ok yall…a lil piece on white feminists

July 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm (anti-classism, anti-oppression, anti-racism)

from resist racism

we heard it before

racism 101

now i love the site resist racism, especially since they have created a shorthand for racist ish you hear so often that really, you dont feel like going through all the arguments (again!) for why ‘that thing that you said was racist…’

only recently i have realized that white people think that one of the worse things to be called is: racist. i am still not sure why this is. white folks, imho, have never really explained why being called a racist is like so horrible and shuts down the conversation immediately. and we folks of color have to find ways to deal with your racism without calling you a racist, or implying that you are a racist. (but that is for another discussion) and why is the burden on us, to prove that we dont think you are a racist…

this discussion is a lil piece about well…white feminists. and i know some sane white feminists out there. good friends who have my back and will go down in the trenches with me and fight as hard as they can to call out the bullshit that gets passed around as ‘logic’. cause racism is very logical. and it is a logic that is hard to fight. been re-reading toni morrison’s playing in the dark. but just because it is logical, that dont make it right.

and i used to think that organizations that didnt heal from their racism would end up disappearing from the earth like dinosaurs, cause antiracism will win the day, antiracism being evolutionarily advanced and all. but now i am pretty sure that racist organizations are racist because racism is a successful survival technique and if you want your organization (non profit, corporation, etc) to survive try to become as racist as possible. maybe i sound cynical and ‘nihilistic’ but take a look at history…oppressive organizations, nations, etc have a longer survival rate than anti oppressive ones. and i dont think that is just correlation, i think that is causation. but this isnt a post about racist organizations, so i dont want to derail the topic again.

but that is to say that white people know that if you are racist (within boundaries, i mean you cant go yelling nigger in an open theatre, but you can listen to a poc talking about racism and focus on how angry and bitter they sound instead of the content of what they are saying…) that will help them go very far. think about it, if it is a competition and you can prove that poc (because of their anger or lack of experience being white, or whateva) are not qualified to do the job, then you have made the chances of your success much better. that is just capitalism. and playing the game well.

this is a lil piece on white feminists…okay about one particular bratty white feminist. this about a chick who used to be a friend until she ‘discovered her voice’. and turns out that her ‘voice’ is a controlling racist classist silencing kind of voice (and if you are white and trying to figure out, how can i claim to be antiracist and still silence a poc? keep reading and i will give you a step by step guide)…but i got to start at the beginning.

here is the story: she pulled some classic racist, classist shit. and i confronted her about it. i did not do it nicely. i responded to the violence of her racism and classism. and being nice to violence is not effective. one has to push back (even if it is only verbally).

hint: racism and classism are forms of violence. same way as a white person yelling: nigger is a form of violence. and self-defense, while it may be violent, is not morally wrong.

and her response to the self-defense, was, well…classic.

1. she decided to go with: ventriloquy. as in: i have a friend who is less privileged than me who agrees with me

2. then, i got the: you are an angry and violent person

3. then we got the: my defensive responses to you confronting me is not about my privilege

4. also, got to include the: i apologize ‘if you were hurt’. i do not apologize for being racist or classist because i am just a human being and we all make mistakes. and i am working on being anti-racist and anti-classist…and that is all i can do.

dear white folks, please dont do (or say) these things…they are stupid.

but honestly, folks, this post is not even about white feminists…it is about the new anti-racists. she is the ‘evolved’ anti-racists. lets call it anti-racist 2.0. ten years from now people of color are going to be griping and swearing that they ever supported this whole: white anti-racist movement. because it is insiduous.

so let me show you what i am talking about.

1. what is an anti-racist? she reads a few books by people of color. maybe she takes a diversity/anti-racism workshop (hang the diploma on your wall!). she lived a neighborhood with a bunch of brown folks. shes got some friends of color. she has told someone else when they have said something racist. she dated someone of another race. she likes ethnic restaurants. she supports obama. adopt some brown child (or at least play ‘aunti’ to one), join a community/social justice organization with brown folks in it. she traveled to brown countries, join an all-white anti-racist group therapy for her ongoing education. etc. (damn, that is alot of work!)

2. she has made a commitment (maybe even a tshirt or a poster) that she will continue to work on being anti-racist. she recognizes that anti-racism is a life long project. that she will never be perfect at. of course she will make mistakes, but, hey at least she is trying!

3. she does or says something fucking racist as hell. (woops! well, she knew that she was going to make a mistake!)

4. she gets called on it by a person of color. (this is a really important step. if she got called on it by a white person, the rest of these steps will not happen…because she will own up to her wrongness, not feel super-defensive, and want to make sure that she does everything possible to prove to her white friend that she really is anti-racist…we will return to this important difference a little later)***

5. she gets defensive about it. forget everything she learned in anti-racism 101 and just have at it. (i mean come on, it takes alot of work to be an antiracist white person, she had to give up sleeping in on saturday mornings just to make it to that antiracism workshop and all that spicy food gives her heartburn…but she does it anyways, because she is committed!)

6. she calls/emails all her white anti-racist friends (maybe even some friends of color, but probably she will forget to cc them, cause how can you expect her to think properly while getting attacked like this?) tells her side of the story. in the telling, she acknowledges that of course she knows that she is not perfect, and has made a couple of (little) mistakes but dammit, she is trying to be a good person.

she conveniently forgets to mention 70 percent of all the racist shit she did/said. and focuses on that one little comment that she made, that was misinterpreted by the poc, and blown way out of proportion.

7. the other white anti-racist tell her how they have realized that being anti-racist doesnt mean that they have to agree with poc interpretation of everything. and how she needs to stand up for herself. and how feeling guilty is not being anti-racist. and how some poc really are just angry and bitter. and that is not the white anti-racist fault. i mean even bell hooks says that.

the white anti-racists all feel better about their newfound understanding of anti-racism.

8. the white anti-racist friend goes to the person of color and ‘stands up for herself’.

9. the person of color calls her out on all the racist bullshit she said in defense of proving that she was anti-racist.

10. the white person responds by quoting bell hooks (or other person of color) or tim wise (or other white anti-racist person) and gives the poc a lesson on the ‘proper way to communicate her anger’ and how the poc is ‘misdirecting her anger’ and that white person refuses to be ‘talked to in such a disrespectful way’ (never mind all the shite that the white anti-racist has just said…i mean what did the poc expect?) and how the white person is no longer in that ‘immature’ stage of anti-racism where she just apologizes for her racist behaviour/words and asks for how to change herself (cuz some people are just never satisfied)…she has now matured and is ready to ‘stand up for herself’. and poc are no longer going to victimize her by making her deal with poc’s personal issues around blame, and bitterness, and yes anger.

now. this also applies to anti-sexism, anti-classism, anti-heterosexism, anti-ism, etc. some of the words and names change. but the pattern stays the same…poc or working class or woman or queer or whateva it is are no longer going to bully the privileged. because the privileged are have read your analysis, your writers, your struggle, taken it out of context, and can now use it to silence you. or at least educate you on how to be a ‘good oppressed person’. and not one of those intimidating and scary marginalized people.

and this is the new anti-racists, folks. the thing is they become anti-racists so they can look good to other white folks. poc are just the means to an end that does not help us in anyway. they just want to prove to other white folks that they are one of the good white folk.

it is like one white antiracist feminist straight chick told me: why do all those women of color keep stealing the few good conscious white guys out there? and like another anti-racist straight white chick told me: he says he only dates women of color, but i figure, i can convince him im not like those other white girls.

good luck poc.

anti-racists 2.0.

its a brave new world.

or maybe it is just the same old shit.

***my partner just pointed out that there is another possibility at step 4.  that she will tell the white person to shut up, because they are racist too.  like: im not racist, youre the one whos racist, because you are saying that the poc doesnt have power in the situation.  im not racist youre the one whos racist because you are exoticizing the poc.  im not racist, your the one whos racist, because you are just saying im bad because im white, so i have to be wrong in the situation…

wow.  anti-racist white folks are crafty.  like Fox.


1 Comment

  1. Char said,

    This read was very educating and your “snark” in the writing made it also enjoyably entertaining. I appreciate you writing it but I not sure if the stereotyping of anti-racists, although the stereotype may be completely true in some cases, is productive. You have that little disclaimer in the beginning of this post about your friend who deem OK and one of the good ones.

    Still, the racist and bullshitty actions of the woman you are describing are based in insecurity and other personal issues that leave her unable to even recognize or properly apologize for her racist transgression. I just feel like stereotyping is a dangerous thing to do. If we start shoving everyone with a similar identity, of be anti-racist or anything really, under the same title and stereotype it isn’t helpful to anyone.

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