The Silence of Our Friends

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bitter Laughter

Why can't they see that this is the same thing they do to us? Over at Feministe: OMG Teh Hysterical Feminists Again!

From the first paragraph,
It’s a classic example of how concepts like rationality and logic become gendered, with men automatically assumed to be exercising them when they’re challenging women, and women automatically assumed to be bypassing them when we challenge men or widely-held assumptions.
Hmmm, I've seen and heard something similar before. Maybe you have too, let's try a little exercise for those who don't know what I am talking about and change a few words here and there.
It’s a classic example of how concepts like rationality and logic become racialized, with middle class white feminists automatically assumed to be exercising them when they’re challenging women of color, and women of color automatically assumed to be bypassing them when we challenge middle class white feminists or widely-held assumptions.

...Now, despite my series of posts picking on him, Matt is actually not an asshole, and I really don’t think he put up that post to stick it to feminists...he seems to think that we’re saying something we’re not...he’s misinterpreting what we’re saying about it...benefit of the doubt...
It's the same with the flamewars regarding race, unless it's a continuation of the same bad behaviors over and over on the part of the white liberal blogger. Otherwise what makes the white liberal blogger and/or commenters assholes is the reaction, which follows a pattern parallel to male privilege vs feminism flamewars.

Here’s what I think is really interesting: When feminists responded to Matt’s post, the self-appointed Logical White Men stepped in and started to put us in our place. For example, the third comment over at Matt’s place:

What’s this? A man using logic and facts to qualify the assertions of Jessica Valenti! Get ready for a world of libtardsphere circle-jerk disavowals.
This reminds me of the thread at Pandagon about Amanda Marcotte's King Kong Book cover. Check how quick the Logical White People step in and put the POC and anti-racists in their place.

There were many exasperating comments made but this one in particular was a punch to the gut for me:
August 22, 2007 at 11:55 pm

Hello! Welcome to The Furor Over Jessica’s Book Cover, Part II!

A/k/a, You Can’t Please Everyone, Part the MCVIIth.
The furor over Jessica's book cover was mainly from WOC bloggers, Zuzu apparently thinks we had no substantive issues with the cover, there's just no pleasing us. It doesn't occur to her that maybe, just maybe, if these middle class white feminists would stop using racist book covers we wouldn't be complaining.

“There’s a small group of self-identified liberal bloggers who are young-ish, male, white, and horribly offended by “identity politics.” They’re pretty well supported by a handful of the Big Liberal Bloggers. A few of them link here all the time in order to demonstrate what a deep disservice feminism and anti-racism and queer rights are doing to the Democratic party and to good white male liberals. I’m sure they’re decent enough guys, but it’s irritating, and so I usually ignore them. But they’re just so over-the-top on this one, I can’t resist.”
Problem here is that this makes it seem like only white liberal men are offended by "identity politics", in fact, most of the feminists are too, unless we are talking about their particular identity and their particular politics. Civil rights and basic human rights are serious business when it affects white liberal women, not so much for the rest of us.

I’ve been at the point where I’ve said, “Gosh, they say they want me to cover [whatever issue] and then when I do they rail me for it. What do they want from me?”

We want the same thing you want from the men. How would you feel if a male blogger wrote a book and it was titled, "Liberal Bloggers: The Definitive Guide to Progressive Politics on the Internet" and had a picture of a group of all men, or maybe just one white mans six pack abs representing all liberal bloggers on the cover? What if it was all about what men think and want but a few pages said, "In the past politics and society ignored women, especially the old dudes, but us younger guys are concerned and stuff. Women are fucking oppressed! They have it bad and are like victims, I shit you not." And had maybe a handful of quotes from liberal women and feminists, no analysis, just comments saying things like, "That Susan B Anthony was awesome!" I wonder if the white middle class feminists would feel "included" in this book, that it's about them and for them. I wonder if his effort would be good enough to get a pass and no criticism, because how is he supposed to write a book integrating women, he's not a woman!? It would be easy for that imaginary man to integrate women into his book and if he didn't then he should call it -The definitive guide to liberal MEN on the internet-. Not only would he include a chapter about issues of particular interest to women, in other chapters, say on economics, he would be sure to mention how certain policies impact women differently then men and listen to and interview women and quote them in the book. He would also be sure the book was inviting to women, that they felt he was speaking to them, instead of having a section where he tells his male readers to gather round while they talk about women and women's problems.

Or how would you feel if male centered blogs introduced a female co-blogger or two, or had female guest bloggers, but over time you saw that these female bloggers weren't comfortable posting about feminist issues or other woman centered issues and stuck to mostly male centered posts or general interest. The few times these women did write on the topic of feminism there was either no interest, or a firestorm of criticism with the woman and the few female commenters getting little or no support from the male blog owner/male co-bloggers? Wouldn't you wonder if the male blogger only brought in the female blogger as cover for any charges of sexism? He'd be supportive if he actually cared about women and their perspectives, he'd encourage discussion by commenting on her threads, he'd at least understand what she is talking about, and he would certainly smack down the sexism and misogyny in the comments.

This is the way that I and many other WOC see the white middle class feminist blogosphere. These women do not see us as women too, we are a subsidiary group, an auxiliary to the "real" women with real important concerns. It isn't important enough to them to actually read our words and understand them. They bring in a WOC or two but don't take them very seriously, offer little support or enthusiasm for what they write if it pertains to concerns particular to their situation as a WOC, or if they write about race relations they allow all kinds of trolls to overrun the conversation and disrespect the WOC blogger in favor of those "widely held assumptions" about race. Widely held assumptions/status quo/conventional wisdom; this is white supremacy and white privilege as much as it is male privilege or homophobia or classism or ableism or colonialism or a whole host of isms that allow people to view others as inferior.

You know you hate it when these men you disagree with go to their corner licking their wounds, more determined than ever to ignore you and feminism. They can't talk about it without misunderstanding and you getting pissed off, so they won't talk about it at all. How childish. And yet, you do the exact same thing with us. You know that you want those men to have the courage to come back, to listen, to question, restate, make mistakes...and care enough to really learn so that they can talk about these things in an intelligent way. Those cowards are worried you will bite their heads off for saying the wrong thing, but, the ones who actually care and engage, funny thing, they rarely get their heads bitten off. Women have the patience to explain to the ones who really want to know and but are harsh with the fools who swoop in for a one off slam against feminism. If you cared enough about us to read our blogs and see the interactions, you would see the exact same thing, but instead you do that swooping in thing and wonder why we keep getting pissed off at you.

BlackAmazon wrote a post entitled, "Don't include me". I doubt if these white feminist bloggers read it, or if they did, they didn't understand what she meant. She was not speaking about herself alone, she was speaking for all women of color. Don't include us if you are only doing it to make yourself look progressive, to use us as cover against charges of white privilege/racism. You know that men say, "But I link to one or two women in my extensive blogroll!" or "But I had that (short, no analysis, did not encourage discussion in any way) post about xyz feminist issue!" as cover to pretend that they give a shit. Don't you want to tell those men to stuff it, you see through the ruse, and you think, don't include me bud just to use me. You middle class white feminist do the exact same thing to us. We see it when you have your WOC co-bloggers who are strangely silent on race issues, or your WOC guest bloggers and you are all but completely absent in the comments with maybe a, "Good post!" in there. Why is it a good post, what moved you, or are you so clueless that you aren't sure what they are saying because you aren't really reading. Just making things look good so that you can call yourself progressive.

I have a prediction about how things will eventually go with that thread at Feministe. Some and perhaps all of the men being criticized will act conciliatory and may even apologize. But they will be resentful and hold that grudge, they don't really mean it. They are pissed that a woman or group of women showed them up and will look for an opening to pull this same bullshit again. I know this because it's what the middle class white feminists do to us. They don't mean their apologies either, it's just to get us to shut up for the time being while they regroup and work on their memes about how we're just jealous, or they debunked what we said when no such thing happened. Although in this circumstance, the definition of debunking is, all us privileged people got together and decided to ignore and redefine what those feminists/WOC/etc said.

I just posted about the post itself, go read the comments and you might want to read the comments at the liberal men's sites too. If you are astute you will see a multitude of parallels between the bullshit POC get from white liberals there too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We do see racism everywhere, because it is everywhere

One of the racist arguments used to dismiss us is that we are oversensitive and see racism everywhere, even when it's not intended, or supposedly not there. We aren't oversensitive or throwing the race card, racism is all around us. White people are insensitive to it because they aren't the object of it, it doesn't affect them, so they don't care to notice it.

For example, I've been skimming the white liberal blogosphere and happened to see that several of them are pointing to this article by Frank Rich, "The Good German".

I go read and here is what I see:
As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina.
and the way I read that is, "OMG! We must do something now. Before they were killing those animals with their silly mumbo jumbo dangerous religions and who cares about that? But now, NOW, they're killing REAL HUMAN BEINGS!"

Why would it make any difference in the story to mention that they are Christians* and not once, but twice. Considering how geographically challenged Americans are, I also think adding in the Armenian part was a nice touch; it will be taken one of two ways, "At least they aren't Iraqis, our enemy**, so who cares if Iraqis are killed?" or if an American happens to know where Armenia is, "Oh European, even more like us then probably."

I don't think Rich is racist, but I'm thinking that he believes that his readership is. His focus is Blackwater and the other mercenaries, he knows that another dead Iraqi, or a hundred, or a thousand, is a yawn to the average racist American. But two dead Christians? That might get them riled up enough to write letters, protest, do something to show their disapproval of these out of control cowboys.

*Heading you off at the pass, I know someone will argue that bigotry based on religion isn't racism. Sometimes it's not, but the unspoken antonym for Christian is Muslim. Give a piece of paper and a box of crayolas to a random American and ask her/him to draw you a picture of a Muslim and I guarantee that 99.999% will be picking a brown or black crayon instead of white or pink. Bigotry based on skin color is...

**Enemy? Aren't we there to rescue Iraqis? Nah, that's an acceptable lie for ignorant American people and the international community. The Bush administration couldn't very well say they were going in to steal the oil. When a colonized people fight back they become "the enemy" and all terrorists.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Talking to myself

If you don't like crybabies, don't read the rest of this. I'm talking to myself.

For some reason I am going through this total guilt phase in my life. In fact, after writing that sentence I felt guilty because I'm about to whine about my self involved problems instead of writing about something important. I know, that's what personal blogs are for, you write about what you want to write about, whether it's important stuff or personal whining, but I still had that twinge. It's the move, for a long time there was too much to do, things are slowing down now, but there are alot of things I am behind on. I feel guilt for neglecting so many things, like the blog, like my friends both on and off line, like my family, like getting my youngest son in for a teeth cleaning. He should have had one last June. I've been catching up on blog reading, I felt guilty about not knowing what is going on in the world, but now I feel guilty because I planned on cleaning the bathrooms today, but didn't get to that. I feel guilty about not updating my blogroll, some blogs have closed shop, and there are many others who deserve a link. I've said that three times in less than 24 hours and I feel guilty because I still don't want to spend the time updating it because I hate messing around with the template and html, not to mention the time it would take to do. If these are the worst problems a person has in this world, then my life is gravy, as one extremely arrogant and annoying person once told me. I think I'll shut up now and quit boohooing...

Oh but if you're still reading; I became an aunt again on September 28, not all is well, the poor little angel will be having surgery on her tear ducts this thursday. Prayers, good thoughts, and/or crossed fingers on her behalf are greatly appreciated. She is the first niece, my sisters and I have all had sons up until now.

Also I missed my blog anniversary the day after that, September 29. Well, not really, I knew when it was but it seemed stupid to announce it or anything since at tht point I hadn't decided if I was going to be able to keep blogging or not. But I'm still here!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Anti-oppression vs the civility of polite society

Many times the reason I don't post on a topic is because I have too many thoughts and directions to go on the subject, and if I can't have some semblance of organization in my head, how will I ever manage to organize it enough to write? This is one of those times but I am forging ahead anyway. I've never been one of those "linear" thinkers anyway and make connections between apparently unrelated events and ideas all the time. Some random thoughts...

For me it almost always comes as a shock to realize that the person I am speaking/writing to doesn't see me as fully human as they see themselves. I feel the same way when I hear/read them do it to someone else. It's not that I am so stupid to think that most people are inherently good blah blah blah pie-in-the-sky platitudes... It's that the people I choose to associate with and engage my time and efforts with should know better, are expected to be allies, have a higher consciousness with regards to social justice issues etc. or I wouldn't be wasting my time and effort on them.

Words can be violence. Words can lead to physical violence on a personal level and on an institutional level. It's easy to see with hate speech, but hidden with patronizing speech. Both set up a hierarchy of humanity, both make it easier to abuse and kill the group the speech is directed towards. Be aware when either is being employed against a group of people it's a set up, or the remnants of a past set up. These are the people who are in the way, an inconvenience to the powerful and wealthy, or sometimes just the majority. Hate speech makes it easier to enlist people to the cause of neutralizing and/or eradicating the subject, patronizing speech is for those who will not actively aid in neutralizing the subject, but will turn a blind eye to what is going on.

I've learned that hate speech and ideas are very effective among those who identify as conservatives and patronizing speech and ideas are very effective among those who identify as liberals.

Democrats, liberals, and other assorted progressives should be paying close attention to blogs and other media geared towards "the dregs of society" because we are the ones predicting that this is coming your way. Some of you have been smart enough to figure out that conservatives/neocons laid the foundations for the latest "anti-terrorist" campaigns and wars in the Reagan years and beyond, but can't see what foundations they are laying now, or think they have dodged a bullet. They aren't using inflammatory language like anti-American, traitors, and terrorist lovers against you to be silly and annoying. Dodged a bullet? Politics is cyclical; the Bush administration may be losing credibility with the public, but the powerful and wealthy backing them are patient.

People are more likely to say what they really think on the internet than they would in the real world and using harsher language. Having said that, I still have a problem with some of these discussions bemoaning the lack of civility. I've been on the internet for 10 years and witnessed innumerable instances where these scenarios play out with the exact same script -
Person 1, "Conventional wisdom says that you (or your loved ones) are less than human."
Person 2, "%*@&!!!"

In the liberal blogosphere every flame war between white liberals or feminists and anti-oppression bloggers has been a magnification of this, with one bloc who believes "conventional wisdom" and the other bloc saying, "WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU???". I'd be interested if someone could name an exception or two.

If you have ever been on the side of "civility" you might want to examine that. Your conventional wisdom or commonly held beliefs that everyone-knows-is-true might be imprisoning, maiming, and killing real people.

I bet you thought this was about race, uh huh, but Ashley X and Katie Thorpe are my actual inspirations. Once again liberals and feminists have shocked, angered, and frightened me with their casual acceptance that certain groups are less than human.

Intersectionality of oppression is western societies way of saying, if I can't get you to feel hate, fear, or at least apathy for "those" people for reason A, then how about reason B?

Elle, PhD posted a letter to the progressive white blogosphere that is an excellent example of intersectionality of oppression. She links to a Wikipedia entry on Claudette Colvin. If you can't hate her for being black, then hate her for being from the poor side of town, or being sexually active and immoral. Perfection is necessary because otherwise there is always an excuse for conservative hate and liberal apathy.

I don't think many of us anti-oppression bloggers understood the magnitude of the hate, fear, and apathy towards us before we started posting online. It's because the mask slips and liberals innocently (ignorantly) and proudly reveal their bigotry which isn't bigotry to them but common sense. Everyone knows that people with disabilities are vegetables who have unnecessary messy body parts! Everyone knows that women of color are pitiable creatures who need to be saved by white women because they are too stupid to organize or solve problems themselves! Everyone knows that transwomen aren't really women but men mascarading as women so they can molest the real women in womens rest rooms, or spoil the Michigan Womens Music Festival, or infiltrate womens ranks and undermine them!

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm a slacker blogger

I know I should blog, I have really and truly been busy with the new house but it's been coming together and I have less to do each day, so that's no excuse anymore. I see alot I want to blog about, because I do get online and read blogs, news, emails and all that, but can't get motivated or the energy to actually write a blog post. I feel defeated and like there is no point alot of the time, but I also get angry when I see my favorite bloggers get discouraged and feel defeated and take extended breaks or nuke their blogs. So while I sometimes want to be gone, I really think it's important for us to get our voices heard. Maybe I have nothing important to say today, or tomorrow, or for a long time, but if by being here and telling you all that I'm staying it will convince some of those others to come back when they are ready, then I've done some good.

Now for something that will really motivate my blogger friends, or get them dancing nekid around the house, both laudable goals in my estimation, I give you this:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Make/Shift magazine

I just received my very first copy of the feminist magazine Make/Shift!!!!

I'm very very impressed by Make/Shift--as many women of color activists may know, it's extraordinarily difficult to find any type of media where women of color are integrated not just into "the problem" (that is, women of color are victims victims victims), but also into the solution (that is, women of color are organizing, resisting, agitating in profound and amazing ways).

Make/Shift definitly incorporates and integrates women of color organizing into their media message--from the first issue: Spanish sits very comfortably next to English, women of color run blogs are reviewed right next to blogs run by white women, fierce brown women are riddled throughout the advertising, and on the very first page, there are blurbs about Felicia Luna Lemus (who wrote the "Chicana dyke coming of age story Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties") and doing political work as a mother.

from the second issue: the cover reads in nice big bold letters, "INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence" and right underneath it, La Lucha for Environmental Justice. Inside, again, there are lots of ads with fierce looking women of color--my favorite is an ad for "rudechix"--I'm not exactly sure what the ad is for, but there is a totally beautiful Asian looking woman with a fierce mohawk and she's wearing a shirt that says "fuck you and your sides of ranch". And again, right on the first page, is a lovely "scrap" that features a woman of color--Everyday Actions by Teena Apeles. There is also a *fabulous* interview of Andrea Ritchie (somebody I deeply respect and admire). And Raquel Gutierrez has an article about Elia Arce and Nao Bustamante (my heroine).

These are fabulous magazines--and on a side note--I have worked closely with editor Stephanie Abraham, and appreciate the egalitarian editing style, and complete trust and respect she had for the words and experiences of women of color. I highly highly recommend not just reading/subscribing to the magazine--but submitting like crazy to it as well. As one of the few indy media makers that pays it's writers--it's worth the time and effort.

Make/Shift is a beautiful righteous magazine--it's literally one of the only feminist magazines that I feel comfortable recommending to other women of color. Do what you can to check it out/submit to/otherwise support it!!!!

getting us warmed up for next year...

VIDEO: an analysis.

you call this a revolution?

created by the militantly disabled Ms CRiP Chick

Of course I’m silent when you start talkin’ Revolution
To you, my “Enlightened” Angelina-Jolie-Bono-loving
People Magazine-reading friend,
Revolution is nothing more than a trendy word to sport.
Something that’s been in style since the 80s Live AID concert
But tell me, do you really know who Che is? Or do you carry his image on your chest because his face is good looking?
Do you really support militant activism or only when it comes in ancient Buddhist mystery with monks and shit?
Do you realize what a lot of what you’ve been told about the world is a lie?
You see, I don’t really feel a need to wear 5 different wristbands for 5 different “causes,”
Particularly when the goal is to eradicate disabled people from the face of the earth with talks of cures and research
You see, I don’t feel a need to pay more money for this [Red] line they sell at the GAP…afterall, does consumerism and capitalism really go hand in hand with the principles of radicalism?
These are just some things I think while listening to a friend talk about how we, as “persons with disabilities” [not people,] are going to change the world.