I’m going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. My parents will probably have to take care of me until I die. Now, this probably won’t be too long from now because many people with SMA (see previous posts for more info) don’t live very long. I’ll probably never get married and have kids…
I’ve decided to write about my life. I’m not sure if anyone will ever read this, but it might help me cope with my situation, and by situation, I mean the shit I’ve been through, and continue to go through on a daily basis. Okay that last statement may have been a little overdramatic; it’s a habit…
To those complaining about feminists complaining about street harassment:
There is a marked, real and very definite difference between noticing someone, and staring/ogling/creeping/gawping/deliberately checking someone out/commenting. I notice pretty people all the time - it’s human and natural. But I make sure as hell I do it discreetly and respectfully, as I am very aware of not wanting to make ANYone feel uncomfortable.
What is so frigging hard about understanding that people just want to be left alone to get on with their shit without having to be reminded or having to be aware of the fact that they have tits/arse/body/whatever!?
Oh, it’s supposed to be a compliment? I’m supposed to be flattered? How about, instead of telling me how I am supposed to feel/react/think, you listen to me and the thousands of others like me when we say IT MAKES US UNCOMFORTABLE, PLEASE STOP. What makes you think I give a shit how you rate me, how you judge me? What makes you think you have any right to assess me? Have I asked for your opinion?!
Ohhhh, you’re just more sexual than me? You can’t help it? I could describe to you the ten hottest people I saw recently, the ten hottest people I saw today, the ten hottest people I saw in the last hour. Guess what else? I love sex! Guess what else? Those ten hottest people have no clue that I noticed them & successfully continued with their day without being forced to acknowledge their sexual legitimacy. Guess what else? My fiancé can notice people discreetly too. So can all of the other decent, evolved people I know - of both sexes & inclinations.
You know why you think you can’t help it? You’ve grown up in a world that hasn’t called you out on your shit. You’ve been brought up in a world where your behaviour has not only been condoned, it has been encouraged and applauded. Listen to us when we say that behaviour is unacceptable. Maybe you’re not a complete fucking imbecile, maybe you’re even a good person and it’s just the environment you are in. Now is the time to LISTEN, to STOP, and to TEACH the ones that come after you the correct way to behave.
I’m not so much an angry black woman as a livid one. I live in a state of perpetual rage, only ever one news story away from flying off the handle. I start most mornings shouting “racists” at the radio, and end many of my days shouting “sexists” at the TV. When I’m not bawling at inanimate objects, I’m applying cocoa butter to my skin, which is incredibly dry, or trying to manage my “unruly” hair. If I’m not the wrong gender for a position of power, I’m the wrong colour: invariably my face doesn’t fit for both reasons.
When racism and sexism collide, feminists call it the theory of intersectionality – where multiple identities combine to increase oppression – but for black women it’s just known as reality. I collect statistical evidence of injustice against black women in the same way others collect football facts: in 2002, minority women made up less than 8% of the total female population, but 29% of the female prison population; despite often high academic achievements, we are twice as likely to be unemployed as white women; we make up over 1% of the population, but under 0.5% of MPs (just three black women). If parliament were representative there’d be 55-60 BME MPs. Let’s assume half of those were women, and if just half of those were black, we’d still have more than three times the black women MPs we currently have. Why does this matter? Because decisions are taken in the corridors of power that affect all our lives, so why shouldn’t we be represented at the table?
And then there’s the seemingly frivolous stuff: told by mad scientists that we are less attractive, and by the rest of the world that we are highly sexed exotic creatures is it any wonder we’re miffed? The fashion world really should get some sort of award for its dedication to constantly letting us know that it finds our hair type, skin colour and bodies to be the least desirable.
Despite all this, I’ve spent my life fighting the label angry black woman because it’s a handy way to put a black woman down, modern-day shorthand for telling her not to have ideas above her station. The truth is, black women are no angrier than white women; if anything we could do with being a lot angrier. But we get labelled because deep down everyone knows we’ve got a right to be mad as hell.
”—Hannah Pool on ‘angry black woman’ label (via pengaling)
Okay….I know I might regret this but: I am getting tired of the sound of my own voice.
What I mean by that is: my internets is mostly filled with left-leaning right-on feminist clever brilliant peoples. I am most certainly left-wing, I am smart, I am kinda educated, I am very much a strident feminist, I strive to learn all I can on issues of race and (dis)ability. The websites I visit regularly, and the people I interact with regularly, tend to fall somewhere within the left-leaning educated spectrum.
I need to be educated about the other side. I need to know what Tories and Republicans and sexists and racists and ablists think, and I need to know why. I want to make informed decisions. I want to know the alternatives to the gut-instinct things I think and feel. But I don’t want to indulge eejits; I have no desire to waste my time on uneducated offensive reactionary drivel (i.e. I’ll look at The Times, but not The Daily Mail). I want the good stuff. I want the opposition to be backed up by rational calm thought, by facts and figures, by respectful differences of opinion.
So I guess this is a plea for information, links, blogs, people, who are smart and different to me. Essentially, I suppose: why do right-wingers think they’re right? What is wrong with a liberal immigration policy? What are the alternatives to Feminism? What are the arguments against Positive Discrimination (in regards to race as well as sexism)?
To the first man, who I met by the Eiffel Tower my second week in Paris, when I didn’t know better. Who took me out four times, who waved little red flags that I tried to ignore. Like asking me outright if I was a virgin on the first date, like calling me five different pet names when I’d asked him not to throughout the second, like saying he’d heard that feminists were not real women during the third, like disappearing for a week and a half after the fourth. Who, as it turns out, was not the bullet, but the careening fourteen-wheeler that I narrowly managed to dodge. Who admitted that he hit the young woman that his mother was trying to force him to marry. Who didn’t want to marry her because he believes in romantic love. Who doesn’t see the contradiction in those two sentences.
To the guy in my medieval literature class, who lent me one of Camus’ plays and showed me around the library. Who wants to use his French education not to escape to the West, but to go back to his third-world home country to teach at its eight-year-old university. Who I admired until he asked me what my American boyfriend had thought about me coming to Paris, until he demanded to know why I didn’t have one (a boyfriend, that is), until he asked if it was required that I marry an American. Who reached out and touched my earrings, without asking, the next time he saw me. Who won’t take a hint.
To the PhD student who tried to take me up to his apartment after a five minute conversation, when I had just wanted to get lunch, who said there’s a first time for everything. Who told me that we were university students, living in a 21st century democracy, and that relations between men and women were different now, so what was I so scared of? Who recoiled in shock when I told him that I had friends who’d been raped, and by other university students, at that. Who does not have to think about rape on a daily basis. Who insisted on paying for my lunch, because “it was a matter of honor.” Who then physically prevented me from handing my money to the cashier, when I was trying to make it clear that this was not a date. Who didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t want a boyfriend, five times. Whose number I blocked the moment I stepped on the metro. Who has called me three times since. Who told me he wants to go into Senegalese politics. Who, I can only hope, will listen to the women of his country better than he listened to me.
To the delivery guy on the red motorcycle idling outside of the apartments on Avenue de Porte de Vanves, the ones I walk past every day, who said bonsoir and who, because I said it in return to be polite, followed me to the metro as I walked, head twisted down, pretending that I didn’t understand the language I’ve studied for eight years.
To the two men Thursday night in le Marais, swaggering drunk toward me, ignoring the male friend standing by my side, who leered at my chest and slurred, “Bonsoir, comme tu es mignonne,” as I shoved past them, trying to sound angry, not afraid. Who left me feeling fidgety and panicked, so when I took the night bus in the wrong direction and found myself alone with two other strange men at a bus stop at 2:30 A.M., I let the cab driver fleece me out of 25 euro just to take a taxi home.
To the group of teenage boys loitering on the corner by my apartment, who decided to sound a siren at my approach because I was wearing a knee-length dress and a bulky sweater. Who made me regret forgoing tights because I had wanted to feel the spring air on my calves for once. Who will never have to wear an itchy pair of pantyhose in their entire lives. To whom I said nothing, because I still have to walk past that corner twice a day for the next three-and-a-half months, because there were five of them and one of me.
To the three men standing on the corner of the periphery five minutes later when I was crossing the street. To the one who motioned for his friends to turn and look at me, quick, and then left his wolf-whistle ringing in my ears, shame like sunburn covering my face. Who didn’t care that it was broad daylight. Who made me wish that I could swear a blue streak back in French, without my accent betraying that I am American, which is another word for “easy” here.
To the two men at sunset on the bridge by Saint Michel, in the middle of tourist central, who made skeeting noises at me, like a pair of sputtering mosquitoes, to get my attention. Who laughed when I flipped them off, and who kept hissing at me anyway. Who forced me to keep checking over my shoulder, all the way to the metro, to make sure that I wasn’t being followed.
But also to the French friend who blamed my problems with French men on my university in the northern suburbs, a Parisian synonym for emeutes, gang violence, and immigration. Who insisted that if he brought me to his upper-crust private (white) university—where the French elite reproduces itself into perpetuity—I would meet nicer French guys. Who forced me to defend the men who’d harassed me against his barely-veiled, racist critique.
And also to the American friend at home who nearly rolled his eyes as he half-listened to my stories, who said, “Oh god, it’s hard being so attractive, isn’t it?” as if I was being vain. Who laughs and does not understand why I always duck out of the frame of photographs, who knows nothing of what my body means to me.
And that’s just two months in Paris.
To all the Italian men who made me wish I had dyed my hair black before studying in Florence, who kept me from going out dancing because I got sick of feeling them creeping up behind me, sneaking their hands around my waist (and lower) when I’d already said NO three times.
To the six-foot-something Georgetown student who prided himself on protecting the girls from being groped on the dance floor. Who chose to write about the rape of the Sabine woman for that week’s assignment. Who described the way her breast slipped free of her tunic when she fell, as if he was writing a porno, not a rape scene, who had the woman fall in love with her Roman rapist the next morning, after he spun her a tale of the coming glory of his country. Who said “in a fit of passion, she thrust herself upon his member” and was not joking. Who ended the story with the titular character saying to her children that she had been raped, but only at first.
To the seventh-grade boy who told my younger sister that he could rape her, if he wanted to.
To the gang of twenty-five year-olds in the Jeep who hollered at her as they drove past, leering at her thirteen-year-old body dressed in sweat pants and a tank top. Who made my sister, fearless on the soccer field and in the classroom and in the karate studio, run home crying. Who were the reason she became afraid to walk the dog by herself in our “safe, suburban” neighborhood.
To my father, who said, “What white male privilege?” Who was not being ironic.
A thousand times, yes. I could weep I know this so well. This is my every day.
Why is the purchase of art work created by people with disabilities often looked upon as CHARITY and not true art?
Absolutely. I used to be a PA for a woman who is an artist and has a severe sight impairment. The only time anyone ever put on her work, or included it, or had discussions about it, was in reference to a Disability in the Arts festival, or a 'Disabled Artists' exhibition, or a program focussing on her impairment. She was and is never, ever seen merely as an artist.
“Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation. If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too. No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normality, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart.”—
If you don’t have skinny genes don’t wear skinny jeans
if you don’t have a brain don’t open your mouth. people can wear whatever the fuck they want, why does it matter to…
I have a fat arse, and boy do I get appreciation for it when I wear skinny jeans.
(Not, of course, that the way we dress is only validated by getting appreciation from others.) You know how much of a fuck I give about the OP’s comments? That’s right - none of the fucks. No fucks for you.
Last year I stumbled across a blog devoted to Plains Cree, written by a linguist who I’m ashamed to admit, manages to even out-geek me in the love-of-language department. It was actually his blog that inspired me to start writing one of my own, though now mine has spiralled out of control and I discuss language much less than I’d like to.
In any case, the Môniyâw Linguist (I’m going to rename him ML for the rest of this post) often brings up interesting and challenging points related to language and culture. We don’t always agree, but the discussions are definitely worth having. I also think that sometimes, it is actually less an issue of ‘disagreement’ and more of a need to ‘tweak the terms of reference’, but we certainly aren’t eye-to-eye on everything, which is fine.
ML is someone I consider ‘friendly’, in the sense that I’m pretty convinced he’s not a racist creep, and we can have civil discussions that don’t get terminally derailed. It is this kind of audience I try to keep in mind when I write, though I am not always successful.
What’s the point? Well I was all set to respond to a recent post of his when I realised my response was going to be too big for a ‘comment section’ response. Thus here we are!
WHERE I THINK WE AGREE
ML’s post discusses the bias against working-class people in academia and recommends a book on the subject. He aims the recommendation mainly at “aboriginal activists who like to talk about ‘white’ people”.
If you’ve noticed, I avoid the term ‘white’ like the plague. I do this for a number of reasons:
it immediately attracts accusations of racism
it is an inherently problematic classification.
You’ll notice the order in which I placed these reasons. It is deliberate. The number one reason I avoid using a term that settlers have created for themselves (i.e. was not a term anyone else coined for them) is because using this term almost always results in the conversation being completely derailed by complaints of racism or ‘reverse racism’ (an utterly ridiculous term in itself).
Yet even if this did not happen, I’d dislike the term. Given the history of conflict between those who are now considered ‘white’, it is a term of very limited use. The term is deceiving. It has been used abroad and here in Canada to exclude, oppress and marginalise a great many groups of people, including those who now get lumped in as ‘white’ as though none of that ever happened (or continues to happen).
Who Gets To Be White is less of an issue in Canada than it used to be, but versions of this shifting hierarchy continue to be applied even today. For example…are fair-skinned Muslim Albanians ‘white’? No really, some people actually debate this kind of crap, but let’s stay far away from White Nationalists, okay?
I think that ML believes this history is not well known, and I tend to agree. I think that history gives us many examples of various groups of people who are currently considered ‘white’ who before the great ‘white-washing’ (lol, sorry) were treated in ways that can be compared to the treatment aboriginal peoples have experienced.
Although I avoid using the term ‘white’, I do talk about ‘settlers’ and no, I don’t preface every discussion with a historical analysis of marginalisation of settler populations by other settler populations before I give myself permission to take this short-cut. I don’t personally like the term ‘white’, but I cannot always avoid using it, and more importantly I think it remains a valid term if only because it is a category that is denied to people with dark skin. A denial that has real life, negative repercussions for ‘non-whites’.
So I’m going to just include myself in the category ML was referring to so I can more quickly get to the point. Or not so quickly
WHERE I’D LIKE TO TWEAK THE TERMS OF REFERENCE
ML gives some reasons for suggesting the book he does:
Why you should read it:
Details the class splits within academia, and the hostility academia has to working-class people, along with the reciprocal hostility that the working-class has to academia.
Addresses the way that class and sociological factors impact the kind of work done in academics. What we societally define as ‘knowledge’ has a very strong class component, since only people from a certain class are involved in the production and dissemination of it.
Helps aboriginal activists begin to think critically about divisions within ‘white’ people. Not all ‘white’ people are the same.
Helps aboriginal activists realize that many of the problems aboriginal people face within the university are actually shared by some of their fellow ‘white’ students.
I’ve bolded the parts I want to address. Alright, bear with me because these discussions are fraught with potential pitfalls based on different understandings of what words mean and it is very, very easy to talk past one another, not realising that you might actually be agreeing. It may be that I won’t explain my position well enough and it will have to be fleshed out in the comments, and that’s okay.
As well, for this one post, I’m going to drop the ‘w’ bomb a lot, but don’t get used to it.
ALARM BELLS RINGING
As I pointed out earlier, something very disturbing happens very regularly when people bring up the issue of commonalities between ‘whites’ and ‘natives’. The legitimate issue being discussed is often subsumed by the attempt to deny white privilege, and this is why alarm bells start ringing very loudly when I hear, ‘not all white people are the same’ and ‘we share problems’.
Asking us to “think more critically about divisions within ‘white’ people” unfortunately sounds an awful lot like, “we want to make this about us some more, thanks.” Something that us ‘aboriginal activists’ have already spent a lifetime trying to get away from. The phrasing suggests it is our responsibility to open up to ‘white’ people, as though we have somehow excluded ‘white’ people, and that this is obviously wrong and counter-productive. Again, concepts that are deeply rooted in colonialism (intended or not) and immediately have me going ‘hmmmm’.
More unfortunate phrasing has us being asked to realise that our problems in post-secondary institutions are sort of basically just like working class ‘white’ problems. Jeff, I’m just cringing here because I really don’t think you mean it to sound this way, but oh my. *cringe cringe cringe*
‘WHITE PEOPLE’ VERSUS WHITE PRIVILEGE
So let’s address what is dialing up the cringe-o-metre here.
White privilege is a privilege based on skin colour. Years ago, Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which I’d like you to give a quick read if you haven’t done so already. Her piece gives specific examples of how white privilege is manifested.
I have very fair skin. I have a certain amount of white privilege because of it. Some of the examples in Peggy McIntosh’s piece apply to me. I’ll give examples.
When both of my children smacked their heads open on the corner wall of a kitchen one day apart from one another, I did not experience immediate suspicion from hospital staff that perhaps I had caused the injuries.
I am not followed around in stores by employees who feel I am likely to steal things.
My interactions with people in positions of authority tend to go fairly smoothly compared to interactions family members of swarthier complexion may have.
And so on. There are many ways in which people around me respond to me more favourably because of my fair skin, than they would or do respond to people who are not as ‘white’ looking.
Nonetheless, a great deal of fair skinned privilege does not apply to me, particularly if it is known that I am Métis.
I rarely see my culture represented at all, much less in a positive manner and my children do not learn about themselves at all in school.
When I discuss aboriginal issues I am often treated as a ‘spokesperson’.
When I discuss ways in which aboriginal peoples are marginalised, it is often assumed that I am unobjective (i.e. incorrect or exaggerating) and hostile towards ‘white’ people.
Identifying as Métis results in many people viewing me through the lens of positive stereotypes (e.g. I have been called articulate too many times to count, as though it’s a big shocker I can string sentences together) and negative stereotypes (e.g. I probably struggle with substance abuse, my not being married yet having children is treated as some sort of cultural weakness and so on).
So the colour of my skin insulates me from certain negative treatment, and in fact elevates me over darker-skinned people. I cannot get rid of this privilege. It is a privilege that I wear, and that I can rely upon. If I chose to not let anyone know I am Métis, there are still aspects of marginalisation I would experience because of lack of representation of my culture in the mainstream and so on, but people would treat me as ‘white’.
Bringing me back to ‘white’ people versus white privilege. ‘White’ people are not a monolithic group, and the classification ignores historical treatment of groups who are now considered ‘white’. However this does not change the fact that fair-skinned people have white privilege.
LAYERS OF PRIVILEGE
When I bring up white privilege, people who are considered ‘white’ often get very defensive. So they bring up examples of how they are not privileged. They are working class, female, queer, transgendered, disabled, not Christian, left-handed, etc etc etc.
And it is true that if you are any of these things or a combination of them, you will experience certain forms of marginalisation or will encounter obstacles that people who are not these things will not.
None of this negates skin-based privilege.
Having white privilege does not mean you are automatically well off financially, or that you are guaranteed a certain level of education and so on. White privilege is a layer of privilege, and a very, very powerful one, unfortunately. So if we want to use Shrek’s ‘onion’ metaphor, we can peel back layers and determine that an individual ‘white’ person is less privileged than an individual ‘non-white’…but you cannot use this to ignore systemic racism against people of colour.
It does not matter if you did not choose to have white privilege. You cannot wish it away. It needs to be acknowledged.
BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST DOES NOT GUARANTEE WE ARE IN THE SAME BOAT
I’m going to try to explain this a bit more with an example: ‘white’ feminists.
The various ways in which ‘white’ feminists have framed their struggle over the years has been based on their experiences not just as women, but as ‘white’ women (thought this is not always acknowledged). Indigenous feminists, along with other feminists of colour, have had a lot of difficulty dealing with ‘white’ feminists because ‘white’ feminism has for years attempted to deconstruct sexism as being based purely on patriarchal systems.
Indigenous feminists cannot separate our feminism from our experiences as colonised peoples. Our experiences as indigenous women is different from that of ‘white’ women because of the legacy of systemic and institutionalised racism based on our skin colour and our cultural membership. The fair skinned indigenous women among us can escape some of the more blatant racially abusive treatment, but not all of it. Our individual ability to escape some of that racial abuse does not erase the racism indigenous peoples experience as a whole.
Many ‘white’ feminists feel that race-based struggles are important, but not related to feminism. Indigenous feminists don’t get to make that choice.
THE CONCLUSION (MIGHT BE) FLAWED, IMO
ML concludes his post with this:
It would be more effective, and more truthful, for people on both sides of this divide (working-class white and aboriginal) to recognize their commonalities and co-operate.
On the surface, this seems completely reasonable. If these groups are experiencing similar levels of discrimination in academia, then working together may create enough political force to have this acknowledged and dealt with.
However, my problem is with the preceding conclusion:
Overall, the evidence strongly indicates that much of what aboriginal activists claim is discrimination against aboriginal students is actually far more a systemic, class-based problem – not simply discrimination against aboriginal students.
The working class may have similar obstacles to overcome in order to pursue a post-secondary education that many aboriginal peoples do, including poverty, lack of access to high quality education, lack of role models, and so on. However, that does not mean the reasons these obstacles exist are the same, or should be overlooked in this call to unity.
ML often brings up the Irish as an example of ‘white’ people who have endured colonisation and repression, and at the hands of some of the same people who have pursued a colonialist agenda against indigenous peoples. I don’t disagree.
But the fact is, in Canada, the Irish are considered ‘white’ and have white privilege. That’s not to say that old prejudices disappeared the second the Irish arrived here. I’ve seen examples of it coming from a province with many ‘white’ groups who have not always gotten along.
Nonetheless, there is no “Irish Act”. Irish-Canadians are given access to education, health care and social services with funding amounts that exceed those provided to First Nations students… just like all other non-native Canadians.
What aboriginal students have to overcome is not so easily comparable to what working class ‘white’ students have to overcome, even if there are some similarities in the way things play out. Working class ‘white’ students do indeed have many obstacles in their way, but they do not have the added burden of being a visible minority and a member of the most systematically marginalised group in Canada’s history.
WHAT WE NEED BEFORE THERE CAN BE COOPERATION
Maybe this seems like I’m saying, “forget it, we can’t work together” and that I’m promoting ‘us’ versus ‘them’ while claiming that individual ‘white’ people are always better off than individual native people. This is actually not the case.
But what I think is absolutely vital if any cooperation is going to happen, is that non-natives not ignore our differences in the rush to acknowledge our similarities. And more importantly, you cannot impose yourself on us and demand we do things how you’d like them to be done. Even if that means the way things get done aren’t to your liking.
Yes, working class ‘white’ and aboriginal families can benefit from programs like those focused on early childhood intervention. Head Start programs for example, which are intended to help pre-school children of low-income families become ‘school ready’.
But aboriginal families have added challenges that cannot be ignored in the name of ‘equality as sameness’. Colonialism and systemic racism has taken its toll on our communities in unique ways that are best addressed with an acknowledgement of specific cultural needs and population-specific problems.
BUT WE’RE NOT NECESSARILY DISAGREEING HERE
So in writing this, part has been in reference to what ML has said, but mostly that has been a jumping off place for a bigger discussion about how I have experienced these kinds of discussions. I realise that is a bit confusing.
What I mean is, all of the above is basically a response to what I see as a dishonest approach to discussing commonalities between groups. A sort of, ‘what they say is this, but what I’ve discovered they mean is that’.
I don’t actually think that ML is approaching this in that way. ML has previously explained that he thinks, for example, that the current system of education fails everyone pretty badly. I agree wholeheartedly. He has also explained how many people who are considered ‘white’ have been removed from their cultures either because of dislocation or that mainstreaming of ‘Canadian culture’ in education. I agree that this is a negative thing as well.
I think that ML conceives of decolonisation as a joint effort which would include a recognition of the kind of internal colonisation inherent in the whole idea of who is ‘white’. As in, a recognition that a lot of folks who are considered ‘white’ got screwed over pretty badly and didn’t have much say in the way things have turned out.
And I think that this can happen and is a good goal… as long as it does not mean taking an approach which denies white privilege. I want white privilege to end, but it won’t end by denying it exists.
DON’T FORGET THAT THE SUBJECT IS STILL A MINEFIELD
That is my biggest caution for anyone who wants to talk about how ‘white’ people are not all the same. Recognise that your history and your contemporary experiences do not make you ‘the same’ as those you are urging to engage in co-operative efforts, even if you have similar problems as they do.
If you have experience with being flatly shut down when you’ve tried to have this discussion, I think it is important you learn why certain phrases (e.g. “Not all whites are like that”) are extremely triggering.
It is because they are all too often akin to the “my best friend is black” and “I’m not racist, but” openings to discussions that are really about silencing ‘non-whites’. And you probably have no idea just how often we get to field exactly those kinds of arguments. Our suspicion has been validated too often for us to be expected to open up to someone ‘new’ who has started off the same way. That might mean you are excluded from spaces, no matter how well-meaning you are.
I came across a post I want to share, because I think it is important:
This is a pretty common perception of White Identity that should definitely be talked about more. Nobody wants to be left out of shit, but the fact that Whites literally cannot handle it (while other races put up with it day-in/day-out) and feel personally attacked when excluded from Non-White safe-spots tells you 1. how rarely White people experience someone excluding them based on skin color and 2. how completely White culture has failed to provide tools for sharing space, instead teaching Whites that all space is White space (“because all space is space for everyone”, a perception Whites share with no one).
Ignoring the meat of the message above with a side-track about how ‘white’ people as a term is inaccurate is guaranteed to get you into trouble.
How you approach cooperation is very much going to impact whether you get it.
Important reading for those claiming the West/America is a post-racial society. But please for the love of god do not read the comments - there are pompous condescending insulting ignorant dicks everywhere, including readers of the usually liberal and intelligent Guardian.
“The police authorities in Sanford, Florida, where the shooting occurred, are apparently so mired in racial prejudice and denial that George Zimmerman, at this writing, still has not been arrested nearly a month after Trayvon was killed – in spite of Zimmerman being told, on 911 police dispatch audio, not to follow Trayvon Martin.
In spite of Zimmerman being charged in 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer. In spite of Zimmerman calling the police 46 times since January 2011. In spite of Zimmerman, according to neighbors, being fixated on bracketing young black males with criminality. In spite of Zimmerman being the subject of complaints from neighbors in his gated community due to his aggressive tactics. In spite of the officer in charge of the crime scene also receiving criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. In spite of Zimmerman violating major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual (the manual states: It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.’)
In spite of Zimmerman not being a member of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of the incident. And in spite of the Sanford, Florida police failing to test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. (A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes, and that drug and alcohol testing is ‘standard procedure in most homicide investigations’.).
American racism…constrains our leaders, like President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, from speaking forcibly and publicly about this destructive cancer for fear of alienating “regular” folks. If the president could call on Sandra Fluke considering the insult she’d received from Rush Limbaugh, we should be able to expect him to offer his condolences to Martin’s parents for the grievous injury they have received.”
Our son didn’t deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn’t doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands.
What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing…