Apocalypse Now: Some Thoughts on Race at the End of the World

26 Apr

Last March, Crunktastic and I were in Atlanta for the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association conference when a man approached us and handed us pamphlets that declared the end of the world was fast approaching. In fact, the pamphlet urged us to get our affairs in order so we could be ready by May 21, 2011.


When the date rolled around I called up my mama and when she answered the phone I let her know I was disappointed that she hadn’t got caught up in the Rapture. We had a good laugh and chatted about these pitiful somebodies who really thought the world was going to end. All jokes aside, I did feel sorry for the (admittedly silly) folks who gave up all their worldly positions, alienated friends and family, and generally acted a fool all in hopes to depart this world for what seemed to them a much better place. And, truth be told, I myself was raised to believe that the days were being shortened for the elect’s sake and that we should live like Jesus was about to beam down on a cloud and take us out of Babylon at any moment.


What I mean is last year’s apocalyptic fervor is far from isolated. There have been numerous claims throughout the centuries that warn about an impending doomsday and I know I’m not the only one who experienced some version of doomdayism growing up in the Black Church. Yet, despite the perpetual fixation on the end times humankind seems to have, I’m finding this particular moment of great interest. While the majority of folks may scoff at Harold Camping’s followers from last year’s fiasco, many of those same people believe that the U.S. is headed for doom, economic collapse, and general annihilation, and often resort to using thinly-veiled references to the looming specter of black and brown bodies here and abroad as evidence of the rapid decay of society–despite the fact that this “civilization” largely exists because of the unpaid and underpaid labor of black and brown folk. How, then, are we the root of the chaos?

White evangelical Christians in particular have been pretty hardcore about looking for Jesus’ return, and while most of them would perhaps agree that humans cannot predict the day or the hour, that hasn’t stopped many folk from wildly speculating about these here end times. Their mantra goes something like: The end is near! The Antichrist (President Obama) is a socialist who is trying to create a one-world government and we won’t have our freeeeedom! Also, black and brown people are super scary so we need lots of guns to protect our property from them!


Damn, Mike Seaver. Not you too.

Not unlike the bestselling Left Behind series, the shows Doomsday Bunkers and Doomsday Preppers also reflect a growing anxiety about modern society. While the former spends a bit more time talking about the science of how bunkers are constructed, both series are exposés about a rising subculture of folks who are “preppers.” Preppers spend thousands of dollars squirreling away food, clothing, and weapons, while also creating hideouts and bunkers for the impending apocalypse. These preppers are almost always white (so far, to my knowledge, a handful interracial families and one Latino family has been featured on the shows) and middle class. Now, some of the show’s participants fear reasonable events like nuclear war, global pandemic, peak oil, and so on. Other participants have more, shall we say, unorthodox views—preparing for the imminent eruption of super volcanoes, cataclysmic polar shifts, the devastating emergence of Planet X, or the looming end of the Mayan calendar. In any event, a theme appears in both series: week after week, these shows profile white preppers battening down the hatches and racking up stores of food and guns to protect their families from the “gangs of roving marauders” that will inevitably appear once civilization crumbles.

I swear, whenever someone utters that phase or one like it, they begin to describe riots and looting that are usually associated with people of color, like the Rodney King riots or the mayhem during Katrina. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of gangs of roving marauders I think of folks arriving in a place unannounced and uninvited, who then strip the land of its resources, violently engage the inhabitants, and generally act as inhumanely as possible. Oh wait, maybe I’m thinking of imperialism. Never mind.

Funny how it’s not the end of the world when young black men can get gunned down in their gated community for looking suspicious, or when trans sisters are imprisoned for fighting off their attackers. There’s no national apocalyptic fervor when young brown girls are repeatedly gang raped. Yet, some folks are so scared of a moderate Negro in the White House that they are stocking up on a year’s worth of beans to stave of the apocalypse. My Lorde. Something is very wrong here. Let’s recognize this particular moment of doomdayism for what is: desperate cries from a “post-racial” nation hellbent on preserving its hegemonic power relations by any means necessary. 

Quite frankly, this is the only apocalypse I’m interested in:

The RuPocalypse!

Share your thoughts on doomsday fever in the comments.

8 Responses to “Apocalypse Now: Some Thoughts on Race at the End of the World”

  1. crunkonia April 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM #

    “Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of gangs of roving marauders I think of folks arriving in a place unannounced and uninvited, who then strip the land of its resources, violently engage the inhabitants, and generally act as inhumanely as possible. Oh wait, maybe I’m thinking of imperialism. Never mind.” This!!!!!!!!!! And another time that doomsday prophecies (about white Jesus’s return) were super popular in the south was after the Civil War. This is no Reconstruction, but damn! Can conservatives lose without Jesus coming back to snatch them up? Thank you for this!

  2. Katia de Souza April 26, 2012 at 9:58 AM #

    “Mike Seaver:, Ha! Crunkadelic, your posts are always entertaining and informative. Serenity Now!

  3. Sarah April 27, 2012 at 5:06 AM #

    This scares me so much–not the possibility of a cataclysmic event, but the fact that there’s a whole bunch of people out there who think the best plan for disaster includes stockpiling ammunition to “defend” their property.

  4. Jondrea Smith April 27, 2012 at 7:51 AM #

    This country has been given chance after chance to solve the race issue, but each time it has passed. The seventies were the closest this country has been to all out war, but instead of reading the hand writing on the wall, they used distraction (material and pharmaceutical), militaristic repression, and apathy to create the ‘reprieve’ of the eighties. But they never addressed the issues that brought people to the streets in the first place. Now, here we are again. I live in a city with damned near 15% Black unemployment, steadily-rising homelessness, a wage gap wider than the Grand Canyon, and a Police Department that was recently deemed unfit to handle dogs. If that ain’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.

  5. harshbrowns April 28, 2012 at 12:18 PM #

    Thank you. Yes, colonialism is/was the apocalypse. that’s the metaphor here..

  6. Natalieeee May 2, 2012 at 9:38 AM #

    I hope it doesnt happen theress so many kids that didnt get to groww up yett i have a 2 year oldd andd i wouldd wishh to see himm groww up i dont want hiss lifee to go so quickk i think we couldd makee thiss worldd better if we put our mindss to it juss godd give us a chancee

  7. counterftnoire May 7, 2012 at 5:29 AM #

    Reblogged this on Nerd Noire Undercover.


  1. GLG Weekly Round-up « girls like giants - April 28, 2012

    […] Some thought on Race & the Apocalypse, from the Crunk Feminist Collective: https://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/apocalypse-now-some-thoughts-on-race-at-the-… […]

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