The Silence of Our Friends

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bewildered By Mental Gymnastics

I just had to drop by Nine Pearls and read about the White Lady Pity Party, instead of shining the kitchen cabinet hardware or something else useful for showing the house tomorrow. (Yes, it will be the second showing! Maybe I will sell this shack!)

While reading I saw that Sylvia clued people in to what it might all be about by something at her place in the comments of the post, You must have lost your motherfucking mind.

Which then came full circle back here to the comments in this post right here at The Silence of Our Friends.

You know, when CM dropped the Asian racism bomb on that thread I was completely bewildered. I was sure I didn't read what I actually read, or that she didn't phrase it correctly. I didn't just read my "anti-racist friend" say that it's ok to hate Asians because she's had run ins with a few of them in the past, did I?

Which makes me direct you to my favorite post of all time. I know I've linked to it before and many of you have already read it, but go read There is no cannibalism in left blogistan again anyway. RMildred describes the pain of finding out that a friend is racist.
I'm not sure Marc could have said anyting more offensive to me than "can't we just agree to disagree?" To put forth an arguement that empathising with muslim women and WoC was an optional thing you could do if you felt like it - rather than the fundamental aspect of what makes a person a moral human being - was bad enough, but to go on to pull out an arguement that implies that well, we're all white around here, can't we just call it a draw, it's not like it's anything important right?
This part has always stuck with me too.
But do you know what really fucking hurts, what really fucking tears my soul apart? when some guy pulls out some often subtle, but none the less substantial, bit of sexist or misogynistic bullshit casually without thinking about it. The only times in my life when I've truely felt degraded have been those times when some guy has basically declared that I, as a woman, am somehow inferior or stupid or weak or not quite fully human like those men show themselves not to be - and do it in such a sort of matter of fact way that a part of my brain actually has to notice that I am actually human because the misogyny has occurred so suddenly, and with such an unquestioning and unwavering sincerity of belief behind it, that I very nearly believe him.

And I find myself unable to argue or really do anything outside my own head to counteract stuff like that because I know that if I do try to dissuade him of that stupid notion, he'll just react by explaining himself, how obviously what he said wasn't really sexist or wrong becuase hey! Women really Aren't people you know? And his repeated inability to get what I'm pissed off about, what is hurting me, hurts almost as much as the initial act, because where before it occurred I thought I was dealing with a human being, I find in its place this strange empathy less monster who's trying to tell me that I am the inhuman peice of shit because it honestly believes I'm little more than this worthless, retarded cow.

It's that same matter-of-fact sincerity of belief that made me stop in my tracks about CM. Over at Sylvia's she even says that I am no friend because I sided with Kai instead of saying her racism is ok. Feminism trumps racism doncha know? And this is from a woman who thinks she should be taken seriously on issues of racism simply because she married a black man.

Here is the breakdown from a Native American woman married to a white man. When I married my husband I didn't get white privilege conferred on me. I stayed a Native American woman with my POC perspective. I can not tell you what white people feel or live with because my husband is white, any more than I could tell you what it is like to be male because I married a man and gave birth to two sons. Guess what, he also gained no special insights on POC or women, and can not speak with authority on racism or sexism just because he is partnered with a POC woman. The same goes for any whites who partner with POC. Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

UPDATE: AradhanaD is on a tear! She's got at least three posts going that totally captivated my attention. This one is about the same thing I am talking about here and damn! she is fierce and says things I wish I said. But also read her personal history about growing up in a mostly white neighborhood in Canada. I've got so many thoughts and emotions to work through to come up with a coherent comment to leave on that one. And I actually went back there to comment on this post, because I saw a connection between the recent discussions on power, exclusion, and preference. Then I forgot what I was going to say! Read it and see where it leads your thoughts and especially if you are POC leave a comment. She is curious about what POC think and if they see something like this in their own communities and wants comments on that post.

15 comment(s):

as someone who has lost family for race reasons

It is especially fucking galling to listen to folks wnat special heroe status for loving their family

as if its a special herculean effort

By Blogger Blackamazon, at 3/04/2007 12:51 AM  

I'm still trying to figure out how, "I know you are, but what am I?" counts as a serious response from a college graduate...

By Blogger Veronica, at 3/04/2007 1:15 AM  

I wish that CM would slap down Heart when she starts talking about the political motivation behind her marriage. Because she isn't asking for special status for loving her husband, she is asking for special status because she gave up so much. I'll grant her that she did give up some white privilege, but she still can't expect understanding, gratitude, or adoration from people who have always had 0% white privilege!

I know from reading enough posts by CM that she actually loves and respects her husband.

I mentioned this before. My son asked me what I would think if he dated a black girl. I was completely stumped because he knows that we aren't racist, so I was wondering what he was really asking. Then it dawned on me that he might mean it as some sort of solidarity gesture. I told him do not do it unless he likes the girl and wants to know her better, because no one wants to be used like that. That is what Heart is admitting to. That is what she wants recognition for and doesn't get why it horrifies us!

By Blogger Donna, at 3/04/2007 1:54 AM  

BUt here's where I go nutty .

You gave up privilege to be with someone you LOVE.

Yes others haven't / BUt that's not a mark of your fortitude it's a mark of your love.

it keeps reinforcing a really bad precedent that somehow loving POC is extraordinary and superhuman.

And if CM LOVES her husband which I don't doubt, then why is she okay with Heart saying it was political.

And frankly why is all the theory they come up with always make them some next wave superscions of feminism.

What is with the people trying to rewrite history and ocntext to make themselves special while admitting they know how important it is ?


By Blogger Blackamazon, at 3/04/2007 8:24 AM  

I somehow blundered in over there at chasingmoska's - while in a feverish state I'm convinced! I have now blundered back out.

I don't understand how she can't see the anti-Asian racism she exhibits (whether intentionally or not) - I find it pretty sad.

I get so weirded out by Heart... and while I know she'd like to attribute it to this "race traitor" stuff, and how everyone is oppressing her for marrying black men and having black babies, for whatever reason, that doesn't fly.

Her story is far different from CM's, although she tries to make it seem the same. I do think CM sees through much of that, however, but finds enough comfort and solidarity with her and her group that that part doesn't much matter.

What I find interesting though is the, once again, disappearing of voices of people of color. In conversations on her blog, and Heart's, about this it's all "white anti-racists" and "white males who want to be accepted as females" and so on, just completely erasing the voices of color.

Anyway, also wanted to welcome you back, Donna. I don't comment much anywhere, but I do read!

By Blogger Nanette, at 3/04/2007 11:11 AM  

I'm so glad you posted the link to R. Mildred's post, as I'd lost track of it.

It's still also one of my favorites.

By Blogger Nanette, at 3/04/2007 11:38 AM  

I know BA. Black people take so much effort to love that some will marry them but can't love them, it has to be for political reasons, doing them a favor and saving them. It's patronizing like POC are something to own and care for, run down to the shelter and pick out your puppy, and this recent spate of celebrities adopting POC children is no different. Those two want accolades for the special thing they've done just like Angelina and Madonna. Loving someone isn't doing anything out of the ordinary, people do it all the time, no accolades should be necessary or sought out.

I am glad to see you are still around too, Nanette. That post of RMildred's is really my absolute favorite. I think the idea behind it, that we should never deny the humanity of any person is so simple and yet so hard to articulate. She captured it from so many different directions.

By Blogger Donna, at 3/04/2007 2:22 PM  

I feel like we're stuck in this highly intellectual version of The Real World: Leftist Blogland.

When will the producers intervene? Who's running this show? Are there any rules?

By Blogger Kai, at 3/04/2007 2:31 PM  

all this talk about white women marrying black men for political reasons and how it gives white women special insight and oppressed status--reminds me more than a bit of straight women becoming lesbian for political reasons and how previously het women gain special insight and oppressed status as a result.

It's all rather halucinatory, I think.

By Blogger kactus, at 3/04/2007 2:32 PM  

Her story is far different from CM's, although she tries to make it seem the same. I do think CM sees through much of that, however, but finds enough comfort and solidarity with her and her group that that part doesn't much matter.

Yeah, that. They're not the same person. I've never heard CM say that she married "for political reasons." Truthfully, I'm not sure she would have dug herself a hole this deep, if it hadn't been for Heart egging her on. CM responds to praise and criticism in exaggerated ways.

By Blogger Veronica, at 3/04/2007 3:22 PM  

reminds me more than a bit of straight women becoming lesbian for political reasons and how previously het women gain special insight and oppressed status as a result.

Yeah, fatsuit lesbianism, something that Heart goes in for as well as being a honorary black CLASSclasswomanClassCLASSclass because of that MoC she tamagotchi'd back in the 60-70's

By Blogger R. Mildred, at 3/04/2007 5:04 PM  

I've never heard CM say that she married "for political reasons." Truthfully, I'm not sure she would have dug herself a hole this deep, if it hadn't been for Heart egging her on.

Yes, exactly. From what I gather of their separate histories - Heart, even when she was married to Black men, has lived in a primarily White world, raised her children in one and most of her experiences and beliefs are informed by this fact.

CM was raised in a Black community, married a Black man, lives now in a Black community with her family and in general considers herself somewhat Black. A Sista Sorta, as I think of it ;).

I can understand this... I had a conversation with Kai not too far back, about a white man who had been adopted as a baby by a couple, at least one of whom was of Asian ancestry (the dad... am not sure about the mom). He grew up believing himself to be an Asian-American, as he was taught the various cultures, traditions and so on from the time he was a baby.

This was apparently a topic of discussion on some boards dealing with Asian/American issues... could this White guy be an Asian/American? I thought yes, to a point.

With both this guy and CM, there are some areas they just cannot cross into, no matter how steeped into the various cultures, because of the white skin privilege. I can imagine the pain and frustration coming up against this wall causes, but still... there it is.

My mom is visually and, some would say, culturally, White, although she is Black and she has White skin privilege and knows it... that there are just some things that the color of her skin protect her from (to an extent - once she identifies as Black, that protection is gone), that others experience daily.

Anyway, I've lost my train of thought, and don't know what point I was going to make...

By Blogger Nanette, at 3/04/2007 5:26 PM  

I love those people who use their POC spouse as the nuclear option in any discussion of race because *obviously* it is impossible to be racist in any way if you've married a person of color. (I guess in much the same way that it's impossible to be sexist if you've married a woman)

"Asians are rude and unpleasant but before you call me racist, I married a black person so HA!"

I wonder, if I married a Republican (shudder) would that insulate me from accusations of irrational Bush hatred?

By Anonymous Eli, at 3/04/2007 6:52 PM  

What's even more egregious wrt Heart: previously she's used her experiences with her ex as an example of how AWFUL he was, how awful MEN are, and oh yeah, did she mention he was black? did she mention how much she relates to Nicole Simpson? White men and men of color, bonding over the bodies of women;

and now, it's apparently even more specifically over the bodies of WHITE women.

And, yeah, the whole thing about how she could've had a V-8 i mean a white husband (and, oops, at the end of the day she did, and double oops, she may well still be married to him and still uses his name, "political lesbian" or not) but she made the supreme sacrifice and married black men. Seriously, who does she think she's talking to? Because, yah, if I were a POC i'd find that INCREDIBLY insulting--well, I do anyway of course, but--if -I'm- among her target audience...

seriously, um, what? No: -what?- And I give a flying rat's who you married or had kids with because...?

anyway, aren't you now singing the tune of how marriage itself is an oppressive institution?

oh yeah: i am waiting eagerly for her to start the whole spiel of how she COULD'VE been with MEN, blonde bombshell that she is and was, handsome, manly man with big strong muscles, but she GAVE THAT UP to be with her dykewomon partner, and by the way, lookism and love based on erotic desire for someone physically is sooooo patriarchal.

btw: are she and Amy an item? I'm sort of getting that vibe. although symbiotic narcissism is easily confused with more traditional sorts of Itemhood, it is true.

By Blogger belledame222, at 3/05/2007 1:57 PM  

I am still just shaking my head, in semi-slack jawed grimly amused disbelief...

By Blogger Renegade Evolution, at 3/05/2007 11:54 PM  

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