The Silence of Our Friends

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Imperative!

I've been tagged by Sylvia to answer the question, "What is the imperative of my life", I've also been tagged by BlackAmazon, who corrupted the question, she asks, "What is it imperative for people to know."

The imperative of my life is difficult to answer because I have always been flighty. So I am tempted to answer, death and taxes. LOL The real answer is probably something closer to, knowledge. Everyone is always learning, whether we are paying attention and realizing it or not, but what I mean is seeking it out. Before I got a computer I practically lived at the library, I still go, but I love that my computer can take me anywhere right from the comfort of my home. I even like useless trivia, in fact, much of my learning is trivia, and that's ok, as long as it's something new to know. So knowledge it is.

What is imperative for everyone to know, is that the majority of middle class white American people are untrustworthy and unreliable. (A handful of these people have discovered this, and those are the ones who tend to be trustworthy and reliable.) The reason for this is that they are completely self-centered. So you ask, "But Donna, isn't everyone self-centered?" Yes, but it is the extent I am talking about. MCWAs' are oblivious to everyone else around them and throughout the world. Only their problems, their issues, their concerns matter. Everyone else is just a "special interest". In the blogging world, the major liberal/progressive/Democratic blogs are close to useless for informing or being informed by anyone but MCWAs. The only time people of color; poor people, including whites; those with disabilities; foreigners; labor, especially blue collar; just about anyone who isn't a MCWA is mentioned with any concern on their blogs is when that person can be used for their agenda, not because the concern is real. Sometimes appearances is the only agenda, because when they can make themselves appear like they care, they all get to sit around and feel all warm and fuzzy and enlightened.

I gave up on the male-centered liberal mainstream blogs long ago. I thought that maybe since the women had to deal with the oppression of sexism and misogyny that I'd have more in common with them and have a place to work through our issues together. Wrong. Because they are privileged, but blind to it, they only see their issues. Since they are middle class white Americans, usually able bodied, usually heterosexual, usually white collar workers, etc they pay lip service to issues related to poverty, people of color in the US, anything about another country, anything about disability, most GLBT issues (but since some middle class white women are lesbians, this gets a little more interest), or anything having to do with blue collar workers, low level white collar, or part time/temp workers.

No, the big issues on their blogs revolve around preserving only what they already have and getting more for themselves, they really could care less if you are out in the cold looking in. Oh sure, sometimes they talk about poverty, or women in India, or immigrants in America; but look at the framing. Almost every topic leads back to how it affects them, it's not really about the people they are using. If they don't center it on the middle class white woman, someone (usually several) will do it in the comments. Even on our blogs, we have white people show up wanting us to reassure them that they are good people. That is tiring for those with little to keep propping up those with much. Figure out another way to work on your self esteem, like maybe doing something to make a difference, instead of whining that you don't mean to be racist. I much prefer the ones I usually get, if they ask anything, instead of asking me to tell them that they are good people, they ask, Am I doing something wrong? What should I be doing? But I have seen this on other POC blogs and expect it as I continue blogging.

They are untrustworthy and unreliable and we should stop looking to them for any sort of help. It won't be there. But you know something, in this country they are a minority, just like they are in the rest of the world. So whose issues are "special interests"? We the POC, the poor of all colors, the labor movement, the disabled, people from all over the world, all of us who are oppressed and truly care for each other need to come together and help each other. We don't need them, they will soon be needing us. We will remember the ones who were by our sides and we will remember the ones who turned their backs or used us. So you middle class white feminists might want to jump on the bandwagon right about now, show some real concern for women who aren't just like you. I'll be happy to help you with your problems, but not at the expense of my problems, we will work TOGETHER. It's not good enough to work on you keeping your privileges at my expense.

I tag anyone who wants to answer either question. Go ahead, you know you want to do it. Leave a comment so that I can check it out at your site.

19 comment(s):

Donna I can't thank you enough for this post. It rings true through every sentence, but especially this:
just about anyone who isn't a MCWA is mentioned with any concern on their blogs is when that person can be used for their agenda, not because the concern is real.

It's true on the blogs, it's true in the media, it's true in politics.

And yet, as we saw in the Jesus General thread after Nez's post, the white issues are the "right" issues and we'd just better shut up and wait for some crumbs to fall off the table.

I'm sick of crumbs. They're not filling and they're not nutritious. They just leave you wanting more.

By Blogger kactus, at 5/10/2007 3:15 PM  

Donna, this post brougt up a difficult experience I had a few years ago. Here's what happened:

After 9/11 one of my reactions was to read memiors of women in the Middle East. On some levels I understand this reaction and on others I don't. It just is what it is.

I've been in a women's book group for 8-9 years. All middle class white women who think of themselves as politically progressive. When I tried to suggest that we read just one of these books, I got a resounding "no." I was a bit surprised by this response. These were difficult stories to read, but my thinking was that these women LIVE difficult lives, the least we can do is read and bear witness to their struggles.

Their response was twofold, (1) this stuff is too difficult to hear and (2) women in this country have it tough too. I left that discussion feeling partly disappointed but had also bought into the feeling they were giving out that there was something a bit odd about me.

After reading this post of yours - I want to say that I reject their position and will embrace my interest in women's lives everywhere, no matter how difficult. And while I will continue to stand for the rights of women in this country - goddamit - these nightmares that other women have lived need to be heard!!

Thanks Donna.

By Blogger NLinStPaul, at 5/10/2007 9:36 PM  

Kactus, I think some of them are self deluded into thinking they actually care and their tsk tsking about how bad things are counts for something. But when you ask them to take action, they come up with the excuses, or say how dare you tell me what to do!?, or tell you how ungrateful you are for not appreciating their tsk tsks.

They are so predictable, and sometimes I find myself begging, wheedling, and prostrating myself figuratively in my posts to get action. I hate myself for it, I hate not trusting my readers enough to just ask, but that will work for so few. So you have to find another way. BFP has been saying that anger is how she pushes people to action, but that they fight her every step before they do something, and anger is draining, the fighting is exhausting. I understand now why she left, but hope she changes her mind and comes back anyway.

By Blogger Donna, at 5/11/2007 10:44 PM  

nlinstpaul, I think that if they read what muslim women are experiencing it humanizes them. That's the last thing someone wants to do with "the enemy". But it's the only path to peace. The only way we can work through the hate is by seeing everyone as human, finding out why we do the things we do, understanding, and realizing there has to be a better way than killing each other.

By Blogger Donna, at 5/11/2007 10:48 PM  

Donna, I just want you to know that this white, middle-aged woman agrees with you about what imperative for people to know.

(Class? less clear... approaching middle class now, but most of my life, class has been a struggle for me.)

Anyway... I took a few risks with some comments in the thread attached to
this post... and just about the point I was thinking "why did I bother" the tide began to turn and a few of the regulars (white & male) began to "get it."

The reason I both wanted and was able to do it was because of the time I've spent on your blog and others during the various gender & race brouhahas. I couldn't have done it otherwise; for one thing, I wouldn't have been able to produce "the links" when asked. But I also wouldn't have been able to say what needed to be said.

Thank you...

By Blogger Karen M, at 5/11/2007 11:25 PM  

I should have mentioned that it's a lengthy thread, and my first comment appears around page 13, if you start with the oldest, although there is one earlier on from sysprog with a link to ebogjonson... but no one follows up on that until I link to him again later.

By Blogger Karen M, at 5/11/2007 11:53 PM  

Wow! I didn't read all the comments but what I did see you did a fabulous job and convinced alot of people.

I still think Jane hasn't a clue what was wrong with the blackface Joe pic and just thinks that POC and their allies are thin skinned troublemakers, but the real problem I have with FDL is TRex. Jane is firmly ensconced in her white privilege, but I don't think she goes out of her way to be offensive for the most part, but TRex's racism and misogyny is just below the surface and ready to rear it's ugly head at any time.

I agree with the basic premise GG lays out. Hillary Clinton granting one interview on FDL will not harm her campaign in any way and this is a manufactured controversy. In the blogosphere FDL may be a big player but in the real world, not so much, and I think most people reading the article would be wondering who the heck is FDL? But I definitely don't like GG saying that no one takes the blackface incident seriously and all progressive people love FDL. Their readers are mostly middle class white people, those aren't the majority of progressives. They are just the majority of politically motivated progressives online. HRC still has to work to get the votes of POC, poor people, etc. Too many of the huge majority that the Dems should have are apathetic because they are ignored and dismissed by the likes of HRC and FDL.

By Blogger Donna, at 5/12/2007 2:02 AM  

Thanks, Donna! I really wanted to contribute something useful for some time after that series of brouhahas, and I finally got my chance and took it.

It's just another example of people not being able to see their blind spots without some help. And sometimes, not even then. I was just glad that some of those guys really did seem to get it eventually.

Especially the one who realized (even though he was an FDLer) that Jane hadn't understood then, and still didn't seem to get why it was so wrong.

And I really agree with you about TRex. Talk about enabling! The sad part of it is that he really does have a way with words sometimes, but he's too careless. Just imagine if his talent was used for the good?

I haven't been keeping up anywhere except on Salon the past month or more. I hope your move went well, or is going well.

By Blogger Karen M, at 5/12/2007 11:40 AM  

Donna, I'm going to take issue with you on why the women in my group didn't want to read the books about muslim women. If only to try to futher understand the white progressive women's distance.

These women are all fiercly anti-war and I don't think they see muslim women as enemys. The issue is more, as Barbara Bush said once, about not "disturbing her beautiful mind."

The stories I read were gruesome - not in specific detail, but in the level of misogyny. If you read about it, you are going to be upset, angry, sad, depressed. You will be changed. And I just think they didn't want their world rocked in that way. Their priviledge is that they can choose not to be affected by it if they just don't pay attention.

By Blogger NLinStPaul, at 5/12/2007 11:50 AM  


Could you recommend a book or two like that? Or have you already posted them somewhere?


By Blogger Tom, at 5/12/2007 2:39 PM  

I'd love to recommend a few:

"The Bookseller of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad

"Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom" by Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari

"In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story" by Ghada Karmi

"Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan" by Norma Khouri

And I'm now in the midst of reading "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

And by the way, this google/blogger sign in is giving me fits. Doesn't ever seem to recognize my password so I have to go sign in again, and loose my comment in the process. grrrrr. Is there some trick I'm missing?

By Blogger NLinStPaul, at 5/12/2007 5:14 PM  

Donna, every time I look at the title of this post, I think of the electric slide. And my brain goes, "It's imperative, boogie oogie oogie!"

It's an awesome post with some very clear truths, but my brain wants to dance now.


By Blogger Sylvia, at 5/12/2007 6:53 PM  

Great post Donna. There're several things I want to address, but am sick at the mo' :(

By Anonymous Andrew, at 5/12/2007 8:43 PM  


Thanks. (I'm struggling with blogger these days too, so I'm no help there!)

By Blogger Tom, at 5/12/2007 10:51 PM  

yeah, agree that sometimes it's just...I don't want to deal, lalalalalala. not necessarily because people have a concrete/conscious vested interest in whatever, just they don't like the feelings it brings up, or the mental work it'll take to wrap their heads around...oh. you mean, actually, this shit is -real- and it's not all as nice and tidy as we'd like to think it is and it's just barely possible that everything we've said and done till now doesn't barely scratch the surface of the Problem, which will totally fuck with our image of ourselves as Warriors For Change And Justice.

per blogger: sometimes it just decides to be assy for no reason at all. if you have a "new" google account, sometimes you need to log in again even if you think you're already logged in, and then it resolves itself. other times, it's just...being assy for a while, you have to come back to it.

By Blogger belledame222, at 5/13/2007 2:03 AM  

Aha NLinStPaul, I didn't assume since the women were progressive that they were also anti-war. Right after 9/11 there were alot of pro-war liberals too. On 9/12 I wrote to a friend in Wales that I feared that we would lash out and that there would be alot of innocent people killed and maimed. I wanted to be wrong, but I could already feel the need for revenge building. Not justice, revenge. Justice would have been going into Afghanistan and getting bin Laden, revenge is blindly lashing out in pain.

By Blogger Donna, at 5/15/2007 1:48 AM  

this is kickass, donna. very powerful as well as empowering.

By Anonymous nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez, at 5/18/2007 3:29 AM  

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By Blogger Cola, at 8/17/2007 2:39 AM  

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By Blogger Cola, at 8/17/2007 3:05 AM  

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