Framed in Light: The Radical Identitarian Right.
The headlights illuminated a spiral of fiery brown, twisting dangerously around the interrogating beam, lacing it in a curving question.
I wasn’t used to driving, and catching my own hair lit by the headlights of the car behind me filled me with sudden dread.
The road was a coiling, dark swirl of ink against the lush Texan summer foliage, the air was thick and balmy, the street lamps caught the flame acanthus like flecks of blood.
Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell the day before.
I couldn’t make out the car behind me, the street lamps were dispersed in lazy undulations of yellow light that seemed as slow as the drawling speech of the people in Texas, slipping through the dark air like a lazy tongue in the heat-swollen cavern of night.
The speed limit was agonizingly slow in the area I lived, by Barton Springs Park, but I kept my foot anchored at a midpoint of exacting precision on the gas.
I glided in a torpor of anxiety as the flowers laughed madly beside me in their pristine flowerbeds like a carnivorous, cackling pageant.
My red car slipping through the languid evening air, I looked again in my rearview mirror, my curls igniting again, backlit from the mystery car following me.
It was closing in yet I hadn’t been able to catch the body of the machine in the lamplight, all I knew of it was its searing headlights blazing through my car, lighting up the interior like a music box of thudding panic.
The light slashed over the swell of a hill, fanning through my sight and dipping lower in my mirror, I caught my own eyes, wide with fright, exposing the rind of white.
But the color flickered at me, darkly emerald, green as the foliage spotted with desert willow and yellow bells and trumpet creeper blooming beside the slick black round I propelled myself down in slow motion.
My eye was light enough, European enough.
My hair might get me pulled over, but my eyes would save me.
The car was finally revealed in a beam of street light that my fair eyes caught, it was also red, not a police car, the terror abated and was replaced by fury.
I pushed the gas and flickered through the night like a hell-spark.
These are the thoughts that held me in my last days in Texas. A place I disliked; there aren’t enough crystal pools or shimmering glass towers or quaint food trucks to make up for the heavy atmosphere that weighs more oppressively than the heat.
There aren’t enough detox juice stalls to purge the system.
Sandra Bland wasn’t subservient, she wasn’t apologetic, she wasn’t deferential, and it got her killed.
Whether my mixed race features could counterbalance an uppity attitude was a question that hung like a noose in the blood-clotted air of the Texas midsummer night.
Mixed features exist on a continuum, sometimes they’re not enough, as was the case with Daunte Wright.
I think it’s key to reflect on the origins of the systems we give power to; the police, at their inception, were a slave patrol.
August Vollmer, thought to be the founder of American police, once said, “After all, we’re conducting a war, a war against the enemies of society.”
The enemies were those that impeded the delusional assumption of white supremacy in America: people of color.
Vollmer fought in the Spanish-American war in the Philippines, and it was there that he learned the battle tactics he would imbue American policing with.
I’m often confronted with the realization that those who challenge the reality of racialized dynamics in the US have not considered the idea of whiteness as a construct.
It’s seen as a baseline, and not a radically invasive concept that is policed and protected.
Society is seen as a battle between chaos and order, but whose order is not a question given much consideration by some.
The left is seen as espousing radical Marxism. But only a lens that disregards the radical inception of US society and its military reinforcement could claim that only one side serves ideas rooted in militant identity.
To see with a lens that views whiteness as normalcy, and invokes the fearful protection of its dominion as the status quo, is the epitome of Identitarianism.
It is simply a lens that cannot see itself.
To believe that a land conquered with massacres, built with slavery, and protected with a military force safeguarding the citizens who conform to a phenotypical concept of whiteness is without Identitarian underpinnings, is a radical Identitarian outlook.
It merely masquerades as centrism, comforted by amnesia and solipsism.
The idea that a hostile force with roots in slave patrols and genocide, and infused with military tactics and weaponry, represents order is a radical one.
The fact that Vollmer, the father of modern policing, saw benefits in the idea of eugenics exhibits a radical origin to a modern institution.
If this is the father of the force for order in our society, whose order is it?
I think we’d do well to consider the inception of our institutions and what constitutes the understructure of their moral fabric.
Descendants of slaves and indigenous people are killed the most proportionally, with military weapons; to be unable or unwilling to consider America’s relationship with The Terrible Father and tyranny is a radical, racial, Identitarian and delusional approach that purports to be moral, ordered, neutral and fair.
The reworking of our institutions is a complex endeavor and will involve many phases, there will be periods of unrest and pain and failure.
There is no rebirth without the death of a previous form; a reimagining into a new stage of development; a new order.
As my car slid through the oily night towards the springs, I realized that Austin could never be my home. I could never rely on the hope that I could pass, slip through the claws of a tyrannical order that would deem my features far enough from “the enemy” to live.
These foundations are difficult to decipher, living on the threshold affords one some sight, but the closer one is to the protected identity, the more insulated and myopic one’s vision can be.
I’ve lived my life relying on what protection my adjacency to whiteness offered me.
I’ve been selfish and maneuvered, quicksilver and mercurial: adapting and reflecting, appeasing and pleasing the Tyranical Father.
I don’t say any of this with any moral superiority, only to share the glimpse that I can catch — a sliver of my own myopia, a tendril of dangerous hair, a flash of verdant iris, and a mirror framed in the projected light of tyrannical order.
I drove to Barton Springs, it was empty.
I slipped into the cool water and glided over ancient rocks in a spring that was once sacred to the Native people of the land.
Under the water, the lights above became petty and faltering, losing the war with the aqueous riot of color. Tremulously incandescent soldiers eclipsed by the chaotic hues of the velvety, ancient spring.
Just before they were snuffed out, as my heart pounded and my lungs ached, I knew I would leave their brittle, insistent, white glare.
As I rose to the surface, I gasped, “I would leave, I would live.”
Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500-hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.