After Colorado Springs, Speak No More of Progress

Justice and acceptance are never finally won. Freedom is a constant struggle — pick a side.

Tim Wise

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Image: Trans Solidarity Rally and March, Washington DC, 2015, Ted Eytan, Flickr, Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I don’t want to hear about progress anymore.

Not one word. Not about racism in America, not about misogyny, and not about homophobia, straight supremacy, or tolerance, broadly speaking.

Nothing.

All that stuff about how young people reject the prejudicial thinking of their parents and grandparents? Seriously, enough with that.

Not because progress isn’t real — it might be, and sometimes it is — but because progress is not the point.

For years we’ve been telling ourselves that Americans have come a long way in their acceptance of LGBTQ folks: endorsing marriage equality in ways they wouldn’t have even a decade ago, for instance.

Perhaps.

OK, sure, yes. There’s that.

But what good does that do when a young man — supposedly of a generation steeped in acceptance — can walk into a nightclub and shoot a dozen and a half people, killing five, all because of their sexuality and gender identity or expression? Or, more specifically, because of his hatred towards them on those grounds? (And no, it doesn’t matter if the shooter identifies as non-binary as his attorney now claims. Self-hatred is a thing, and it’s taught by the same forces as hatred of others).

Who cares that your Aunt Martha loves watching Queer Eye and bought a gift for her best friend’s daughter’s wedding to another woman?

When might we stop being thankful for people who decide at long last to occasionally treat other human beings like human beings, as if doing so was tantamount to some big favor?

Who cares that America loves Andy Cohen and Nate Berkus? They loved Liberace too. It didn’t mean shit.

After the massacre at Club Q in Colorado Springs, all talk of progress must yield to the reality of small-minded, reactionary hatred.

The blood of the innocent is begging us to shelve our naïveté.

A steady drumbeat of transphobic poison spewed by politicians and media influencers like…

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Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)