Footnotes for

Don't Label Me

How I interpret my sources may not be how you do, so feel free to challenge my perspective — and to do so with grace. If you motivate me to rethink my view, and convince me to revise it, I’ll update the footnote in question and credit you. To start, click the icon called “Disagree?”

Chapter 26:
Do All Black Lives Matter for BLM?

* “BLM took off on social media after a teenager named Trayvon Martin died from gunshot wounded in February 2012.”

Note: A moving account of that time comes from Patrice Khan-Cullors and asha bendele, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018).

Chapter 27:
When Purity Pollutes

* “‘Some of us engaged in struggles for social justice have been incredibly naive about what has been happening in our own psyches… If we are against evil, we must be good… Whatever the source, this unattended shadow can erupt in vicious language and acts that endanger others and undermine that effort.'”

Source: Walter Wink, The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium (New York: Bantam Doubleday, 1998), p. 126.

Wink says much more from which we can learn — or re-learn. “Identifying enemies runs the risk of freezing them in their role, and of blocking their conversion. Treating people as enemies will help create enemylike reactions in them.'” (p. 172)

* “‘Women shouting at me: slut, bisexual, she fucks men’… It humiliated me to see myself then: one who resists the enforcers out there with militancy, but gives in without resistance to the enforcers among us.'”

Source: Andrea Dworkin, “Biological Superiority: The World’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea,” Heresies 6 (1978), p. 48.

* “In a summer 2017 blog post, Lee declared a willingness to be ‘excommunicated’ from the ‘church of social justice.'”

Source: Frances Lee, “Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice,” Autostraddle, July 13, 2017.

Lee later made Bitch Media’s first-ever list of the “Bitch 50” — “the most impactful creators, artists, and activists in pop culture whose imaginations extend beyond normalizing and affirming the same mainstream messages… [T]hose who have taken risks in their work that push us closer to progress… [T]he firsts and the pioneers; the people who created a ripple or a path from the margins to the center” and who generated an ethos that’s “intentionally focused on freeing others.”

* “‘How do we show up in this work as our whole selves? How do we be in it as our best selves?'”

Source: Patrice Cullors in conversation with Robert Ross and Krista Tippett, “On Being” podcast, February 18, 2016, 27:03-:12.

* “A nationalist, he explains, ‘encourages us to be our worst and then tells us we are the best’… a patriot ‘wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves.'”

Source: Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017), pp. 113-14.

Chapter 28:
Meet the Egobrain

* “‘Ego’ derives from the Latin for ‘I.'”

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary.

* “They’re known in psychology as defensive mechanisms.”

Source: Henry P. Laughlin, The Ego and Its Defenses (New York: Appleton-Century-Crafts, 1970).

Note: For more information about how the human brain functions, see the sources and notes for Chapter 18: “Beware of Your Brain”.


Chapter 29:
Choosing Integrity

* “Frances Lee catalogs some steps that any of us can take to be consistent.”

Source: Frances Lee, “Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice,” Autostraddle, July 13, 2017.

* “What if we developed a habit of self-evaluation?”

Source: A persuasive account of why, and how, to develop positive habits is Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (New York: Random House, 2012).

* “I’d sooner justify my community’s rules by fearing the worst that could happen if they cut me loose.”

Note: The sociologist Jonathan Haidt describes this tendency as “catastrophizing.” It’s something that can, and should, be unlearned. See Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (New York: Penguin Random House, 2018).

Read the viral essay on which this book is based.

* “I once delivered this message to BLM activists in Toronto.”

Note: This April 2016 encounter took place at the Toronto Public Library immediately after a panel discussion in which I’d participated. At the time, the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter was all over the news for extremist rhetoric. Some of its members showed up at the discussion — a panel entitled, “Our New Tribalisms” and organized by the Spur Festival.

* “It resulted in half of America’s black teachers getting fired!”

Source: Malcolm Gladwell, “Revisionist History” podcast, June 29, 2017.

This episode also revealed that the Supreme Court decision barely mentions teachers. Political scientists, historians, and professors provide shocking statistics on how much more successful black students are with a black teacher. What’s even more shocking? The color of a teacher’s skin has no effect on the achievements of white students.

So I accept that it’s important have a demographically diverse faculty. But the question is how to ensure that they’re hired, and treated, as individuals, not as metrics or mascots with the mandate to “represent” anybody beyond themselves. Because when people are recruited as metrics or mascots, they’re in fact being used.

Chapter 30:
The Show Must Go On

* “The Qur’an teaches that ‘God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is inside themselves.'”

Source: Qur’an 13:11.

Chapter 31:
America's Seizure

* “We talk a blue stream about the mass incarceration of black and brown men in the United States.”

Note: For a powerful introduction to this issue, watch the documentary 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay, released in 2106 and available on Netflix.

* “Diversity’s battalions fiercely condemn them but deploy rhetoric that feels to loads of white folks like they’re being indicted for every one of the nation’s ills.”

Note: Let me give a couple of examples.

At a rally in Toronto on February 4, 2017 (start video at 7:08), a Black Lives Matter activist announced that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants Canada to welcome anybody who is shut out of the United States.

When the crowd began to cheer, she added, “Don’t cheer. Do not cheer. Because we know what exactly that is. We know what that is. We know what that manipulation is. It is what this country is founded on. Erasure and silencing of the real history of this land. The genocide of Indigenous people that the state is founded on. The enslavement and genocide of black people that this state is founded on. The indentured slavery of racialized people that this state is founded on. When Justin Trudeau says that, he is a liar. He is a hypocrite. He is a white supremacist terrorist!”

To label the achingly liberal Justin Trudeau a “white supremacist terrorist” is, in effect, to say that no white person can be progressive enough to part of the solution.

Another example: Speaking to students at the University of Missouri in 2016, a Black Lives Matter co-founder went further: “The people vowing to protect the Constitution are vowing to protect white supremacy and genocide.” See Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, “The Threat of Tribalism,” The Atlantic, October 2018.

* “One of America’s foremost historians, David Blight, describes the state of the union this way: ‘It’s not only racial polarization but a seizure about identity.'”

Source: Robin Wright quoting David Blight in “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” The New Yorker, August 14, 2017.

* “This, I’ve come to see, is how the most despondent Americans justify their meager expectations of Donald Trump.”

Note: The paltry expectations can be explained by what social scientists call the low “social discount rate” among these Americans. That is, their social status has been plunging for long enough that they’ve discounted their futures and decided that it makes more sense now to live recklessly than responsibly. Hence the emotional calculation that it’s fine to vote for a president on the basis of his immediate entertainment value — not whether his governance will result in a better country later on.