Invincibly Innocent White Women

I did, as it turns out, write more about The Age Of Innocence...

…but not in the way I expected.

First, however, we need to address matters that are infinitely more crucial:

You haven’t heard from me for the last few weeks because, in this moment of national uprising against white supremacy, I have been attempting to foreground Black voices and, as I do so, to listen and to serve the antiracist movement however I can as a white ally. I am donating and emailing and calling and having difficult conversations—but I absolutely can do more, and I am doing my best to hold myself to account. If you have money to give, please consider supporting organizations like The Okra Project, House of GG, and The Audre Lorde Project—all of which serve our Black queer communities. Marie Claire has compiled an excellent list including the aforementioned organizations and many more, complete with handy donate buttons.

In the meantime, two of Breonna Taylor’s murderers are still working as police officers and all three are not being held responsible for her death in any substantive way. I’ve been writing to various Kentucky and Louisville officials to demand justice. Here are some names and email addresses that have been useful to me:

  • Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General: attorney.general@ag.ky.gov

  • Greg Fischer, Louisville Mayor: greg.fischer@louisvilleky.gov

  • Robert Schroeder, Assistant Chief of Police: Robert.schroeder@louisvilleky.gov

  • Thomas Wine, Louisville Prosecutor: winejcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

We are also learning of the brutal murder of Elijah McClain which occurred last August, in Aurora, CO, the details of which have been suppressed. It’s crucial that we contact local officials in Aurora as well as those governing Colorado to demand that the case be reopened. Elijah’s mother, Sheneen McClain, also needs financial support, and we can help by donating to her son’s memorial GoFundMe.

In the midst of all this, I am grateful to Eve L. Ewing for calling attention to the ways we conceive of “justice,” particularly those of us who believe that the police should be abolished (the police should, by the way, be abolished). Full abolition means dismantling the American prison system, not relying upon and thus reiterating it, even when it would be expeditious, even satisfying, to do so. Until I read Eve’s thread, I was calling for the arrest and imprisonment of Breonna Taylor’s killers; I realize now what a grave contradiction this is. I am not sure what the best way is for these men to be held responsible for their brutality, but in my future emails to officials I will shift my emphasis to the total defunding of the Louisville police department and to supporting Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend—the only person to be arrested on the night of her killing (Walker, realizing there were intruders in Taylor’s home, fired a shot in self-defense). I was aided in this decision by these Instagram slides put together by tundereturns (forgive me, I have not been able to locate this person’s name, only their Instagram handle). They offer widely applicable suggestions of ways to fight for justice without relying on the police.

Now, just a few words about The Age of Innocence.

Not long after writing the last installment of CV I agreed to write an essay on Wharton’s novel to commemorate its centennial. I imagined that it would grow out of last month’s scribbles, but instead, I focused on AOI’s interrogation of innocence—its potential “invincibility”—and how white women use this as a shield. I hope that this was the right move, and that the piece is meaningful to those who read Wharton. Since writing Too Much I have been preoccupied with the question of how one reads so-called canonical literature in an ethical way, particularly when one’s enjoyment of it is an extension of their racial privilege. I’m grateful that this essay gave me space to address that. You can read the essay here, at Jezebel. As always, Stassa Edwards was a wonderful editor, and the art is beautiful.

I’ll write again soon, not to distract from what it happening—from what is so overdue—but hopefully to engage with this reckoning in meaningful and respectful ways.

In too muchness,

Rachel

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