The Silence of Our Friends

Monday, May 21, 2007

a guest post from bfp

Thank you so much to Donna, who has so kindly offered her space to me. I can't express how much I appreciate your constant support Donna, thank you so much.)

Samhita has an opinion about FFF and there are a few things about her opinion that I would like to discuss.

First. Intersectionality. Samhita feels upset and erased because many women of color bloggers are upset about Jessica’s book, Full Frontal Feminism.

I myself was very upset about the book—to the point I made several nasty remarks about it. For this, I apologize. I have a real substantial critique of the book, which I’m not going to get into here because I want this to address Samhita and not Jessica. But suffice it to say; at the time I made my remarks, I was in the middle of a personal crisis that I am still recovering from. So while my remarks have some substantial critique in them—at the same time, yes, I did say that Jessica sounded like a valley girl. And I was pretty aggressive even outside of that comment. For that—I am sorry.

Having said that, I personally (other woc bloggers have their own opinions) take issue with the idea that “intersectionality” and “inclusivity” are in anyway linked. I furthermore take issue with the idea that a “lack of inclusivity” is the main thrust of the problem with Jessica’s book or with feministing.

There seems to be this idea that if women of color are “included” that we should then shut up and leave it alone. The author did the best she could, and that is that. In her post, Samhita conflates intersectionality with inclusivity (as do MANY defenders of this book). That is—Samhita personally writes about intersectionality thus feministing is “inclusive” and therefore, her “voice as a women of color is integrated to the greatest extent that ANY voice can be integrated into a blog.”

A big problem with this logic is that “inclusivity” is not the answer to the problems white women face. Jessica’s book alone demonstrates that. So why is it the answer for the problems facing women of color? An even bigger problem is that the final outcome of an intersectional analysis was never “inclusivity” to begin with.

Intersectional approaches were used by radical women of color feminists to not just more accurately and thoroughly name a problem—but to come up with solutions to those problems. Thus—the goal of radical women of color feminists was not to “include” women of color in an already formed movement whose goal was to get better wages for upper class white women. It was to eliminate colonialism because it created the prison industrial complex that imprisons impoverished native women whose land the government wants. They did this in many ways—some of them being, for example, refusing to participate in the not-for-profit community and organizing feminist freedom schools.

To bring it back to feministing and Jessica and FFF and Samhita—sure, women of color were included in FFF and women of color are included in feministing—but is that inclusion doing anything to improve the quality of life for women in any of our communities--or on a less grandiose scale—to improve the quality of blogging experience for women of color bloggers?

In other words—intersectionality as used to name problems is fine—but the important part of intersectionality comes when it’s used to FIND ANSWERS. Is inclusivity really the answer to the intersectional problem of poor queer black women being thrown in jail because she can’t afford her medication and she attacked her children? To link it to Jessica’s book—is inclusivity really the answer when imprisoned teenage female youths (a devastating problem that is permeating through vast populations of native, black and latina communities) are forcibly put onto Depo-Provera and raped by prison guards? Is “getting on birth control” and “masturbating” really the answer to these youths—who, in general, also reject the term “feminism”?

In short, women of color are brought up lots and lots of times as a part of the “problem”—but we are patently ignored as “not part of the target audience” when it comes to solutions. If we were “included” in the solution of women not identifying with “feminism”—FFF would be a completely different book and feministing would be a completely different site.

I also want to address the idea put forth by Samhita (and many many maaaany of Jessica’s supporters) that women of color bloggers are “hating” on Jessica.

I met Jessica from feministing and Amanda from pandagon at the NAPW conference earlier this year. I liked both of them a lot. Especially Amanda—who, for the first time, made me see why people think southern accents are sexy.

At the conference, I joked with Jessica about the size of her boobs, talked at length with Amanda about Texas/Mexican border issues and living on farmland—I liked them both a lot, and was really happy to that I met up with them.

And then I got back home, and continued blogging and continued to be pissed off by Amanda’s analysis of X and Jessica’s understanding of Y.

It is possible to heartily disagree with and dislike what a person says in a blog and how the represent themselves on that blog and to really like them in the real world.

The disagreement women of color bloggers have with Jessica/feministing has never been about how much we hate hate hate Jessica. Ever. It’s been about how we have been treated and how our community has been treated.

Samhita says that it is a shame that one thread at feminsting defines all of feministing. Of course, she is referring to the thread in which former blogger, Nubian, was attacked for her views on the book FFF.

Besides the fact that this one thread (while it is pointed to often) does not represent the entirety of the problem that many woc bloggers have with feminsting (Nubian was attacked multiple times on multiple threads, including an interview that she contributed to and the FFF thread, Bint Alshamsa and Black Amazon were both attacked as well, to the point that Black Amazon and Nubian were accused of being the same person. And that’s not even getting into the actual content of feministing) there is also the point that while this singular thread may have been just a thread to Samhita—a member of our community (the radical women of color feminist blogging community)—a leader that opened a truly radical space whereby queer black women specifically and women of color in general had their views represented and honored in the blogosphere—was attacked on multiple threads by multiple members of the feministing community. Attacked to the point that Nubian DOES say these multiple attacks were a contributing factor to her NO LONGER BLOGGING.

Something that was "just a thread" to Samhita contributed to an irrevocable loss to our community that has not and probably never will be filled.

But it was just a thread, after all, and it’s a shame that feministing is being judged by that one thread.

I myself think it’s a bigger shame—a fucking devastating injustice—that unabashedly radical queer black feminists have one less blogger in the blogosphere. That unabashedly radical queer black feminists now know what will happen to them if they speak out on a blog dominated by “liberals” that are “trying to learn more” about WOC issues. And yes, I will go there, because it’s intimately connected, even though nobody wants to admit it—what will happen to YOUNG queer black feminists if they speak out.

Shortly after Nubian was attacked, she stopped calling herself a feminist. She called herself a womanist and changed the blurb on her site to reflect that. She was 24 at the time—an age that all of us women of color bloggers have been told, is considered “young.”

She stopped calling herself a feminist as a direct result of the virulent racism she experienced at the hands of white feminists that “want to learn” about women of color issues—many of which, came to her site directly from feministing.

I wonder if she is the “target audience” of Jessica’s book?

In the end—I agree with little light—this has been a long time coming (whatever “this” is). Contrary to popular opinion—radical women of color bloggers don’t expect Jessica, feministing, or Samhita to be “everything” to all of us. But we do expect that if you’re going to “include” us in the problem, that you “include” us in the answer. And when you only show up to our blogs to defend Jessica or to lambast us for not “defending you” (when you have had scant little to say about any of the various attacks that any of us have been on the brunt end of, including being outted along with your child, being threatened with dick slappings and fist fuckings, being told you’re a part of a “dirty race,” and being endlessly confronted and challenged and talked down to by white feminist women) well, I’m sorry, but that’s not creating an answer that any of us can live with.

At this point, I can only say that I hope, Samhita, that there is some answer out there somewhere that all of us can get behind.

49 comment(s):

* AND I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

By Blogger Blackamazon, at 5/21/2007 11:55 AM  

what BA says.

i'm struggling with the idea of inclusivity--the word and the concept are problematic. if our communities are something that have to be "included", if people are striving for "inclusion," something is still wrong because that implies we still with our best intentions, begin with something dominant, something we perceive as the "real substance" of feminism/progressivism/whatever and then sort of add in "the rest"/"the other."

i'm really tring to work through my ideas on that.

By Blogger elle, at 5/21/2007 12:15 PM  

I'm glad to see you posting. I hope what's going on in your life eases up soon.

Inclusivity can be a very difficult thing to work out when one presentation of the core issues of a movement has dominated the discourse. I found it curious that the majority of non-white speakers referenced were black, which is another level of racism which divides things as black/white and ignores the Latin@, Native, Asian, and other racial identities, not to mention glossing over the US-centrism of US feminism which isn't necessarily completely racially motivated, but which has profound implications in a larger racial context.

Sometimes I wonder if a good first step is simply acknowledging that white is a race. The parsing of "female" as white (like the parsing of "person" as male) is deeply problimatic and seems to underly everything.

By Blogger Deoridhe, at 5/21/2007 12:28 PM  

From Jill's apology, she says:
3. That said, I feel like Jessica and Full Frontal Feminism have become lightning rods for much deeper feminist divides and issues. I’m not sure the problem is FFF — I think the problem is more a long history of exclusion, racism, heteronormativity, etc within the feminist movement and within society as a whole, and those issues are being hashed out on a smaller scale here. I think, unfortunately, that FFF is being used as a proxy for a slew of things that Jessica didn’t actually do, but which she appears to look like or represent.

I have a problem with this because what they don't seem to realize is that the book is an extention or another example of many things. It's not a lightning rod for something else, it is a part of that something else.

I'm so happy to have you here, BfP!

By Blogger Donna, at 5/21/2007 12:53 PM  

So great to see you here, BFP. Great post, as usual. Warm regards.

By Blogger Kai, at 5/21/2007 1:11 PM  

I think it is a little disingenuous to claim that nubian quit blogging because of the thread at feministing. She had been threatening to quit blogging for over a year before she finally did, so this was not some kind of hasty decision based on something that was the fault of the people over at feministing. I remember reading nubian's blog over part of that time (I had a desk job for 8 months where I spent a lot of time not really working), where she threatened to quit over a lot of things. She seemed like the kind of person who had a lot on her plate with school, work, blogging, and her personal life, and from what I gathered, each area was suffering. She was constantly miserable, cranky, rude, and (I'm not a doctor, but I would guess) depressed.

I'm sad that her voice is absent, but I honestly don't think that it is solely attributable to Jessica or feministing. I hope that with at least blogging off her plate, she is a little happier and better able to deal with the stuff that is going on in the rest of her life.

By Anonymous Danielle, at 5/21/2007 1:54 PM  

Danielle no one said it was teh ONLY thing but yes that bullshit please did play a part in it

and for fucks sake NO ONE IS BLAIMNG JESSICA DIRECTLY

DO YOU PEOPEL READ AT ALL

so dont even do that.

ANd as you have no idea what she was going through from WHite feminists .

Id really ask you to think before you caleld her anything agin

By Blogger Blackamazon, at 5/21/2007 1:59 PM  

danielle, please show me where i said that nubian quit solely because of a single thread at feministing. please.

and furthermore, that you for showing why nubian quit. without invitation, you have just attacked her personally for no damn reason.

thanks.

By Blogger brownfemi, at 5/21/2007 2:00 PM  

I meant, thank you

By Blogger brownfemi, at 5/21/2007 2:05 PM  

dang, ba and bfp, lighten up! danielle didn't include all the stereotypes of black women.

i mean, she covered overextended, rude, cranky, and miserable, but nary an emasculated male or passel of children can be found in her description!

/sarcasm

By Blogger elle, at 5/21/2007 2:19 PM  

I have a problem with this because what they don't seem to realize is that the book is an extention or another example of many things. It's not a lightning rod for something else, it is a part of that something else.


Yeah I agree.I also think you raised some great points about talking to vs talking about when it came to how Valenti addressed her readers, which there seems to be some presumption that they'd be mostly White and middle-class because like you said, if she's not talking to women of color but talking about them, then how can they be part of her reading audience then that she's talking to(including her style which I guess is her version of relating to young people by speaking informally)?

And one thing that bothered me was the claim that she was writing to them as an audience as well when she wasn't at all. I don't know her at all personally so I don't know whether she had intended to or not. But there was a generalization that she was talking to all young women when the book appears clearly focused on a White middle-class audience.


Great post, bfp. Good to see you here. Yeah, I agree that you can disagree with people and still get along with them, like and respect them.


In short, women of color are brought up lots and lots of times as a part of the “problem”—but we are patently ignored as “not part of the target audience” when it comes to solutions. If we were “included” in the solution of women not identifying with “feminism”—FFF would be a completely different book and feministing would be a completely different site.

Yeah, both would be. That's a sense I also got from the book. That women of color were to be discussed in the first context like you said, but not the second. But it's not just the book, but the larger picture.



The disagreement women of color bloggers have with Jessica/feministing has never been about how much we hate hate hate Jessica. Ever. It’s been about how we have been treated and how our community has been treated.


Yeah, definitely. Nubian, BA and other women of color were treated horribly. But that gets turned around to being about hating the White women when like you said, you can really like and respect the people you may strongly disagree with. I got to reading that thread late, but it seemed like others in other spaces when it comes to turning the discussion around to what about the white women?


And maybe it's unreasonable to expect and I've still not finished Valenti's book, but I would have liked her to address what the criminal justice system does to women of color in this country and related issues including in the schools that they attend. If this book is geared towards young feminists then why would this not be addressed? But I agree that putting it in a book for the sake of appearing "inclusive" isn't the answer.

By Anonymous Radfem, at 5/21/2007 2:56 PM  

"She was constantly miserable, cranky, rude, and (I'm not a doctor, but I would guess) depressed."

Donna, I would respond to Danielle, but I know that you don't need my help. And I don't want to help someone start a flame war on your site.

Peace

By Blogger Tom, at 5/21/2007 2:56 PM  

and furthermore, that you for showing why nubian quit. without invitation, you have just attacked her personally for no damn reason.

Yeah, saying one thing and showing another, after putting up the strawman argument of course.

By Anonymous Radfem, at 5/21/2007 2:59 PM  

brownfemi said...
danielle, please show me where i said that nubian quit solely because of a single thread at feministing. please.

I'm not danielle, but I can show you. Right here (bold mine):

there is also the point that while this singular thread may have been just a thread to Samhita—a member of our community (the radical women of color feminist blogging community)—a leader that opened a truly radical space whereby queer black women specifically and women of color in general had their views represented and honored in the blogosphere—was attacked to the point that she is NO LONGER BLOGGING.

And then more succinctly here:

Something that was just a thread to Samhita caused an irrevocable loss to our community that has not and probably never will be filled.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/21/2007 3:28 PM  

so glad to see you again.

By Blogger belledame222, at 5/21/2007 3:40 PM  

First of all, bfp, I wish you the best and hope that the difficult situation in your life resolves itself soon.

Secondly, thanks for an awesome post. I think differentiating between inclusivity and intersectionality is key. It reminds me of the debates surrouding women and economic development in the 1990s, when people (men) in the field realized that it wasn't enought to simply 'add women and stir'; that gender as a power structure had to be included in any concept of economic development.

Similarly, I think white feminists (and your post made me realize I do this all the time) often think that simply 'adding women of colour' to their existing framework is enough; so, for example, when discussing 'reproductive rights', adding something about forced sterilization to the end of what is really a discussion about abortion, instead of taking a large holistic view of reproduction that takes into account racism, classism, ableism and imperialism.

Would it be OK if I sent a link to this post to my local feminist group?

Thanks again and Good Luck with everything!!

By Anonymous Gwen, at 5/21/2007 3:49 PM  

anonymous.

I also said:

Besides the fact that this one thread (while it is pointed to often) does not represent the entirety of the problem that many woc bloggers have with feminsting

I can see how it can be taken as you are saying. I will go in and make my point more clearly. what I was saying, however, was that Samhita *interprets* our upset at ONE THREAD...*WE* however, *experience* it as MANY things--ALL of which was mentioned in this post.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 3:51 PM  

Would it be OK if I sent a link to this post to my local feminist group?

sure!

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 4:05 PM  

if people are striving for "inclusion," something is still wrong because that implies we still with our best intentions, begin with something dominant,

EXACTLY, elle. the whole idea of inclusion is shaky to begin with just for that reason alone--and it is linked to why i don't think affirmative action will ever work--same problems. but i think that's probably a different post.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 4:09 PM  

Sometimes I wonder if a good first step is simply acknowledging that white is a race. The parsing of "female" as white (like the parsing of "person" as male) is deeply problimatic and seems to underly everything.

I think this is a very interesting idea. and it made me think about how the many radical white feminists that I consider my allies actually *DO* start their organizing with that idea. so rather than, "all women have the right to be equal"--they say, "we are white, rich, straight women that have privileged by our race, wealth and sexuality. As such, we want to use the power we have to follow behind and back up those who *don't* have the same privileges"

It's a small change that makes a HUGE difference.

The good thing, I think, about positioning intersectionality within the framework of solutions is that it allows multiple groups to be shifted in and out of the center--allowing a more complex framework for liberation to be put into place--so it's not some kinda unstable call for "equality" (which begs the questions, equality for whom? equality *with* whom?).

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 4:23 PM  

I wasn't really talking about Jessica's book in the post. I feel erased when people say that Feministing is for and about white women. And I agree with you on the intersectional/inclusivity analysis, but I think I made that clear in talking about me being there and not as a token, but as a woman of color who uses an intersectional analysis.

I am saying that there are both strong women of color voices writing for feministing and strong use of an intersectional framework. They may not be connected, but we need both.

When you leave the interwebz, the classroom, enter the mainstream, your work is co-opted and what you believe is read as intersectional, is actually read as inclusivity, because many people are still functioning on some multi-kulti, we are family shit.

What theory and life experience do you think I am working with here? I would like to continue this conversation via email. I do feel very threatened here right now as I personally sent blackamazon an email asking her to talk to me about her being so mad at me and cursing at me and such on Sylvia's blog, when I believed I was defending myself (not my white overlord Jessica). Oh, I am also feeling a little defensive because people are suggesting that I may be a white POC (because when I read that post I had no idea that the ladies at Feministing were in mind)

I read these blogs all the time and sorry I only stepped up to comment when I felt like I had to defend myself. I wasn't just defending myself either, Donna told me I was slow, complicit in my own oppression and asked "where were you???" in response to the "nubian" situation. So I rhetorically asked, where were you?

I don't think people should shut the fuck up at all. But how do I not get defensive in this situation?

you can email me at samhita@feministing.com

By Blogger Samhita, at 5/21/2007 4:37 PM  

Ah yes, and as for ground work, the organization I work for, Youth Media Council (youthmediacouncil.org), that I will be repping at Allied Media is committed to intersectional analysis as solution and using media and technology as a way to liberate disenfranchised peoples.

By Blogger Samhita, at 5/21/2007 5:01 PM  

samhita--when you say "white overlord"--I just want to ask you--what do you think it looks like when you put a post up saying you disagree with a generalized monolithic woman of color entity to which you get multiple responses from self described white people saying "good on you"? that an entire history of problems between woc and feministing are completly erased under the idea that we are trying to "out-color" you?

I would like to talk with you. I know that several women in our community would like to talk to you. and I am willing, if you are, and the rest of the women in this community are, to host a private conversation on my blog. those kinds where it's password protected. OR, we could conversely start a email where all of us are participating. because in spite of how all of us feel, we ALL agree, we'd like there to be a discussion--we'd like things to be different.

tell me what you think.

By Blogger brownfemi, at 5/21/2007 5:11 PM  

Either works for me.

By Blogger Samhita, at 5/21/2007 5:26 PM  

It's a small change that makes a HUGE difference.

Honestly, as someone living while white, I don't find it at all small. Getting my white peers to acknowledge race is like pulling teeth. I always found race fascinating, as much because I found it incomprehensible that skin color or culture could indicate anything about an individual's rights as a (not just white but all inclusive) human being. They toss off "white" as a self-designation, but there's neither thought to or knowledge of either how that came to be, what it implies, or even that it IS a race.

And from watching some of them stumble and hide in places where they're not in the majority or don't speak the languages of the people around them, I see the same cringing behavior, assumption of exclusion, and hostility toward people who are different that informs the more overt racism in the media and among fringe terrorist groups like the Minutemen.

In this specific context, Valenti spoke of her book as writing from her own perspective but that somehow didn't translate into the book being feminism from a white perspective for white non-feminist women. This context is, obviously, no where near the overt racism of many US terrorists or the ignorant racism of many of my peers, but it does fall along the same continuum of white as unspoken.

White really is seen as transparent at a profoundly deep level by an awful lot of white people. There seems to be a fundamental idea that race is something that happens to other people.

By Blogger Deoridhe, at 5/21/2007 5:42 PM  

samhita--when you say "white overlord"--I just want to ask you--what do you think it looks like when you put a post up saying you disagree with a generalized monolithic woman of color entity to which you get multiple responses from self described white people saying "good on you"? that an entire history of problems between woc and feministing are completly erased under the idea that we are trying to "out-color" you?

Why does Samhita have to belong to one party or the other--the white feminists or the woc feminists? That's what makes me so uncomfortable about this whole debate. It seems to me that every woman is perfectly entitled to have opinions of her own without representing any particular community at every moment. We're individuals, not just card-carrying members of certain "monolithic" groups. It is so disturbing to me to see women punishing each other for stepping out of group bounds.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/21/2007 6:01 PM  

anonymous--nobody, ever said anywhere that anybody has to belong to anything. ever.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 6:11 PM  

Why does Samhita have to belong to one party or the other--the white feminists or the woc feminists?

Urm, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought part of Samhita's point was that she is a WOC feminist and thus felt that when people identified Feministe as a white blog exclusively she felt marginalized and ignored. And obviously, marginalizing the non-white bloggers on Feministe is explicitly wrong and shouldn't be condoned.

I'm not sure where you are getting this "why do we have to choose" thing from, especially when it ignores basic racial justice theory.

We're individuals, not just card-carrying members of certain "monolithic" groups.

Why does people have to belong to one party or the other--the individuals or the card-carrying members of certain "monolithic" groups?

By Blogger Deoridhe, at 5/21/2007 6:16 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Blackamazon, at 5/21/2007 6:37 PM  

"anonymous--nobody, ever said anywhere that anybody has to belong to anything. ever."

Have you considered that this is the message coming across in some of your statements? Again, like this one:

"what do you think it looks like when you put a post up saying you disagree with a generalized monolithic woman of color entity"

WOC should be allowed to disagree with the "monolith" and not have it insinuated that those who say they're working for "white overlord" are actually correct.

Argue over wording if you want, but this is the way it appears to me, and I can see where Samhita might feel that she's being made to feel "not WOC enough."

Your implied message (as I see it) is the reason I'm posting anonymously... I feel like if I post critically about this issue I'll get branded a racist (if I'm white) or as working against my community (if I'm a woc).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/21/2007 6:43 PM  

anonymous.
samhita made the comment herself (white over lord), to my knowledge no woc blogger said that jessica was her white over lord. if they did, I disagree with it.

i was responding to samhita with the understanding that she was making a snarky exaggerated comment about what she felt we were thinking about her.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 6:48 PM  

On Samhita's thread, I referred to myself as a white woman who is "trying to learn more" about issues affecting women of color. From this post, it seems that there was something offensive about that type of statement. I'll be honest and say that I'm sure what it is (I suppose that in a certain context, it could sound condescending or like a cop-out), but I would like to apologize if I did somehow inadvertently offend someone.

I doubt that it was my comment that was being referred to, in the first place. But I would just like to clarify that by saying that I am trying to learn more about WOC issues, this is what I am trying to say: I am a white woman who grew up middle-class, mostly around other white people. As a result, I am mostly familiar with white issues and white experiences and was rarely exposed to the experiences of people of color. I'm not trying to plead ignorance as an excuse, but as a genuine admission of the current state of my understanding of the world. It's not one that I am particularly proud of, which is why I'm trying to learn about issues facing WOC so that I can be a better ally. I dislike the fact that I have not already been exposed to these issues, that they are so marginalized that I had to actively seek them out on my own. But through seeking them out, I am trying to rectify the situation, albeit sometimes clumsily.

As for the content of this post, I don't necessarily agree with everything in it. I have, however, long advised males who disagree with the views of feminists to try listening to what those feminists are saying instead of talking over them. I'm going to take my own advice here. I would like to say, though, that this post has made me think, and I thank you for that.

By Blogger Cara, at 5/21/2007 7:05 PM  

"what do you think it looks like when you put a post up saying you disagree with a generalized monolithic woman of color entity"


Correct me if I'm wrong, Bfp, I don't want to twist your words.
I took this to mean that Brownfemi does not appreciate all WOC, and their ideas, being lumped into a monolithic entity, while she (Samhita) wants her words, experiences taken on an individual level. And it's more noticeable coming from another WOC who IDs as such.

No one has called anyone a racist in this thread. However, if you're working within a racist, sexist, homophobic, abilist, etc system, then those ideas enter discourse intentionally or not.

By Anonymous me, at 5/21/2007 7:21 PM  

adding something about forced sterilization to the end of what is really a discussion about abortion

this is *exactly* it--woc care about abortion too, but our needs when it comes to abortion are in many ways, completly different--thus our *solutions* are completly different--thus, if white feminist org's *really* wanted to "include" woc, their agendas would *also* be completly different. So in other words, rather than fighting endlessly over roe v wade--we may focus more on the elimination of the hyde amendment. Or, for example, training each other how to do our own abortions. As vast populations of us live in such impoverished circumstances or so far away from an abortion clinic, even with abortion completely legal, we can't afford to get one. different woc are doing different things, and they have done so much work on this in the last 30 years, i can't list everything here--but that's just some ways that show that we care about abortion, very much so--but our needs are different, thus, the solutions are different.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 7:28 PM  

cara--thank you for your honesty and your reflection.

I wasn't speaking about you--i wasn't speaking about anybody specifically--"wanting to learn" has been something white women have said about women of color for decades--and everybody from audre lorde to gloria anzaldua to andrea smith all have opinions about it--(basically what you said--if you want to learn then shut up and listen, you can't do any learning when you're trying to teach us all where we are wrong.)

it's something that is very hard to do, and I have a lot of problems doing it myself. but the willingness to at least try is is a great beginning--so I thank you for sharing that you are.

By Blogger brownfemipower, at 5/21/2007 9:00 PM  

No one has called anyone a racist in this thread.

No, but that label has been applied--rightly or wrongly-- to commenters in previous threads on this blog, and it makes it scary to comment with a dissenting opinion. Anyway, I'm out.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/21/2007 9:08 PM  

Thank you, BFP.

By Blogger Cara, at 5/21/2007 9:25 PM  

She was constantly miserable, cranky, rude, and (I'm not a doctor, but I would guess) depressed.


um, damn. i don't even blog and people still got shit to talk about me.

thanks for this posting, bfp.

peace
-nubian

By Anonymous nubian, at 5/21/2007 10:11 PM  

re: listening: this is the first comment I've made on the whole subject simply because there are so many marvelous women who have shared their insight, I am grateful to just sit back and read and learn. I've been overwhelmed this past week, feeling one of those surges you get when pieces you only dimly perceived before start falling into place. And for that I can only say thank you to a long list of amazing women of color bloggers.

By Blogger kactus, at 5/21/2007 11:08 PM  

No, but that label has been applied--rightly or wrongly-- to commenters in previous threads on this blog, and it makes it scary to comment with a dissenting opinion.

Please see the other thread. I'd rather not derail here, in a completely different conversation.

By Blogger Deoridhe, at 5/22/2007 8:55 AM  

bfp, awesome post. really dead on.

--

deoridhe, this was a great reply to that commenter! way to suss out that fallacy of bifurcation hiding inside a criticism of a fallacy of bifurcation. :)

By Anonymous nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez, at 5/22/2007 2:12 PM  

Thanks Nezua. ^^

Wow, a Nezua-compliment is worth at LEAST two internets! I'm rich!

By Blogger Deoridhe, at 5/22/2007 3:08 PM  

I love the intelligence of so many of the WOC activist sort of bloggers.

I'm looking at these specific issues from an outside angle, but I have been struggling with whites and institutional racism from the vantage point of a blog and/or a website for over a decade. Needless to say, my blog world isn't about safety and unconditional approval.

I write what I feel and think. Folks can come to my site if they choose or not. It's my site, period. Nobody outside affects what I write there, nobody can make me stop blogging if I don't feel like it short of a physical threat.

nubian left right after I discovered her and I felt her loss keenly. I did take exception to her saying her choices and feelings were affected and dependent on other's expressed opinions. I felt this was giving away her power and said so.

She didn't like it. I said it on my own blog, but I didn't mean to be hurtful. I meant it and would say the same thing to anybody, even my own sister or best friend.

If I let some of those straight-out unapologetic racist heifers (my fellow white commercial women's fiction authors) affect me or worse, affect my choices or actions? (!) No. It won't happen.

It is beyond my comprehension so many give a fuck about what other people think about them when discussing and dealing with such a controversial, explosive topic that makes many of the majority defensive enough to go on auto-stupid pilot.

And this Jessica needs to shut up about any negative reviews and tell her fangirlies to shut up too, and instead watch and listen--but she'll learn that lesson well if she keeps publishing.

But hell, I'm 47 years old, a tired black women, been digging by myself a mighty long time. Back to the trenches I go.

(I sure wish nubian would start blogging again tho', she was very good and I admired her, but if anybody wants to blog and be safe, methinks they should stick to topics such as quilting).

By Anonymous Monica Jackson, at 5/23/2007 1:45 PM  

BFP,

Grrl, you know my arms are perpetually raised in the air for you, welcoming you, your words and that trademark round-kick - !BAPPP! - to the vulva of feminist racism.

By Blogger AWE, at 5/23/2007 3:03 PM  

BFP, the example about focusing on Roe v Wade vs repealing Hyde Amendment has a problem in that if Roe v Wade is overturned, 2/3 or more of the population will live in states where any abortion is illegal. Medicaid funding of abortion is thus moot if abortion is illegal in the jurisdiction.

Forming a network of women able to do lay early abortions is now and will be illegal, as abortion is considered a medical procedure. Now, I would say that the chances of getting abortion legalized as a nonmedical procedure are about as high as my growing wings and flying. Therefore, any activity by any group of any race must be clandestine.

The *publicly avowable* point at which white feminists and feminist/womanist WOC can meet is over the global issue of reproductive health care access - and access to health EDUCATION at an early age. That means free or extremely cheap (sliding scale) contraceptives of all sorts, from barrier to pill to tubal ligation, free or extremely cheap prenatal and postpartum care, free or extremely cheap well woman care (pap smears/ hpv and chlamydia tests/ hpv vaccine/ hiv tests/ mammograms included). Free or extremely cheap (sliding scale) abortion. Also, strong support for affordable health care for women and children in general. Basically I am talking about the national health system of the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries. This public health approach tends to maximize choice for all, though as all realize, health and choices still are greater for wealthier people in high-social-welfare societies with Nat'l Health programs (multiple studies in multiple countries).

Getting comprehensive reproductive health care included in any private, state, or federal coverage is the priority all can share, and I really believe single-payer health care (the Natl Health) is down the road in 10-20 years, maybe sooner. Women of all races/ ethnicities/ incomes have to work - together or as separate coordinated groups - to get comprehensive care written into the eventual plan.

As for the ""white" is a race" anti-racism statement, it will of necessity be an intellectual belief and not a deeply integrated part of identity for whites brought up in a white-dominant environment in early childhood. One can only try to keep it in mind. I don't pretend to "get it" about the experience of racial discrimination in any deep sense - everything I might know is second-hand.

NancyP

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/24/2007 8:35 PM  

hjh"White really is seen as transparent at a profoundly deep level by an awful lot of white people. There seems to be a fundamental idea that race is something that happens to other people."

This really does seem to be the core issue. The bias runs so deep that it effects people's ability to perceive things in a reality-based way. Most white people think of themselves as somehow racially neutral, which is nonsense, because no such category exists. You get all the people who say "well, race is an artificial construct anyway so if we just ignore it it'll go away", which might sound dandy as an academic theory, but in the real world? If the majority of people perceive race as a real, concrete thing and that concept effects how people relate to each other, then it IS a real thing, not just an artificial construct.

I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself well here. Let's try another analogy...as feminists most of us believe that sexism is based on a bunch of ideas that people hold that are in a theoretical sense not "real" - women are less intelligent, men are more logical, women are more emotional and therefore can't be trusted to do things like run countries blah blah blah. HOWEVER, the fact that none of the assumptions on which sexism is based are real and valid from an objective, scientific point of view does not mean that sexism does not exist, and just saying "well the underlying concepts are bullshit" does not make sexism vanish in a puff of smoke.

So too with race. And the thing is, the only way someone can make the "well it's an artifical construct anyway so why can't we just pretend it doesn't exist and hope it goes away?" argument is if they, personally, have never been on the receiving end of racism. It's pretty hard to pretend that something that actually affects you, personally, is not real. So, the whole argument is based on the fact that the person making it sees themself as the default - they think their own racial category is "neutral", and the fact that they are able to think that way is because they're bathing in white privilege.

I'm not quite sure how one gets across to those people the fact that their entire conceptual framework in terms of how the word operates is flawed and completely out of whack with reality.

And to give a nice little example (sorry to pick on you, Danielle, but it really is a perfect example of what we're talking about)...

"I think it is a little disingenuous to claim that nubian quit blogging because of the thread at feministing. She had been threatening to quit blogging for over a year before she finally did, so this was not some kind of hasty decision based on something that was the fault of the people over at feministing. I remember reading nubian's blog over part of that time (I had a desk job for 8 months where I spent a lot of time not really working), where she threatened to quit over a lot of things. She seemed like the kind of person who had a lot on her plate with school, work, blogging, and her personal life, and from what I gathered, each area was suffering. She was constantly miserable, cranky, rude, and (I'm not a doctor, but I would guess) depressed."

Look at the conceptual framing here. The underlying assumptions are as follows...
You know what Nubian was really thinking better than she does
You don't believe what she actually said/is saying
She is/was being unreasonable, capricious etc - "she threatened to quit over a lot of things".
Your perception of her reality is more valid than her own, and you get to make judgments and talk ABOUT her rather than TO her - "She seemed like the kind of person who had a lot on her plate with school, work, blogging, and her personal life, and from what I gathered, each area was suffering. ". Also note that the subtext here is that her choices as to how to organize her time should be open to judgment by random strangers on the Net.
Not only do you know what her mental and emotional state was and you get to make judgments about that, you also get to make judgments about what behavior is and is not appropriate for her.
"She was constantly miserable, cranky, rude, and (I'm not a doctor, but I would guess) depressed."

Your entire statement sounds like you're talking to/about a child, or an underling, someone whose behavior you have the right to judge and critique. Do you not get how insulting that is? And do you also not get that if she really WAS miserable, cranky etc there might have been a REASON she felt that way?
You're framing the whole thing as if any reaction she had/has is indicative of a flaw in her rather than being a valid reaction to actual events. And it's not just you, either...white bloggers do that to POC all the damn time.

Also...why is it that WOC bloggers get called out for being "rude" so often? Most feminist bloggers are "rude" - I know I am sometimes, and I'm having a hard time thinking of anyone else who isn't. Nubian, BA etc are no more "rude" than Amanda, Zuzu, Sheelzebub etc (insert name of any prominent white feminist blogger here). Politeness is actually the exception, not the rule, in bloglandia. So why then is it that lack of politeness is only an issue worth commenting on over and over again when the person being "rude" is not white?

Hey look, it's the filter again...

By Blogger Cassandra Says, at 5/25/2007 5:01 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Cassandra Says, at 5/25/2007 5:51 PM  

NancyP, you said "BFP, the example about focusing on Roe v Wade vs repealing Hyde Amendment has a problem in that if Roe v Wade is overturned, 2/3 or more of the population will live in states where any abortion is illegal. Medicaid funding of abortion is thus moot if abortion is illegal in the jurisdiction."

But why is it one or the other? Why can't groups do both - Defend Roe v Wade and try to get the Hyde Amendment overturned? As BFP said, surely intersectionality means intersectionality in solutions as well - not just trying for a 'one-size-fits-all' solution.

I may be missing something - I'm a Canadian living in the UK, so I don't always get the subtleties of American politics.

By Anonymous Gwen, at 5/25/2007 9:14 PM  

Thank you.

-Jo, *listening*

By Blogger nightgigjo, at 5/28/2007 8:45 AM  

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