Thursday, October 11, 2007

So I’ve been thinking more and more about white liberals and white people in general. Growing up in the US as a Black woman who later discovered that she was a lesbian has definitely influenced my outlook on life. I’ve always gone to integrated schools, and I’ve been so use to being the only person of color or one of a few in a classroom that I hardly even notice it anymore. I still get annoyed and aggravated when I don’t see any people of color on a television show, but not aggravated enough to stop watching.

As I’m writing this I’m in class, a class about sexuality from a historical perspective and in this class I’m one of two people of color out of about 20, and it’s a shame to say that its to the point that I forget that I’m out numbered because it happens so often in my life. But in this class there is usually one of my good friends a nice white liberal, she got her masters in Black studies and studies post colonial Africa, she’s aware of her privilege supposedly, but I have to constantly still call her on some of the stupid and down right ignorant things she says. She takes pride in being so open minded, progressive, she talks about it all the time. She calls herself a Black feminist; she even created a facebook group for progressive white people. She talks about not caring about being the only white person or one of two in a class, but I don’t think she really gets it. I don’t think most white people really get it, even white liberals.

They talk about being allies but in the end they’re all more concerned with getting their “black card,” being considered down. It’s sickening. People of color are expected to get used to being out numbered in work, school and everywhere else outside of their community and when in this world we must conform to their standards for everything. While they claim to have relinquished their privilege, they really haven’t but rather they have transformed the ways in which they gain their privilege. Now they want to be applauded and celebrated for their willingness to enter the world of the colored people, and not lynching them as they enter. I’m just so tired of it all dealing with them, now while I’m saying they and them I don’t mean all white liberals and certainly not all white people. I’m just tired of putting up with all the bull shit.

There is a quote by Barbara Smith that says

“Quiet as it's kept, whether we are "rioting" or not, most African Americans live every day with greater or lesser amounts of rage toward white people and the system that gives them power and privilege to decimate our lives. I know I do”
and I think that’s what I’ve been dealing with more and more lately I have a lot of anger built up inside against white people and I do mean this in a general way. This isn’t to say that there aren’t white people that I love dearly, but deep down I’m pissed at them for the privilege that they have and use everyday. I’m working on this anger because I realize that this isn’t healthy. I’ve been reading Alice Walker’s the temple of my familiar and I have been captivated by the gospel according to Shug if you haven’t read them before here they are:

HELPED are those who are enemies of their own racism; they shall live in harmony with the citizens of this world, and not with those of their ancestors, which has passed away, and which they shall never see again.

HELPED are those born from love: conceived in their father's tenderness and their mother's orgasm, for they shall be those - numbers of whom will be called "illegitimate" whose spirits shall know no boundaries, even between heaven and earth, and whose eyes shall reveal the spark of the love that was their own creation. They shall know joy equal to their suffering and they will lead multitudes into dancing and Peace.

HELPED are those too busy living to respond when they are wrongfully attacked: on their walks they shall find mysteries so intriguing as to distract them from every blow.

HELPED are those who find something in Creation to admire each and every hour. Their days will overflow with beauty and the darkest dungeon will offer gifts.

HELPED are those who receive only to give; always in their house will be the circular energy of generosity; and in their hearts a beginning of new age on Earth: when no keys will be needed to unlock the heart and no locks will be needed on the doors.

HELPED are those who love the stranger; in this they reflect the heart of the Creator and that of the Mother.

HELPED are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant.

HELPED are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity.

HELPED are those who live in quietness, knowing neither brand name nor fad; they shall live every day as if in eternity, and each moment shall be full as it is long.

HELPED are those who love others unsplit off from their faults; to them will be given clarity of vision.

HELPED are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception, and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.

HELPED are those who love the Earth, their mother, and who willingly suffer that she may no die; in their grief over her pain they will weep rivers of blood, and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with trees.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for harmony in the Universe, for they are the restorers of balance to our planet. To them will be given the insight that every good act done anywhere in the cosmos welcomes the life of an animal or a child.

HELPED are those who risk themselves for others' sakes; to them will be given increasing opportunities for ever greater risks. Theirs will be a vision of the world in which no one's gift is despised or lost.

HELPED are those who strive to give up their anger; their reward will be that in any confrontation their first thoughts will never be of violence or war.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for peace; on them depends the future of the world.

HELPED are those who forgive; their reward shall be forgetfulness of every evil done to them. It will be in their power, therefore, to envision the new Earth.

HELPED are those who are shown the existence of the Creator's magic in the Universe, they shall experience delight and astonishment without ceasing.

HELPED are those who laugh with a pure heart; theirs will be the company of the jolly righteous.

HELPED are those who love all the colors of all the human beings, as they love all the colors of animals and plants; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

HELPED are those who love the lesbian, the gay, and the straight, as they love the sun, the moon, and the stars. None of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

HELPED are those who love the broken and the whole; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any of themselves shall be despised.

HELPED are those who do not join mobs; theirs shall be the understanding that to attack in anger is to murder in confusion.

HELPED are those who find the courage to do at least one small thing each day to help the existence of another - plant, animal, river, or other human being. They shall be joined by a multitude of the timid.

HELPED are those who lose their fear of death; theirs is the power to envision the future in a blade of grass.

HELPED are those who love and actively support the diversity of life; they shall be secure in their differentness.

HELPED are those who know.

What I love is that she’s really talking about dealing with your anger, and even in the book one of the character’s is struggling because she keeps having dreams where she’s killing white people and then trying to put them back together. She’s struggling because she doesn’t want to do this but she keeps having these dreams. I think what Alice walker was talking about was this underlying anger. All I know is that I’m going to have to do something to deal with this anger and the white liberals that I’m coming in to contact with.


Darkmind said...

Imagine the plight of the multiracial, who are rejected even by those who share thier ethnicity. Forced to be outwardly hateful of one part of your own heritage in order to glorify another choose 'sides'. This superficial hatred has always sickened me about humanity. At least you KNOW you are a black lesbian. You have no doubts or personal delema about it. Imagine how terribly alone you would feel if even that was not certain. Trust me, its no fun when EVERYONE looks at you with the mindset of "You're not one of us" no matter what race they are.

Journey_Wmn said...

You're right Darkmind, things are fucked up in this country. I think its the way that race was constructed that has left a lot of animosity and anger for a lot of people.

Jason Hughes said...

I'll admit I'm an ignorant white person who does have privelege and I can't even begin to fathom what life is like from your perspective...

But I still thank you for sharing it in a public forum... I know I don't comment a lot, but I do enjoy reading about your thoughts and perspectives on life, and hopefully it's one way in which we can bridge the racial gap that does exist, whether white (liberal or conservative) people like to admit it or not...

Jason Hughes said...

If you'll permit me to ask--what do you feel needs to happen between to differing racial communities to work toward a better social environment of equality for all?

I'll admit--I have no clue. I have no idea how to undo the past history we share, or even if it needs undoing, or how to heal the wound that blacks are so angry about and whites feel guilty for!

And should you be angry? Should I feel guilty?

Bear with me--my mind almost always goes to parallels to my religious past--but I feel as if we're trying to atone for an original sin we had nothing to do with, but unwillingly perpetuate without realizing it, know what I mean?

As you deal with anger, and I deal with guilt, for a past neither of us had control over, I'm wondering what, if anything, you might see as a solution (or at least a start) to seeing true equality on every level of American life?

Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling...

Journey_Wmn said...

Jason you bring up some really good questions. In terms of what we can do? what's the ultimate answer? I have no idea. I started to delete this post because I was coming off a lot angrier than I wanted to. But, in retrospect I think its good that I leave it up because the truth is I am mad, and I need to be true to my anger and acknowledge it. I think that's a big problem, is that i feel like a lot of Black people who are actually concerned with working with whites suppress their anger and i think it needs to be acknowledged because its real and within this anger I think holds the clues to what we need to do.

This is always a rough topic to deal with because its so sensitive. When you talk about how you feel like talk about race mirrors talk in Christianity of this original sin that we need to atone for, I think that you hint at something thats very important to healing this riff. I think your view is very reflective of the way many whites feel about the whole issue of race and racism, and as a Black woman I feel like it isn't some far off original sin, but its the constant reminder of this racist hierarchy, the white privilege that still exists that makes me angry, and this disconnect between white people and Black people holds a large part of the problem. I think we need to have more open honest dialogs in safe spaces, where we can acknowledge each other's opinion and work together to dismantle this system that reinforces this negativity. I don't think that's the ultimate answer but I think its a start.

TS ;) said...

I'm glad you didn't delete the post... truth is... it's just not a black/white issue... as a Latina I can honestly say I've felt all you've felt yet so often... yet Latino's are not EVEN discussed often in this discourse of race in the graduate classroom [I've been there too! I know!]. Whenever THE discussion is had... more often than not the focus on race relations tends to focus on the white/black and so often the shades of gray that exist in this world... that are as troubled and angry at the bs that goes on... fades to the point of irrelevance... to the point of invisibility. Which is why I wonder if it would be more conducive to advancement in these topics of race if we educate or collaborate as a united whole composed of those of color.. those seen.. deemed... as other… that DON'T have the privilege… to somehow more productively engage [not necessarily educate..] those that have that white knapsack. Like you... I don't hate white people... far from it... yet truth be told the things... the words that come out of the mouths of my white babes sometimes... wow... they don't even realize it as wrong and that is the sad part... great entry... good food for thought! And I've been hungry….!!!!

Jason Hughes said...

To Journey: I agree that an open discussion about the feelings of anger, and the feelings of guilt by whites, can only help bridge the divide... I just wish we had a giant Dr Phil in the house to give us all a quick fix! :D I am glad you posted this post about your anger--bottling up feelings--esp such strong feelings--isn't healthy for anyone!

And in regards to your comment: "the constant reminder of this racist hierarchy, the white privilege that still exists that makes me angry, and this disconnect between white people and Black people holds a large part of the problem...", I would just say that the sin itself, oir the origin of the disparity between our social olivestoday started with the whole concept that we weren't equals, you are right in that the effects continue to live on today...

I also agree with you, ts, in that the whole "race" talk needs to be more inclusive of the "rivalry" going on between the Hispanic/Latino population and whites--and dare I say, the Latino-Black divide in some California cities! When whites and blacks talk about race, however, we are usually referring to the slavery past (which, admitedly, did involve more than some of latino descent and Native American descent persons), while the Hispanic/Latino and white race discussions usually involve a feeling by whites of our "culture" being "usurped" by a great influx from central American regions, which brings with it what seems to be a completely different set of issues between our cultures... (please note I'm not saying the white culture is correct in their stance of fearing a usurping of their way of life, I'm just trying to clarify how I see the situation).

I will admit I have been nervous about talking on my blog about black-white cultural divides, I have touched on the Spanish-speaking cultural divide to or three times here, here, and here, just to point out a few...

So perhaps I will take courage from Journey speaking about her views and feelings on the race issue, and challenge myself to confront my readers with this issue...

I think part of the reason I've been reluctant to post about these topics myself is that they can become pretty explosive pretty quickly, and I suppose I fear a backlash against myself baring any feelings I may have, and fear being portrayed as racist or a bigot... But if we live in fear, we can never hope to grow, am I right?

So hopefully by the end of the week, I will post about race relatins in America, and I hope you both will stop by and give some honest feedbackwhen I do get it up, in the hopes that, though we may not change the world, we canb at least hope to understand each other a bit better...

Hope you all have a good one!

FCSuper said...

I don't buy it. Each person is responsible for their own actions and their own life. I boldly say with my real street cred (as a child homeless once, on welfare, food stamps, low-income housing, multiracial family, etc, etc and ETC) that there is no such thing as a "white privilege". Whites treat each other as badly as blacks feel they are treated by whites, just with more flavorful euphemisms and more sinister methods. There are social injustices, and there is prejudice against blacks, but "white privilege" is a term I find to be over simplistic, a bit ignorant and really self-absorbed, if not down right offensive. It's a term that serves as an excuse for anger over one's plight instead of addressing the issue of personal responsibility. It doesn't matter what someone else does to a person. That person's anger derives from within and only acts against the person experiencing it.

mom said...

hello! i have to say thanks to my wonderful son, jason, he is helping me open my mind and read other blogs and i just read what you wrote. i have to say don't understand everything you wrote but i am trying my best. we all have angry thoughts and feelings and guilt but it is what you do with them all that counts. if you are always looking at things with a negative outlook you will not help yourself or others that you are around. now maybe i am watering this know a bit but you being angry because you are the only black woman around in a classroom should not make you angry but happy you are giving the other white people a good dose of color! :) being angry and guilty brings you down more than it does anyone else. i never was in the upper living class growing up and always had someone making fun of me and than i had a mother that didn't help matters and never had a chance to go to college and was encouraged to find a husband. i never had my own car even!! my brothers did and even after i married my car went to one of my kids usually. i remember we had only 1 car for a couple of years and i was home with 3 young ones. now i can look back and complain or look back and see that these things made me appreciate what i do have. i feel in general we all are better than before. i think we are all talking far more than ever about issues on all fronts. like anything we all need to keep at it. it might seem slow in coming but you only have to do is look back a bit and things were a lot worse. each of us have some great things about us all and we have to keep bringing that out and count the blessings we do have. i don't care if you are black, gay, purple with pink dots we all are special and have something to give back to help others. we can learn from all. some to be like or some not to be like. hold your head up high when you walk into that room with only whites in it. love and prayers

JP said...

As one who grew up in Philadelphia, I was able to experience all walks of life. I do not believe this country is divided over race anymore (though racial issues still are there), I see this country divided more on economic lines, rich/poor. That is the true divider. You are correct that your anger towards white folks is unhealthy, its also flat out unfair.
Again I am NOT stating that racial discrimination doesn't exist, I am just stating where I believe the true divide to be. Being one of 2 blacks in a class of 20, as unfortunate as it maybe, doesnt that reflect the general population? Last I read on demographics, blacks make up 13% of the population. It's not right or wrong, just the way it is.

My 2 cents, but I am just a white liberal :-)

“I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.” ~Audre Lorde