For those of you who don't see why any of this matters, please read these (heartbreaking, to me) posts: closing a door, softly,
operating in hostile territory.

For those of you either baffled by the calls for sf pros to take a stand or who feel that requests for statements of position are McCarthy-like, there are two things that shed light on that for me, neither of which were part of the current discussion.

One is a beautifully written blog post off LJ: ...white friends who don’t understand race and all it’s implications may hurt you deeply, consciously or unconsciously. It’s not about a friend you’ve hung out with for years one day turning on you and yelling a racial epithet or trying to beat you up or anything of that nature. No, it’s about the smaller things. As my friend and housemate Jackie put it “People can die by a thousand cuts.” and it’s much more painful that way.

The other is that, in my experience, for a woman to discover how her male friends, relatives, and/or significant others define rape is typically not a happy or comforting moment.

In light of those experiences and the societal racism and sexism that cause them, it does not surprise me that some people want to know who considers their experiences and feelings and lives important, and who doesn't.

From: [identity profile] wintersweet.livejournal.com


Yeah, I get a lot of things that I didn't before, or I get them better than I did before (and I realize there are a lot of things I still don't get, and things that I never will get).

During the aftermath of Prop 8 there was a point when I said that people (like my cousin) who didn't consider me human enough (due to being bisexual) to get married enough to C. had C. been female could just identify themselves so that we could end our association. And that was a pain that was brief and not lifelong and that comes from something I can easily hide and not think about and that other people don't see and that rarely comes up.* Dealing with the risk of worse hurt constantly as in the link, well, augh. Much more painful doesn't even begin to cover it. I am at a loss as to whether to continue posting links in my journal because so far there's been a great deal of "bouncing-off," not just in comments but in other people's post in their own journals in response. I don't know.

*No analogies here because NOT THE SAME THING and I know it very well.

From: [identity profile] cija.livejournal.com


For those of you either baffled by the calls for sf pros to take a stand or who feel that requests for statements of position are McCarthy-like

I am not happy with the language of privilege for a number of reasons, but it does have its uses sometimes. It has become clear to me that the one privilege most white people not only expect to have but demand to keep and cling to indignantly is the privilege of being presumed not to be racist. It isn't the most rational position.

I was thinking of how I frequently say that I assume every normal man is a feminist--sometimes I say straight out that every normal (or rational) man is a feminist. What I really mean is that I talk as though I assume that, in an effort to make it true for real. I behave as though I believe that, as a deliberate and conscious tactic that is sometimes productive and sometimes not.

So, I too am against compulsory loyalty oaths and obligations of speech and all that, but this really is a special situation and it really isn't brave and badass to stay quiet on principle. White people who don't want to have to prove they're not racist are not thinking about what that means. Because of course some non-white people choose to treat us all as allies until we prove we aren't, but I think that doing so is an act of hope and faith and political principle, and holding to principle in the face of reality is brave, tiring, and sometimes foolish. So rather than ask, Why should I have to say anything? why not ask, rather, Why sit back in comfort and make other people take a dangerous leap of faith, when they wouldn't have to if I made a tiny effort?

I still don't care for big self-important position statements, not least because they are unconvincing, but I think it is only decent to let people know where you stand. At a time like this, especially, but most times are times like this.

From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


It has become clear to me that the one privilege most white people not only expect to have but demand to keep and cling to indignantly is the privilege of being presumed not to be racist. It isn't the most rational position.

Damn, yes.

From: [identity profile] mckennl.livejournal.com


"It has become clear to me that the one privilege most white people not only expect to have but demand to keep and cling to indignantly is the privilege of being presumed not to be racist. It isn't the most rational position."

Seriously. What is the deal with that?

I don't really understand it. I was raised that being a racist is a VERY BAD THING, but why should everyone on the interwebs presume that of me? Or presume anything? How would they know? It effing kills me when some white person goes, "Well anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm not a racist." REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Because that's not how it works, even according to the not-exactly-groundbreaking most recent episode of "Lie to Me" on FOX, for heaven's sakes.

And why should I, as a white person, presume that my work on racism is done because I believe Racism Is Bad? Or because Racism is the "nuclear option" -- WTF, where does that leave anyone who wants to do work on it?

From: [identity profile] cija.livejournal.com


"Well anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm not a racist."

yeah-- by contrast, it happens to be true that anybody who knows anything about me knows that I'm a feminist. But how do they know that? Is it because a golden anti-misogynist aura shines off of me? No! They know because I NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

(There are lots of ways to display good-will, and I reluctantly concede that not all of them involve never shutting up, but you have to do something if you want anybody to notice or feel safe around you or whatever.)

& yes it is a little different because in discussions of race, unlike gender, I don't have the instinctive rock-solid certainty that I know what I am talking about and I know who should be allowed to live and who must be destroyed--or, in fact I do, but I am aware that I am not an authority in the same way--but if I never said anything, how would anybody know I cared or what I thought? They wouldn't. I think a lot of people just figure that if nobody's calling them a racist, they must be doing fine.

brownbetty: (Default)

From: [personal profile] brownbetty


yeah-- by contrast, it happens to be true that anybody who knows anything about me knows that I'm a feminist. But how do they know that? Is it because a golden anti-misogynist aura shines off of me? No! They know because I NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

Hah! Yes, this. QFT.

From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


I think it is because being racist is a VERY BAD THING, and it is wrong to presume VERY BAD THINGS of people. So there's a lot of insistence that people must always assume that someone is non-racist and this non-racistness completely erases any behavior that might possibly be perceived as racist.

From: [identity profile] mckennl.livejournal.com


Also, and this is what's killing me right now, there's a complete refusal to even *engage* in discussion of white privilege. It's like something people don't believe it, or Intelligent Design. "Oh I don't believe in all that, let me cut-and-paste another dictionary definition of "racism" here."

ext_2507: Green-jacketed library books (Default)

From: [identity profile] rosefox.livejournal.com


I've seen a few people say "When I speak up I'm told to listen more and when I sit quietly and listen I'm told that I'm complicit by my silence", and others say "I do all this anti-racist stuff in the real world, why do I need to trumpet it online?" and it just makes me want to scream. If you're asked to listen when you're speaking up, then you're speaking out of turn. If you're asked to speak up when you're silent, then you're being passive when action is called for. If you're only anti-racist some places and not others--and in particular, if you're only anti-racist in places where there's no record of your behavior and no archive of your words--then you're doing it wrong. How hard is this? Seriously?

From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com


The other is that, in my experience, for a woman to discover how her male friends, relatives, and/or significant others define rape is typically not a happy or comforting moment.

Rape or sexual harassment. I've definitely been there.

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com


Thank you for consistently being clear and supportive on these issues, it matters a lot to me to see.

From: [identity profile] tevriel.livejournal.com


I know exactly what you mean. I hadn't really thought about it - I defaulted to assuming that everyone was like me - until I realised that when I spoke out against people being racist, whether defending strangers from a loudmouth on a train (the look of silent gratitude and joy I got from the woman I was standing up for was both heartwarming and deeply, deeply depressing, because it was clear that as well as being happy someone interceded on her behalf, it was also something she found surprising and unexpected, which really shouldn't be the case), or arguing with the racist preconceptions of an acquaintance, whether in the presence of my non-white friends or not - it was noticeable, something that provoked shocked anger from white racists and active pleasure from the non-white folk.

(Note: I have trouble using the phrase "people of colour", I really do. Where I come from it's an awkwardly loaded term that smacks of condescension, whereas "non-white" is value-neutral. Hooray for cultural differences.)

I'm probably expressing this badly, but what I've realised is that being an anti-racist person is not something you can assume people will think you are, because most people aren't. Most people exercise the privilege to ignore it and hope it all goes away. (I'm no saint; I call it when I see it and I will fight it at length, but I don't have the spoons to seek it out, or take the fight beyond my immediate environment.)

If you (where by You I mean Generic White Person) want people to think you're genuinely against racism - and to get past the invisible barrier that, I find, will often stand between you and your non-white friends until they find that you're truly on their side in this - you have to show it by your actions. You have to acknowledge that it's all around and fight it too.

It's exhausting and tiresome. At the end of a long day, when I'm stressed and depressed and my brain is fried, the last thing I want to do is have to deal with shutting down some asshole who's making things uncomfortable for the Indian woman on the train, the one who's looking hurt and shuttered and sad.

But even if no-one else is saying anything, if all the other white people on the train are studiously pretending they can't hear it, then I have to. Thinking "someone should tell that guy to shut up, he's such a racist asshole" doesn't make you an anti-racist. You're not really against racism unless you follow that thought with "and that someone is me".

If nothing else, even as a woman, knowing that I'm a white woman, an important privilege I have in that situation is knowing that all the other white people on the train won't let that jerk physically assault me, and he's much less likely to feel he's justified in following me off and attacking me later. The Indian woman can have no such certainty. Screw my anti-racist cred, my "being an even halfway decent human being" status is in doubt if I don't speak up.

And it's all just like that.

Sorry for the extended rant. :(

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


No problem, it's a great rant!

I am considering attempting to alternate my own usage of POC vs non-white online, since unfortunately each term is considered preferred vs. vaguely condescending, depending on where you are!

From: [identity profile] tevriel.livejournal.com


re: non-white/POC, I know what you mean. I sometimes try to use PoC if that's the term being used in the discussion in general, but I'm more likely to do it if I'm talking to someone who is non-white and I know definitely prefers that term, as a matter of courtesy. In general, though, I'll say non-white and include the disclaimer, because it makes *me* seriously uncomfortable to use language that is, to me, racist. (Or any -ist, really.) So I'll try to overcome that if I think not doing so will make someone *else* uncomfortable, but I'm aiming for a happy balance. (Apart from anything else, though, I don't want to make using "PoC" a habit.)
.

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