Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_search() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_where() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_fields() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_request() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298
Allies Talking | The Angry Black Woman

Browse By

Allies Talking


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-content/plugins/microkids-related-posts/microkids-related-posts.php on line 645

I’ve been thinking about many things since the whole “Thank You, White People” post debacle and subsequent influx of white supremacists who seemed to come here with the intent of saying, “You thought you dealt with racists on a daily basis? HA! We’ll show you what REAL racism is!” And they did. One of my reactions was to say that for every white ally who acknowledged racism and worked to fight against it, there were 20 others wishing to drag us back to Jim Crow and worse. Then smart commenter Jackie said:

Thing is, I don’t believe there’re 20 of them for every one of us (black or white or other) who wants to make things right; I think there’s actually somewhat fewer of them. But for each white supremacist (and for each person of any color who wants to make things right) there are 20 nice, well-meaning, but privileged and entitled white people who thing “racism is bad” but have no idea whatsoever that real racism exists, or what it’s like to be a target of it. Or how much they have benefited from their European coloring, and from not having centuries of slavery and legally enforced poverty limiting every aspects of the parents’ and grandparents’ and great-great-great-grandparents’ lives.

This got me thinking about those white folks who exist in that liminal space where they are against racism but don’t understand how it works and get defensive, hurt, and freaked out when folks point out how they benefit from it without trying. We saw a lot of that on the Thank You thread before the others showed up. I am wondering how you turn that kind of person into an ally. I’m wondering if maybe I cannot simply because, when they read my words, they are so filled with defensiveness and perhaps guilt, nothing I say can get through. If they can’t listen to me, can they maybe listen to other White people?

And that got me wondering if this was true for any kind of ally. Is it easier to understand oppression, to move past guilt and on to useful dialogue, etc., if the person explaining these things to you in-depth is a person like yourself? White or male or straight or Christian or whatever? I don’t know. But as this is the Internet, it should be easy to figure out.

I call a Carnival. The Carnival of Allies. Where self-identified allies write to other people like themselves about why this or that oppression and prejudice is wrong. Why they are allies. Why the usual excuses are not good enough. I figure allies probably know full well all the many and various arguments people throw up to make prejudice and oppression okay. Things that someone on the other side of the fence may not hear. Address those things and more besides.

And when I say allies, I’m talking about any and every type. PoC can be (and should be) allies to other PoC, or to LGBTQ people if they are straight, or any number of other combinations. If you feel like you’re an ally and have something to say about that, you should submit to this carnival.

Now for the nitty — this is how it’ll work. I’m not sure if this carnival will happen more than once, so I’ll keep it local for now. Submit links (with short descriptions) via this contact form:

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

by May 5th. I’ll run the Carnival itself on the 2nd or 3rd week of May. Instead of doing it all in one post, I will make a week out of it. Every day for 5 days there will be links and discussions about allies, ally work, etc.

Spread the word!

ETA: A few people are confused about how a Carnival works, so here’s a short explanation. If you’d like to be in the Carnival, write a post on the topic at hand. Then publish the post at your blog whenever you feel like doing so/you’re done writing. Once you’ve published the post, come back here and submit the link plus a short description of the post in the form ABOVE (not in the comments below).

Once I get all of the submissions in, I will go through and decide which posts to include in the Carnival. I will link to your blog, excerpting from the post or describing it. Then more people will go to your blog and read your post.

Clear? If you’ve never seen a Carnival before, check out my right sidebar. I’ve linked to some of the Carnivals that linked to me.

175 thoughts on “Allies Talking”

  1. A Sarah says:

    Drew: “I’m completely surprised that it took a white woman to see exactly what this poser was doing.”

    Drew, thank you for the compliment. If I saw anything it’s only because I’ve made every play in the nice white lady playbook and I had people in my life who called me on it.

  2. Kim says:

    Thank you very much for stepping in, nojojojo. I try to step back and understand where black anger is coming from most of the time, but I really couldn’t believe this was acceptable, and I’m glad it isn’t how we’re supposed to hold a discussion here.

    I can see how a ‘gentle’ handling of white allies would be frustrating. So many of us have no idea what we’re doing and think that’s perfectly ok. This is a subject that affects POC daily and hurts you profoundly, and you should be able to express that. Making that anger feel unwelcome or silenced is pretty much anathema to the whole discussion.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen a great deal of sarcasm and negativity directed towards white people who honestly had no idea they were doing something wrong. I’m not saying anyone is obligated to explain racism or why something is racist. Or that they shouldn’t feel frustration over dealing with something over and over. And it’s my own privilege and experience with privilege that leads to my ’empathy’, for lack of a better word, towards people in these situations.

    But it seems to me like there’s anger and then there’s personal insults, and sarcasm, and a lot of assumptions about the white people who have made these gaffes. Not everyone is mature enough, or secure enough, to step back and figure out where they were wrong on their own. I know some grown adults who won’t even stand up for themselves to report a rude waiter, much less know not to take a complicated discussion like this personally. I keep imagining a commenter or even an observer who’ll step back from a flare-up on this blog and say “Well, obviously they don’t actually want our help,” or even “They demand equality but when we try to figure out how we’re attacked because of our own race, what a bunch of hypocrites.” Full-on privilege in action, and it’s something I have done too, before actually taking the time to read and figure out where people are coming from. But some people might never take that second look at it. And these are people who were trying make the overture of dialog, in their own well-meaning and mistaken way, and now may never do so again. They might even form the wrong assumptions and become increasingly racist as a result.

    I’m not saying that’s the fault of people of color, not at all. It’s our own fault for reducing our education of racism to ‘everyone is the same even though we look different’, then completely avoiding the subject outside of superficiality and spectacle. It’s in no way your obligation to be ‘gentle’ as a result, especially when you deal with this all the time. I think it’s more of a Catch-22 that has losers either way. But the ridiculous optimist in me (the same mentality that makes me think these people are just well-meaning and poorly taught, rather than trolling or already assuming they’re right) makes me think there has to be a better way to expose covert racism and white privilege.

    Damned if I know how, of course. I feel like I’ve only gotten as far as ‘I shouldn’t assume I’m right, and I shouldn’t be afraid to be wrong’.

    Continuing this in a second post, and I’m sorry this is huge…

  3. Al says:

    Hi,

    A little hesitant to jump in at this juncture, but also feel that after reading the thread, another voice who has been in both positions (A Sarah and Susan Rowe),may be helpful to echo and clarify what A Sarah is saying. I can also offer the idea that what she is talking about, she has clearly lived. The “crying white woman at anti racism training”? Hi, I was the crying white male!

    Susan, maybe you could look at is as not so much a challenge of your principles or your dedication, but more of a way to keep your very clear motives and goals of anti racism in line with your actions, if that makes any sense. The idea that we all need each other to keep a look out (as A Sarah has said to you), because when it comes to our own sense of privilege and entitlement, we are blind and always will be.

    Certainly we get better than we were in the past, but it is never, no matter what we do, going to be an easy fit. But we can help each other on that and other points. That’s why the whole intention thing is key. The idea that your intention is irrelevant is not meant to suggest one doubts your commitment. It’s meant to say that intention, good or bad, does nothing to mitigate the damage caused by an action. Seeing the difference there, in my experience anyway, was easier for me to reconcile when my actions were screwed up.

    At any rate, I hope you understand what I tried to get at. The best to both of you!

  4. Kim says:

    Not saying it’s your fault, but you might be surprised to realize that your very lack of anger triggers anger among some PoC.

    I was thinking about this recently myself. It reminds me of my own indignation as a bisexual woman, when I see a person talking about GLBT rights in a very abstract sense. (I’m not saying the stakes are the same, just that they have similarities in this case.) It’s harder to empathize with something that doesn’t affect you directly – but that doesn’t justify the lack of response. At the same time, you can’t make someone be angry just by telling them that they should be.

    I feel like I do get angry at overt racism, though my anger on most things (racial and nonracial) tends to be very intellectualized. Covert racism is harder to take out of the abstraction, for the reasons above. It seems like the best thing we as allies and potential allies can do is expose ourselves: educate ourselves on the issues affecting people of color, take in intelligent media by people of color, listen to people of color speak. Don’t be afraid to enter a very diverse program or discussion of anything, because by sitting back and listening we will learn.

    Susan Rose: Clearly you’re very passionate and your suggestions are good ones. As someone who will be entering social work, who can’t stand this education system that is set up to reward “successful” schools while ignoring the ones that are actually in need of more funding, I will try to educate myself further and your suggestions might be a good springboard for me.

    But I think you’re missing something very major here. You can be mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, you can live in the area these kids live and be passionately committed to them, you can feel and do all these things (and my flawed white self is inclined to believe you do) and still be unwilling to examine your own whiteness, and how your own privilege has shaped you. I don’t want to assume I know you. For all I know, you’ve done this for a long time. But I hear people telling you to do this and you’re either not hearing them or meeting them with defensiveness. It’s polite, but it’s still defensiveness. You can be doing a lot and still have even more to learn – and from a different tack, that’s called being human. Be open to that.

  5. Drew says:

    Thank for the gentle lecture, nojojojo. I’ll keep myself in check.

    But I am glad to hear that others, especially white people, are echoing my concerns about what Susan Rose is posing. Sometimes I just get so irritated by white people who just don’t get it yet keep coming back at me like I don’t get what they are doing to “help me”.

    On the note of defensiveness, welcome to our world. This is what we have to live with every single day of our lives. Having to defend ourselves against white privilege. Maybe you could pause for a moment and listen to what the other white folks here are getting that is not connecting in your head.

  6. Susan Rose says:

    Thank you dearly for the comments posted. I am listening.

    The very first post here by Diatryma on 4/9 probably sums up my position well:

    “every time I read the words ‘white privilege’ I want to argue because by my own logic, white privilege means that I am perpetuating evil in the world and will never be able to stop. And even though I know that’s not generally what is meant by it, “You’re what’s wrong with the world and you will never be able to correct it or you,” is a pretty nasty message whatever the source.”

    It’s pretty hard to take when, after 25 years of doing what I do, I’m faced with my worst fear: it’s not enough, and worse—did the kids I try to mentor see me as this “white savior” instead of an ally? And if this is the only offer of empathy, I have to say it is truly exhausting.

    Since there’s no expiration on learning, perhaps I will one day understand. I do this because I’m first generation American born of parents who never spoke English well enough to get anywhere and who were treated like dirt because they were immigrants, tricked by employers and landlords alike because of limitations with language. That’s where the passion comes from.

    Thank you all for the insight, and best of luck with the carnival. Hopefully someday I will be one.

    To Drew: A white elitist would not be here to learn, or even at all. I truly did give it my best shot.

  7. Drew says:

    When the going gets tough…

    Did I call it or what!

  8. Kim says:

    Susan Rose: Now I *am* getting irritated with you, and I’m starting to better understand where PoC like Drew are coming from on this front, because you really don’t seem to be hearing what we’re saying.

    You’ve encountered a few people in this thread who have attacked you personally and made assumptions about you, using nasty language, with what at the time was very little evidence ‘against’ you. That was not, in my opinion, fair. And I don’t like the idea that every white person who steps up here has to be judged a perfect ally, because IMO it limits discourse. (Woman of privilege talking here, I might be saying something stupid, etc. etc.) But I also can see exactly why PoC believe it necessary, and how skepticism and cynicism can show up in people who have viewed this a hundred times before. (And I mean neither of those terms as negative or insulting ones.)

    You’ve also had a number of excellent commenters of various colors who have explained exactly why ‘it’s not enough’, because nothing any one person does is ever ‘enough’, and why white privilege is a dangerous thing that can creep into the views of every single person learning to be an ally. Because it’s the world we were raised in, it’s the system we were taught to operate in. And even if we will never assume a person of color is stupid or shouldn’t have a voice, some of us don’t think about how few minorities are shown on tv, or are still intimidated every time we walk into a gathering of mostly black people. And that’s a form of racism too, one that we have to recognize and work on.

    I know some of the discourse here has put you on the defensive, and that’s not a comfortable position for anyone to be in. But if your reaction to the useful stuff expressed towards you is to bring up how much you have done and how much you care, and how disappointing it is that you’re being told you’re not 100% okay, then yes, you are missing something. I don’t see much learning coming from your front, and the message you’re sending is that of a person who came here looking to be validated. I see why some people have the urge to do that. And I’m going to assume you don’t even realize you’re doing it. But it’s still how you’re coming across. You’re talking about what you do right rather than your own self-examining, and it’s the self-examination IMO that this is all about.

    Yes, discussions like this are exhausting, especially to a person without color who is just recently entering them and quickly encounters assumptions, and new forms of racism they hadn’t even known not to perpetuate, and it very quickly turns into reading a response over five times to make sure you’ve said everything as perfectly as possible. But if you want to be committed to this, especially in your life’s work, you need to be able to stick it out.

    A white elitist would not be here to learn if they knew they were an elitist. So few people do, and so many of us have elements of elitism still present in us.

  9. A Sarah says:

    Kim: “And I don’t like the idea that every white person who steps up here has to be judged a perfect ally, because IMO it limits discourse. (Woman of privilege talking here, I might be saying something stupid, etc. etc.) But I also can see exactly why PoC believe it necessary, and how skepticism and cynicism can show up in people who have viewed this a hundred times before. (And I mean neither of those terms as negative or insulting ones.)”

    Kim, I just quickly wanted to say that I took this to heart. In fact, I think I did this in this thread — expected every white person to step up and already be a perfect ally. You’re right that it can WAY backfire. (In my own case, I gotta admit it becomes a way to deflect attention from how I’m not yet a perfect ally. So Susan Rose, I really do apologize if I was doing that to you here.) As I’ve said upthread, in my own case it took some pretty harsh critique to finally make me become critical of my Nice White Lady status. I often assume that’s what it takes, but maybe I shouldn’t.

    It’s so hard to judge, when talking to other white people, of when hard sayings are called for and when it’s better to soften. This week at my son’s school they had a parent-organized teacher appreciation week organized around daily themes that were all about cultural stereotyping. Monday was “Asia Day,” with the theme “Our teachers are our good fortune!” and parents were supposed to bring in Asian-themed gifts. Then there was a Mexico day — “Our teachers keep things spicy!” Anyway, I tried the nice approach and it seemed to backfire too. In this case, I gently pointed to how the early childhood accrediting agency has resources for anti-bias best practices that avoid the “multicultural tourism” approach, and what they seemed to hear was, “A parent thinks we’re not meeting accreditation standards!” So the response was, “Well, this was done by well-meaning parent volunteers who had good intentions so it’s okay.”

    “Yes, discussions like this are exhausting, especially to a person without color who is just recently entering them and quickly encounters assumptions, and new forms of racism they hadn’t even known not to perpetuate, and it very quickly turns into reading a response over five times to make sure you’ve said everything as perfectly as possible. But if you want to be committed to this, especially in your life’s work, you need to be able to stick it out.”

    That’s a good point. I’ll try to keep it in mind.

  10. Julia says:

    Susan Rose,
    I’ve been following this discussion with interest, but have been silent so far because I wasn’t sure I had anything to add. At this point, I find myself wondering: why do you want your work to be “enough”? Why put it in those terms? I’m honestly not trying to pile on you here, but this is something I genuinely don’t understand and am curious about. Isn’t there some way of assessing the value of what you’ve done without resorting to such stark terms as “enough” and “not enough”? Not only is that an either/or line of inquiry that leaves no room for the vast gray middle area, but it also puts the other people in the conversation in the position of having to give you affirmation or not. This is good if you’re asking whether you’ve put enough sugar into the cookie recipe, but not so productive in ally work. A big point of ally work, to me, is to leave the whole concept of “enough” behind.

  11. Susan Rose says:

    You are right. I don’t get it. I can reread every post posted and I still don’t get it. That’s why I excused myself from the thread.

    I’ve said and asked the wrong things, which has been met with opposition and lots of “Why don’t you get it?” and some name calling. The advice posted here could very well be great, it just isn’t clicking in my head. I thought I got it, but the responses back show that I don’t. And really, I’m tired of the name calling. So I ask more questions—again the wrong questions—which are met with more opposition and frustration, because the questions showed that I didn’t understand what you all said to me. I’m not putting this back on anyone else, because I’m sure it’s been broken down into the simpliest terms you know how. To me it feels like I’m reading Japanese. I get defensive, you get frustrated, the communication breaks down.

    But leaving THIS thread doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It means that I’m searching for people who can communicate with me and give me the “For Dummies” explanation for being an ally—and they can help me find the right questions to ask to RETRAIN my thinking and help me recognize what I do that is racist. It sure beats being told: “You posers make me want to kill all white people for being so smug.” How unneccesary.

  12. Susan Rose says:

    Julia, thanks for that. “Enough” was not the right thing to ask. I can’t explain it, but to me there was a magic point where suddenly my langauge, thoughts, and actions became racist-free. It sounds corny and simpleton and probably very racist, I know that now, but at the time of asking I didn’t realize there wasn’t an “enough” point.

  13. Drew says:

    See ya!

  14. Pingback: I So Knew This | Ex Cathedra
  15. Trackback: I So Knew This | Ex Cathedra
  16. A Sarah says:

    I hope this isn’t bad blog manners… but I think I’m seriously making a hash of things over here:

    http://breadforthejourney.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/same-color-different-world-how-white-power-works/#comment-15

    and it seemed like folks here have a knack for words that I lack. Help? I was trying to speak from my own experience but I think I ended up making it all about me, again! *headdesk* And I’m having a hard time with white privilege 101 — explaining it, that is. Anyway, it’s a new antiracism blog that could use some comment love. (Be forewarned that it’s Christian, and I imagine they’d moderate out any profanity or anti-religious or intemperate posting. Plus I think first-time posters have their comments put in moderation.)

    Al, my eyes boggled when I read your comment. I didn’t know there were crying white men at antiracism trainings! Wow! I knew the tunes-out-and-says-nothing-so-nobody-can-accuse-me-of-anything white man. :) It’s nice to “meet” you.

    nojojojo: “Not saying it’s your fault, but you might be surprised to realize that your very lack of anger triggers anger among some PoC. ”

    I didn’t know that, but of course it makes perfect sense, and it should have occurred to me since I go through this with my husband on sexism. It makes me angry that he’s not angrier, since on an intellectual level he sees there’s a problem. (Why I don’t put two and two together more often is beyond me.) But I wanted to say: in light of the consistency with which we white folks ignore PoC when they’re NOT angry only to turn around and then dismiss them as silly/divisive/scary when they ARE angry, I’m kind of amazed/humbled that you’d even risk putting that out there on a thread where where white folks are talking with each other. Thank you.

  17. A Sarah says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to link to my comment, but to the original entry:
    http://breadforthejourney.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/same-color-different-world-how-white-power-works/

  18. Drew says:

    More evidence of why you rock, A Sarah.

    And a great big thx for helping me identify and chase yet another poser off the string. Not that it was hard. They don’t last long when you don’t give them BIG FAT RACISM FREE BROWNIE POINT kudos for their shallow white thinking and “it’s for the kids!” attitude.

    Imagine being a kid in her class. Cah…clueless!

  19. Eileen Gunn says:

    I am mostly a lurker, and I apologize in advance for waltzing in here as if I had been part of the discussion all along. In my defense, I can say that I’ve been following it with interest since its beginning, and that fact gives me a false sense of dialog.

    This is a WA post, and POC Allies might be advised to skip it, because from your POV it might be either tedious or wrong. (But I guess you’re used to that.)

    Susan Rose, I think if you continue to be part of this community and the other communities that link to it, you will understand better what happened here. I think some of the problem is that your first post didn’t really say anything of interest to people here, either white or black. To be brief and rude about it: it seemed to me that you said that you were white and you didn’t think you were a jerk, and then (in an indirect way) you asked for validation of that. But really, you didn’t give enough information to be validated as not a jerk: that kind of is pretty much impossible to give.

    (Personally, I understand where you’re coming from on this: I don’t think I’m a jerk, but I always try not to give too much information, for fear that I *will* be evaluated as a jerk. Note that I’m not using the R word. I think we (white people, anyway) are all racists in some sense. We live in a racialized society, and we live in a hierarchical society. We have been trained to think that way. All we can do is fight back against the conditioning.)

    I think it is beneficial to try not to be a jerk, but it is perhaps not reasonable to expect people to be grateful that you were not a jerk: in the case of your students, that you didn’t snub them, you took them seriously, you helped them in the way that you were being paid to do.

    Ordinarily, in a WW (white woman) community, you would have received some points for trying not to be a jerk in this way. In this community, you didn’t receive much polite applause, and you really irritated Drew, who has clearly experienced more than his fair share of (pardon the expression) clueless white women. (I do not mean by this statement to ignore the existence of clueless white men.)

    I suggest you not be disheartened by this experience, and that you try to observe and learn from others’ mistakes as well as your own. (I could share a lot with you, if it didn’t embarrass me so much.)

    You seem like someone who could learn and who wants to learn, but I don’t think that you understand that that’s not the same as knowing something. Knowing something is a process, and it’s not something that is filled up, and then it’s enough.

    Stick around.

    Eileen

  20. Eileen Gunn says:

    Nojojojo, I have been turning around in my head your comment about anger.

    I have been thinking about the racialist situations that, over the years, I am most angry about. I am sorry to say that they all involve, in some way, *me* getting slapped down. Not POC as a group, not my business associate, not my friend, not my lover, not second-hand tales, no matter how explicit; not the many people who have written evocatively on the matter: I remember those insults and snub, and they bother me, but not with the same level of anger. In the personal anger arena, it’s just me, me, me. I simply I respond differently, on a visceral level, to a slap in my face rather than to a slap in the face of someone I love.

    This is just an information point. I have no theory.

  21. Drew says:

    ln, ppl lk tht nvr lrn bcs sh wsnt hr t lrn. ts clld psng. Sh nl cm hr t gt vldtn tht sh ws dng th wht rght thng s sh cld mv n t hr dts wth th blcks. Shs nt gttng tht vldtn frm m nd clld t lk sw t. Y gtt b tgh wth ths psrs. t shws thr tr clrs whn y psh m hrd nd th crp w. nd th nmbr f tms sh trd t brk m dwn n hr psts prvd tht gt t hr whn sh ws hpng tht d jst s, Thts k nc lttl wht ld. Y d s mch fr m ppl. Y dsrv m rspct. Nh. tld y tht sh ws psr frm pst n nd m dmn prd f pshng th btch t.

  22. Katie says:

    No, I’m no moderator, but for god’s sake Drew, you are being so misogynist. Stop calling women bitches! I hear you on calling out dumb racists but that doesn’t give you an excuse to throw around the b word like it’s nothing.

  23. Legible Susan says:

    Presumably-clueless white person here (but this is the Allies thread). Drew, women, however clueless, are not bitches. Women are not animals, except insofar as everybody is an animal. I don’t want to pull that “I’m not listening unless you’re polite” crap, but you’ve been called on your use of that term before in this thread.

  24. Eileen Gunn says:

    Drew, I think people do learn, but (as the joke goes) not fast enough.

  25. nojojojo says:

    Drew, I’m not sure what parts of “nobody here is a bitch”, “quit with the ad hominem attacks”, “STFU and let the white people talk”, and “consider this a warning” you didn’t get, but I’m tired of repeating myself. You’re not contributing anything useful to this thread, so I’m disemvoweling your abusive comments. And if you pull this shit on other threads, I’ll ban you from the site entirely.

  26. Kim says:

    Regarding posing, I think the very education we white people get in our culture teaches us to pose in a sense. We’re taught that racism is Bad and we should Fight It without learning what that actually means, certainly not learning what that means to people of color. The images we do get of allies are very limited, very magicked up, and in the case of white allies often racist in themselves. So we think, as Susan Rose put it, that there’s a magic moment that racism is done with – “well of COURSE all races have equal capacity for intelligence and accomplishment and such! There, I’m done with doing my part!” And if that’s what we think it’s about, then of course we’re going to look for approval so we’re not The Bad Men. I’m wondering if there are any more constructive media images and ways to deliver the very basic Racism 101 to the still-clueless? Especially, how do you discuss the more complicated levels of this subject with kids? (Not demanding an answer, I’m more just putting it out there. Heck if I know, myself.)

    I’ve enjoyed Nice White Lady movies, by the way (the IMO better-written ones anyway), without considering their connotations, mainly when I was a kid but some even as recently as Freedom Writers. I associated them more with activism and the environment of troubled areas and etc. etc. I’m an ignorant white kid yay. Thank you for the links, A Sarah and Drew. They’re really helping to get me thinking. I’m turning that particular movie over in my head right now at the moment, wondering if it was more or less racist because it was based on the primary source voices of these students (very accurately so, if the book is of any indication), because the students weren’t learning to pick up a book so much as how to be social activists, whether other movies with PoCs as the ‘Nice White Ladies’ are less offensive, etc. etc. That brief list of non-racist ‘teacher makes a difference’ movies is fascinating and I’d love to compare.

  27. Jessica Markenson says:

    This is a fabulous idea and I look forward to learning how I can become a better ally. I’ve been a lurker for some time.

    I am a bit confused about the recent turmoil, however. I myself am a bit gunshy to ask questions for fear of retribution. I know I will ask some dumb white person question, which will be fileted for all the world to see.

    Are there beginner websites where I can read up so I can participate in this thread, besides the wonderful links posted in the Required Reading section?

  28. Pingback: the problem with capitalist feminists « it’s all one thing
  29. Trackback: the problem with capitalist feminists « it’s all one thing
  30. Pingback: A good number of Capitalized Things « Little Lambs Eat Ivy
  31. Trackback: A good number of Capitalized Things « Little Lambs Eat Ivy
  32. china says:

    i will be very interested in reading the carnival of allies. I can’t write anything because I am more exploring the topic. One thing I don’t understand is in most of the white privelege conversations, it is always a person with so much more class privelege (or perceived class privelege) than me, telling me about things that are not of my experience. For example, as a single mother who was on welfare for 9 years and then working poor; as someone who often raised her child in communities of color; as a person from the east coast, from baltimore (for instance, when a young man in california tells me about how I have to understand my privelege – and I believe I have white privelege and I am trying to learn more – and he groups all “whites” as “us”. But Its not my experience. And my daughter is a forth cuban and a forth dominican republic, but she is as light as skin as me, raised by a white mom….. I could go on and on.

    my experiences aren’t the same as other folks who are trying to talk to me, white person to white person, about being an ally – in white privelege discussions, so far.

    but I am an anarchist and I care about supporting everyones fight against oppression; and I have a workshop called “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Anarcha-Feminism and Supporting Mothers and Children”.

    as I give this workshop (to the radical community, mostly so far, punks and anarchists), as I teach from my experiences and work to increase radical childcare to support mothers experiences, as I teach about oppression against mothers and children in the radical community echoing mainstream community. I learn. I’ve learned about special needs kids, and how to support them, I’ve learned about non-english speaking communities and to be more aware and supportive of how information is passed. When I was in california, our panel was adressed by a woman of color, who asked why she had to be the one to adress this room was mostly white – and I thought, in my workshop, I need to adress race and class more – (why are the punk and anarchist communities so white and what can we do to be more inclusive and join with others, and other radicals of color, and communities of color, resistance? but I have to say, I think its getting a little bit better, or at least its an issue worked on and highly valued). I think, that is generally something very pivotal in my work as an anarchist, that I have always been concerned with adressing. But i felt in my trip to california, I was called on why this panel was so white, and I want to work on that question. (I think the issue of motherhood and children is one very much a broader issue, about the “choice” to have a child as well as not have a child, about the fact lots of people don’t have “choices” – these are issues I talk about.)

    but the white privelege folks really make me feel bad, because I didn’t realize how much poorer I was then everyone in the group til they start bringing up all these priveleges and have this assumption of white as, I guess, middle class, and not a high school drop out.

    I get really angry. If I get angry, then its seen as “defence-ive” which would then I guess would prove I’m rascist.

    I want to talk, work, and fight for equality – to discuss race, to fight rascism, to understand my own priveleges…. but not all white people are the same. I often wonder if the “white privelege” folks dont’ live in community of color? they seem so out of it. Maybe I am not up to date with the propper lingo? I am so interested in the idea of being an allie, I want to enlist all the anarchist scene to have children and mothers as a political issue that all people should be interested in, to create an all ages community of resistance. I want to teach, as well as learn to be a good allie.

    but the white privelege white people who talk to me so far, make me feel alternatively, really angry, and then sometimes really bad and ashamed, (and stupid) that we haven’t had as priveleged life. I dont’ like all the talk of “we whites” like we are all the same, and it seems to me to be so self hating, when I am trying to work against being self hating. I want to understand, to unite, to fight, to create change

    so I will be listening, I want to learn more. these are things I think about. I don’t understand this modern movement more. and I have not been treated very well by the feminists, myself, as far as being a radical mother writer – but I have hope, as I have too, to work together. I like to basically stay in a nice super radical circle, and not do too much with feminists, certainly afraid of middle class feminists, but its a word that is not bad to me either. I pick and choose, and I need stuff that relates to women and to children, and some of that stuff comes under feminism – although I completely realize its deeply flawed and almost any feminist thing I would be around would be about adressing these issues.

  33. china says:

    and I never feel angry like that against a person of color bringing up an issue of rascism – I feel angry about the talk of “privelege” about the things I don’t have and they have, and assume all white people have. I understand that white anarchists are known to silence discussions of rascism with classism – and that is not what I want to do. I want to learn to be a good allie. I want to discuss rascism. but at alot of white privelege discussions, I feel litterally, slapped in the face, by other whites – as they make assumptions of that everyone has what they have, and when I speak up, I feel dismissed, and looked down on

  34. Drew says:

    My lovely ladies, my deepest heartfelt apologies. My passion overtook my good sense. I meant no pain.

  35. Pingback: I Read the Internets - 4/26/08 | the Hathor Legacy
  36. Trackback: I Read the Internets - 4/26/08 | the Hathor Legacy
  37. Jessica Markenson says:

    Addressed to Drew…..

    I’ve been turning your posts over and over in my head after reading the entire string again this morning.

    Was there a reason you took a specific interest in chasing out, to use your own words, Susan Rose? Would you call a child those names if they were learning how to be a WA because they said something that shows their ignornace, or would you think they were vindictive?

    What makes you so uniquely qualified to judge the woman simply because you’ve known people like her? That’s prejudicial, judging her actions or thoughts based on what others you have witnessed have said or done. It certainly seems to be the crux of WA’s thinking, to not judge POC as a group. I could easily see a newbie ally reading your posts, shaking their heads, and thinking that there is absolutely no reason to try becoming an ally. I’m not saying you had to be nice to her. But why say anything agressive at all if you’re not going to contribute something to helping WA’s become WA’s?

  38. macon d says:

    In answer to Jessica’s question in search of beginner web sites for sincerely anti-racist white folks, may I humbly offer my own?

    I’ve been writing as a white person in sincere, informed ways about whiteness, with daily entries on various things that white people do, often without realizing they’re doing them:

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/

    The carnival is a fantastic idea that I’m really looking forward to. Thanks for the idea, ABW, and for so many others,

    macon d

  39. Drew says:

    Well Jessica, I didn’t have to be “qualified” as you put. Because me saying too much has been a problem in the past, I can tell you that 20 other WHITE people agreed with me. I have a gift to see the BS through the squeakly clean image one likes to portray.

  40. Kim says:

    Er, Drew, not to sound like I’m coming to Susan Rose’s defense on the issues she had – she had a lot of learning to do, as I believe we all do – but I’ve been reading the same thread you AND Jessica have. And while we agreed there was latent racism in what she was doing I don’t think any of the white people who spoke up personally insulted her, accused her of lying, or demanded she be ‘chased out’ of a thread devoted to learning about our own whiteness in relation to PoC. In my imperfect opinion a thread like this was an appropriate space for her to learn, and I personally wish she had stayed at least until it was shown she would never understand or come around to it.

    I’m not trying to invalidate your anger, and you have a much more personal stake in your feelings than any of us. But I don’t equate all of the very different approaches I’ve seen here with yours, nor do I see why it matters whether we agreed with you on how SR was showing her privilege or not. Jessica was talking about your approach, though of course you’re not obligated to answer her.

    China, I’m not an anarchist and I’m nearly as ignorant about class as I am about race. I’m not really sure how you could better address people of color in anarchism, but I do think the issue you raise is a great one. I think this sort of generalization happens a lot, and links to the problems society has addressing people of color, too. When we say “America” we mean “white America.” When we say “white America” we mean “middle-class white America”. Or at least, I feel like I’m always mentally relating things to my personal experience until it’s specified otherwise. My first instinct is to say ‘it’s natural’, but it’s probably just natural to the dominant culture because the country is pretty much made for us.

    I do think there are matters of privilege you still benefit from, in that you’re white and pass for white, so you will be addressed and treated as such. You’ll see people who look like you in the media. You won’t have assumptions made about your education or your likelihood to steal, you won’t have the same issues as PoC getting a job. Maybe considering those kinds of examples will make your privilege seem more clear to you? I don’t know what kinds of social and work circles you operate in or how your political views affect how you’re treated, but some of those in there will probably apply.

  41. Jessica Markenson says:

    Thanks, Macon. That is exactly what I was looking for….a starting point. I disagree with Kim that this is an inappropriate space for any WA to learn. Some people have to learn through dialog. I’m guessing the teacher’s age somewhere around 50 or 60. My mom is 58 and to hear her sling the racial terms around you would think she were a member of the KKK. To hear my 82 year old grandpa talk, well, let’s just say we can’t talk about current politics. The younger generations are much more open to being liberal about race, as far as I’ve seen. “Unlearning” the older generations seems to be the task at hand. They tend to see things on a personal level, so perhaps reading her posts I understand the teacher a bit more than others. And regardless of your explanation Drew, I think you were out of line and rude. Let’s be open to some fallibility, shall we?

  42. Kim says:

    I disagree with Kim that this is an inappropriate space for any WA to learn. Some people have to learn through dialog.

    I think you’ve misunderstood what I wrote. This feels like exactly the space for her to learn, to me. Granted it’s ABW’s site, it’s tmeant a place for people of color, it wouldn’t be right for her to just burst into any discussion with an irrelevant question and then say ‘But I’m just trying to start dialog!’ But this is exactly the thread for her to start dialog and to inquire about her role as an ally.

    I’m curious, for those who have an answer to this: how do you first classify someone as an ally? I’m just beginning to learn about race and my own privilege, but on the other hand I feel like I’m willing to learn and open to criticism, and that if I saw an individual act of racism going on in front of me I would say something. Do I have the right to call myself an ally? I’d like to, but I feel like I have a lot further to go than others who classify as such. I wouldn’t want to seem like I’m posing or asking for a cookie.

  43. Jill says:

    I’ve been reading this thread from the beginning and thank you Kim for putting into a comment what I’ve been thinking since my eyes were open to the existence of, let alone the vast universe of WOC on the Internet:

    “how do you first classify someone as an ally? I’m just beginning to learn about race and my own privilege, but on the other hand I feel like I’m willing to learn and open to criticism, and that if I saw an individual act of racism going on in front of me I would say something. Do I have the right to call myself an ally? I’d like to, but I feel like I have a lot further to go than others who classify as such…”

    I am only guessing here, but I would think that as the person working toward being an ally, it’s not up to me to decide when I am or what makes me one. So – how do we know? (I’m asking in the abstract as well as hoping/wishing for some guidance but I’m guessing that they may come about in the carnival).

  44. pllogan says:

    ““how do you first classify someone as an ally? I’m just beginning to learn about race and my own privilege, but on the other hand I feel like I’m willing to learn and open to criticism, and that if I saw an individual act of racism going on in front of me I would say something. Do I have the right to call myself an ally? I’d like to, but I feel like I have a lot further to go than others who classify as such…”

    I am only guessing here, but I would think that as the person working toward being an ally, it’s not up to me to decide when I am or what makes me one. So – how do we know? (I’m asking in the abstract as well as hoping/wishing for some guidance but I’m guessing that they may come about in the carnival).”

    I’ve felt uncomfortable with taking the name “ally” for a long time.

    I think the oppressed should decide if I’m an ally, if they feel I’m supportive. For me to barge in and say “look at me, I’m an ally!” is just more of my privilege showing.

    If someday I get named an ally, I have no problem with the term itself. But that’s not for me to stand up and take, rather for others to give.

  45. Pingback: Feminism Friday: When women who advocate for women’s rights reject the label “feminist” « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog
  46. Trackback: Feminism Friday: When women who advocate for women’s rights reject the label “feminist” « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog
  47. diana pei wu says:

    And we have a long history of struggling with those kinds of liberal white folk. I think it’s one of the differences between the east coast (where i grew up) and the sort of particular northwest / northern California white racism (where i now live). is that the racism in Boston and CT is different from what and how i experienced race – and class privilege – in NYC, in NC, in TX, in CA and OR … and how my Viet and Hmong friends and students have experienced racism and white folks in places like OH, IN, and IL.

    MLK had a quote about the white liberals …

  48. davka says:

    Great prompt! I’ve got a great idea for this.

    I do have a problem with these definitions of white. White is anyone who benefits from white privilege? Right? Toi Derricotte, one of my favorite poets, is a very light skinned black woman and she writes a lot about the white privileges she enjoyed against her will and to the detriment of her black identity. It would be wonderful to have her responding to these prompts because I’m sure her position of navigating through different perspectives has given her amazing powers of vision.

    The problem I feel is using “White” as a collective. My people are “White” but my people are poor and working class, rural, mentally ill, very disenfranchised, very under-represented, completely fucked over in so many ways. It’s been my life’s work to represent them and give them power and voice. So I find it bothers me to have this umbrella term of White although I understand its use and I agree with it in a lot of ways, but I know my people are not at all in community with the white, middle class feminists in question recently. My people are not at all included in the popular discourse. My people are not at all in that liminal space we are speaking of. I’m not saying they don’t enjoy white privileges, but to paint all white people as khaki wearing upper middle class power monopolists, it isn’t fair and it erases my experience and I don’t feel comfortable with that.

    At a spoken word show in my city there was a nice racial diversity of performers. But you know what every performer there had in common? Upper middle class/ rich family backgrounds. Class must be remembered and analyzed. If a Woman of Color writer has a rich family background and I come from shit, I am supposed to consider her voice as more authentic than my own simply because I am white? No fucking way.

    All I am saying here is that this umbrella term of WHITE is super problematic and needs to be defined. There are dirt poor white people who have no entry into popular culture, dirt poor white women who do not see themselves at all reflected or represented anywhere and I am not trying to make this about them, but I will never agree to include them in this criticism of white academia that has sprung up recently.

  49. Angel H. says:

    [sigh…]

    Dear God, not another “race v. class” discussion….

    Davka, here’s my take on it:

    Oppressions intersect. Racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, et. al. are all interconnected in one way or the other, but in no way are they the same. The POCs in the spoken word performance you mentioned had class privilege over you, so they don’t know what it’s like to be poor and working class and suffer the discriminations that come with it. You, on the other hand, will never know what it’s like to suffer the discriminations that come from being a POC because of your own white privilege.

    In other words, this really isn’t the time and place for Oppression Olympics*.

    Bottom line: This discussion is about race, not class.

    If you’re interested, read up on white privilege online or in the vast libraries of books on which this subject has been repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. (especially here)

    *Oppression Olympics: Instead of a torch relay, everyone just fights over the damn thing.

  50. Angel H. says:

    Also, you may want to research the origins of the term “white race”. I’ve always loved to read Ann’s eloquent thoughts on the subject, myself.

  51. davka says:

    Angel,
    You’re being quite condescending and presumptuous to refer me to an online library. You shouldn’t assume that just because someone wants to complicate the terms a bit (because that’s how they exist in reality) that it means they aren’t familiar with these concepts and realities. I know all about it and it’s something I care a lot about. I am not saying they are the same. I’m saying that if I answer this prompt, speaking to my audience or people that I am close to about what white privilege is, it’s going to be a very different than if I were speaking to middle class white people. I won’t be talking to women who live in suburbia and never ever have to deal with race because except for stating the scripted PC responses that mean nothing to their personal lives. I will be talking to poor women, who, like all poor people, live in very mixed race communities, lots of which are living in housing projects with babies of color, women who live alongside poor women of color and can therefore imagine their realities a lot more easily. and, afterall, imagining is the way we begin to enter the conversation. if all you want to do is insist that its impossible for any white woman to understand “what it’s like,” you’re only going to close the conversation and what is the fucking point of that? if i were telling you I did understand and taking over the conversation space with my domineering white opinion, that would be one thing, but if someone is just entering the dialogue and wanting to discuss the nuances, then they shouldn’t be shunned and shamed.

    and i’m sorry to tell you, those people of color who performed on the stage were nowhere near as oppressed, with their nice clothes, great educations, new cars, health insurance, and successful happy families as my white poor as fuck friends who are dying early from mental illness, drug addiction, broken bodies from hard labor every day and minute of their lives- screw that shit. those performers have the luxury of writing and performing while my friends are taking blunts to the face in trailers raising babies on welfare with no health insurance and no access TO ANYTHING. I’m sorry, you may be right that this is not the place for this discussion, but you are totally wrong if you think that poor white people don’t have a lot to be angry and vocal about.

    the only reason i brought this up is to express that i will never accept a label that tries to put me in community with upper middle class white women and my carnival contribution will be very complicated.

    there really are white people out there who never ever have to deal with anything regarding race or class, but there are white people who live in war torn economically depressed places who are dealing with it everyday and their voices are different.

    no one said anything about oppression being equal.

  52. Angel H. says:

    You’re being quite condescending and presumptuous to refer me to an online library.

    I’ll just refer you to these posts, instead.

    I’m saying that if I answer this prompt, speaking to my audience or people that I am close to about what white privilege is, it’s going to be a very different than if I were speaking to middle class white people. I won’t be talking to women who live in suburbia and never ever have to deal with race because except for stating the scripted PC responses that mean nothing to their personal lives.

    Fine. Post whatever you want, however you want.

    if all you want to do is insist that its impossible for any white woman to understand “what it’s like,” you’re only going to close the conversation and what is the fucking point of that?

    Here we go ’round in circles again…

    I did not say that white women didn’t understand oppression. What I said was that white women do not understand what it’s like to face discrimination on the basis of race. Don’t get it twisted.

    And please, do everyone a favor and read all of the comments. We gone through this same rigamarole many times on this board, and possibly thousands of times on this site alone.

    and i’m sorry to tell you, those people of color who performed on the stage were nowhere near as oppressed, with their nice clothes, great educations, new cars, health insurance, and successful happy families as my white poor as fuck friends who are dying early from mental illness, drug addiction, broken bodies from hard labor every day and minute of their lives

    Stop putting words in my mouth. If you’re going to accuse me of saying something, quote me correctly. And find someone else to play Oppression Olympics.

    I’m sorry, you may be right that this is not the place for this discussion, but you are totally wrong if you think that poor white people don’t have a lot to be angry and vocal about.

    Show me where I said that. Quote me.

    the only reason i brought this up is to express that i will never accept a label that tries to put me in community with upper middle class white women and my carnival contribution will be very complicated.

    First of all, where did you get the idea that term “White” only applied to the middle- and upper-class? “White” isn’t a class term; it’s a racial term developed by imperialist Europeans in order to seperate themselves from the native people of the lands that they colonized.

    And I’m curious: If you don’t claim “white”, what do you claim as your racial identity?

    Accepting wagers on whether or not Davka’s next comment includes the phrase “human race”! ;-D

  53. A Sarah says:

    Davka: “and i’m sorry to tell you, those people of color who performed on the stage were nowhere near as oppressed…”

    You said that you want to bring nuance, but I don’t see that it adds nuance to act as though there’s some kind of magical oppression-o-meter that measures oppression in objective, easily-measurable units, irrespective of whether it’s according to race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. Which is what you’re suggesting above with the expression “more oppressed.” And it’s also a little circular, isn’t it? I mean, if your definition of “is oppressed” equals “suffers due to social class,” then, yeah, it will turn out that poor white folks are “more oppressed” than rich people of color. But the way you’ve defined the terms, how could they not be? It’s like saying that citizens of the U.S. are “more citizen-y” than citizens of Canada because you live in the U.S. and all the citizens you personally know are U.S. citizens.

  54. davka says:

    bell hooks is always careful to differentiate poor white women from middle class white women. That is all I am asking everyone to keep in mind, especially in a discussion about allies. I feel poor white women will have a much easier time accessing the imagination needed to understand what white privilege is (theirs and others’) and will more clearly be able to relate and imagine. That is my point. That is my audience and circle of action. White is white and poor black women in the same communities have a much harder time than the poor white women I am talking about. When I write indicting white women I am mostly talking to white middle class women who are the only people on earth who get to live completely free from dealing with these realities. That is all I’m saying.

    I’m white. Didn’t I already say that? I said my people are poor WHITE women. I said it a few times. This includes white privilege. I said that, too. I use the term to indicate my access to privilege, but I don’t use it to refer to my personal identity. Sorry if you can’t understand that. I don’t need you to.

    Seal Press and Sean Bell

  55. davka says:

    Ps- that wink was an accident of mistyped parenthesis. I am not winking at you, Angel. I am taking you seriously.

  56. Tom Head says:

    davka writes:
    “I use the term to indicate my access to privilege, but I don’t use it to refer to my personal identity. Sorry if you can’t understand that. I don’t need you to.

    Uhm, not to be snarky, but isn’t that technically what privilege is?

  57. Bob Simpson says:

    Hello: I sometimes think people get friends and allies mixed up. Friends are individuals or groups you trust on the most basic level. Both they and you are going to screw up badly from time to time, but that’s life and you’ll work like hell to get through it.

    Allies are individuals or groups you have to work with to get something done. There is no history of trust and both of you are taking chances with each other for a larger cause. You have no expectations that the relationship will survive beyond whatever issue brings you together.

    This is not say allies can’t become friends, but that takes time and effort.

    How do you distinguish that fine line between friend and ally? Well, that’s the trick isn’t it? People who can do that become our best leaders and organizers.

    Bob S.

  58. Angel H. says:

    davka writes:
    “I use the term to indicate my access to privilege, but I don’t use it to refer to my personal identity. Sorry if you can’t understand that. I don’t need you to.”

    Uhm, not to be snarky, but isn’t that technically what privilege is?

    You win all internetz!

  59. Kathy says:

    @Susan Rose,

    Your posts are classic cookie monster.
    Asking if you are doing enough? is an attempt
    to garner accolades for your work, that you are
    being paid for. I am glad that you have posted here,
    because the thread on cookies might also
    help you, I know reading your comments here
    helped me to define cookies much more clearly
    so thanks.
    You may not realize it, but your complaints about budgets sounds like self-interest.
    Personally, I think unexamined teacher bias is much
    more important than budgets.

  60. Pingback: Asylum seekers, Australia’s retraumatisation policy, and healthcare ally work at Hoyden About Town
  61. Trackback: Asylum seekers, Australia’s retraumatisation policy, and healthcare ally work at Hoyden About Town
  62. davka says:

    Tom Head, that’s exactly what I’m saying. What else is white but privilege? It isn’t a tangible cultural connectedness. It is only something that needs to be acknowledged, analyzed, deconstructed, and dismantled. You can own up to your privilege without accepting a label that doesn’t speak your experience. You can liberate your language, thoughts, actions and work towards being right on without accepting labels that box you in and make you out to be a monster. I make a lot of progress in turning people into allies by speaking to them in a way that doesn’t immediately trigger defense mechanisms. Words from the heart enter the heart. People have such a difficult time in the first step which is acknowledging that, because we live in a white supremacist society, we (white people) are all racist. People are afraid to admit that to themselves because they think it makes them more racist and they are afraid of the stigmatization, when really just admitting it means the beginning of realizing what you can do to change it.

    People are never going to do that if you come at them with accusations and cattiness. If you’re interested in results, you have to meet people where they are and help them, through relatedness, learn to imagine the pain of someone they see as Other. No human being alive is going to say, “oh yeah you’re right I suck.” And no poor person is going to acknowledge privilege until you acknowledge their oppression and through that direct them towards the reality of the oppression that is greater.

    bell hooks is amazing to me because she teaches in a way that never lets anyone off easily, but she offers them a way to directly participate in the deconstruction and resistance. She makes it their struggle, their wake up call and it’s exciting and empowering, not guilt inducing and paralyzing.

    My “I don’t need you to” comment was a personal response to the internet presence of Angel, who I think is an unwise, catty, shitty person who can’t discuss things without being condescending and nasty. I’m sorry, but I don’t react well to people “sighing” and saying “oh god” to things that I see as important and essential to the conversation. When I encounter people like this I generally exit the conversation because I don’t see it going anywhere. That was what “I don’t need you to” meant. It didn’t mean “im white and you’re not so I don’t need you.” Haha- this is EXACTLY what I am talking about. Everything I say is taken through a fucked up filter and because of this, essential conversations are being silenced and we are going nowhere. Yay! What a great way to waste this unique moment in feminist discourse.

    For now on I’ll just stick to reading ABW’s amazing posts and stay out of these little cockfights.

  63. davka says:

    but “not accepting a label” i don’t mean that people need to say “i’m apart of the human race.” if you’re white, you are white and you must acknowledge your privilege and position and the ways you perpetuate and benefit from white supremacy, but as a poor person I will never feel comfortable with an umbrella term that tries to portray my experience as the same as upper middle class white women. The “not accepting” takes place in your lower belly where you feel not right and not fooled by the labels. It does not mean to claim to be above it, universal, or any of that colonialist horseshit.

  64. Pingback: White feminists have lunch « blue milk
  65. Trackback: White feminists have lunch « blue milk
  66. Pingback: Liminal states » Allies in the blogosphere: suggestions and reading
  67. Trackback: Liminal states » Allies in the blogosphere: suggestions and reading
  68. Tom Head says:

    davka, there are poor white folks and rich black folks. Racism will always benefit the former over the latter; classism affects both groups in different ways.

    I have some Creek Indian ancestry (1/16th or so), come from a family history that largely ranges from poor to barely middle-class, and there are times when I would really prefer sometimes to identify myself as multiracial or blue-collar or anything but just white. But according to the nonsensical Alice-in-Wonderland “race” categories we’ve all inherited, that’s what I am.

    Now, does that mean that I’m completely non-oppressed? No. The non-quantifiable nature of oppression was brought home for me when we played the chains of oppression game at the SisterSong retreat–any of y’all played it?–and somewhat to my surprise I had an average number of links in my chain (more than some, less than others), despite the fact that I was the only heterosexual white male present. Everybody’s oppressed in different ways, and the oppression Olympics doesn’t have any medals to hand out to anybody. But whites benefit from a racist system of oppression, and by not identifying myself as white I’m denying that.

    As for Angel being “unwise” or “catty,” if you want my opinion I think you’re handling yourself in an unwise manner yourself and would be well advised to reread both ABW’s post at the top of the thread and some of the bell hooks stuff to which you’re referring. You’re making a common mistake, my friend, and one that isn’t very hard to correct.

  69. Tom Head says:

    (Re chains of oppression, I should also mention that I had played a similar game at another event where I was the only het white male in the room, and registered as least oppressed based on the criteria used there. All of this just goes under the heading of “oppression is not quantifiable.” The reason chains of oppression and similar games are useful to me is because they help me visualize patterns of oppression and look at how oppression has affected us in our day to day lives. But as a white, I benefit from racism; as a man, I benefit from sexism; and as a heterosexual, I benefit from heterosexism. These facts are undeniable.)

  70. Pingback: On Ally Work and ‘Passing’ « Ariella Drake
  71. Trackback: On Ally Work and ‘Passing’ « Ariella Drake
  72. Angel H. says:

    What else is white but privilege? It isn’t a tangible cultural connectedness.

    Actually, there is a such thing as “white culture”. Unfortunately many white people have yet to really sit down and define what that means for them, what it actually mean to be white. From your comments, it seems to me that you are one of those people.

    You can liberate your language, thoughts, actions and work towards being right on without accepting labels that box you in and make you out to be a monster.

    Wait a minute. Where is it said that “white=monster”? Having privilege does not make one a bad person. Ignoring and refusing to learn from one’s privilege does.

    I make a lot of progress in turning people into allies by speaking to them in a way that doesn’t immediately trigger defense mechanisms. Words from the heart enter the heart.

    ^^Remember this. I’ll be back to it later.

    People are never going to do that if you come at them with accusations and cattiness.

    …wait for it….

    If you’re interested in results, you have to meet people where they are and help them, through relatedness, learn to imagine the pain of someone they see as Other.

    …wait…

    My “I don’t need you to” comment was a personal response to the internet presence of Angel, who I think is an unwise, catty, shitty person who can’t discuss things without being condescending and nasty. I’m sorry, but I don’t react well to people “sighing” and saying “oh god” to things that I see as important and essential to the conversation.

    …And there it is!

    Remember your words “words from the heart enter the heart”? Everything I post here is written from my heart – from my worn, exasperated, and yes, angry heart. And this:

    I make a lot of progress in turning people into allies by speaking to them in a way that doesn’t immediately trigger defense mechanisms.

    IMO, the reason you make so much progress is because you’re White.

    When a POC speaks to a White person about racism, more likely than not, that White person is going to go on the defense. Most White people don’t like to own up to their own privilege and how they benefit from a racist society. And they sure as hell don’t like to do it in front of POC! In discussions such as those, there are people (i.e. you) who “want to learn” and “want to help”, but when you’re called out on your own racist thinking, you throw a tantrum and turn the discussion into the “Poor Wittle Me Show.” On the other hand, when approached by someone of your own race, who basically says the same thing that POC have been telling you, everything becomes all candy-and-roses. Tom Head is basically saying the same thing to you that I’ve been (perhaps more eloquently so), yet you’ve latched onto his discourse rather than mine. Gee, I wonder…

    My “I don’t need you to” comment was a personal response to the internet presence of Angel, who I think is an unwise, catty, shitty person who can’t discuss things without being condescending and nasty.

    Fuck that shit.

    You’re the one who attemtped to derail the discussion (If a Woman of Color writer has a rich family background and I come from shit, I am supposed to consider her voice as more authentic than my own simply because I am white?), you’re the one who put words in my mouth (you are totally wrong if you think that poor white people don’t have a lot to be angry and vocal about), and you’re the one who has belittled the racial experience of others (those people of color who performed on the stage were nowhere near as oppressed, with their nice clothes, great educations, new cars, health insurance, and successful happy families as my white poor as fuck friends who are dying early from mental illness, drug addiction, broken bodies from hard labor every day and minute of their lives).

    Everything I say is taken through a fucked up filter…

    And you’re the one who fucks it up.

  73. Angel H. says:

    And another thing:

    It pisses me off that so many White people want to be treated with kid gloves where racism is concerned.

    But guess what? SO DO i!

    It would be so fucking nice if POCs where kindly, gently taken to the side, given a pat on the head and told, “I’m sorry to offend you, and I hope you don’t take it personally. But fact is, you’re a nigger and therefore not entitled to the same rights and privileges. Now why don’t you pick up your little picket sign and run along home.”

    Oh wait, that did happen! Right before anti-racist protestors where pelted with a water cannon, beaten, and thrown in jail!

    Silly me!

  74. A Sarah says:

    davka: “if you’re white, you are white and you must acknowledge your privilege and position and the ways you perpetuate and benefit from white supremacy, but as a poor person I will never feel comfortable with an umbrella term that tries to portray my experience as the same as upper middle class white women.”

    davka, I’m having a hard time understanding the source of your indignation. At the risk of sounding really asinine, imagine a venn diagram. Rich people are one circle, poor people are another circle. Some rich folks are white and some poor folks are white. Therefore the place where the two circles overlap is called “white.”*

    One of the things that you have in common with upper-class white women is, indeed, whiteness. (And femaleness, unless I’ve totally misread you.) And therefore white privilege. You don’t have class in common. Okay. Got it. And yes, there are plenty of reasons NOT to want to be lumped in with upper-class white women, I’ll grant you. But who is assuming that every last white person in the world is rich? (White privilege and racism is/are more complicated than just material wealth.) Or that classism isn’t real oppression? (Classism is different from racism.) Or that poor white folks don’t suffer due to social class?

    I mean, it is sometimes useful to talk about one oppression at a time, yes? So we can, like, understand how it works and how we’re implicated in it?

    And seeing as how part of white privilege is being able, most of the time, to summon every and any possible excuse/reason/qualification/hedge to avoid acknowledging your privilege – and expect an approving chorus of “Oh, yes!” and “Too true!” and “You’re right, you’re not so bad,” and “Oh, what a zeitgesty multicultural enlightened white person YOU are! Not like those racist white people!” and so forth – do you see how it might sure look like you’re being evasive in the name of being “nuanced”?

    “a personal response to the internet presence of Angel, who I think is an unwise, catty, shitty person who can’t discuss things without being condescending and nasty. I’m sorry, but I don’t react well to people ‘sighing’ and saying ‘oh god’ to things that I see as important and essential to the conversation.”

    I think you’re right to call that “not reacting well.” Are you really sorry? (Genuinly asking.)

    *-btw, I don’t mean to sound patronizing or overly-simplistic with the venn diagram explanation. I have a nonverbal learning disorder so I have to keep spatial analogies very simple for my own comprehension.

  75. davka says:

    A Sarah, thanks for your response. I can totally see where it seems I am being evasive, but this post is called “Allies Talking” and my only point was that poor white women don’t enjoy the same access to privilege as middle class white women and this distinction is very important to address. I have a much easier time talking to poor white women about privilege than I do to middle class white women and this difference in language and approach needs to be addressed if we, as ABW requested, are to address people that “are like us.” The poor white women I am talking about live in close community with poor women of color and any attempt at teaching what White Privilege is will need an acknowledgement of that. It won’t be- “Wow, you’re so far above this! Look non-racist you are!” It would sound more like, “you shouldn’t ever use racist language because your baby is a person of Color and why do you want to support that shit? ” It might also be me explaining in very personal terms why my girl should understand why she just can’t expect to be apart of things and down in the housing projects she lives in because there is a understandable distrust between white people and people of Color there and this isn’t because those people of Color that called you a white bitch are racist, they are recognizing your privilege without really knowing what they are reacting to because none of you have been equipped with these terms!” Do you see what I am saying? That is all I was saying. I brought it up here because I wanted feedback, even criticism! This is such an amazing blog where people are really talking. I reacted poorly to Angel’s comments because I found them totally condescending and nasty and I don’t react well to that, sorry. I can take anger and I can take criticism and I can take having my card pulled, but I can’t take people being knee-jerkingly shitty to me, which is what I saw her doing.

    Anyway, my main point is that in talking to white upper middle class allies the language is always impersonal and academic, little practiced axions like ‘racism is wrong” that mean nothing to them personally because they live day in and day out without every having to deal with racism on a personal level because they live in a world of whiteness and privilege. Poor white women, on the other hand, are going to be able to relate in personals, in concrete examples of their lives. THIS IS WHAT I WAS SAYING. And this DIFFERENCE, this politic of difference is so often ignored and overlooked and I feel that that is very unfortunate. This thread is called “Allies Talking” and I feel this point of difference between Allies was completely appropriate here.

  76. davka says:

    I’m sorry because I feel I have disrespected ABW’s blogspace with my insults. So I was sorry as soon as I did and I wanted to delete it, but it was too late. I am not sorry for defending myself against someone who is trying to silence me and make me look like a fool. Nope.

  77. Angel H. says:

    I reacted poorly to Angel’s comments because I found them totally condescending and nasty and I don’t react well to that, sorry. I can take anger and I can take criticism and I can take having my card pulled, but I can’t take people being knee-jerkingly shitty to me, which is what I saw her doing.

    All I’ve ever done was call you out on your own stupid shit. And when I did so, you refused to back up what you said, backpedaled, and started calling me names. And I’m the one who’s supposed to be “acting shitty”!

    I am not sorry for defending myself against someone who is trying to silence me and make me look like a fool.

    As far as “trying to silence you” (which, BTW, I find incredibly ironic considering the whole Seal Press, Marcotte, white feminism fiasco), I’ve even made some concessions towards your point. You’ve refused to do otherwise.

    As for making you look like a fool, you don’t need any help on that one.

  78. davka says:

    Tom Head, I don’t feel I was doing what you said I was doing. I never denied being white. I said I would never accept it completely and all I meant was that I feel differences need to be recognized within that category. When a word portrays me as having the exact same experience as middle class people, I take issue with it. This never meant that I didn’t use it to describe myself- for these very reasons you speak of. I never denied my privilege. I never denied my whiteness. You both keep insisting that that is what I did, but I didn’t.

  79. Angel H. says:

    I never denied my privilege. I never denied my whiteness. You both keep insisting that that is what I did, but I didn’t.

    Yeah. You did:

    I do have a problem with these definitions of white. White is anyone who benefits from white privilege?…I find it bothers me to have this umbrella term of White although I understand its use and I agree with it in a lot of ways, but I know my people are not at all in community with the white, middle class feminists in question recently. My people are not at all included in the popular discourse. My people are not at all in that liminal space we are speaking of. I’m not saying they don’t enjoy white privileges, but to paint all white people as khaki wearing upper middle class power monopolists, it isn’t fair and it erases my experience and I don’t feel comfortable with that.

    What really interests me is why you would lump the term “White” to primarily mean middle-class.

    Oh well. It’s not like you’re going to read this post since you haven’t read any of the others. If you want to bitch about me, I may as well give you something real to bitch about:

    DAVKA IS TEH EVIL111!!!!ELEV!!!!111 KILL WHITEY!!!!

    ….what-the-fuck-ever….

  80. davka says:

    Angel, I made concessions towards your point. Didn’t I? I said you were right that I am white and I tried to explain to you what I meant because I never meant to deny whiteness- I merely meant to articulate the lack of difference in the word and how that makes me feel. I never gave an alternative word because any alternative word would deny my privilege, so I admitted my quagmire. I know what you’re saying and you’re right and I don’t disagree with you in general, I really feel like you are misunderstanding me. I even said you might be right about this being the wrong place for this discussion, but then I rethought it and “Allies Talking” seemed like the perfect place for it. I think my show comment is what sparked your frustration and when I reread it I can see why, but I didn’t mean to say that those artists of color don’t have a complete right to that space- I said as a poor working class person I definitely felt some class anger towards them and felt like they were being class-blind and denying my class perspective because of my whiteness and I feel like no way am I ever going to accept that.

    Argh this is going nowhere. I am just addressing my need to use different language- not a different word than White, but language that addresses poor people as such because they wont listen to me otherwise.

    The show example killed my point because any way you read it it reads like a whiney white person asking for more space. I was just trying to give an example of where race and class are mixing in ways that are confusing people and making potential allies misunderstand each other.

  81. davka says:

    angel, haha, i’m reading your posts. i’m sorry this misunderstanding is happening and i’m sorry if i’ve misunderstood your righteous frustration. i’m also sorry for insulting you personally. i’ve looked at your blog and you’re a great writer and thinker. i’m done with this because i am monopolizing space. i’m not trying to ignore you, i was a few minutes ago because i was being a baby, but i’m over that.

    my email’s on my blog if you want to discuss further, but i’m sure you’re busy and done with this frustrating shit anyway.

  82. Pingback: Where did I learn my racism? « In a strange land
  83. Trackback: Where did I learn my racism? « In a strange land
  84. Pingback: On Being an Ally: Admitting When You’re Wrong « The Mustard Seed
  85. Trackback: On Being an Ally: Admitting When You’re Wrong « The Mustard Seed

Comments are closed.


Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_search() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_where() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_fields() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_request() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_search() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_where() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_fields() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Warning: Parameter 2 to SyndicationDataQueries::posts_request() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/fluid13/public_html/abw/wp/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298