This country has an obsession with aesthetical emotion. By aesthetical emotion, I speak to the appearance of emotion being far more valuable than the feeling itself. America, specifically contemporary media, encourages performance but curses action.
In that regard, 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson immerses herself in the contemporary racial fervor by pandering to those seeking feel-good commentary, those who feel vindicated when white people speak on black lives, and those who vehemently oppose Williamson but will employ her as a reference to delineate that all white people are not racists.
In juxtaposition to Marianne Williams, African adjacent candidates who root their policies in anti-trumpism appear as apples who fail to fall far from the white supremacist tree. This same comparison exposes the melanated candidates as black in legality only. The media, however, portrays Marianne Williamson as a loony whose grand ideas present an unrealistic diagnosis to very real American problems, and as a writer whose ideas, not initiatives, guide her into an abstract stupor that appear grand solely to the under-represented.
Williamson however, is not a loony; she a sorceress of strategy. Williamson encompasses what the late professor and literary critic Arthur P. Davis considered the idealistic fool, but she isn’t however, fooling me.
Williamson set twitter ablaze last week when she assessed the damage of slavery. She spoke confidently and assertively to the financial debt the United States owes those once considered cargo. To many, Marianne Williamson’s words spoke truth to power. Williamson’s words, however, revealed the persistent power of the great white hope.
With all the issues that continue to haunt the black community, the 2020 presidential race, though featuring two melanated candidates, still features a dearth in black representation. Black candidates are to be only black in theory, but be “American” when answering questions about race. Williamson only exposes this truth in the access she has to a public pro-blackness, to use the term loosely, that the African abductee cannot.
Specifically, Williamson made the news for speaking about reparations because she is a white woman. She garnered traction as a progressive and even radical candidate because she is a white woman. Williamson illustrates that black lives matter when white people say so, for this is the American way. Additionally, Williamson illustrates the white woman, who says what America murders black people for even thinking, who wins her way into melanated hearts and to the top of black institutions. News that Williamson will speak at the upcoming #ADOS conference in Kentucky acts as an omen for the American leaders that await the African in American seeking the valor of the red, white, and blue. Williamson is the omen of what awaits the black person satiated by aesthetical emotion. Specifically, Williamson articulates a sentiment, a national act of retribution, that she cannot feel. Her words imbue her visibility as a white woman at the expense of black invisibility.
Social and political invisibility continues to haunt black identity, an invisibility that is perhaps most prevalent in presidential debates. Bernie Sanders, uses the word “revolutionary” but fails to distance himself from white conservatism, Elizabeth Warren’s reparation policy casts reparation as a cake that must serve everyone, even herself, and the other politicians mask their anti-black ideologies with “race-neutral” speech.
Commonly, the 2020 candidates illustrate that white supremacy has not died, it has only diversified. This is systemically terrifying, as politicians speak of diversity only to diversify their appeal. Employing this approach, politicians ensure that America remains the same,particularly, that America continues to benefit and oppress the same people.
Simply put, you cannot solve a problem in whcih you are a part. Waiting for white people to solve a problem is the same thing as ceasing to act in anticipation of new problems. True change cannot and will not happen until black people unapologetically speak truth to their own power.
It is not progressive to have any African-adjacent person as an authority on black issues. To put it bluntly, Marianne Williamson does not speak for black people or the black experience because she cannot. She is not the portrait of progress. Williamson illustrates that “President” remains a derogatory word for those of the black collective.
Perhaps most importantly, Williamson illustrates that the “great white hope” continues to embody a portrait of progress to an oppressed people. Many people will read this pose, render me another angry black womab, and castigate me for critiquing the sole candidate who put my issues on the table. To these contentions, I say that to support Williamson is to ceer on the master’s wife as she takes a seat at the table my ancestors built. What does it matter what she says when she’s at the table if me or my people do not have seat?
I understand that many of my skinfolk still view whitness, or the white ally, as essential for black liberation. Kinfolk, however, understand that the great white hope does not embody hope at all. Instead, this fixation on hope, which imbues an aesthetical emotion that borderlines despair, reveals that what we need as a collective is more than hope and far more than a president.