yeloson: (pic#459017)
2012-03-23 12:32 am

Maslov's Hierarchy of Privilege

I've been thinking a bit about privilege, oppression, and how it plays out.

There's the classic Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs- the basics, food/clothing/shelter, then up to things like freedom and entertainment, etc. From the most basic needs to survive to the things which are necessary to thrive.

The way privilege rolls, is that some people's wants matter more than other people's needs.

"My freedom of speech matters MORE than you not being shot."
"My right to religious practice matters MORE than you not dying of horrible, treatable, medical conditions."

We're not even talking about two things on the same level of needs - where we can start really exploring ethics- we're just talking about "My less life necessary thing is more important than your MORE life necessary thing because you don't fucking matter."

Anyway, I've been thinking about this a lot, right now, because of Trayvon Martin. He's murdered. Not being shot is pretty much one of those basic needs to live. And the ways in which people are talking about this only highlight this issue.

For example- white people's "need" to have black people always appear non-threatening (mind you, non-threatening blackness is a series of ever-moving goalposts which cannot be met, short of not being black) MATTERS MORE than Travyon's need to have not been shot. White people's need to feel as if racism is over, and not have to deal with it, matters more than the fact there is a dead child.

That's on that, directly.

But shit like the Occupy folks jumping over the Million Hoodie protests? Again, white people's need to be the center of attention, over recognizing a horrible murder.

And that's what this is, and what we're going to see, throughout ALL Of this. They're going to claim reverse racism when anyone asks for anything resembling parity on Maslov's hierarchy of needs.

The backlash is going to be the fact that we, are caring TOO MUCH about a person of color.
yeloson: (Default)
2011-12-13 02:38 pm

Bootstraps 101

Expanding a thought from Twitter.

So, according to the media and tons of people giving advice to POC is that the only sure road to success is hard work.

But when you see successful POC, or, specifically, successful black people, then the refrain is that the only way they could have possibly succeeded is unfair affirmative action.

The only way both of these could be true is if you subscribe to the idea that in the entire world of POC, no one has ever worked hard, and only white people work hard.

Of course, if that is true, then there is no point in telling POC to work hard, because you are believing it to be biologically impossible for them to do so for that many people to have NEVER worked hard.
yeloson: (Default)
2011-09-21 01:48 pm

See you at the next new cause of the week

I'm a little too tired and jaded to really be emotionally up about Troy Davis.

Which isn't to say it isn't fucked up, but rather, yes it's fucked up AND that it's fucked up the way in which white liberals hop onto a cause of the week and proceed to do what, for them, is the most entertaining and exciting form of protest, and also the least useful.

Racialized death sentencing is generations old. Police forcing false witness testimony is also not new. So now everyone's calling the governor and holding vigils.


Where's the forming of a solid voting block? How about getting together lawyers to draft some legislation (banning death penalties, better appeals processes, police accountability)? Will there be serious education about all of this, tomorrow, next week, or next year? Or will it all have disappeared, because none of that is as "fun" or exciting as having a rally?

I'm thinking also about all the white liberal folks who say they're up for "teaching Obama a lesson" - how nice and privileged it is to consider voting for someone else, people who aren't declaring you non-people and that your health rights or ability to have full rights under the law aren't in question.

I saw white people saying, "Don't play the race card!" when talking about Troy Davis. Really? With the next gay bashing, will we say, "Don't play the Queer card!!!"?

MLK's quote about the white moderate being a bigger obstruction to justice than the plain haters is still true. I think in these cases, we've got justice tourists- people who are happy to march so they can say they marched and feel good about themselves and it's really just too bad that people died/injustice happened anyway. It lets them enjoy their hate on for "the man" as a fun crusade, and not as something that deals with their community's survival or their own.

All the white savior narratives have them being worshipped for helping the POC and taking down the 1 or 2 white people running the hate operation, none of those stories show them having to sacrifice everything because white culture doesn't change easily, or without showing the worst of it's evil to those dismantling it.

It's easy to hold a vigil for a night. It's tough to live life on the job of changing things, because nearly everything needs to be changed.
yeloson: (Default)
2011-08-08 07:55 am

Convenient Solidarity and Black Servitude in Activism

Of Activists, Feminism, and Mammy Issues breaks down the whole expectation that black folks are somehow supposed to also go fight everyone else's battles as well as their own.

I think it's real interesting, clueless, and fucked up how many folks can't be bothered to learn something about black rights and the battles fought here, and simply buy into the McDonald's/American Kumbayah story that "Now all the black peoples are free and happy!" and imagine that, now everyone's sitting on beemers and Oval Office desks, and dammit, why aren't they helping anyone else?

The Reference to the Court of Appeals post puts it nicely:

The reference to ‘court of appeals’ is a metaphor for how (‘american’) Blacks are often expected to authenticate the suffering of non-Black people of color. For instance, I’ve read the work of diasporic South Asians who have faulted ‘american’ Blacks for not caring sufficiently about (or even supposedly participating in) the profiling of people-who-look-‘Muslim’ at airports. What gets erased is that, before Sept. 11, diasporic South Asians weren’t organized against racial profiling because it was Blacks who were (and still are) being racially profiled.

So ‘solidarity’ is always supposed to go in one direction, *from* ‘american’ Blacks *to* non-Black people of color. When non-Black people of color are in trouble, Black people are supposed to be front and center validating the struggle with their presence, even though non-Black people of color are only there for Blacks when it’s convenient.

There's a real split between "Get mine activism" and actual, equality & human rights activism. The former has a simple, fucked up goal - which is to get the same privileges as white men. Not to actually get equality for everyone, but just for themselves and maybe a few folks like them.

That mentality shows itself really quickly- they're only upset when it comes to power being used against them, but no one else, and unsurprisingly, accept that basic concept - that black people are supposed to be magical negros mammies for the cause subservient StepinFetchit "Allies" when they need it, though they remain silent in the face of police murder, economic targeting, focused relocation (who remembers Katrina?), and a host of other, goddamn-it's-blatant bullshit.

I had a conversation on Twitter awhile ago, pointing out the problems of how quick a lot of East Asian Americans are to buy into being #2 on the racial hierarchy system. If you have any understanding of racism, then it's pretty clear that your duty is to step up as an ally MORE if you've got privileges than it is expect more from the people with LESS or NO privilege.

And frankly, if you couldn't be bothered to know the people and listen to them who you're now asking for support? That you understand their history through the propaganda of the oppressors? Why should they ally with you?

There's no such thing as "equality for one" - either we all get it or it doesn't exist. "Get mine" greedy activism, in the end, only becomes the oppression it claims it's fighting, and in the end, supports it the entire way.

ETA: A nice commentary on willful ignorance with regards to black folks while demanding servitude in activism
yeloson: (Default)
2011-06-13 11:23 am

Stories Stolen, part 2 million and 1

Between white people pretending to be lesbian women of color and trying to get lucrative book deals (in order to, "better direct white people to listen to real women of color and real stories..."UM), and People of color still needing white people to stand in as metaphors in 2011 in movies...

I'm reminded more and more why I organize stuff like the Remyth Project or the APIA Spoken Word Summit:

Our stories are our voices are our lives are our history. These are the words they put in our mouths, steal from our mouths, silence with time and gatekeepers. These are the ways they turn us from people into imaginary beings and magical Not People in a Not History.
yeloson: (pic#459020)
2011-05-24 03:52 pm

White Feminist Privilege Diary #1

A timely article: White Feminist Privilege Diary Series

"Why," they wanted to know, "can't we attract women of color to our organization? And when they do show up, why don't they stay?" Sometimes I worked alone, but often I worked with an African American feminist partner. We found, over time, a depressing similarity of pattern as, one after another, the organizations we counseled decided that our suggestions would be "too difficult" to implement. This diary describes my experiences in the world of white feminist organizations and NGOs, and offers an analysis of the key problems of white privilege and the investment of many white feminist institutions in racist practices.

I found this bit at the end particularly on point:

Anyone who has done anti-racist work for more than a few years has run up against this problem: most racists are happy being racists, and simply don't want to change. But at the same time they want to be protected from accusations of racism, and resent anyone who makes them "feel bad" about it.
yeloson: (pic#459020)
2011-05-17 11:29 pm

By any means necessary

Between listening to the Yuri Kochiyama cut and reading Ta Nehisi Coates on Malcolm X, I'm reminded how much white folks freak out about the phrase, "By any means necessary" and ignore the fact that, you know, the means could be as simple as "Hey stop that." "Ok" and what level of investment white society had in oppression that made discussion a non-functional tactic without further action.

And, you know, the levels of cognitive dissonance necessary in the face of firebombings, assassinations, rape and lynchings to believe that the problem was it was black people who weren't being peaceful enough.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-07-09 08:34 am

How we play with words

A man is murdered in cold blood.

A trial is held. "Intention" "training" etc. Now the man was "accidentally killed". By a professional, trained to use his tools.

A protest is held. But the next day, all the headlines read is "Mobs tear apart Oakland".

No need to state colors here. We know who you're thinking of.

As always, the conjured imagery doesn't match the reality:

Kill our people in the name of justice. Destroy our city in the name of justice.

Your justice always seems to involve the suffering of us, like when you helped civilize the land, like when you kidnapped our children, like when you gave us diseased blankets, like when you stole some of us away, like when you told us we couldn't bring families, like when you refused to pay us for building your infrastructure and ran us out of town, like when you put us in camps, like when you killed us because you couldn't face the rapists in your own communities, like when you gave us, "separate but equal" schools, like every time you put us to an all white jury, like every time you "bring jobs" with poisonous factories to our countries, like every time you "revitalize" our neighborhoods by knocking down our churches and business, like every time you talk about us.

Your justice is a lot like murder, no wonder you stick to your convictions and refuse to give convictions.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-05-01 12:16 am

Whose ice is colder?

"I'm going to tell you what to do with your money!"

A Black family decides to shop only at Black owned businesses for a year.

I'm saddened but not surprised at the difficulty. I'm also not surprised at the backlash against them. I think nothing incurs white anger faster than POC making open declarations of attempting to build their own bases of power from which to operate.

The backlash they got is ridiculous and yet so revealing; it's a society-wide abuse dynamic. You might be able to yell, or even hit an abuser in return, but anything that smacks of leaving the relationship, of achieving an option of NOT needing them, whether that's a career, life, or relationships outside of it? That's the kind of stuff that earns the harshest reprisals.

In this case, suggesting they were going to spend their money, how they wanted to? WHITE RAGE. I mean, for the same folks who tell us Affirmative Action is a bad idea, are now telling other people how to spend their hard earned money... that they're now no longer willing to trust in competition, meritocracy, and the market forces to handle it... suddenly THIS is a threat?

Leaving = Hating, or something

This backlash isn't a new idea to me- I've encountered it many, many times before.

It says a lot about someone when they react negatively to this statement, "Here is a (business, community, organization) where I am treated poorly and receive poor service. I'm going to go elsewhere, or, if the means are available, to build an elsewhere, where this doesn't happen."

I mean, they babble around the issues a lot, but ultimately it comes down to, "No! You can't do that! Why are you so full of hate and rage? Why do you want to harm these people?"

Last I checked, "I'm leaving" is usually the least harmful and least hateful way to respond to negativity.

Fascinating that it is now considered an act of aggression. Of course, if you know how abuse dynamics work and how abusers get when you try to leave... well, there's that backlash right there.

I think what is happening when people make these arguments is that they're desperately trying to defend their world-view that this situation isn't actually what it is. That they're not participating in a system that's treating some worse than others (which might be their role as perpetrator, or person acted upon by people they care about, or both).

The abuser and the abused are often both deeply committed to maintaining the illusion of a functional situation, because otherwise, things need to be recognized about what's going on, and then choices have to be made.

Which is why, of course, for the family in the link- the backlashers never stop to ask, "Where are the Black businesses?" in the first place . Because that would entail recognizing the real problem, which is totally not how -this- particular family spends their money.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-04-22 08:11 am

A thought on the ongoing racefail-athon

Consider Teabaggers. The logic of stuff like "public option" = death panels, etc.

You have someone who:
a) Has no fucking clue what they're talking about
b) Refuses to do the minimum to look it up
c) is looking to silence all conversation through inflammatory, though completely false, rhetoric
d) Doesn't care about the facts, only understands that there is a "side" to be taken.

Yeah? Yeah. Ok. That's easy enough to understand and mock. It helps that they do stuff like have signs demanding "English Only" when they misspell half the words.

Now let's go over to the people who've typically come up recently:

a) Has no fucking clue what they're talking about
b) Refuses to do the minimum to look it up
c) is looking to silence all conversation through authority bids, "conciliatory tone", or dismissal arguments with no basis in reality
d) Doesn't care about the facts, only understands that there is a "side" to be taken.
e) Happens to be famous for writing, editing, or publishing books.

I mean, if your best argument against anti-racism is, "I refuse to know anything about it, but I'm still right, because you people are being mean to my friend(s) for saying ignorant things!"?

Seriously. All we're dealing with here are well spoken Teabaggers when folks are making these arguments.
yeloson: (Default)
2010-03-30 01:33 pm

Failbender continues

M. Night on the casting choices for Avatar:

Here's the thing. The great thing about anime is that it's ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It's intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No that's just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that's what's so beautiful about anime.

Where to start?

As a movie director, he knows that visual continuity is created deliberately- you can't haphazardly throw visual elements together and make it work. It's not ambiguous, the series team did a giant amount of research - the architecture, the characters, the clothing, all of this had to be communicated to the animation team.

Sure, his daughter identifies - because how many brown female characters are there for kids? Does she also identify with random white characters? (Maybe. Look at the implication in mentioning her friends identify as well. All white social circles?) Of course, maybe she's just happy to have A Girl Like Me in her cartoons.

Also, I like the "Well I could have used these other ethnicities, but I didn't" as if the would have, could have actually impacts the final result. Kung Fu the TV series could have had Bruce Lee in it! Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee could have been true to the original story! Wizard of Earthsea could have had brown characters! 21 could have had asians in the story, just like the real life events!

What makes this intent bit completely moot is that basically, at the end of the day, despite it all, he chose white actors. Actors of color don't even get considered in many roles, so it's not like "well we could have" works the other way.

This is someone who very deliberately chooses roles. He's very careful with his visuals. Am I to understand suddenly he became enveloped in a magic fog of color-blindness that overwhelmed his craft and experience as a director? (Was this the same magical force of post-racism that exploded across the nation when Obama took office?)

White supremacy isn't everyone's fantasy. There's nothing ambiguous about white folks getting roles and actors of color not.

Try restoring the balance yourself, before telling movies about it.

ETA: Because it cannot be said enough times: These are the Ghosts of the Heroes I never had.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
2009-12-17 09:39 am

Your logic does not apply here

Wherein I snark, what all is wrong with the Huffington Post & the Uppity Negros AKA ZOMG OBAMA = TIGER WOODS AND ALL BLACK MEN HAVE FALLEN.

I'll just pull some relevant points:

If both men somehow thought they were untouchable, they have been put to right.

First, who said they were untouchable? I don't recall Tiger giving Cassius Clay speeches (god, I don't know golf, who's an arrogant golfer?) or Obama declaring he was the Decider. Oh, wait, that's right, black men don't get compared to other people doing similar activities- they get compared to an assumed status for black men:

How dare you be successful black men?

And now you're "put to right" for being too successful. Don't try that anymore, you hear?

It is tragic when an icon falls. When a black icon stumbles the tragedy seems doubly problematic. Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jackson were all at the tops of their fields before revelations that made them less palatable as heroes and less of a role model for young black men.

What the hell do these 3 folks have in common, aside from being black and famous?

You have 1) someone with a violent past even before his boxing 2) someone who "dared" to get AIDS, and 3) someone who was already "getting weird" before the child molestation charges? One shouldn't be a role-model to begin, one should still be a role model (or does AIDs make you untouchable and worthy of stoning? How progressive.) and the third was well on his way out of being anyone's role model with a Neverland and Bubbles the Monkey.

I guess Famous Black Men is enough of a common thread, right? I'll keep that in mind when I talk about white women: Sinead O'Connor, Barbara Bush, and Tonya Harding are clearly in the same category.

The expectations of real change that had people in tears a little over a year have been so thoroughly dashed that too many of his supporters feel betrayed by their naiveté; they feel, as I do, almost foolish for believing that the status quo could really be kicked out the door....

You hear that Obama? We gave you ONE YEAR. ONE (not quite) WHOLE YEAR to fix the problems of Reaganomics, "Iraq The Prequel" Bush Sr., Bill "Trade & Deregulate" Clinton, and "Fuck yo' Constitution" Bush Jr.

How DARE you not have overturned the death grip of big Pharma on the rest of our legislators!

Having worked for weeks and months for Obama, having written glowingly about his oratory skills and his ability to gather even the disenfranchised together, as well as capture that ephemeral youth vote, I stood at rallies and allowed myself that enormous surge of hope that connected me with the rest of the country.

See Obama, You Owe Her Personally. She said Good Things About Black People (TM). Do you not feel her White Woman's Burden? She was merely trying to UPLIFT you and this is how you repay her?

Both men are of mixed race. Yet the majority of the country, including black Americans, sees them as black. That's not a bad thing. Except when such men of intelligence and talent, men who have such influence and power, can't help but succumb to the age old twins of greed and power.

They are mixed. But they are black. And Black people succumbing to greed and power is WORSE than when white people succumb to greed and power. Or something.

Because, pro-golfers are full of power? And presidents' not overturning almost 3 decades of status quo are simply greedy?

Oh wait, here we go:

Woods income is as tied to endorsements as it is to his talent. And Obama is so caught up in party donations and the power that those who donate have, he can't allow himself or his party to do anything to thwart those donations. If Woods had been smart he would have kept his head down, played golf and taken care of his beautiful family instead of publicly destroying them. If Obama had enacted campaign reform as the first order of business real change could well have happened.

Yes, because endorsements cause you to sleep with people! And Good Black People keep their head down and don't have Normal (white) Human Flaws.

And you publicly destroyed your family by putting up sex tapes on Youtube and selling "A Hole In One" Nike Line of products. Oh wait, no you didn't, you kept it a secret until other folks came public with it. Like everyone else who has an affair.

And Obama, HOW DARE YOU put the crashing economy and the health of the American public before raining down reform upon your party and destroying what support you have there.

What the people who worked and voted for Barack Obama wanted to see was a man who would stand up for principle and the ideals he spoke so stunningly of while campaigning. What those who were shocked at Woods' dalliances wanted to believe was that the first black man to be famous for a sport other than basketball or football was really who he appeared he was.

Yes Obama, how dare you work for healthcare reform that you said you wanted to do! Tiger! How dare you represent yourself as a successful professional golfer and not live up to stranger's projected expectations that you be Bagger Vance!

Woods remains an amazing golfer and athlete but his tumble to earth by hubris makes him far more human than god, and the entanglements that his weakness have brought may in fact undermine his game forever.

Yes, because being a successful black man = claiming to be God! You're no Morgan Freeman!

And Obama remains a brilliant thinker, an orator who can rally the masses, a supremely educated man and, by all accounts a dedicated husband and father. But he has been unable to fight the system he said he wanted to fight. He has been unable to effect real, honest-to-goodness change.

That's right, he betrayed you by not overturning the status quo in a year! Lying to the public with your big plans and centrist policies, telling us it's going to take a lot of work and then not doing it all by yourself!

Thank you Lisa Warren for delivering lessons all Black Men should hear:

Don't be successful, be Jesus.

I'm sure Good, Hardworking, Black Peeple will take heed!