Posts Tagged ‘racism’

I love it here in Mexico

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I’m finding I am curious about something, though.

When I drove through the tiny ghost towns of New Mexico, the derelict structures both horrified and haunted me.

Here, the similar negligence in the buildings has a vibrant life that is hard to explain. Most of these houses would appear abandoned in the states, but none of them are. And I am drawn to them.

I’m cautious to take at face value that I simply identify more with the culture and life style and enjoy seeing and experiencing it in person.

It’s odd to be thinking about digging around for unconscious racism when I’m actively enjoying and appreciating this place out of a sense of gratitude and respect, but even though I feel no contempt or even irritation toward this place (except for the mosquitos, and that doesn’t count.) I’m urked.

When I drove through those deserted American towns that looked like these places, I was bereft. I was horrified that the industries that once fueled the town were toppled and buried. But here, I’m not doing that, even though in many ways I am looking at the same thing.

Is there something to the difference in seeing derelict American towns vs. Mexican? Something other than the difference between a dead town and one that is living and breathing despite having so very little?

Is it that I simply see this place as poorer, that I’ve been raised to expect this place to be impoverished and dirty and violent (I have experienced/seen absolutely zero violence since entering Mexico) and so see the quality of life here unemotionally?

Or is it the flip side, maybe — that my antiracism work over the last two years has rid me of the supremacist mindset that these poor dirty broken brown people would need my help, somehow, or my pity? That they would ever need to rise to the level of capitalist ‘comfort’ I was accustomed to in order to be valid people? Is my lack of a sense of disturbance indication of my growth, rather than a callous indifference?

Maybe I’m looking at how two cultures manage poverty — one deserts in the constant rat race search of riches elsewhere within an inflated view of what constitutes a good life, while the other makes a simple relaxed one with their families? Maybe I’m not sad because they’re not sad?

So, I’m curious if I have more antiracism work to do because of what I’ve uncovered of myself in my reactions here. And I am really thankful to Previous Me for blowing the lid off of my corrosive, unconscious (and sometimes not) biases that were rooted in the white supremacy I formed among, and caused me to question myself in this way.

Stay Focused. Keep Going.

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Been trying to narrow roots down lately. You know, to save my sanity. Been thinking on this a bit, and I’ve come to the conclusion currently that all the shit I’m mad about and think needs changing leads back to two things: Capitalism and Patriarchy.

So, if considering the main sources of our current social problems can be traced back to Capitalism (classism, ablism, racism, production-based human worth) and Patriarchy (sexism, rape culture, devaluing of bodily sovereignty, feminine ideals, and care work), would it then suppose that the root of what we must shed and transmute in our social evolution is simply: Toxic Masculinity (supremacy, domination, control, emotional disconnection, and power based upon fear of that wide spectrum of physical and emotional violence)?

And how is it that people generally wake to their realities of these issues, even when they’ve already known they are against the patriarchy and or capitalist ways of operating?; They then suffer a period of deeply adopting toxic masculinity themselves to manifest the ‘power’ needed to stand in their resistance without being annihilated while in transition. And some will never make that transition.

Ghandi was a sexist rape apologist. Mother Teresa was against violence unless that violence attacked the sovereignty of women’s bodies. The toxic masculinity permeated these people as well, people who vastly and fundamentally inspired and changed the world and are widely considered saints, superhuman. But organized religion, the cause of which so many wars and so many saints have rallied behind, in and of itself is based upon what? Toxic masculinity, that’s what.

And here we still are, dealing with the deep rooted tendrils of the same old shit.

Every once in a while we erupt in toxic masculine (and deeply cathartic) violence, making a tiny baby step by forcing the patriarchal empire into changing the rules a little in order to make that toxic masculine a little less obvious (see: The civil rights movement). But it, that toxicity, is always here – piled over our grief, stuffed in the corners of our coping mechanisms, whitewashed away by the lies of our generally accepted history. For centuries of conditioning and ancestry, it is deeply, fundamentally, here.

I wonder that toxic masculinity is a game that is subconsciously perceived as must being played in order to survive this world, much less overcome and thrive. For all people, including children.

And I wonder that this here is the impetus, the toxic masculine that goes beyond patriarchy which centers around gender and seniority of male lineage, beyond capitalism which leverages these teachings for the gain of few at the expense of many, rather than simply another symptom, of why we’re all so royally fucked.

That one time rape made me racist

Friday, December 26th, 2014

When I was in my early-20’s, I spent some time as an escort. In that time, I had many lovely experiences, some weird experiences, some forgettable experiences, and some gross experiences; three particular gross experiences with Asian clients, which seemed a notable pattern, and one awful one (which ended my career) wherein an Asian man attempted to rape me.

I was doing sensual bodysurfing stuff (and didn’t offer sex as a service), so when he physically attempted to force himself in me, one of the things I recognized immediately was that I had hundreds of dollars of expensiveass equipment with me — and was trapped in the guys house.

My response was to coo redirections at him over and over with a pained ‘we cant do that’ face and pet him and still get him off, while he continued multiple other physical attempts to force me back on top of him. It was like some kind of fucking surreal fake mating dance with a psycho, who belonged to a demographic I’d already begun to experience as high maintenance in my extremely dangerous (and lovely) and vulnerable (and empowering) work.

As soon as I was out the door I was utterly sick to myself. I hated, hated, hated how weak and accommodating I had been. I hated how afraid I had been that if I had been more forceful he would give me a bad review. I hated how all the smart verification hoops I made prospective clients jump through before they were able to see me didn’t protect me from this guy. I hated how if I had been more forceful he may have turned (more) violent.

No sooner had I stepped out that fucking door, I started in on myself. Ruthlessly. I couldn’t even let myself be hurt or afraid because he hadn’t actually managed to rape me (ladies, take note: this is what internalized misogyny looks like), all I could think about was what a fucking doormat whore I had acted like.

Part of me wished I had fought, so that at least I would have had my dignity even if he butchered me. Part of me wished he’d butchered me so I could have torn his fucking face off his skull. I toiled over and over about the things I must have done wrong. My instinct had taken over, and I am sure now it served me well. But back then? Fuck was I mad. At me. Stupid whore.

For years after, I proudly and loudly expressed to my friends that I wasn’t racist, but I hated Asian men. And I had reasons. By George I had reasons. The stories were funny and engaging, too. News of my distaste spread like fire ants through my group of friends and soon none of them could think of an Asian man without remembering my horror stories of lizard kissing and smegma plugs stuck to my back. It was a grand old time.

Funny how I mostly avoided telling that rape story, though.

The truth is, I never hated Asian men. I had trauma associated with experience and used an accepted avenue: racism, to vent it.

Because vulnerability wasn’t as kosher as racism was.

It wasn’t safe to talk about how trapped and helpless and fucking violated I felt, it wasn’t worth the potential silencing, being mishandled, to open myself up and express my frustration and regret in how my autopilot maneuvered my shock and being in danger.

There wasn’t a place, with my friends or in me, for the truth of my feelings. That I was hurt, that I was injured, and that I had lost faith in doing a kind of healing work that I valued and had been truly gifted at. 

Racism was how I coped.

Even after I had my big racism get and I was fiercely tackling my automatic neuroassumptions about Black people, I hung onto my distrust of Asian men. I backed it up with cultural criticism of how they treat women ‘over there’, I made myself feel all smart and rationalized about it, and for a while, I even dropped the “I’m not racist” for “I know I am racist.” and kept on keeping on like that for a bit. For real.

What allowed me to begin to heal my prejudice around Asian men (I say begin because I am still on constant alert for it, though it looks very different now when it shows up – like a toilet bowl in need of a new blue bleach cake thing after lotsa flushes) wasn’t even race related: it was addressing my internalized misogyny, including how I devalued and shamed myself for being a sex worker, by healing my issues with my mother.

Of many things that were passed down through my parents, my mother passed internalized misogyny down to me, and then behaved in a manner that allowed me to corroborate why all women were hateful deceitful lying abandoning bitches (my dad helped). The hurt wasn’t about race, it was about my response to being violated by someone else’s choices being to, frankly, hate myself for it.

Of course it wasn’t only from my parents that I developed these tactics and beliefs – we are all steeped in it as a culture – however, when I got to the place in my healing work where I started working on my family of origin stuff, the murk in my race water cleared drastically. It was the combination of absorbing, listening and learning about the struggles of Black women, and being in my own therapy, that did it.

And this brings me to the thought I want to leave you with; I want you to consider that not only are you racist, (Spoiler alert: You are.), but I want you to consider that you are racist because of trauma.

I want you to consider that racism in and of itself is derived from pain and hurt and heartache that’s been buried and mutated – whether by direct experience like mine with Asian men, or by osmosis like the Black and Brown racism that I inherited from people around me, or potentially by something that may have absolutely nothing to do with race at all.

I want you to consider that racism as a systemic civil structure (and as a climate you learned to cope within) is also perpetuated and sustained by our inability and unwillingness to process our traumatic experiences. To believe we are superior than weak people who need that kind of help and guidance.

And I want you to consider that perhaps one way to transform your confusion and frustration and guilt, to rise above the status quo, is to split off a thread or two, and invest in healing yourself, for real.

On white supremist heteropatriarchy in America

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

“When White people made the rules hundreds of years ago, they never counted on us being free. This is what [Ferguson] is about.” – A Black Grandmother

I’ve become very passionate over the last two years about social evolution, which means I’m paying a lot of attention to social justice. Racism and Sexism are my staples. Which means I listen to a lot of black feminist women talk about what they see and experience in their lives.

This passion has caused me to get into a lot of conversations about social evolution, including those about race. Sometimes, I save myself a little time (and some extra grey hairs), and send people here.

Note: Though it is absolutely possible to have assimilated to white supremacist thinking while also being a person of color and for this information to be helpful in those cases, the purpose of this page is to speak directly to white people.

Basically, it all boils down to this: Being a racist, (or sexist, or rape apologist, or any number of other sorrid things) in this society, does not require intent.

More importantly: Believing oneself inherently immune, or inherently irreparable in regards to these behaviors is a destructive no-win fallacy.

While the majority of white people ending up on this page wanting to learn more about racism will likely be motivated by their desire to set *other* people right, the ONLY way to do this work, and I truly mean this, is to be doing it on yourself. Though there is an educational and historical element to antiracist work and it’s helpful to have statistics to cite, there simply is no shortcut here: You have to be doing the work to discover and grow away from your own racist beliefs.

I think the single most important element to being antiracist and making headway in this fight is to be educating yourself and changing your own perspectives, which you then become more and more adept and comfortable speaking and acting from from with empathy and tact, including the voice you use to speak to yourself.

Here’s how you can rise to the occasion:

Realize your privilege exists, everywhere, all the time, always: Your White (cis, male, able, etc) privilege is not an attack, it’s simply fact.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-crosleycorcoran/explaining-white-privilege-to-a-broke-white-person_b_5269255.html

Dismantle your identification with the Just World Fallacy, the belief in which helps you to disregard the oppression around you (including, perhaps, your own):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

(which is important to do because of this: http://feministing.com/2014/08/19/fatal-hypothesis-how-belief-in-a-just-world-is-killing-us/)

Contemplate the dynamics of our White Supremacist Heteropatriarchal society which may be contributing to how hard showing up to these conversations may be for you (it’s called White Fragility) and yes that’s a real thing:
http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/white-fragility-why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism-twlm/

Consider the distress one tends to feel when something they’ve always had and felt fundamentally deserving of seems to be changing and how that may apply to you. http://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

Learn about the Helms White Racial Identification Model and consider how you have, both in the past and present, related to it. http://www.pittstate.edu/dotAsset/bda607c0-bbc7-4d4b-8e92-4d0e00c48e94.pdf

Learn about the multiple forms of racism that thrive in all levels of our society, both individual and systemic, and how to talk about race with others effectively (I am still working on this): https://www.raceforward.org/research/reports/moving-race-conversation-forward

Learn how to be helpful, rather than a hindrance, toward the POC who are resisting this social dynamic: http://theangryblackwoman.com/2009/10/01/the-dos-and-donts-of-being-a-good-ally/

Which, if you are an advocate for women’s rights, likely includes rethinking your feminism, too: http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-10-06/10-things-white-feminists-should-know-to-better-understand-intersectionality/

And then get to work: http://www.mashupamericans.com/issues/be-less-racist-12-tips-for-white-dudes-by-a-white-dude/

Remember to take care of yourself along the way: https://medium.com/@courtnee/an-open-letter-to-guilted-whiteness-93ef22590428

As well, two books I highly recommend on are The New Jim Crow and Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

“There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.” – Scott Phil Woods

On thing that I run into a lot in my often slogging, infuriatingly frustrating conversations with other white people about racism, is that when many people talk about “Equality”, what they’re actually talking about is a perceived utopia which allows them to continue accepting their predisposed societal advantages and avoid the actual work of creating an equal society.

A better term that addresses the existence of oppression dynamics and the need to adjust in order to right them is “Equity”.

An example of equity is this: If you want everyone to be able to see over the same wall, you would not give the 4 foot tall person, or the toddler, or the paraplegic the same sized crate to stand on as the 6 foot tall person. You would only give each person an equally tall crate in a situation in which equality already exists.

What I hear when most people talk about their view of “equality” is that ‘all people’ getting the same-height crate to view over the same wall is a good enough solution, according to them. This lack of distinction, along with a belief in the Just World Fallacy mentioned above, is often the basis of stubborn, ongoing ignorance.

Your re-education as a white person is an integral first step to being a part of the healing and restorative justice that we so desperately need in our country. But that doesn’t end here, for us, with our voices speaking our truths about what we want to see and how we’ve come to want to see it, or worse with us deciding how we think this gets fixed and taking it upon ourselves to do whatever that is.

Remember that for white supremacy to truly be addressed and neutralized, it’s imperative that we as whites who benefit from that worldwide system take ourselves out of the role of the rationalized, dominant oppressor, in every way that we can, and unlearn having to be the one who calls the shots and speaks for those we perpetually silence.

People smarter about this than me

Mia McKenzie
Laverne Cox
Bell Hooks
Audre Lorde
Mikki Kendall
Christa Bell
Feminista Jones
Grace Lee Boggs
Quinn Norton
Elon James White
Zaron Burnett
Cornell West
Jessica Pearl
Ijeoma Oluo
Jay Smooth
Dr. Stacey Patton
Kiese Laymon

10 amazing Black women to follow on twitter.

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

“There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.” – Scott Phil Woods