Interview with Audreyanna Garrett, Author of I Don’t Respect Your Politics!
When you're looking around at what's happening right now, what are the things that you think people need to understand to really process what is going on around the country?
Since we are creatures of habit, racism for many white Americans is fundamentally habitual. Similarly, oppression and racist encounters are habitual for Black people.
I think that we first need to just get in agreement that something is wrong, that America is not fair and equitable to all and that everyone has a role to play in order to impact change.
I think it’s silly to believe that America could just come up with laws to fix Black issues. That’s absurd. I believe the biggest thing that needs to be understood by white Americans is that Black people need accountability for the systemic and institutionalized civil and social injustice. White Americans need to stop rationalizing racism. White people need to release the notion that if they feel they’ve never been racist, that it doesn’t exist and can ignore it. And Black people need to stop preparing ourselves to experience racism.
We’ve all become too comfortable.
Where do we even start with trying to combat the ignorance that has only accelerated during Trump’s presidency?
I am honestly past the point of even considering how we can combat ignorance. Negative and false methodologies about Black people have been instilled and passed down for over 400 years. We’re significantly behind the curve for combatting ignorance. The change has to be willful on the part of white Americans and those that are racist in order for us to see change and progress. But with Trump in office making them feel comfortable being racist, we get further and further away from challenging ignorance and encouraging accountability.
Black people, however, understand that we are not in a position to change white minds. We could never do that, white people have to be willing to recognize the error in their own ways. White people have to be more accountable and willing to educate themselves (one another) on the danger and destructiveness of white supremacy and racism. There needs to be more Jane Elliotts, instead, white people constantly volunteer to analyze Black people, Black culture and develop poorly supported rationalizations of Black behavior that support Black oppression.
You make important points about the way social problems are approached. As an example, we have a scourge of police violence in this country, which has arguably been with us since the institution was founded. Where can we look for bright spots, either in the past, or in the future?
That would be solely based on the individual you ask and their perception. As a Black American I don’t see “bright spots”. I feel that there are instances where Black Americans can get lucky in encounters with the police where our lives may be spared one more day, however those are isolated incidents. Those are the situations worth exploring and examining by unbiased parties in order to identify the how and why those incidents had different results. But a large part of that is understanding that the statistics are composed and monitored by primarily white people. The ideals and assumptions about Black people are composed and monitored by primarily white people. See where I am going with this?
I don’t believe Black Americans are afforded the ability to see bright spots. We certainly don’t have a history of them, and based on the current climate, I think it’s unfair to ask us to be optimistic about something we have never seen.
Generally speaking, however, as I don’t believe this issue is solely a Black issue, despite the fact that it impacts Black people most; it’s easier, in my opinion, for some other races to get justice for police brutality. Far more easier than it is for Black people, and that is solely because of the perceptions surrounding Black people and Black culture, despite those perceptions being false.
Are the interactions that are happening right now between police and protesters something that you think is predictable? Or is this something new that we haven't seen before?
I believe everything that we are seeing, with regard to the interactions between police and protesters, is absolutely predictable. It may be new in a relative since because we didn’t grow up in the early 1900s, or other time periods. And I gather that because many are not history scholars of police brutality, it’s considered relatively new for most, but in hindsight, it’s not new at all. There is indeed a historical pattern of police brutality and a clear difference in treatment of Black protest versus white protest. But in America we have an option to believe the facts.
Let me ask a little bit about the 1619 Project. I have spoken to several historians, but I was particularly interested in Matthew Desmond's claim that American capitalism is basically the direct descendent of chattel slavery—traffic jams in Atlanta, lack of national healthcare, high sugar in the American diet, and so on—and argues that by implication that that's all coming out of slavery. What are your thoughts?
I think it is crazy that I had never heard of this project until you asked me this question. As a Black American I think it’s funny that this project was not even on my radar. And safe to say on the radar of many other Black people, which means it’s not being represented in the way it intends. Furthermore, I think it’s ridiculous that we even have to actively do this in the first place. History is history and it should have been documented truthfully (appropriately) to began with. So in my opinion, there is much to be said about allowing a project to attempt to spearhead the integration of Black history (in it’s entirety) into primary, secondary and collegiate classrooms.
While the project’s concept asks some good questions, I don’t believe putting such a responsibility on the educators to implement will impact dynamic change. This won’t work on it’s own because this country has the freedom to manage education on a state level. However by proposing that education become a federal issue, managed on a federal level, I believe that it would be possible to simultaneously address all these issues and get consistency within education as a whole throughout the country.
I’m also curious as to your thoughts on how racism and capitalism intersect.
When you consider the history of this country, capitalism was essentially built on slavery. Black people were capital for white Americans for many years. Much of the money they made was because of Black labor. Capitalism was further perpetuated through the oppression and racism of Black people. And because America still has failed to accept and address this, as well as the impact of slavery on Blacks as a whole, racism and capitalism will continue to intersect.
Do you think ending capitalism could help heal race relations?
Sure eliminating capitalism could help heal race relations, but the more important question is what will be implemented in its place? Because what is clear to me is that white America has a firm attachment to money and power. It’s the essence of their value and worth (implemented by themselves). However, I believe that fundamentally capitalism can be good if it’s as accessible to all as it is for white America. But Black people have always been at a deficit. And although we’ve evolved from full blown slavery as the primary means of capital, it is still very clear how Black culture is capitalized on by white America every day.
What role, if any, does class play in white supremacist ideology?
Classism is a social construct imposed by white people to perpetuate racism. White people didn’t want to integrate because of the ideals and perceptions about Black people they birthed during slavery. Thus although Black people were different solely because of the color of their skin, they were perceived by white Americans to be much more inferior. This had to be the case in order for white people to feel superior/supreme. Thus, in my opinion, it is fundamentally the foundation of supremacist ideology.
And unfortunately every year this country finds another way to capitalize on Black people without compensation, while white people attempt to convince Black people that we are indeed free and all the opportunities that are available to white people are also available to Black people.
We’re often presented with a choice between class politics and identity politics. Do you feel like that’s a false dichotomy?
I believe that this comparison allows us to continue to compartmentalize and get away from what should fundamentally be the concepts of right versus wrong. This comparison allows us to water down our moral and ethical compass to justify wrong and/or inappropriate behavior.
I mentioned before in another response how in America we have an option to believe facts. We essentially have the option to rationalize right and wrong in whatever way we want. We don’t have appropriate checks and balances in place for this, which is evident in our judicial system. Because if you believe that the American judicial system was appropriately established to maintain the fundamentals of right versus wrong, you’d be wrong.
What is your ultimate goal for this book?
My ultimate goal for this book is to provoke necessary conversations that encourage forward thinking and challenge individuals to reevaluate their moral compass.
I tried to highlight the error in the concept of “The American Dream”. I wanted people to understand that in America, a large part of the American dreams is creating a world that may or may not be situated on truth. And from that, I hope people come to understand that “The American Dream" is and has always been relative to individual ideals, no matter what the cost to others.
End of Interview
Audreyanna Garrett is a 36 year old poet, author and writer from Houston, Texas. She has been publishing her work for over 13 years in the genres of self-help, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Contributing many written articles and blog posts that have been featured in (but not limited to) Teen Chic Magazine, Genre Urban Arts and Real Black Love (RBL). She currently contributes solely to AudriDom, a psychology and self-help blog that creatively and/or poetically expresses the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy relationships that foster spirits of self-acceptance, growth and empowerment. Through her work her one overriding motivation has been to encourage, support, spread love and provoke conscious thought into the lives of many. Be sure to follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook