Thursday, August 1, 2019

White Saviors: When the Lone Ranger and Miss Millie Fight Tonto at the Gates of the Fort

Note: People of Color will understand the performative white saviorism expressed by the Heartland for Human Justice event. Those not of color may not yet be in a place to recognize the systemic racism. Consider this a lesson in not using the mid-20th Century liberalism of championing PofC causes, while avoiding People of Color.

  • This is about how people who perceive themselves to be allies can actually be causing harm. 
  • This is about coming in after People of Color have already won a huge victory by keeping a concentration camp from opening and implying that the way they did it was wrong, so the whites have come to do it better.
  • This is about standing for People of Color, but making sure you don't have to talk to or be around them.
  • This is about calling yourself a liberal or progressive without being accountable to the less privileged, who you claim to be an ally of. 
  • This is about bragging on a microphone about taking socks to the border, because to PoC that comes off, as "We're so good to the colored children we're going to give them socks. Can I get a round of applause?"
  • This is about planning a march to protest migrant concentration camps then deciding it's too hot to march, so you and your white privilege will just get back on the bus and ride there instead.
  • This is about complaining how arduous your day trip on an air conditioned bus was, while  forgetting your action was to be about families being separated after walking thousands of miles across dangerous terrain seeking asylum.
  • This is about doing the least you should be doing as a decent human being and expecting laurels for not putting any effort into it.
  • This is about how you haven't a clue as to how insensitive you are.

July 20, 2019: March to Stop a Concentration Camp

After a summer of organizing and taking action over the intention to reopen the Fort Sill concentration camp to migrant children, 500+ protesters showed up at the gates of the Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma. 

The force included many Indigenous, Black Lives Matters activists, descendants of Japanese-Americans once held in the camp, a dozen monks, and several authentic white allies.

The group marched towards the army base blocking traffic before blocking access to the base.

They proceeded to peacefully, yet loudly, proclaim "NEVER AGAIN!"

With great passion leaders spoke from their hearts and experience against the arrest of asylum seekers, separation of families, and the horrible conditions children were living in at similar camps.

There were many there whose families had experienced the terrors of a Fort Sill concentration camp.

"NEVER AGAIN!" they demanded.

Going back over a century, Fort Sill has been used repeatedly as a concentration camp for People of Color. First, it was Native Americans, then during WWII they interred Japanese-Americans - now the plan was to separate children from their parents at the Southern Border and house them at the base.

The only potential for violence came from a white man that showed up with a pistol, a knife, a MAGA ball cap, and a Trump flag.

Unarmed People of Color made sure he didn't hurt anyone.

No one was arrested. There were no physical encounters. The message made its point.

In the end, they were successful.

In less than a week, Oklahoma's U.S. senators announced Fort Sill would not be used to imprison migrant children.

August 1, 2019: Miss Millie Tour 2019

And then a couple of busloads of out-of-staters came to show the People of Color the white way of doing things.

They wanted it known that their action wasn't going to be anything like what those People of Color had done. No disruptions, no hollering, no being rowdy, no blocking traffic. Civilized! Not savage! 

There would be no coming off the reservation or plantation uprising on their watch. You'll be good fort Indians...just be good fort Indians waaaaayyyyyyy over there.

This is going to be strictly Kum ba yah, mother fuckers! 

They call themselves Heartland for Human Justice.

They've been around for about a month.

Before even starting this morning, they made it clear that they would not be behaving like *those other people did* or so to speak. They made that clear to the press. Down further, you'll find out exactly what they said.

They claimed to be members of several organizations: Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis (JCRC)National Council of Jewish Women St. LouisCentral Reform Congregation, and Women's Voices Raised For Social Justice.

What they were, however, were a collection of middle-class Miss Millies on a day trip to cos play social justice warriors. Obviously, some of the Miss Millies were men.

They were aware that victory had already been won by the People of Color, who had devoted more than a bus trip to defeating the proposal. 

After achieving victory and making sure the camp wouldn't open, Oklahoma organizers sure didn't like seeing this group show up for their watered down protest. Such things, can actually harm. If you've agreed to not do something, but people keep showing up to tell you not to do it, you may throw up your hands and do it out of spite.

There was no valid reason for them to come to Fort Sill and protest an issue that had already been resolved. They could have gone to one of the many places that are still in play. 

This showed that they aren't really serious about tackling the issue.

The Indigenous have been dealing with these things for 527 years, but Heartland for Human Justice have been at it a whole whopping month, so clearly they know how to do it better. After all, they're white. 

Their Facebook page was created on July 9, 2019, so you know they're experts.

Heartland for Human Justice admitted they'd learned from the media that there would be no camp, as not once were they ever in contact with a single PoC activist or organization who were leading efforts in Oklahoma to have found that out. 

The St. Louis group didn't just come in stepping on toes they came in stomping on feet and putting at risk a hard-fought win.

Even though there was not going to be a camp at Fort Sill, they'd already purchased tickets aboard their charted buses, so decided they'd come anyway.

They crept in on two buses with picnic baskets and sun hats. 

The hats were not enough, as they cancelled their march, because it was too hot. One can't march to save caged children if the weather isn't cooperating! 

And they were there to champion the Indigenous, as long as the Indigenous weren't anywhere near them. 

They didn't invite any Indigenous, including migrant families, who know about Fort Sill. Nor did they work with the Japanese-Americans with similar experiences at that camp.

No, they had all the answers ready. After all, they're white.

Gathering at a Lawton Methodist church, most sat or stood in the shade, while speakers lifelessly read from prepared speeches, as white hands held signs of sad-looking brown children.

They may actually be moved to help brown children - in a Sally Struthers tear jerker sort of way - but there was no passion in them. They should've stayed home and whipped out a $15 check with the actual effort they were putting into this.

There was no speaking from the heart, as heard at the PoC actions where there were people with something to lose. 

One woman even got up to the microphone and gave out a bunch of attaboys, including how they had socks to give to the migrant children. Socks! Were they out of pennies to toss into the cages?

This is where some of our white readers are scratching their heads wondering what's wrong with that. 

There's nothing wrong with giving socks to children. There is, however, a huge problem with your motivations in doing it, how you present it, and how you want to be praised for giving some goddamn socks to poor colored kids. 

These are human children. It's not a pet rescue. They were dehumanizing migrants.

The top weapon of a white savior is to take away dignity from People of Color and pat themselves on the back, while doing it. Don't make a big deal of giving socks to poor brown children. Just talk about it on the bus, collect them, and very graciously deliver them.  

Don't spend more time talking about the sacrifices you had to make riding a bus to Oklahoma, than you do discussing the migrants, whose journey was quite harsh.

Otherwise you're Miss Millie.

I've always been good to you people.

Just don't touch me.
Just don't make me mad.
Just don't step out of place.
Just do it the white way.
Now let me on that bus. It's hot.
Take me home, Sofia. 

Then they sang 'We Shall Overcome' and got on the buses to go to the fort where they stood at the gate with signs, took several photos, then boarded the buses to go back to St. Louis.

That took a staggering 15 minutes.

Their presence at Fort Sill was a quarter of an hour.

Did they even look for the stockade where so many perished? Did they say prayers in front of the haunted cells where captives died in misery? They spoke of Geronimo, but did they pay their respects at his grave? Did they go to the nearby Comanche and Apache tribal offices to hear the stories of the camp? Did they know that the road they took - Sheridan - is named after General Philip H. Sheridan, who arrived in the area with the 7th US Cavalry and Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer in 1868 to start rounding up Indians?

It's was like walking up to the gates of Auschwitz, taking a quick photo to post on Facebook, and leaving.

Not once did they show respect to the people they claimed to be championing.

Smile big for the concentration camp. No reverence required.

There was no sincerity within these people. They were on an outing. An outing they could use for bragging rights back at the supper club.

Have no doubt there are multitudes of legitimate allies, who are sincere in their being SUPPORTIVE to Indigenous issues. They know their role is to follow, not lead.

None of them showed up. They probably knew better. 

The migrants need allies. Sincere and passionate and risk-taking allies. Brave people willing to put themselves in danger to redress a wrong. People that understand you don't push the Indigenous People out of the way and take charge of their problems. Those who understand that white supremacy is played out, when whites tell PofC how they're supposed to behave in solving their problems.

But these were day trippers. People who clearly had no desire to be around those affected by immigration, but instead wanted to play liberal and impress each other over how much of a difference they were making. 

They were Miss Millie - the grande dame of white saviors.

The few men there thought themselves Lone Rangers, possibly. They'd go to the fort and save the Indians from the cavalry and black hats.

Yes, the Lone Ranger, would ride in to save the day, but only after sending Tonto into town to get his ass whooped first. Every damn episode! Kemo sabe my ass.

White saviors.

The Miss Millies were careful to sidestep the Indians. They made damn sure they weren't ever in any danger of coming across a real-life Native American or migrant.

I've always been good to you people.
Just. Don't. Touch. Me.

Originally, the Miss Millies planned to march to Fort Sill. However, they decided it was too hot, so they took their air conditioned bus instead. One doesn't really want to put yourself out much doing social justice cos play.

Miss Millie-in-charge Rori Neiss, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, assured local reporters they weren't going to get out of hand - the "Like those darkies" was unsaid, but implied.

To KSWO Neiss said, "We’re not anticipating getting rowdy at all. We are going to stand outside Ft. SIll, sing some songs, have some chants, and have our voices heard. It will be respectful, calm, and we don't plan on getting in any trouble."

"For those people who don’t want to block a highway, for those people who don’t want to put themselves on the line to be arrested, that’s not an excuse to still not speak out. We can still have a voice, even if it’s not a voice of disruption," she added.

Heartland for Human Justice - for people unwilling to put themselves on the line.

After their mini-action at the fort, the group boarded their buses to talk about their valiant efforts and post on social media how significant they were.

Forgotten were the children in cages and families walking thousands of miles to safety. No, instead the Miss Millies were exhausted from their Lewis and Clark expedition into the wild land of the Indian.

Posting on Facebook Neiss spoke of the rise of her measured-in-minutes protest.

"At about hour five of our almost ten-hour bus ride home (excluding breaks) and I am feeling simultaneously full and drained, energized and expended, hope-filled and mournful.

"As I think back to that first meeting just a little over a month ago, I am in awe of the women who sat around the table and asked “What can we do?!” and began to dream. We were representatives of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis (JCRC), National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis, Central Reform Congregation, and Women's Voices Raised For Social Justice. Today we are Heartland for Human Justice: almost twenty five organizations that span missions, religious affiliations, audience and clientele, and so much more. We are over 100 people that include Rabbis, ministers, priests, and nuns; city and state representatives from Missouri and Oklahoma; retired adults, college students, those who took two days off work to be present, and teens.

"To be clear, it was an astonishing experience. Two buses filled with people have given up two days to spend over 20 hours on a bus to stand in Lawton, OK and recall the history of Native people, Japanese-Americans, and migrants whose blood saturate the land. Together we read the names of those who died in US custody since the new policy of detention has been enacted. We told their stories. And we proclaimed our collective responsibility for all of those who step into this land. And with that, now we return home. The policy still remains. And we sit on the bus unfulfilled, not yet knowing our full role in the collective narrative that is still unfolding."

The rabbi used "we" five times in that last paragraph. Five times.

We, we, we, we, we. Me, me, me, me, me.

This is where the insensitive part really irks.

They selfishly made it about them and their feelings. To hell with the children in cages! Do you know how hard we, we, we, we, we have it on this bus and how bad we, we, we, we, we feel?

Hey, lady, the Indigenous of the Southeast took the Trail of Fucking Tears coming here and lost thousands of lives along the way. You rode the interstate on a comfortable charter bus, refused to march a mile in the heat, and you want to bitch about how draining that is? You never even bothered visiting the stockade where many Indians, who were marched to the fort from Mexico and Arizona, died of starvation, disease, and...the weather. And do you have any idea how long a walk it is from the Honduras to the U.S. border where you're going to get tear gassed? 

Repeat after me: You are not the victim. You did not have an arduous journey. You didn't die at that fort. Instead, you lived to whine about your day trip via Facebook on your air conditioned bus trip home instead. Many never got to go home. Many only got to bury their dead.

Grow the hell up and keep your bored retirees at home.

The next outing for Heartland for Human Justice is on August 17th where they plan to support the "immigrant community and refugee population" at the MaTovu Supper Club - home of Yoga with Julia.

The inspiration for the title of this article comes from
'The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven' by Sherman Alexie

Keep up with all our news reports and more at 

Help Hate Trackers continue exposing the alt-right and other serious groups and individuals, by making a donation to our site. We're here to keep you and your family safe and informed. Donate Here