Early Tuesday evening, a hashtag went viral on Twitter, so viral, it became a trending topic. The hashtag was created by a white liberal woman named Kara, and it was received with glee by tens of thousands of other white liberals. They called it “hilarious” and vowed to use it every day until the election.
There were many who did not find the hashtag hilarious, because it was racist and ableist. Racist against indigenous women, ableist against people who have survived a stroke and families who have lost someone to a stroke. And we spoke up.
Kara defended her hashtag by calling those of us pointing out the racism and ableism “Woke Twitter” and “SJW’s (social justice warriors).” She became a victim, bemoaning what she had been through. This was not the first time Kara had engaged in racist tweeting, nor was it the first time people of color told her to stop. What was different was the reach of her racist and ableist hashtag.
Verified Twitter accounts, with their little blue checks, began sharing Kara’s hashtag, cheering her “brilliant” sense of humor. When we asked the blue checks to stop, many of us were immediately blocked. An indigenous woman witnessed a white liberal man call the trafficking and rape of indigenous little girls “non-consensual marriage.” I was told to “lighten up” when I shared my mom’s history of strokes before her death.
Today, white liberals are defending Kara and her racist and ableist tweet, because her language, and lack of remorse, gives them permission to behave the same way. Too many white liberals enjoy posting racist, ableist, homophobic, misogynistic, and Islamophobic “jokes,” memes, and hashtags. Seeing Kara’s racism and ableism go viral emboldens these white liberals to continue their harmful actions while attacking the very people they harm.
If the only way you can go after Donald Trump is to become Donald Trump, you’re not a liberal, and you are definitely not an ally of marginalized communities. If you believe you have the right to demean, minimize, and insult, BIPOC, women, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and the disabled, just for a laugh and fifteen minutes of Twitter fame, you are no better than a Trump supporter. In fact, you’re worse.
Worse because we trusted you. Worse because you tell us you support us, until we tell you your language is harmful, then you call us snowflakes, or say we have no sense of humor, or explain why we’re too sensitive.
When thousands of marginalized people tell you something you have said or written is harmful, toxic, racist, ableist, and/or bigoted, you should listen. We’re not being too sensitive, we’re just tired and angry. Tired of being lied to by fake allies who turn their backs on us the first chance they get. Angry at being used as fodder in your hashtag wars.
Some who embraced Kara’s racism and ableism at first did listen to us. They apologized, removed the hashtag, and let us share our stories. They learned from this experience. Most white liberals did not. Most white liberals are still sharing Kara’s hashtag, and when marginalized people ask them to stop and try to teach them why this hashtag is harmful and racist and ableist, they do what Kara did: Double down and attack us.
I have witnessed BIPOC on Twitter over the past 24 hours post heartbreaking truths about their experiences in white America. I have offered love and support, but as a white woman, there is a limit to what I can do or say. I have comforted, and received comfort from, men and women who have survived strokes, and who have lost people they love to strokes. I have seen what Kara’s hashtag did in real time to real people.
Racism and ableism are never okay, no matter what side of the political spectrum you call home. Donald Trump tapped into the id of this nation to create his cult of violence and hate. What I did not truly understand until last night is that too many white liberals have chosen to release their id, and are nearly indistinguishable from MAGA cultists.