You know what would be terrific? A limited series that looks at social justice movements in a thoughtful, honest manner that isn’t relegated to public television. This is not said to besmirch what PBS is doing, by the way. But unless we’re talking about a series that stars Benedict Cumberbatch or some multi-episode ode to Americana made by Ken Burns, PBS receives far less attention for its documentary series and films than networks like A&E do.
You know what would be great? To see a series that takes a compelling look at the lives of families struggling to make ends meet, people caught up in systematically imposed cycles of poverty and injustice. Or a series that deeply explores what life is like for people in communities where unarmed men and women of color are gunned down by police or one that examines how difficult it is to exist in towns where the demand for manual labor has all but dried up.
Instead, starting Tuesday, Jan. 10, we’ll get a weekly look inside the lives of several families headed by members of the Ku Klux Klan called “Generation KKK.” Giving racism a platform, even under the guise of increasing the public’s awareness of its existence, is all the rage now.
Granted, that’s not the purpose of “Generation KKK.” In a Sunday New York Times article, A&E’s brass and the “Generation KKK” producer explained that the show has been in the works for more than a year and a half. That’s basically right around the time that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign began capitalizing on the sublimated bigotry and racial tension that’s been coming to the fore of our national dialogue.
The show would have made it to air regardless of the election’s outcome, understand. Between the Klan’s rebranding of its intentions — it’s just about white pride now, never mind that inconvenient history of domestic terror and murder — and openly leaving literature on doorsteps in communities around the nation, the white supremacy organization has been steadily mounting its own campaign of normalizing hatred.
In it we are exposed to a subset of society who are struggling to make it in a world they perceive as hostile to their worldview. A group who are part of the American fabric of this nation and feel it is their time to be recognized and in fact normalized as part of White Pride.
They are the Klu Klux Klan.
If you have lived under a rock for the last century, the KKK is one of America’s first and premiere racist organizations. Known for their terrorizing of people of color, they are, in essence, a government-sanctioned terrorist organization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center defines them as: The Ku Klux Klan, with its long history of violence, is the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups. Although black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.
Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies.
Started during Reconstruction at the end of the Civil War, the Klan quickly mobilized as a vigilante group to intimidate Southern blacks — and any whites who would help them — and to prevent them from enjoying basic civil rights. Outlandish titles (like imperial wizard and exalted cyclops), hooded costumes, violent “night rides,” and the notion that the group comprised an “invisible empire” conferred a mystique that only added to the Klan’s popularity. Lynchings, tar-and-featherings, rapes and other violent attacks on those challenging white supremacy became a hallmark of the Klan.
This documentary series explains their lives, their worldview and why this is their time. The time for their suffering, their trials and tribulations in a world hostile towards whiteness and how they are doing their very best to cope with a society completely tipped in their favor but in another twenty years or so might give minority groups, for the first time in this nation’s history, a statistical, numerical advantage, though the money, opportunities, media control, corporate wealth, and social advantages will likely favor Whites for another two or three decades, at least.
Given that the most well known vision of the KKK looks more like this than the shot at the top, the question I know you have to be asking is: Who is this show for?
In this instance, given that Rick Spencer has spoken of Trump’s win as a sign that White people are the chosen ones and their time of ascension is now. But don’t take my word for it.
Let him tell you what he really thinks of anyone who isn’t white and doesn’t believe this period in American history is anything less than the absolute change of a sick, disgusting society in need of the firm hand of White leadership lead by minds like Donald Trump and of course his own personal genius.
Meanwhile ask yourself a different question:
Why does this show NEED to exist? Who are its consumers? It isn’t the people living the lifestyle. It’s for people who know nothing about it.
Why don’t they know anything about it? It is outside, in most cases, far outside the norm. What is it’s purpose? To make normal what should remain far outside the norm.
We are saying: White Nationalists, your hatred, mistrust and xenophobic behavior towards groups of people you have never met, never interacted with and yet declare your hatred of, we a nation which does not know you, now wants to know you.
Because they are on the top of the food chain with their introduction to the White House. They are going to be showing up in the news in the media on a more consistent basis and instead of having people up in arms every time White Nationalists, in the guise of the Alt-Right show up, people will settle down and accept their perspective, particularly toward anti-Muslim behaviors.
Which would be okay since Donald Trump has normalized the fears of White Americans everywhere.
If Barack Obama had influenced the media in the same way, we would have had to deal with his promotion of Blackness in the media, forcing Americans to deal with complicated issues of racism directed from on high. He responded to issues of race. No one made television series trying to normalize the Black Experience so Whites could find it palatable to recognize being Black in America is a terrible challenge at best and at worst, depending on where you live, a life and death struggle on a daily basis.
If such a show came on: I missed it. And so did you.
This should not be allowed. Not because it isn’t good, but because the first step to making racism acceptable is to make you think RACISTS are people too.
They want for themselves what they would deny everyone else. Empathy. Sympathy. Humanity.
What hypocrites these Nazis be.
Conversations like Spencer’s video above, the carefully cultured conversation built around the greatness of Whiteness and how America can restore itself to greatness by the oppression of anything that looks like multiculturalism is part of the DNA of America. When you say, Make America Great Again, what you really mean is to normalize the agenda of racism in America.
That when you look at overt racism and overt White Supremacy, you miss the underlying issues which are just as insidious, just as dangerous, just as powerful as the overt White Supremacy already in a constant assault on anyone who isn’t blessed with the protection Whiteness offers against the incredible list of assaults which constantly undermine opportunities of any minority trying to seek out the American Dream.
In Spencer’s own words:
America, until this last generation was a White country. Designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation. It is our inheritance. And it belongs to us. <cue polite applause>
Not applauding? Just keep watching Generation KKK. I’m sure you will be soon.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.