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 feminist”

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.
history

(click to enlarge)

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.
white11

(click to enlarge)

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…”).
white4
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
Advertisements

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!

Post Navigation