In my own life I have an increasing number of opportunities to act as an ally to various groups or individuals, against oppression. I say “increasing”, because I find more as my learning grows, my personal strength grows or at least is tailored to certain sitautions, and I have more and deeper relationships with oppressed folks. This isn’t linear at all–in grade school, I had some very deep relationships where looking back I did a lot of supportive work of fellow students of color just as part of being friends, and I learned a lot from my friends. But I have more intentional and political relationships now, with friends and acquaintances. Right now I have deep relationships with several trans women, and women and queer people of color. A good bit of what I do is when they’re not around, in situations where my personal privilege and tiredness sometimes cause me to disengage, but those relationships (past and present) keep a constant need to confront certain injustices on top of my general drive to push for fairness.
Things I confront in my life near-constantly are trans misogyny, racism and views that think America should be a world leader in how trade is done, and a military enforcer of the world’s peace. All things I “benefit” from, as in benefit materially but become less whole, less human because of them (still trying to sort out what I mean by this). And am learning how to notice and confront ableism, which is complicated as I have several invisible disabilities, have felt the sting of some kinds of ableism (and gratitude for access needs being met–and resentment when they aren’t even considered) but not others. So this is mostly based on that. Read the rest of this entry »
There is enough in this world. There is enough food to feed the world. In the United States we have few who are starving and more who are malnourished, and we waste 40% of our food. I will always remember what I felt hearing of the grapes of wrath ripening and falling off the vine in waste while people shut out from the farm are starving, because the farmer can get no money from them–though I do not know when I first understood that it is still like that. Or when I understood that our country is stealing from so many others, then gives a tiny bit back in humanitarian aid, sometimes, to build up moral credit that just enough people believe.
There is medicine, there are hands who want to help. In the US we have many nurses who could be doctors but a stringent system of qualification that prevents them. And we have doctors with no time to listen–studies that show they don’t listen. And I lost a friend this year who had to get incomplete medical care from nonprofit programs instead of a government where people are throwing away lives like hers just because they’re Republican Congressmen. I can’t stand to watch it, or to fight and beg on their terms. People are so powerful when they reach out their hands to help each other, when they form the bonds of help and trust. I was offered money once by a man whose clothes I could see badly needed replacing. Perhaps I should have let him help me; I was ashamed to be making a scene over money that I could, in fact, afford. Instead I learned from him about reaching out to others once you see their sudden losses. I have friends who I worry about surviving, about escaping violence, about their health mental and physical, but whom I trust to be there for me, and there for each other or perfect strangers, anyway. I have to be picky about who I help and how and what it does to me but that is okay, because it is necessary.
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Still have to include one or two links. But, does anyone have any comments? I am wondering if the “say you don’t get the joke” section is too obvious, for example.
Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women — in the face of tremendous resistance — as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival…
–Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”
Hello everyone. This is my first writing about anti-racism from a white, American perspective. I’m writing it in response to calls from people of color for white folks to educate each other about how racism continues to operate, and for committed white anti-racists to support each other in our learning and unlearning. Many calls to the general public, and one from a friend who made a semi-serious remark, “you should write a book on white anti-racism”.
The people I am addressing here are other white people (mostly Americans) who seek to resist racism, and who understand that while people who have directly experienced racism are experts on how it works, we can still learn from each other if we cast aside our egos and our fears of being seen as “not good enough allies”. I welcome critiques from anti-racist people of color who decide to read. If on the other hand you’re someone who doesn’t like to talk about race, then unless you’re willing to learn that historical racism has resounding effects and the status quo is still racist, this post is not for you. In particular if you’re a white person and you don’t like thinking about race because you are worried about feeling like a bad person, then please go instead to this comprehensive resource for all the good white people.
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I need to write a much more thought-out post on this. Or possibly organize these into a series. But I also need to get this out there.
Last night, in a moderated debate among nearly a hundred students, I witnessed no fewer than 8 temper tantrums thrown by 3 white men. They were perhaps, not quite yelling, but they had unquestionable aggression in their voices and their gestures. There were also at least a dozen times when one of them interrupted someone else who was speaking, and was then given a “chance to respond”. This was after the fact that their perspective in the argument was very much white-dominated, with primarily men speaking, while the other side had no such skewed ethnic makeup, had been pointed out, after the dynamics of white supremacy had been named.
It did not matter. What mattered was the unconscious sense of authority that person after person ceded to these white men, as well as to the white men on our side though none were so full of temper. I do not mean to say that all white men who get angry will be granted that authority: a visible disability will drastically change that privilege, as will being misgendered or perceived as too feminine. But very many will. I do not mean to imply that men of color may not be aggressive, loud, obnoxious and take up space, but I cannot recall the last time I saw a man of color show that level of anger in public (outside of a ritualized, spoken-word-poetry context).
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