The white moderate is STILL the biggest threat to progress
This morning, there was a cloud over the city of Denver, literally and metaphorically. It seemed appropriate for the day to reflect the gloom that many of us are feeling.
Imagine for a moment: after years of leadership that has led to the highest rate of displacement for Latinos, extreme rates of gentrification (40% of eligible tracts for gentrification have done so), an increase of rent costs of over 50% between 2010–2017 earning the 4th highest rate of growth in the nation and a shortage of over 26,000 rental units for low income earners, we finally had a candidate that was representative of the city.
She is an Afrolatina native to Denver who has been active in community her entire life. She is a leader in community re-entry who holds both a J.D. and an Ed.D and was truly a candidate for the people. She knows the community, inside and out, and was poised to mount a significant challenge to the incumbent.
People were excited & hope began to bubble up.
A short time after she entered the race, there was grumbling about another person who would be entering the race. She is a white woman who has lived in Denver for about 13 years. A Denver activist who wishes to remain anonymous describes her as the person who “LED the RiNo Art District that has a multi-million dollar budget to manage, operate, and execute the City Council approved work plan of the RiNo General Improvement District and RiNo Business Improvement District. With the power of this multi-layered, special district, Jamie LED the gentrification of the East Side of Denver.” She neglected to vote in over half of the elections that have taken place since she lived here and registered as a Democrat only two weeks before entering her bid for Mayor.
This is a person who claims she is for “change”. She wants to “take down a powerful incumbent” and advised me to “start by talking about WHAT WE WANT, not who we don’t want”.
Jamie Gielles is peak white womanhood, the toxic type of white woman who, much like the suffragettes before her, was completely comfortable with creating opposition to a Black/Latina woman in order to get what she wanted.
Jamie Gielles is the typical white savior who felt she had the goods to change the city she didn’t even care enough to vote for. She came swooping in, thinking she could “change” a city that she doesn’t deeply understand historically, and it is doubtful she understands the unique needs of the city when she can’t even pronounce names of various neighborhoods correctly.
Jamie Gielles claims to value inclusivity on her website & offers a “seat at the table” instead of getting up from the table and offering her seat. Meanwhile, 90% of the photos on her social media & website feature white people. When challenged, she tells women of color what to focus on instead of hearing our valid concerns, thus silencing us.
You may say why should Jamie “give up” her seat? Well, it’s important for those in positions of power (and let’s face it, white women do have more power than Black or brown women) to recognize their power and to be willing to take a back seat to more marginalized voices IF they truly want change. Claiming to value inclusivity while centering oneself is the exact opposite of valuing inclusivity.
Whatever Jamie might be, she is not an ally to people of color because someone who has done even the bare minimum of work to be an ally would know not to do what she did. What her actions say to me is that she has done ZERO work toward unpacking her internalized white supremacy and doesn’t understand how her position as a blonde white woman is a weapon she unconsciously wields.
56 years later, and Dr. King’s words still ring true,
‘I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action…”
Jamie Giellis is the white moderate stumbling block — the white supremacist in heels Cargle describes— who just threw her privilege on the table, threw an entire community under the bus and expects us to work with her for “change”. Hard pass, Jamie; you’ve already shown us who you are and you aren’t here for us.
I’m tired today. I’m tired like John Coffey was in the Green Mile. I’m tired of fighting for progress, only to get undercut by someone who is more committed to their ego than our liberation. I’m tired of seeing powerful, amazing Black and brown women working their asses off to create change, only to see some white woman shutting it down to serve herself and her goals.
I have run out of patience and I’m tired of white folks not understanding racism. I am tired of whiteness and tired of the lazy justifications for racism. I’m already tired of the comments that will come in saying “not all white people” instead of going out and doing the work that needs to be done. I’m tired because I know that it’s not that they don’t know — it’s that they don’t care. I’m tired of seeing people of color fight for an inch only to have a white person come in and use their privilege to steal a mile and then innocently claim they are committed to the same goals we are.
White moderates are still — 56 years after Dr. King wrote about it — the biggest hindrance to progress in our nation because they never cared about us.
They still don’t.
*There will be many who come for me based on this post and who will call me The Real Racist ™ for naming this for what it is. However, identifying and calling out white privilege, white saviorism and toxic white feminism doesn’t make someone a racist. If you need more information on that, here’s a quick read for you. If you still think that minorities can be racist, you have a lot of work to do and I won’t do it for you, so don’t ask.