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Dear MAGA Hat Wearing White Man:

Suicide Among White Men

As one white person to another, I’m writing to let you know your MAGA hat likely will not save you or America. In addition to me, there are many other white people out there who see an alternative and a more realistic solution than MAGA to the same dissatisfaction, frustration and despair behind the anger you feel. It’s important for me to state up-front that I am deeply disturbed and repelled by the hateful language and violence inherent in your “Make America Great Again” cause. I’m alarmed to witness the violent actions and threats against people you rail at, for instance immigrants, African-Americans, women, and LGBTQ+ people. What’s more, I believe that your rage is misdirected and precipitates harm to you.

The shouting matches, punches, Trump rallies, and chants of “USA,” are obscuring a sense of loss. A loss of actual or potential power, opportunity, prosperity, and security.

What I mean by this, is that the MAGA program is actually a distraction from what really is hurting you. The shouting matches, punches, Trump rallies, and chants of “USA,” are obscuring a sense of loss. A loss of actual or potential power, opportunity, prosperity, and security. By virtue of being born a white man these seemed promised to you and you’ve felt entitled to them. But with each passing decade has come a deeper and more prolonged realization of how difficult it is to succeed in this country; to “move up,” provide for your family” in ways that masculinity prescribes.

You were told that the American Dream is just at your fingertips, and the only obstacles are those other groups of people who are encroaching on your way of life and and/or taking what is yours - rather than identifying the American corporate capitalist system, intertwined with racism and patriarchy, that is holding you back. One huge example is how corporations have moved production facilities overseas in order to pay lower wages and and thereby increase their profits.

Underneath your rage lies despair. The security and economic prosperity you were promised is not panning out And you have been led to blame other people, who have been just as duped by the system, instead of the system itself.

Although our society bestows many benefits on white men, there are also costs, such as pressures to “be a man” which dictate that you need to have a good job and be the main financial provider for your household. Unfortunately, these are becoming distant and unattainable fictions. The economic downturn felt within other communities for many decades has finally come to your door too. Many studies have found that “deaths of despair” are on the rise in America, and these deaths particularly impact middle-aged white men, not coincidentally, the demographic who has popularized the MAGA hat. A study of voting analyses found that counties that supported Trump had increases in death rates from suicide, alcohol, and drugs.

According to the CDC, suicides have increased by 43% from 1999-2014 among middle aged white men. Studiessuggest that this is attributed to dwindling economic opportunities that have led to hopelessness, isolation, and lack of social support. The very system you thought was there to benefit you, that told you all you needed was to lift yourself up, is the very system that is killing you. The American Dream that we have been indoctrinated to believe in decrees an ethic of individualism—the notion that only you are responsible for your conditions. This is one of the key myths and ingredients that contributes to your despondency. The “bootstrap” ethos suggests that if you don’t “make it” then it is your own personal failure, and not the consequence of a system that is set up to work for the wealthy few at the expense of the many.

Suicide Among White Men
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For you, hopes for the life you’ve felt you deserved are crumbling before your eyes. Due to a toxic mix of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy, there is real pain, coupled with limited options for socially acceptable solutions and relief. Anger is of course more productive than drugs, alcohol or suicide. However, anger and wrath misplaced toward other groups who are also victims of our oppressive system is just as dangerous and harmful, not just to those “others” but to you as well in so far as it keeps people with similar interests divided and unable to work together to combat the real source of so much social and economic injustice.

What I would like to offer you is another way, a way forward without fear of emasculation, extinction, or loss of security. Rather than clinging to the last vestiges of power that white male entitlement has granted you, shift your consciousness to collective liberation. For too long, you’ve denied that there was any need to align yourself with the causes of the very groups you torment because their demands seemed too irrelevant to your experience. For many, this denial has created toxicity and pain only temporarily soothed by drugs, alcohol, violence and MAGA hats.

Statistics show that your demographic is also committing suicide to ease their suffering—testimony that this system that hasn’t worked for so many for so long is now failing you too. The people you target under the guise of “making America great” have been suffering under the weight of this system for decades and even centuries.

There is a vision for a better world, one dreamed of by the many, some who have felt the burden of systemic oppression as far back as the colonization of this country. This vision includes housing, healthcare, education, clean air and water, and good jobs. There is common cause found among people working across race, class, ability, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. By uniting together we could live in a world that is better for all of us. Until then, your MAGA hat and its ideology won’t save you or anyone else.

Signed,

dahlia ferlito 200

A white person who believes in collective liberation

This text is a tribute to Mike. I hope you found peace that you were unable to find in this life.

Dahlia Ferlito

Dahlia Ferlito is a white, queer, anti-racist organizer and co-founder of White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL). Special thanks to Karen Hilfman and Liz Sutton for editing. WP4BL is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice. WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles. Visit www.awarela.org and follow us @wp4bl