The emails started coming in 2018, the same year my book So You Want to Talk About Race came out. They would usually arrive after I had posted an article on race or gender, but sometimes they would appear at random. I still remember the first one, which shook me.
“I know you think I should kill myself because I voted for Donald Trump, because I’m white, because I’m a male, so I’m just going to, since that is the only ethical conclusion.”
The email listed the various hardships the sender had endured. Poverty, mental illness, discrimination. But none of that mattered, because I had shown him that the problem was that he was a white man and he should die. And so his death would be on my hands.
“I’m going to kill myself because that’s exactly what you want and will make you happy and I will teach you a lesson when the whole world learns about it.”
The email continued, describing how he was going to kill himself (with a Glock that he kept at home) and reiterating that it would be my fault. He then ended with a racist tirade, calling me a “worthless monkey bitch.”
I have received many violent emails from white men over the years, but I sat with this one for a while. I tried to process what I was reading and tried to figure out what I should or could do about it. In the end, I placed it in the same folder as all the death and rape threats.
A few weeks later I received another email from a different sender. The message, with slight wording differences, was essentially the same. This white man was going to kill himself and I was to blame. A few days later I got a similar message via Twitter messenger. A few days after that, another email.
They wanted me to know that the only option available to address white male patriarchy was either to maintain the status quo that was making us all miserable, or death.