In Europe, the most renowned symbol of hate is the Swastika. In America, that position belongs to the Confederate Flag. Whereas Europe has stamped down on its use in public spaces, Americans have full freedom to fly whatever racist flag suits their fancy. In some states, they can even get away with racist custom plates giving tribute to the Nazis.
The greatest irony to me is how much White racists are in love with personal freedom. Liberty is their most prized possession. Yet, they fly a flag that symbolizes the lack of freedom for an entire race of people and pretend they do not understand why it’s offensive. They then create these inventive excuses for why there’s nothing wrong with being racist — and why being racist … isn’t racist.
If your heritage and pride hinge on taking away the freedoms of others and fighting to retain that right, is it really worth being proud of? And, if wearing a mask so offends your personal liberty, what do you think wearing shackles feels like? Similarly, if you hate the discussion of racism, what do you think it’s like to actually experience it?
Yes; it’s been hundreds of years since it was the norm for Blacks to wear physical shackles. But, America has spent centuries perfecting the art of enslaving people without physical chains. Whether it’s making it more difficult for Blacks to advance or making it easy for everyone to become complacent in the capitalist rat race, it has it all figured out.
I realized that I have more freedom now than I ever have in my entire life. I can go wherever I want to, whenever I want to, with no chains attached. There’s no husband telling me I’m only “allowed” to be gone for two weeks at a time or a child waiting for me to return. In fact, my home can go where I go. I wake up whenever I want to and go to bed when I feel like it. I decide how much work I do every day, who I complete assignments for, and the days I take off.
I have full control over my personal life and it is one of the most amazing experiences in the world. Yet, I am not immune to the systematic shackles America has perfected.
Recently, I saw a forum discussion for people of colour. Someone mentioned that being Black made it difficult for them to promote veganism because it wasn’t the expected niche for a Black person.
It really gave me pause, because I always assumed I didn’t pick up traction in the offroading and adventure community because I’m a woman. However, shortly after she posted that, I fell down a rabbit hole of White women with their trucks on IG, doing nothing more than posing in front of them and getting tonnes of engagement. The same men who couldn’t be bothered with answering my questions about their rigs were all over their pages.
I started to look back through my notifications and my DMs and I noticed a pattern. Every single off-roader who reached out to me over the past few months fit into one or more of the below categories:
- They are also Black or another non-White race — usually Asian.
- They are also immigrants from another country — usually Latin America.
- They are American but spent a significant amount of time living overseas — usually in Europe.
- They are not American and do not live in America — usually Canadian.
All your everyday Tonka-truck driving ‘Muricans were nowhere to be seen. I’m not saying none of them has ever spoken to me. I am saying that not a single one of them has done so often enough that they caught my attention. And, all the ones I thought did do so, ended up belonging to one of those groups above.
It’s insane to think that race can affect even such a trivial experience as the frequency of online interactions. It doesn’t help that the RVing and offroading communities are incredibly conservative, which is the ultimate breeding ground in America for racism.
In the midst of my ruminations on race in America, a 21-year old White man targeted three Asian-owned businesses and went on a shooting spree. If a Black person had done this, he would have been branded as a thug and we would have heard of every crime he ever committed. If a Muslim person had committed the crime, he would have been immediately branded as a terrorist. A Hispanic would have been deported to Mexico without ever even checking their paperwork or finding out where they’re from.
As a collective group, White men seem to be able to get away with anything and everything in America. Nothing they do ever really earns the ire of the media or law enforcement. Law enforcement only ever seems to care when they start bashing them in the head with fire extinguishers and beating them with Blue Lives flags.
On any other day of the week, they can storm the Capitol and be hailed as heroes instead of terrorists. They can mow down protestors in the streets and be called “very fine people” by a sitting President. They can rape drunk women behind dumpsters and the judge will be more concerned about their future Olympic career than the victim.
It blows my mind to think that a set of people can value liberty so much, but believe they are the only ones who should have it. Is liberty really in such short supply that there’s not enough to go around? How can people who talk about community values so much have zero respect or empathy for the desires of people who want the same thing they do? The freedom to live a decent life and pursue their dreams.
The longer I’ve been on the road and the more rednecks I encounter, the more pessimistic I feel about America. I don’t believe I will ever find another country where I have this much personal freedom and this much room to roam. But, that personal freedom is always checked by racial restraints I have never experienced anywhere else. There are so many places White RVers can go to that I am advised to steer clear of, so many social groups they can join that I’m not welcome in because of the colour of my skin.
Freedom feels very much exclusive to White people in America. The rest of us are just on borrowed time.