A microcosm of one of the fundamental issues with the non-profit industrial complex.
Ah, activist tourism… Whether it’s in the local sphere or international, it’s just as terrible.
From: Arrested for Carrying Condoms? - NC Harm Reduction Coalition on Daily Kos, 1/13/12
Criminalizing condoms totally undermines public health.
White Feminists: It’s Time to Put Up Or Shut Up on Race
Listen up, white feminists.
We have a problem. I’m including myself because none of us are immune from this problem. We all fuck up. And you can say “fucking up is natural,” and that’s true, but it’s time for us to start identifying our fuck ups, and not just learning from them, but acknowledging the hurt they cause other people.
We need to acknowledge that we cannot know what it’s like to be an oppressed racial minority. Cannot. The end. Period. We don’t know because we’re queer, because we’re disabled, because we’re Jewish, because we were the nerdy kid in school. These things may have hurt us severely, but we need to stop playing Oppression Olympics and acknowledge that when we’re talking about race we Do. Not. Know. No more metaphors.
We need to accept that when a person of color tells us we’ve fucked up, the answer is not to get defensive. When we get that instinct to say “geez, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way at all,” it’s time to stop right now. It doesn’t matter how you meant it. It really doesn’t. Someone doesn’t have to have racism in their heart to do something racist. And doing something racist doesn’t make you an evil person who can never do good again, should never be an activist, should run off and hide in a hole somewhere. It means you did something hurtful, you made a big mistake, and you need to own that mistake. You need to say “I’m sorry.” Full stop. I’m sorry. And if the person who called you out is generous enough to take time to explain what you did wrong, you need to have a seat and listen.
I’ve fucked this up plenty of times in my own life. I’ve used social justice as a shield, to show how liberal and progressive I am. I couldn’t possibly be a racist, right?
It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter, because all of us who couldn’t possibly be racist are doing racist things, and we need to cut it out.
We need to acknowledge that being a POC is not the only identity someone has. POC disagree with each other, and there’s not always one big Anti-Racist Answer. Maybe that’s hard to sort through. Well, life is hard. It’s not our job, as white people, to show up with “the answer.” Again, have a seat.
We need to acknowledge that a WOC balances the identities of “woman” and “of color,” along with many other identities. It is never okay to tell someone to set aside race while we focus on gender or feminism for a while. Gender is informed by race. Feminism had better fucking include anti-racism or this ship is sunk, let’s all go home. By the way, this isn’t always blatant and obvious. It happens when a POC raises what seems like a minor point in the language of a document, and a white leader in the group says you know, we’re really voting on the main resolution right now. It happens when a group of mostly white feminists suggests that one of their POC members be in charge of “dealing” with a race issue. Don’t tolerate this bullshit.
We need to acknowledge that any movement must address the needs of its most marginalized members, or any cries of elitism are absolutely true. We need to go beyond token efforts to include POC, working class people, disabled people, immigrants, and others in our feminist movements, and when we bring marginalized voices to the table, we need to listen. We need to accept that maybe the thing we’ve been fighting for our whole lives isn’t as important as another thing that is hurting someone else. We need to pay attention to books written by marginalized people that aren’t part of the “canon,” and listen to their priorities. We need to focus on prison reform, on violence against transgender sex workers of color, on what’s happening in immigration detention facilities, on the continued genocide against indigenous people in the US and all over the world.
I believe that feminism is viable, and will kick some serious ass if we stop being [ignorant] about race and other issues. I’m launching QueerFeminism.com at the start of 2012 to focus on how to rescue this movement and redefine feminism as “radical opposition to patriarchy,” a definition that explicitly incorporates the horrors of racism and colonization. I hope some of you will join me in that effort.
In the meantime, if you do nothing else today, white feminists, read this article by Flavia Dzodan: My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bullshit.
This was interesting to read! I encourage a lively debate on the topic!
Clipped an ableist slur, the rest is spot-on.
My problem with “stupid.”
So, this will probably be short cause it’s 3:30am, but
I find it inaccurate to call someone “stupid” who is being oppressive/privilege-denying, etc because it has nothing to do with their nature, intelligence, or ability to learn.
I think calling them stupid is cutting them a BREAK and completely underestimating them by implying that they are oppressive because they are incapable of understanding the effects of their actions, which is entirely false.
They have the chance and ability like everyone else to consider how their actions and beliefs are problematic. They can talk to folks. They can ask. They can seek out education. Obviously many people do not have access to limitless academic resources or are around critical discourse on a daily basis, but that is also due to oppression. Not intelligence.
Most often, ignorance is the result of folks benefiting from another’s oppression and thus doing nothing to challenge it or acknowledge their own privilege or role in the issue. It is a choice. Which I think is immeasurably worse than a lack of understanding because it just means they’re fucking selfish.
Things I’m thinking about.
People in a position of power, who have something to lose by questioning the system that puts them in power, will do oppressive things. It’s why the patriarchy keeps its machine running, it’s why trans* people (especially women) within the cis feminist community are looked down upon, it’s why queer, trans*, and GLBT communities are racist.
None of this is about ignorance. It is about holding on to power, and using shallow defense mechanisms built into these power structures to short-circuit any capacity for thinking and empathy. Those defenses stay up not because people aren’t smart enough to see past them. It’s because they have been trained to believe they have too much to lose by allowing those thoughts to happen.
Think about this—within these broken systems of prejudice, it may be in their best interests to keep bigoted views. To break from the system is to lose the power it grants, or at the very least to lose faith in the legitimacy of the system that puts you ahead. From a purely selfish, short-term reptilian brain standpoint of “do what I must to survive”, reflecting the bigotry of the greater community is a “smart” move. To fight them openly is to ostracize yourself from a group that has granted you power. That’s why people with privilege forgive others of their kind, that’s why these systems stay in power. That’s why people defer to authority figures, even when committing acts they know are wrongfully violent.
Most people who act on bigoted beliefs are not “stupid”, are not ignorant (in the more ableist sense), and are not “mentally ill”. They are average people (or “highly intelligent” people, as much as anyone can measure intelligence) who have been taught horrible things reinforced by social systems of violence.
These judgments are made to to separate the “good” ones from the “bad” ones. Because surely us good people are not like those horrible, stupid, mentally ill bigots. But there is no special trait separating bigots from the rest of us, that keeps them bigoted and stops us from being the same way. Because we are all prejudiced on axes we have privilege. The only question is, what will it take to get a particular individual to examine this indoctrinated prejudice? To create a simplified, judgmental reason for why someone else is prejudiced is to ignore our own internalized bigotry. I’ve done it, I’m sure you’ve done it, we all do it, but the truth still stands.
[TW at link for slurs, cissexism, transmisogyny]
How to talk to privileged people about oppression you’ve experienced
A guest post by Ankhesen Mie:
A few Fashion Tips from Moi on how to deal with white folks who absolutely insist upon talking about race with you (’cause you know they will):
1. Do not debate. Declare.
I’ve come to realize that debating is just another derailing tactic. If you come across a white American who wants to argue, cloud the issue, split hairs, etc., then you’ve reached the end of the conversation – period. Social justice is not a cult; it’s not your job to “convert” people. They have to choose to either be a decent human being or to support the racist colonialist system that is America.
- If they talk a lot about their “opinions”, end the conversation.
- If they ask you if you really do experience racism, ask them why they’re asking you that.
- End the conversation if they start with lines like,
- “I can’t imagine”
- “I refuse to believe”
- “I just don’t see”
And no, you do not have to be nice about it.
2. Racial discussion is not an “exchange” of ideas.
This isn’t about what we can learn from each other – this is about you learning from me, and you’re already behind by four centuries.
3. Do not end racial discussions on a positive note.
If white people end racial discussions on an optimistic, the-future-is-bright note, they’re happy, they feel absolved, and they tell themselves that things “will eventually work themselves out”. That’s why they have to leave these discussions bothered, troubled, and deeply perturbed.
We don’t get a slow, gentle, candy-coated introduction to the pains of American racism. Never have. White folks shouldn’t get to either.
4. Maintain realistic expectations.
What leads to frustration is most of us operate under the misguided notion that intelligence is all someone needs to learn something. Learning, in fact, requires additional components to intelligence, like consistent practice, research, recall, overall self-discipline, and a need for the absolute truth of things. White privilege conditions much of this out of most white Americans by the time they hit puberty.
5. Stop being afraid.
You don’t need white Americans to like you – if they cross the line, make them uncomfortable. We have already overcome and survived a lot in this country and contrary to popular belief, we did so with an overwhelming lack of support from white America. So do not doubt your worth or tone down your voice or temper your strength.
If you’re being dehumanized socially, assert yourself and walk way. If you’re being dehumanized occupationally or academically…lawsuit. Tolerance is a bullshit term, and we need to stop tolerating from hereon out, online and in real life – period.
6. Stop referring them to Tim Wise.
Since referring white people to Tim Wise as their introduction to social justice hasn’t had the necessary effect, stop doing it. Instead refer them to David S. Reynolds’s “John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights” (2006).
Again, this goes for any kind of oppression you’re trying to confront. And it goes for oppression you’re trying to confront because you’ve experienced it, or because you’re working in solidarity with a group of people who have. And if you’re working in solidarity, make sure no one ropes you into the “you’re not one of them, you’re one of us, so really, you understand where I’m coming from” type of conversation. You don’t. You may have been there once, but you’re past that and that means you can hold them doubly accountable because you know people of your privileged experience can make it to the other side.
WELL ISN’T THIS RELEVANT
Oh so very.