There is no shortage of media commentary discrediting “identity politics,” particularly the focus on Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, and immigrant communities calling for justice and equity. Economics is our real problem, a counter argument goes, not race, sex, gender, citizenship. But as author Nancy Isenberg points out in White Trash, “identity has always been a part of politics.”
Laws have been written to oppress and exploit particular identities—Native Americans, Black Americans, Asians, homosexuals, transgender, and women—in a successful effort to maintain a system of White supremacy. Yet, members of these communities have worked for the rights and equality of everyone. In turn, White allies have joined in these anti-racism fights.
The Redneck Revolt is one such organization. The self-described anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-fascist group challenges working-class White people to stand against White supremacy.
I recently talked to Brett, one of the members who heads up the network’s Southeast Michigan Chapter. (Because of hostilities toward the organization, Redneck Revolt members use only their first names publicly.) There are about 40 chapters nationwide. He explained why the group focuses on anti-racism rather than economics even though it seeks out white working-class and poor people in economically struggling rural areas.
The interview has been condensed and lightly edited.
Zenobia Jeffries: What is the significance of the name Redneck Revolt? Why did the name change from the John Brown Gun Club?
Brett: They’re two sides of the same coin. We have some branches that are still the John Brown Gun Club. Our national network is Redneck Revolt.
Redneck Revolt chapters like ours in Michigan here primarily focus on outreach, and winning hearts and minds, counter recruitment, showing up, being present, being allies, being where we need to be to show our community support.
Whereas, John Brown Gun Club pretty much only deals with the firearm aspect of things. It deals with a lot of tactical training, a lot of information security-type stuff.
Jeffries: Can you give an example of what you mean by “changing hearts and minds.” What does that look like?
Brett: A really great example would be back in June. The ACT for America folks did an anti-sharia law march. Redneck Revolt was there. We were on one side of the barricades along with a slew of other leftist organizations. On the other side of the barricades were Proud Boys, Vanguard America, and a hodgepodge of other alt-right groups. But one of the most prominent was the Michigan Liberty Militia, which is famously racist and famously exclusionary.
Toward the end of the demonstration, this one older gentleman—he was an older White man up at the barricade with all the gear on, and armed—had his rifle. One of my members and [I] went up to this guy and were like, “I understand mixing state and religion is not good. Nobody here wants to mix state and religion, nobody is protesting that. [But] it’s clearly anti-Muslim. This protest is against Muslims.