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OPINION: Allies and adversaries

September 24, 2020

This piece represents the opinion of the author.
Lily Dinsmoor

It’s been a long three years, and starting this fourth year at Bowdoin has already been incredibly taxing. As the movement for our lives has picked up steam, there’s also an uptick in non-Black comrades realizing that racism is “still a thing” and that anti-Blackness exists beyond the arbitrary borders of the United States.

I am grateful that this racial awakening occurred during my time at Bowdoin so I can distance myself from the recently enlightened, and I have been enjoying looking at Bowdoin’s politics from a wider lens. Many will say I am too critical, too radical, too militant, too pessimistic. I say to them that they are not critical enough, not angry enough, not bold enough. I’ve made my peace with losing friends and connections and job opportunities in order to fight for the liberation of all people the best way I can while still in school.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (may her memory be a blessing) recently passed, and for many, it was another shocking and terrifying reminder that this country’s fate lies in the hands of the few, rather than in the hands of the people. Justice Ginsburg was pivotal in the fight for bodily and social autonomy, voting in favor of Whole Woman’s Health and Hodges in the cases for abortion protection and same-sex marriage. Ginsburg often ruled in favor of women’s rights in her opinions, with some of her rulings giving women access to men’s-only colleges. She also advocated for many marginalized groups in her opinions, protecting the rights of people with disabilities who resided in psychiatric units.

At the very same time, Ginsburg has criticized the kneeling of Colin Kaepernick (which she did later apologize for, but what is it they say about speaking on something you don’t know anything about?), and her most recent rulings were in defense of the fossil fuel industry and against criminal defendants and asylum seekers. Additionally, Ginsburg considered Justice Scalia a dear friend and carried a key chain bearing the name of Strom Thurmond, a Dixiecrat famous for fighting for racial segregation.

The key point here is that no one is perfect. For many European Americans struggling to be the “perfect ally” right now, hang it up. You will never be perfect because you do not and will never have the experience of being Black in a country like the United States, where racism and colonialism are so deeply ingrained in every institution we partake in. You can do your very best to get it right, but while many people steadfastly believe in the power of pink-pussy-hat-feminism and liberal policies, the people in need of radical, abolitionist, progressive policies will continue to be left behind in the fight for liberation.

Working on this column is something that I felt would be important to do as a Black woman because so often the violence enacted upon our bodies is hidden from the public narrative. We suffer in silence, maintaining a culture of dissemblance to protect our truths from the oppressors, as Darlene Clark Hine stated in 1989. The mask we wear to maintain the tense relationship with the white women who have been set as our physical opposites in historical and modern society has begun to shatter, and the need for acceptance is no more.

For what use is liberal solidarity when all it does is increase the time it will take for liberation? You yell at us to vote, to participate in a system that is working perfectly and will continue to work just as designed, no matter how many times we perform our civic duty, all the while touting that the death of a single woman has doomed us all? Even before Roe v. Wade, the rights of people with uteri were infringed upon; in 1927, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 that those who were deemed “unfit to reproduce” could be forcibly sterilized. Not only did this harm disabled people, but anyone who was deemed “feebleminded” could fall under this category. This absolutely included immigrants, Black Americans and Indigenous peoples, resulting in the prevalence of eugenicist thought in the medical field and climate action movements today.

The thought that Black and Indigenous bodies are inferior and inhuman is what killed Breonna Taylor, whose murderers have been allowed to roam freely after killing without remorse. White supremacy killed Sandra Bland. Ignorance and selective hearing killed Tony McDade. Delusion killed Natasha McKenna. A Democrat-run city killed Tanisha Anderson.

It is not enough to disagree with and tease Trump supporters yet still consider them close friends when those very beliefs endanger the lives of millions and have already taken the lives of thousands. You cannot call yourself an ally. Because the moment you do so, you have become my adversary, and I’m not sure if I will be able to trust you in the battle that is to come.

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One comment:

  1. Alum says:

    “Even before Roe v. Wade, the rights of people with uteri were infringed upon; in 1927, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 that those who were deemed “unfit to reproduce” could be forcibly sterilized.”

    …and then after Roe the rights of people in uteri were nullified so rather than sterilize those who were once tragically deemed “unfit to reproduce” progressives made it so that they never saw the light of day in the first place. The result of this progressive logic is that today 28% of Black pregnancies end in induced abortion, a fact which shows the same
    horrific dogma that justified slavery years ago many still believe today: some lives do not deserve life at all.


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