Stop Using the Word “Distraction”


Connie Lim, composer of the song that became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March, “I Can’t Keep Quiet,” photographed by Rachael Lee Stroud.

I see a lot of confusion from white people about why “white liberal” and “white feminism” are derogatory terms and then I see a truckload of white people calling the Muslim ban a “distraction.”

“I don’t mean to imply it’s OK to ban Muslims, just that it’s a distraction from other things we should be paying attention to.” — every white person who has written an article about the “distraction” of the Muslim ban

A. I’m not understanding why these writers don’t understand the belittling implications of the word “distraction,” as if they were just hatched and flash-trained last week and are still working the kinks out in language acquisition, and B through Z. Calling the Muslim ban a “distraction” is racist. The Muslim ban is the problem itself. Whatever else Trumplethinskin and Bannon Wormtongue did during the Muslim ban chaos (and they did plenty), it was to make it easier to do more horrific things like the Muslim ban.


The protest at JFK against the Muslim ban, photographed by Stephanie Keith/Getty

Every action this administration or its leaders take cannot possibly be a “distraction” from every other action. It’s also nonsense to call any resistance action a “distraction” or, appallingly, “playing the shock event game”– as if fighting for Muslim lives is a “game” we’ve been baited into playing as a waste of time.

It’s ridiculous to label any resistance action as “playing into their hands,” and it’s even more ridiculous to state that a “shock event” like the Muslim ban was designed to “distract” us from the appointment of Steve Bannon to the NSC– an event that was on the front page of nearly every major English-language news outlet on the globe within seconds, an event that generated a trending hashtag on twitter, an event that launched thousands of thinkpieces. I googled “steve bannon nsc” to grab a link as an example, and I got 852,000 results.

It’s not escaping notice that massive protests to protect brown people were quickly characterized as a “distraction” that “plays into their hands” by white writers stating Steve Bannon’s appointment to the NSC is “far more consequential.” What is he doing on the NSC but furthering his very public anti-Islam agenda? How can anyone possibly conclude that a firm demonstration of our unwillingness to tolerate that agenda be a “distraction” from actions designed to implement that agenda?


RESISTANCE WORKS. Black causes, now more than ever, need support. Trump has already vowed to target “urban areas” for voter purges using “illegal voters” as his excuse. Unarmed Black people are still being killed by police. Black people are unfairly treated by every aspect of the criminal justice system. There is much to do, and resistance actions WORK. (Photo source: Arkansas Times)

You know what’s an actual “distraction”? Thinkpieces from white people that claim– without evidence– that resistance actions are useless and “playing into the hands of Trump and Bannon.” The resistance is having an enormous impact. Two GOP senators have now vowed to vote against Betsy DeVos due to public pressure from their constituents. Nordstrom announced it will stop carrying Ivanka Trump merchandise after they were targeted by a resistance boycott. The CEO of Uber resigned from Trump’s advisory committee after almost a quarter of a million people deleted the Uber app in protest of Uber’s actions during the JFK protest against the Muslim ban. Lyft has pulled advertising from the white nationalist site Breitbart, formerly headed by Steve Bannon, bringing the total number of companies to pull ads from the “alt right” sight due to public pressure up to 820. And that’s just in the past few days.


LGBTQ activists threw a dance party in front of Mike Pence’s house to protest his anti-LGBTQ stances on January 19, the most public resistance action on behalf of LGBTQ rights, but far from the only one. On January 31, Trump announced he would continue Obama’s protections for LGBTQ government workers. (Photo source:

This administration is losing support, and quickly, from both the left and the right.

Do not let anyone make you believe your resistance is “wrong,” “a distraction,” or “playing into their hands.” YOUR RESISTANCE IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Your work is important. PERSIST. RESIST. 




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9 thoughts on “Stop Using the Word “Distraction”

  1. Thank you so much for this. I can’t keep up with all the things I’m being told are “distractions” from “real” issues.

  2. kgreenbeans says:

    Excellent article. My only critique is the implication that “anti-Muslim” rhetoric is racist. Islam is not a race. Muslims represent every race on the globe, as does Christianity. Most of the people who think they hate Muslims don’t know any. They also don’t know the difference between an Arab, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latino, or American Muslim. They think all Muslims are Arabs. Arabs make up the smallest number of Muslims. Furthermore, they don’t even know that Allah means God in Arabic. It’s not a new God, a separate God, or a fake God. Does gracias not mean thank you because it’s in Spanish? Lol. Until people know those basics I just mentioned there will always be evil sentiments hurled at Muslims. Lastly, why do we not announce the child molesters in America as “Christian child molesters” or burglars as “Christian burglars”? Yet, Muslim precedes any Muslim’s name if a Muslim commits a crime. Incidentally no one says the “white killers” either. But they do say “Black”, or “Latino” killers. The world is sick and everyone just watches tv submissively accepting any biased information as fact.

  3. I haven’t seen – or even heard – of this. What a sickening, um, DISTRACTION.
    This is what comes of so many white folks skipping Oppression 101, dammit. They make me tired. Actually, they fill me with despair.

  4. selenebabaar says:

    Powerfully and articulately written. Thank you for sharing. We must all unite against any and all injustices regardless of who they are. #resist #persist #blacklivesmatter

  5. marymtf says:

    Black lives matter brown lives matter and despite all that street violence aimed at some of them, so do white lives matter. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

  6. Robert Sokol says:

    I don’t think I have had a day since November that I am not either angry or fearful or sad or overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness or all of the above and more. Mostly, I am weary of the constant need to be hyper-vigilant. I believe that is part of their agenda – to cause so much chaos that we cannot possibly see every leaking hole let alone plug it. I want to be fair, to be reasonable, to share power and influence and priorities. Then I just want to punch anyone who supports this lying, divisive self-serving administration in the face – and I am a major pussy when it comes to violence. Despite all this, I am grateful for the bitter wisdom of Gertrude and the gentle clarity of people like kgreenbeans. Thank you.

  7. Thanks for sharing your input!

  8. franmcbain says:

    Islam is not a race. We need to stop calling things racist when they aren’t. Bringing Syrian refugees here is bad *for them*. The refugees who came to Europe cannot find work and cannot start families. The majority are on welfare and are illiterate in *their own languages*. Not to mention the *epidemic of rape* in Sweden.

    They need to be resettled in the ME, something Trump actually is doing. He got the King of Saudi Arabia to support refugee safe zones in Syria and Yemen.

    Gertrude, don’t you think that’s a much better solution? I am not against bringing refugees here, even knowing about the European crisis. But don’t you think we should fight for refugees to find refuge in the ME? What would happen if we agitated for that? Would that be “racist”? It’s a solution Trump actually supports. Or is that ideologically unacceptable?

    • gwangung says:

      We need to stop calling things racist when they aren’t. Bringing Syrian refugees here is bad *for them*.




      They can live without threat of constant warfare.

      They CAN find jobs

      They can have a semblance of a normal life.

      That is, in no way, bad for them.

      And they have plenty of countrymen and other similar people here already in this country—which shows that we are more than prepared to take on the pittance that are attempting to come here.

      You say you aren’t against bringing refugees here–but you sure sound like it, knowing about Europe and NOT knowing about the existing refugee centers in the Middle East (which the current president had nothing to do with).

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