General Milley, Your White Racial Innocence is Very Confusing

Something is bothering me. It just don’t sit right with me. I mean, I think you will get what I am saying after I explain myself.

Before I go any further, please let me issue a warning. I have a lot of Oregonian readers, nowadays, and I seek, always, to be a clear communicator. Here is your trigger warning.

Thank you for reading this far into this essay and getting past the title. I acknowledge that race, racism and whiteness are heavily charged subject matters. Most white-bodied persons enter fear, freeze and flight when these issues are brought up. If you choose to continue reading, note that I speak of white people in the collective, as if there exists a group dynamic. You are temporarily leaving the culture of individualism. You will survive.

I watched the General Milley clip being circulated on social media, following his report to Congress. His answer to Representative Matt Gaetz is receiving high praise. “I want to understand white rage and I’m white.”

That part. It is that part which doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t get it. I sincerely don’t get it.

How can a four star General, actively serving in the United States military, make such a statement - with a straight face. How does he not understand white rage? Maybe I am off here, but isn’t it his job to channel white rage?

Just like the police are authorized to do at the city and state levels?

White racial innocence is the term I use to describe the level of fog-like cognitive dissonance which overtakes the white mind upon the presence of the racial impacts to their being. No matter how clear an argument is constructed, it is not enough to penetrate the necessary mental defense of confusion, until the person of color, acting as the conscience of America, releases said victim of racial innocence to continue pretending as if their individual white body is not a part of the collective whiteness, itself.

White bodied. That is not my term. Resmaa Menakem, the foremost intergenerational trauma expert in America coined that term. It is my understanding, it is an attempt to communicate how trauma is not controlled by the individual personality. Trauma is in the body. The white body has trauma embedded in it from the past 500 years.

That is a footnote. Back to the subject: here is a case study.

It is May 25, 2020. We are almost two months into the covid pandemic. A white woman named Amy Cooper is walking her dog in Central Park. She is on the phone, as she is a high up executive of a financial institution. She wanders into a bird watching area.

A Black man named Christian Cooper, binoculars in hand, is birdwatching. Dogs must be leashed in this area of the park, because they scare off birds. He makes this known to Amy, in a very kind and gentle manner.

Amy explodes into white rage. She almost strangles her dog, complying to Christian’s request. In her white rage, she ceased being Amy Cooper and became a long list of internet nicknames white women who weaponize themselves against Black bodied persons.

It began with Barbeque Becky. By the time we got to Ms. Cooper, we changed her name to Karen.

Perhaps, as a white woman, you are confused as to how you could weaponize yourself. After all, it is you who are victimized by the white male patriarchy.

If so, please allow me to explain HOW Karen - Amy Cooper in full white rage mode - weaponized herself.

It was her voice. In a very passionate 911 call, she pleads for immediate assistance from the New York police department. She imitated a distressed American white woman about to be attacked for racial reasons very well.

Wait. What? Excuse me? Did you miss that plot twist of a detail? Yes, I said, American white woman.

Amy Cooper is not a native New Yorker or American. She is from Canada.

How’s that for checking the nationality box?

I wonder who taught Amy how to use white supremacy? Do you practice? Do you have coaches? Are there meeting times?

Here is the stark reality Amy’s behavior revealed: white bodied persons can weaponize themselves at any time they desire and get a Black bodied person killed, almost on command in the public square.

This is tremendous power, given at the individual level by white supremacy proper. The culture of individualism does not permit a white bodied person to verbally deny said power because it is based on the group dynamic of whtie America. It is baked into the idea of America, as diversity coaches teach.

Now, if you remember how everything plays out. A viral video doxxed Amy Cooper, who loses everything and has to face legal charges. Knowing the rules of the game, Christian Cooper opens his heart and forgives Amy, asking that the legal charges be dropped.

White women across social media swoon, trending the words, “Christian puts the Christ in Christian.” (Nah, I made that up.)

Anyways, I remember the social media reactions bringing up in me the lesson Dr. King tried to teach America in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In an effort to forestall real change, white Americans seek a cessation of emotional tension between persons as a substitute. “Peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice,” Dr. King.

As soon as the Black body requested no justice be directed towards the white bodied woman, the fog of white racial innocence returned and the reality Amy revealed dissipated.

Everything was back to normal and the white bodied women could imagine equality was happening whenever they spoke or interacted with a Black bodied person. There was no power differential. The Black bodied person could tell them, “no,” and have that respected. The Black body was safe in their presence. Why would a Black body feel anything other than safe in their presence?

I supremely disagree with what Christian Cooper did. I think it is a survival tactic which no longer serves the Black bodied person or community. I equate it to helping white bodied persons practice white supremacy.

Christian Cooper practiced assimilation. He forgave Amy to stay alive and capitalize on the attention he was receiving. For the first time, he could entertain the idea he was seen as a human being by white America. I understand the temptation to bask in the light of those who deny Black lives matter acknowledging your own life - however, unless someone is strong enough to remain Black, so the Amys learn the lesson of racial awareness, we are not really going to make any progress towards humanity’s next horizon.

Racism hurts white people, too. (I hope you know that!)

In 2021, against the will of the “woke” white person, the individual white person is being forced to deal with what it means to be “white.” I suggest, most white bodied people do not like being perceived as “white.” They do not wish to be treated, like Christian treated Amy, as if they possess power against the will of their personality.

Historical capital. Let’s call it, historical capital. White bodies have more historical capital and power than the Black body can lord over them. There is a power imbalance personality cannot overcome.

Back to General Milley. I refuse to be like Christian Cooper. I ask: how General Milley can look at the Capitol Riot of January 6 and choose to not see all those disgruntled former soldiers, who do not know who they are anymore?

I refuse to accept that General Milley needs to be educated on how effective his work has been. Why am I supposed to entertain the idea he does not know what he has invested his entire life into creating?

I think Amy Cooper and General Milley know exactly what white rage is. I think they have PhDs in it.

As I say to those white bodied persons brave enough to take a class from me, “In a racial caste system, if you do not have any stories of racism, it is because racism is flowing off of your hands.”

Why this reality is so painful the white mind chooses to escape or shut down completely is a mystery to me. The Black mind confronts racism every day and still shows humanity to white bodied persons.

Yeah, so, I am not going to spend anymore of my precious time, talent and energy trying to reconcile these mental gymnastics. I am not a white bodied person. I do not have racial innocence; I have great racial awareness.

I see you, General Milley, hopefully, one day, you will see yourself.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Kokayi Nosakhere

Kokayi Nosakhere

Black man living in Oregon's Rogue Valley, teaching pathways to greater humanity. Community organizer! Author. Speaker. Workshop facilitator. Royalstar907@gmail