. Within minutes, she knew he was intense. His phone screensaver was of Pepe the Frog – a symbol of the alt-right movement. His style reminded her of a Confederate soldier, and he wore badges proudly proclaiming his hatred for political correctness.
It was not long before he disclosed he was a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right, male-only political organization. Still, Kansen didn’t put an end to the date. They drank rum and cokes; spoke about music, books, and exes; and that night, he walked her home. The two had a brief fling. Later, Kansen wrote an article about coming to terms with her so-called liberal beliefs while still choosing to entertain the affair.
The article was met with backlash. People spammed her Twitter, questioning her morals, dating standards and self awareness. How could a so-called liberal woman choose to date a member of a group known for its anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric, associations with extremist gatherings, and a white nationalist agenda? The consequences of this group are real-life harm: death threats, racial slurs, violence and even murder, and yet Kansen saw it as an opportunity to dabble in a forbidden experience.
The story might sound extreme, especially following a summer of “listening and learning”. Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, many white Americans have spent the past year taking part in a social justice movement online and on the ground, combating systemic racism and opposing police brutality. Bookstores sold out of race education books, social media timelines were consumed with Black Lives Matter support, and protests drew diverse crowds.
But then we saw the election results. Trump won the support of 71 million Americans this year – including 55% of white women and 61% of white men. Even in liberal hotbeds like New York, California and Washington, Trump maintained 48%, 47%, and 36% of the white vote.
Given continued white support for a man who has refused to denounce white supremacy, lied about the severity of the coronavirus, and hasn’t been shy about his sexist and misogynistic beliefs, can liberal white Americans really be doing the groundwork their social media profiles would have you believe?
Read more of Brianna Holt’s piece here: White clicktivism: why are some Americans woke online but not in real life?