going back to africa

Reunifying African diaspora across the Americas with each other, their pride, history, culture, true homes & identity…

Archive for the tag “black feminism”

Delusions of Grandeur

Beyoncé’s Formation has triggered a tsunami of white tears. There has been an influx of white rage over the perceived messages that were presented in the artwork. I have seen a great deal of commentary & criticism making a few of the same baseless claims: Beyoncé is racist, divisive, anti-police, supports hate groups & that the Super Bowl was not the time or place to push her political agenda.

Clearly, through the eyes of many white people, any mention of the disproportionate police brutality against ‘minorities’, is to insult their service or to spew hate towards all police, not just the bad ones. That any mention of systematic racism & it’s lingering effects is, within itself, an act of racism. By this special kind of logic, to mention the poor outcome of any action, is to perpetuate that action yourself. Many are also claiming that to associate with the Black Panther Party, is to condone or support every single facet of it.

Obviously, too many of these people are unaware of the concept of constructive criticism. They seem to not understand that it’s possible to appreciate & respect something or someone, yet still not let the good they do give them a pass on the wrong they do. If you care about something or someone, don’t you want them to be the best they can be? The police have always had corruption & violence issues since its inception, so for these things to be eliminated, or reduced as much as possible, isn’t it necessary to address them? The first step to solving a problem, is to acknowledge that there is one, is it not?

Foolishly, many people are claiming that the Black Panther Party, at its creation, was an organization based in hate whose main objective was calling for senseless violent acts against white people based solely on their race. Despite the fact that the BPP virtually never engaged in any such activity & that most of any violence they promoted or acted out was strictly as a means of self-defense, white people still feel the need to bring it up as if it’s relevant & even go so far as to compare the group to the KKK, who actually did act out the hate & violence that they preached. They also conveniently never seem to be aware that the BPP did many great things for their communities that were struggling as a direct result of systematic racism, which was implemented by whites. White people are mad about the existence of the BPP & any support for or praise of the group, but consistently fail to mention that it only exists because of the actions of white people. They never want to acknowledge the fact that had America always treated all their citizens as if their lives mattered, the BPP, BET, Affirmative Action, Black Lives Matter, minority scholarship programs & every other government program or racially exclusive organization tailored specifically for PoC (people of color), exists because of white supremacy/privilege. Too often do white people whine about the symptoms of systematic racism, but don’t want to address the disease itself.

Arrogantly, perhaps due to centuries of policing black people & structuring their acceptable amounts & types of blackness, far too many white people continue to feel they have a right to tell black people when, where, how & which parts of the black experience they are allowed to discuss, celebrate or portray. They also too often believe that they somehow obtained the credentials to determine how long it should take black people to “get over” 500 years of living within a racist society. Too many believe that it’s their place to tell others what they should or should not care about. They are too often more concerned about getting black people to stop mentioning systematic racism (because it makes them feel bad [white tears] even though they can’t experience it) than they are about finding ways that they themselves can help end it.

Historically, whites have always glorified their terroris- excuse me, heroes – who in most instances, were violent criminals whose rise to fame & power involved the murder, robbery & exploitation of PoC. I live in the South & there are statues, monuments & streets all over the place named after Confederate soldiers & generals who participated in wars that fought, in part, to maintain their right to keep blacks enslaved. There are housing developments named after plantations. Many white people take pride in these killers & are thankful for the carnage they left behind, as it gave way to the white privilege they all benefit from today. Even those who came later, like the mob & folks like Bonnie & Clyde are hyped. Ted Bundy, Charles Manson & several other serial killers are found to be fascinating, their evil often attributed to mental illness or poor upbringing, but will attribute evils committed by ‘minorities’ to their nature. Many whites will look at a photo of a white person holding a gun & an American or Confederate flag (same difference) & will deem them a patriot, yet will see a photo of a black person holding a gun, waving an RBG flag & will deem them a thug. These are the same type of people crying ‘double-standard’ when it comes to Bey & her dancers wearing BPP garb.

Dear White People: It is not your place to tell any groups of people that have been oppressed & marginalized by your race, what ways are acceptable to celebrate their heritage & racial pride. Blacks do not need your approval for which parts of our history & current circumstances we choose to discuss. We are exposed to your racist history every single day, every time we see an American flag or dollar bills, but you want to cry about a couple of minutes of seeing a few black people dressed up like a group that practiced resilience against a system designed for them to fail? GET OVER YOURSELVES. You don’t get to tell us how to heal & grow from the effects of systematic racism. You have no right to tell us when or where it’s ok to express ourselves. You also don’t get to set the time frame for how long that will take, especially being that systematic racism doesn’t only exist in the past, it still remains today. When you bring up black-on-black crime, the broken black family unit, subpar education, ghettos, etc – don’t forget to mention how an overwhelming majority of those problems came about: systematic racism that was created & implemented by white people. Just because you didn’t have a hand in it doesn’t mean you do not have any responsibility to help clean up the messes & right the wrongs of those before you, because you still reap the benefits from the evils they carried out, while PoC are still trying to heal the wounds. It’s not Beyoncé, those who are singing her praises for her latest work, or the BPP you should be so deeply disgusted by, it should be the series of unfortunate events that led up to these things coming into fruition.

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White Fragility 2

Factors that inculcate White Fragility
Segregation
The first factor leading to White Fragility is the segregated lives which most white people live. Even if whites live in physical proximity to PoC (& this would be exceptional outside of an urban or temporarily mixed class neighborhood), segregation occurs on multiple levels, including representational & informational. Because whites live primarily segregated lives in a white-dominated society, they receive little or no authentic information about racism & are thus unprepared to think about it critically or with complexity. Growing up in segregated environments (schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, media images & historical perspectives), white interests & perspectives are almost always central, resulting in an inability to see or consider significance in the perspectives of PoC.

Further, white people are taught not to feel any loss over the absence of PoC in their lives & in fact, this absence is what defines their schools & neighborhoods as “good;” whites come to understand that a “good school” or “good neighborhood” is coded language for “white”. The quality of white space being in large part measured via the absence of PoC (Blacks in particular) is a profound message indeed, one that is deeply internalized & reinforced daily through normalized discourses about good schools & neighborhoods. This dynamic of gain rather than loss via racial segregation may be the most profound aspect of white racial socialization of all. Yet, while discourses about what makes a space good are tacitly understood as racially coded, this coding is explicitly denied by whites.


Universalism & Individualism
Whites are taught to see their perspectives as objective & representative of reality. The belief in objectivity, coupled with positioning white people as outside of culture (& thus the norm for humanity), allows whites to view themselves as universal humans who can represent all of human experience. This is evidenced through an unracialized identity or location, which functions as a kind of blindness; an inability to think about Whiteness as an identity or as a “state” of being that would or could have an impact on one’s life. In this position, Whiteness is not recognized or named by white people & a universal reference point is assumed. White people are just people. Within this construction, whites can represent humanity, while PoC, who are never just people but always most particularly black people, Asian people, etc., can only represent their own racialized experiences.

The discourse of universalism functions similarly to the discourse of individualism but instead of declaring that we all need to see each other as individuals (everyone is different), the person declares that we all need to see each other as human beings (everyone is the same). Of course we are all humans & I do not critique universalism in general, but when applied to racism, universalism functions to deny the significance of race & the advantages of being white. Further, universalism assumes that whites & PoC have the same realities, the same experiences in the same contexts (i.e. I feel comfortable in this majority white classroom, so you must too), the same responses from others & assumes that the same doors are open to all. Acknowledging racism as a system of privilege conferred on whites challenges claims to universalism.


At the same time that whites are taught to see their interests & perspectives as universal, they are also taught to value the individual & to see themselves as individuals rather than as part of a racially socialized group. Individualism erases history & hides the ways in which wealth has been distributed & accumulated over generations to benefit whites today. It allows whites to view themselves as unique & original, outside of socialization & unaffected by the relentless racial messages in the culture. Individualism also allows whites to distance themselves from the actions of their racial group & demand to be granted the benefit of the doubt, as individuals, in all cases.

 A corollary to this unracialized identity is the ability to recognize Whiteness as something that is significant & that operates in society, but to not see how it relates to one’s own life. In this form, a white person recognizes Whiteness as real, but as the individual problem of other “bad” white people. Given the ideology of individualism, whites often respond defensively when linked to other whites as a group or “accused” of collectively benefiting from racism, because as individuals, each white person is “different” from any other white person & expects to be seen as such. This narcissism is not necessarily the result of a consciously held belief that whites are superior to others (although that may play a role), but a result of the white racial insulation ubiquitous in dominant culture; a general white inability to see non-white perspectives as significant, except in sporadic & impotent reflexes, which have little or no long-term momentum or political usefulness.
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Whites invoke these seemingly contradictory discourses—we are either all unique or we are all the same—interchangeably. Both discourses work to deny white privilege & the significance of race. Further, on the cultural level, being an individual or being a human outside of a racial group is a privilege only afforded to white people. In other words, PoC are almost always seen as “having a race” & described in racial terms (“the black man”) but whites rarely are (“the man”), allowing whites to see themselves as objective & non-racialized. In turn, being seen (& seeing ourselves) as individuals outside of race frees whites from the psychic burden of race in a wholly racialized society. Race & racism become their problems, not ours. Challenging these frameworks becomes a kind of unwelcome shock to the system.


The disavowal of race as an organizing factor, both of individual white consciousness & the institutions of society at large, is necessary to support current structures of capitalism & domination, for without it, the correlation between the distribution of social resources & unearned white privilege would be evident. The existence of structural inequality undermines the claim that privilege is simply a reflection of hard work & virtue. Therefore, inequality must be hidden or justified as resulting from lack of effort. Individualism accomplishes both of these tasks. At the same time, the individual presented as outside these relations cannot exist without its disavowed other. Thus, an essential dichotomy is formed between specifically raced others & the unracialized individual. Whites have deep investments in race, for the abstract depends on the particular; they need raced others as the backdrop against which they may rise. Exposing this dichotomy destabilizes white identity.


Entitlement to racial comfort
In the dominant position, whites are almost always racially comfortable & thus have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so. Whites have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort & thus when racial discomfort arises, whites typically respond as if something is “wrong,” & blame the person or event that triggered the discomfort (usually a person of color). This blame results in a socially-sanctioned array of counter-moves against the perceived source of the discomfort, including: penalization; retaliation; isolation; ostracization & refusal to continue engagement. Whites insistence on racial comfort ensures that racism will not be faced. This insistence also functions to punish those who break white codes of comfort. Whites often confuse comfort with safety & state that we don’t feel safe when what we really mean is that we don’t feel comfortable. This trivializes our history of brutality towards PoC & perverts the reality of that history. Because we don’t think complexly about racism, we don’t ask ourselves what safety means from a position of societal dominance, or the impact on PoC, given our history, for whites to complain about our safety when we are merely talking about racism.
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Racial Arrogance
Ideological racism includes strongly positive images of the white self as well as strongly negative images of racial “others”. This self-image engenders a self-perpetuating sense of entitlement because many whites believe their financial & professional successes are the result of their own efforts while ignoring the fact of white privilege. Because most whites have not been trained to think complexly about racism in schools or mainstream discourse & because it benefits white dominance not to do so, we have a very limited understanding of racism. Yet dominance leads to racial arrogance & in this racial arrogance, whites have no compunction about debating the knowledge of people who have thought complexly about race. Whites generally feel free to dismiss these informed perspectives rather than have the humility to acknowledge that they are unfamiliar, reflect on them further, or seek more information. This intelligence & expertise are often trivialized & countered with simplistic platitudes (i.e. “People just need to…”).
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Because of white social, economic & political power within a white dominant culture, whites are positioned to legitimize PoC’s assertions of racism. Yet whites are the least likely to see, understand, or be invested in validating those assertions & being honest about their consequences, which leads whites to claim that they disagree with perspectives that challenge their worldview, when in fact, they don’t understand the perspective.Thus, they confuse not understanding with not agreeing. This racial arrogance, coupled with the need for racial comfort, also has whites insisting that PoC explain white racism in the “right” way. The right way is generally politely & rationally, without any show of emotional upset. When explained in a way that white people can see & understand, racism’s validity may be granted (references to dynamics of racism that white people do not understand are usually rejected out of hand). However, whites are usually more receptive to validating white racism if that racism is constructed as residing in individual white people other than themselves.

Continued below: See White Fragility 3

The Negro Project

Michael Brown is all over social media & the news… Yet another unarmed African-American teen shot down dead by the police, an organization whose supposed intent is to protect the public. This is nothing new, it’s no longer shocking, yet it is still hurtful.

A serious lack of empathy, respect & value for human life has always loomed in America, especially for those of African descent…

The Ku Klux Klan at it’s peak was 4 million members deep, some of them governors, mayors & senators. Today they only claim to have only a few thousand members, yet that does not mean their ideals do not still reside in the mindsets of far more. It was recently discovered that a couple of Florida police were members. Most police officers, mayors, governors & senators probably aren’t members either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t share their sentiments!

The police departments in America were originally formed to protect Caucasian people & their neighborhoods, not African people & theirs. Jim Crow laws were formed & implemented & still being exercised today. Planned Parenthood was originally called The Negro Project, formed to attempt to rid society of their undesireables. When an entire race of people is deemed to not be fully human, of course their lives will matter less & be dismissed as expendable.

abortionWhen cases like Mike Browns come about, a great sadness befalls the African American community & many of it’s parents become fearful for their own sons & daughters lives. Some even become afraid to reproduce. Some have been convinced that the tiny persons developing in their wombs are not human either, just like many of their oppressors believe about them. Only a few years ago, abortion ended the lives of more African American people than their top seven leading causes combined. So in some ways, The Negro Project has been a success.

Side Note: I am not trying to spark a debate about abortion rights, or if it’s murder. Technically, it’s not because murder is the illegal ending of a human life & abortion is the legal ending of a human life. I do not argue the aspect of morality regarding abortion either; that is based on personal beliefs & my perspective is not based on that. Mine are based on facts, and the Universe proves to us when human life begins, which is at conception. The laws of nature are not debatable.

Black on black violence is a major issue in America, and is often brought up when incidents like Mike Brown’s generate outrage. They wonder where the outrage is when we kill each other. Trust me, it’s there, but it doesn’t garner the same level of backlash from the community, because it’s not based in the same ideals; It’s not racially motivated. Logically, there is no reason to even compare the two. Most violent crime happens within racial lines, not across them.

Today in America, you will find people of all backgrounds struggling. However, even within that struggle, there are privileges to not being of African descent. Most Asians & whites do not have to live in fear of being harassed or killed by the police in their own neighborhoods just because of their appearance. Monsanto buried toxic sludge in predominantly African American neighborhoods that have caused serious health problems throughout those communities, including death; There are no predominantly white neighborhoods that this would ever happen in. When African Americans gather for peaceful protests & vigils for their fallen, they are greeted with a heavy police presence, dogs & tanks. You will not find such things at gatherings held for people of any other color.

Marching & protesting doesn’t help the situation or change anything. The justice system in America does not typically work in the favor of African people, so it’s pointless for us to trust & believe in it. Awareness alone does nothing; Action is the only solution. It seems like tragedy is the only thing that brings the African American community together. We need to continue this unity at all times. We’re so busy fighting & competing with each other, we’re not able to stand up against our common enemies to better our situations.

No matter what we do, we’re still living under their system & must live by their rules, even when those rules do not benefit us in any way. In America, we have no power. We own nothing & run nothing in comparison to all that our oppressors own & operate, such as land, shelter, utilities, media outlets, clothing companies, banks, court systems, law enforcement, etc. We rely on all these industries that they control. That’s why we need an infrastructure of our own, because we’re not faring well under theirs & it’s modeled in such a way to make sure that we never will. We could be thriving instead of just surviving, but we first must learn to value ourselves & each other!

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