Dixon D. White's battle against white supremacy goes viral By Ron Wynn
Dixon D. White takes pride in his Southern heritage. He drives a F-150 pickup truck and describes himself as a "redneck." But one area where he is vastly different from many of his peers concerns his acknowledgement of and willingness to confront white supremacy in America. The 48-year-old has been doing anti-racist work for many years, both on and offline, but nothing has ever resonated the way a video made from the front cab of his truck did a couple of weeks ago.
That one video, which features White addressing whites in a passionate, energetic and driven manner and urging them to not just admit the problem but to do something about injustice generally and white supremacy specifically, has made him a national celebrity. The video had generated some 14 million hits as of last weekend on a variety of social media platforms, including well over several million on You Tube. But it's also gotten White the anticipated flurry of hatred from various white nationalist groups, as well as some death threats. However he says not only has no regrets about doing it, but that it was something he felt compelled to do and things he had to express after he watched a video from another anti-racist speaker on You Tube Elijah Hamilton.
"After I saw that I was just blown away," White said last Saturday during an interview. "I thought it's time I really put my feelings out there in a strong, direct way. I've been doing things online and working in various groups, but the problem of white supremacy is one that so many whites don't want to confront. They don't want to talk frankly and honestly about race and injustice and what it's doing to this country. So this was something where I just wanted to speak openly and freely about it."
In a way White's actually fulfilling a part of his dream that he'd put on hold. He had plans to become a filmmaker, but laughs now at how much he underestimated the power of his video, which he originally had titled " W Honky, then decided to change to Dixon D. White (itself a pseudonym). "I had absolutely NO idea what would result from this," White continues. "I just hoped it would start a dialog. But I've gotten a host of comments and responses from other whites that are positive, as well as the outpouring of support from the Black and Brown communities. I've had white guys send me videos where they are crying as they talk about things they've done and said, or acknowledge they were totally clueless to what has been happening to people of color in America."
"But I want to make something else very clear," White adds. "Black people have been saying this for years, and I don't want anyone thinking that this is something that started with me, or that I've somehow discovered something unique or strange. Black people have to deal with white supremacy on a daily basis and they know how pervasive it is. It is whites in America who've tried to pretend it doesn't exist or act as though we're now in a post-racial society, which is a huge joke."
White also admits that all the reaction hasn't been desirable. "I've had people accuse me of being a fraud, telling me I'm not really a Southerner, don't drive a truck, am not even white, just some phony," he said. "Well I grew up in a tiny Tennessee town and I definitely do drive an F-150, and I am who I am." The other thing that makes White's videos so powerful is he doesn't spare himself in his discourse about racism.
White has admitted throwing around the "N" word very loosely growing up in a small Tennessee town. His turnaround began in college. He saw a Black roommate's struggle with police abuse and harassment, and became determined to do what he could to fight these attitudes and to positively change things. Later came another ugly encounter at a Bass Pro Shop that he details online. He also connects his videos to the current wave of protest activity around police misconduct, saying that what he ultimately wants to see is whites taking responsibility for changing a climate that they've created and profited from for decades.
"I didn't do this for personal fame or to get attention," he concludes. "This is about what kind of a nation and country do we as Americans want for future generations. Racism is a cancer and the only way to get rid of it is to attack it at the source. White supremacy and privilege are that source and whites are the ones who truly need to recognize it and do what's necessary to eliminate it."