The Silence of Our Friends

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Willful Ignorance

I feel like I owe my white allies an apology or some kind of explanation for some of the things I said in that last post, or at least what can be read as an anti-white bias, or even bigotry on my part. I want you to understand that what I hate is willful ignorance. I see it every day on the part of white people, even liberal white people, who are determined to believe their preconceived notions without getting any input from the actual people who are living with prejudice. It's the idiot who says there is no racism in America/Canada anymore. Or who says that bringing up racism ends all discussion (or at BFP's place, when Heart said that bringing up trans-hatred ends the discussion.) If you are here, or at BFP's place, or at Kai's place, or many of the other POC sites reading and commenting then you are NOT willfully ignorant. You are making the effort to be informed, so please, please, please feel free to assume I am NOT ever speaking of you when I am angry with some monolithic group of "white people".

I want to also take the time to explain why I keep coming back to liberal racist episodes, like over at FireDogLake. I do not hate them over there, and think they do alot of great work for liberal causes. But I do not view them as allies to people of color, and if any good for us comes out of the things they do, it is incidental. When they blog about racial issues it tends to be lip service, just like what we get from the Democratic party in general.

This is very frustrating for POC, because we know we aren't going to do better with the Republicans, so we belong nowhere with no one to push for our interests. Democrats also know this, and that's why they take us for granted. But what they don't understand is that it is demotivating an important voter block. Why can't they see this? They already see that the fundamentalist Christian block is becoming disillusioned with the Republicans, very little has been done on their issues even though Republicans controlled all branches of government. I've seen posts/comments crowing about this on liberal blogs, so why can't they also see that nothing gets done through Democrats on POC issues, class issues, labor issues, womens issues, things that might motivate these key blocks AND ACTUALLY BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO DAMMIT! On the other hand, I think there are alot of Republicans who know in their hearts that taking rights away from women is not the right thing to do but their voters are mouth breathing bigots so they have to pretend that this is what they want to do.

One of the best examples of liberal racist thought comes from Maha at the time of the Clinton blogger lunch on this thread, My Cause Is My Country. I was Donna in WI over there. I haven't commented on that blog since that thread. Check my comment at 11 and her complete dismissal of me at 13. And how about at 23, since she knows oppression through sexism that qualifies her to speak to the oppression of racism, and my response at 31. (There is another Donna there, that isn't me, just Donna in WI is my comments.) Oh hell, just read the whole thing, and while you're at it also read her post Naughty Words and Pictures and the comments there too.

She just doesn't get it and she refuses to understand. She refuses to hear the voices of those who are oppressed by racism, but asks us to trust her to speak to our issues. How can she speak to those issues if she won't even listen??? This is willful ignorance. That fact that she comes back time and again to womens issues, but at the same time dismisses those of POC says alot to me about how her understanding of her own oppression does NOT mean that she understands that of POC at all. And she absolutely refused to answer my question about whether she would have been angry to see a table of all men, because I know she would! And it also makes her pleas about being a battered woman meaningless, because those issues could have been addressed by her sitting at that table. She had someone there to speak to that issue, and there were several other women at that table. There were NO POC at that table! And I suspect that the whites there cared about POC issues as much as Maha herself does, which means not at all!

I'm still taking vicodin for pain and it really frustrates me. I am trying to tie all these paragraphs together meaningfully and am not sure if I succeeded. They are interconnected and interrelated and speak to the anger and frustration we feel about not only blatant racism, but when liberals turn a blind eye to it or contribute to it. It isn't just the KKK style racism we deal with but much more subtle things that dig at us daily through people who we thought were our friends. So if I blow up in anger, understand that. Just look at the things justme and optional say in that first thread, these are liberals? But there is also whig, now that's an ally who understands.

14 comment(s):

Well, for what it's worth, it didn't even occur to me to be offended. And, you're doing just fine for being on Vicodin.

By Blogger Veronica, at 2/04/2007 12:33 AM  

Well, for what it's worth, it didn't even occur to me to be offended.

Yeah, ditto. I'm not even sure what I was *supposed* to be offended by.

I have no problem with anyone hating or speaking out against racists.

By Anonymous Eli, at 2/04/2007 1:08 AM  

Ahah! I do see something I missed. That's the problem with the vicodin, in my head I have all these ideas put together but when I sit down to write some of the connections evaporate. One of those was the fact that the crowd at Maha or at FDL, in other words mainstream liberals would find it offensive. The tone, the cynicism/sarcasm, of that last post: white people tell the truth, brown people are liars. The "white" spin on that story. They would assume I am saying that all white people believe these things, or that the white spin is the way all white people want to read things. You could see that by the way that they misread alot of what POC were saying on maha's blog in the examples I gave.

I already know that given the situations in the Hmong post about the disputes between white/Hmong hunters, that there would be alot of white people, including liberal white people, who would give the benefit of the doubt to the white hunter over the Hmong hunter. And if the dispute was between two white hunters, they would give the benefit of the doubt to the one they most identified with, whether by age, where the two hunters live, class, etc. I think people have to be careful about doing that before they have heard much of the facts.

By Blogger Donna, at 2/04/2007 2:31 AM  

I'm with veronica and eli on this one, it didn't occur to me to be offended. I get pissed off at whites too, and I'm one of them.

By Anonymous meardaba, at 2/04/2007 6:52 AM  

You weren't being a bigot, Donna, you were expressing entirely justified frustration at an upsetting pattern: white guy kills person of color, the system believes the white guy. For us non-white folks, this pattern makes one feel, well, pretty fucking unprotected by the system.

Fortunately, I think at this point most white folks who read your blog are, like, reasonable and able to recognize this. So I think there's nothing to apologize for, though it's very considerate of you -- I'll leave that between you and the gringos. ;-)

Anyway, thanks for the post about the Hmong, it's a story that needs to be told more widely.


By Blogger Kai, at 2/04/2007 9:33 AM  

donna, I can't believe that stupid thread. Here it is, months later, and I want to go comment on that thread.

but then again, really, I don't because it's just the same thing over and over and over again. identity politics sucks, but I'm a woman, so I understand what it's like to be oppressed (because identity politics never means *white woman*, after all), so everybody should just trust me and be thankful we're not in sudan(or iraq, or saudi arabia, or afghanistan) where the ruling class isn't as benevolent as we are.

you know, I have my own critiques of identity politics, but it is really bothersome how much white liberals *hate* identity politics--this maha person seems to think that it really all is just about skin color! That, for example, I identify as chicana, so that means i hate all people white white skin!!! And yet, she has the ability to very easily *use* the concept of identity politics when it comes to her *own* identity--I mean, what was the "feminist" movement of the early 1900's in the u.s. but some good ol' "identity politics"? but are those feminists credited with ruining the political landscape of that time?

anyway, you're making perfect sense, donna, you always do.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 2/04/2007 11:31 AM  

Donna, you've made your point perfectly clear, and in the last post I think it's clear what you meant by your words. Your statements were hardly bigoted, especially in light of histories full of mistrust and insincerity over POC issues.

And that post was very clear; I don't think anyone's going to read it and think, "Hmmmm...the Vicodin is strong in this one..." ;)

And what Kai and BFP said about POC perspectives and identity policies.

By Blogger Sylvia, at 2/04/2007 12:01 PM  

Or, you know, politics -- though I can say there's a fair amount of policing as well.

By Blogger Sylvia, at 2/04/2007 12:02 PM  

They would assume I am saying that all white people believe these things, or that the white spin is the way all white people want to read things.

You really hit on something here, Donna. Manipulation designed to put the objecting party on the *defensive*. We see it over and over again, used in the most craven ways. "What, you don't think Clarence Thomas is fit to sit on the Supreme Court? RACIST!" or... You don't understand our cutting-edge humor when we use blackface? IDIOT! ABUSER! SQUARE!

These people know better, they just won't acknowledge the truth of your words if it means they have to rethink their twisted and tangled justification system, so finely honed. It would mean taking a real hard look at themselves and they're too busy *saving* the world.

And, oh, I'd like to see the drug that makes Donna incomprehensible. I don't think they've invented it yet. ;)

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 2/04/2007 1:12 PM  

your point made perfect sense to me ? and aww feel better please

By Blogger Blackamazon, at 2/04/2007 1:36 PM  

Kai, what really struck me was the minor disputes over a deer and how every time the DNR/sheriff shows up and sides with the white guy. I immediately knew it was true and believed them, on the other hand, I guess I'd like to believe that when someone is killed it would be taken more seriously and the facts would matter more than either party's skin color, although I know that's not true. There is even a hint of it in the Toua Lor case, his attorney called a press conference and only one media outlet showed up. They didn't want his side of the story, they wanted the erroneous white narrative of a Hmong trespassing and threatening the white owner because it is reminiscent of the Chai Vang story and they can say, "See they are all like that!" I wonder if it scares them because they like to think people are all alike, and if it is proven that Lor is peaceful and minds his own business, and the landowner is a belligerent racist...well what are the possibilities in the Chai Vang case? That Lor case really sticks in my craw, all the facts are on his side and yet he took a plea deal because he knew he was going to be railroaded, that the court would believe a crotchety bigoted asshole Archie Bunker over him.

I guess the best description for the way I feel about the vicodin is walking home in the fog. You're pretty sure you will get there without making a wrong turn but it's slow going. My writing is slow going too, I have to spend more time thinking/remembering what I planned on saying and often using a dictionary or thesaurus to find the right words since they don't come as easily anymore. With those for distractions it makes it possible for me to make those "wrong turns" and forget something important to the tale I am trying to tell. I know this because it happens when I am speaking too, and when I get a mystified listener I know I have left something important out. At least when you are speaking you usually get a prompt, the listener will say, Uh, what does X have to do with Y?

BFP, while rereading over maha's I was getting angry all over again too. Not just at the hostile ones, but the "pleasant" aloof ones. We're just making a mountain of a molehill. We all have more important things to talk about. One lunch won't make a difference, or one blogger, etc etc etc. Oooooh! I wanna slap some sense in 'em!

By Blogger Donna, at 2/04/2007 1:40 PM  

Oh, I remember that episode over at Maha's blog. I was in that conversation too and I remember thinking that it would be really nice if you did have a blog because you raised some very good points in a way that was much more diplomatic than I was capable of being. I'm so glad to see that you do have a blog now and I'm adding you to my list of favorite bloggers.

I'll definitely be back to read more. By the way, I hope that the Vicodin is providing you with good pain control. If your condition is temporary, I hope it heals soon because I know how the narcotics can make a person feel a bit groggy at times.

By Blogger Bint Alshamsa, at 2/04/2007 3:51 PM  

take care...and i hear you loud and clear.

another thing that some of my friends from outstate have taught me about is just how much control the DNR has over the lives of people in some of these areas...that if you hunt for food, live on cheap rural land, or's just a level of supervision and power that seems alien to a city dude like myself. compound this with some good old fashioned racism, and these hunting disputes escalate in to...this.

By Blogger sly civilian, at 2/04/2007 9:51 PM  

blargh. i never did get around to really checking Mahablog out; hadn't even heard of her till the Clinton blowup; and, well, let's say nothing in the interim has made me feel particularly inclined to go over there either.

hope you're feeling better--

By Blogger belledame222, at 2/06/2007 5:05 PM  

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