Updated: Apr 8, 2020
My son is, as he said on twitter, “schooling my mom about communism.” I never tweet replies, but the next time we talked on the phone I replied, “Said the film major about the person with a B.S. and M.S. in sociology!” In truth, he has been doing a lot of reading on the matter and my last class about such things was almost a quarter of a century ago. I don't have a great handle on why he loves communism so much, or why he thinks the Hong Kong protesters should prefer Chinese communism to Hong Kong capitalism.
The matter I've been studying this year is white supremacy culture. I have read Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and Tim Wise's White Like Me. I am a third of the way through How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I have also attended a racial justice workshop and watched the documentary “13th.”
I am learning a lot. From Tim Wise I learned why white men are our mass murderers. At the social justice conference I learned that people look alike because they live close geographically. Kendi's book is amazing in that it shows exactly how racist ideas lead to racist policies. “13th” got me thinking about “the school to prison pipeline.” But The New Jim Crow shows that, from the time slavery was racialized, we have had system after system in place to keep people of color as an underclass. Jim Crow replaced slavery. Mass incarceration replaced Jim Crow.
So I finally read the article my son sent me on Lenin. I emailed him: “It’s interesting that I can see how the feudal system gave way to capitalism, keeping the same class system in place. It’s like slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration of people of color. The game changes, but the players remain the same. The trick is to make it seem that the exploited people deserve no better; to make it seem normal.”
He texted: “Just read my friends your email and they were all super impressed...there are a lot of smart people who don't get this stuff! But that's why I don't think the recent trend of dismissing boomers is necessarily a good thing.” I didn't realize that was a trend! Cue my bemused smile.
Well, you know how when you learn a new word and suddenly you seem to encounter it everywhere? As soon as I reflected on this idea that my son had related about dismissing boomers, I encountered articles about “Okay, boomer” everywhere. And Facebook posts. And on and on! When he said the idea was recent and trending he was spot on!
Anyway, he says that next I need to read Mao and Stalin... Maybe I'll succeed in connecting a few more dots...