It is my hope in this discussion that we both become further enlightened. But I believe that our varying perspectives will leave us apart on a great many issues. For example the above.
I simply do not see language as the barrier it is made out to be. I know all about reading between the lines, but there, between the the line, lies a world of misunderstanding. Mostly due to a misreading of both opinion and intent. When for instance a POC talks about ‘code words’ or ‘that’s code for’, ala Michelle Alexander, what they’re really doing is interjecting their own biased opinion, in place of the other persons actual thought.
When doing so those people are acting as if these are the equivalent of using key words in a search engine to manipulate the algorithm in order to raise your rank. Only people aren’t computers and aren’t regulated by algorithm.
Now it’s just human nature to gravitate towards like minded people, situations and groupings. But let’s not confuse human nature with racist intent, shall we. For when you start doing that the individual and all their liberty becomes at stake, to the pressure of a dynamic (the group) over which they have no control. Unless of course you want to be made a slave, where someone else gets to tell you what to think and/or how to feel. We don’t help a POC overcome the racism and their ancestors oppression of slavery and Jim Crow by misguided attempts to enslave others, who would then be expected to take their place, thru the use of faulty linguistic perception.
It’s never pleasant to be called out for doing something, especially if, when you were doing it, it did not occur to you that it was offensive.
Except that perception is not the same as intention. What people should be judged for is their intention not someone else’s perception. People often misrepresent or misunderstand the intent of others. It happens … all the time, thru no ones fault. People misread or misunderstand, from which a person cannot possibly defend themselves, if that misreading is called racism. For a man can only defend his intent, not what someone else infers them to mean. If that’s not clear to you then there can really be no understanding, by you, of how a man can only be rightly judged on his intended action.
The notion of unintended consequence, being the result of subconscious bias rather than a side effect, is where this progressive attitude of needing to be indoctrinated into a new way of thinking, or of attitude, is misrepresentative of individual independence.
Black men in the 50's wore signs that said “I am a man”. What those signs didn’t say is we are men; nor did they say we are Black men. They fully understood that theirs was a fight for individual equality. Yes their individual, even before their racial equality, freedom; for they understood that unless they each had the power of their conscience and the freedom to exercise it independently, then their entire race would never be free. It is, I believe, to this day why blacks don’t feel free. Because they believe it to be about their race instead of their personhood.
It is individuality that gives us liberty. We all are born with inalienable rights that are personal and beyond the reach of government or tyranny… or even racism, all of which are of the collective. We can never be as great collectively as we are independently, for it is only in our personhood that our true nature can be found.
But this is where individual actions are tied to group actions. Often, within a group, certain norms prevail.
Yes. This is called human nature. People self segregate to be around those who are culturally similar. This is why every city in the US has a Chinatown, or a variant of Little Italy, Germantown, the French Quarter, exc. As awful as Jim Crow segregation may have been, not to mention disempowering, to the Black Community, it was human nature enforced by law that made it vile. It was governmental dictate that made it racist. It wasn’t the segregation itself that was the problem, since it would’ve probably happened anyway, it was the restriction of individual (I cannot stress this enough) freedom by legal means.
Invoking the power of government has always lead to less freedom, never more. The civil rights movement didn’t give Blacks more freedom, it only gave them the freedom they should have always had, and would have except for government legislation. It was the same government, that they now turn to today to rectify, which had taken from them that which they were born with. The inalienable rights which all are born with can only be curtailed by government fiat. This is what happens when you place any group above the individual. Groups are made of individuals while individuals are never made up by groups. Even government is just a group and this is why the “Bill of Rights” was so important to the making and ratification of the Constitution. Without restrictions placed upon the group (government) to prevent the ‘rule of men’ over the individual, mob rule would become the primary tool of enforcement.
So, to expect humans to not act as their nature (much more a product of biological determinism than the claimed narrative of social constructionism) demands, by enforcing the rules, of supposed moral authority, of the gang that first perpetrated the abuse is disheartening.
The power structure that has built and maintained the supposed racism, sexism, homophobia of the white male, simply because it was built by the white male, is now to be used as the method of stripping away said power. It is laughable that anyone would actually believe that human nature is the construct of government. That we can somehow legislate human conduct, aspiration and ambition. All without curtailing personal freedom for every single individual. Even the freedom for those for whom we’re trying to help.
Note how I haven’t even begun any attempt to discredit the notion of intersectionality, from the perspective of the individual, which is so critical to the undergirding of the group dynamic.
Let me share with you my own personal history, as I believe it will cast light upon why individuality within group dynamics is the single most important factor; to further accentuate how nature must always be taken into account before nurture, even when nurture may have the greatest influence. I am an alcoholic. I am an adult child of two alcoholics. There are many more dysfunctional social consequences born of both current and past relations.
In any and all of these I could, and have in the past, blame circumstances beyond my control. Even if biologically, I am predisposed to alcoholism, I could still cast blame elsewhere upon parental or societal factors. Upbringing, family, friends, educators; almost anyone or anything could increase this list. The same could be said for the sexual abuse I incurred.
The simple fact of the matter is, though, without judgement or recrimination of myself or anyone else, it is still my life to lead and my cross to bear. No matter what anyone else has said or done “to me”. Or for that fact “for me”. There were many who, earlier in my life, tried to help me only to be discounted, rebuffed, ignored or otherwise pushed aside. All while I played the victim of circumstance, discretion or apathy.
I know full well today that neglect can be one of the worst forms of abuse. However the worst form of abuse is ignorance. The ignorance that my problems today are caused by others, for which I have no control. But in fact I do have control. Control over my own actions, and reactions, to those problems, no matter what the cause may have been. Its my life to lead, not others, not society’s and certainly not those whom caused me harm, discomfort or offense. Only I can choose whether to play the blame game or not. And even if I choose to play this silly game its still my life, not my maleness, my white skin and certainly not what another has said or did.
In the end it only matters what I do; not what other people feel. They have the right to feel offended but not the right to force me, thru shame or resentment, to conform to their values, as righteous as they may believe them to be. I’ve been shamed mocked and ridiculed (and yes even held down) enough in my life to know that blaming others for their behavior without acknowledging my own flaws only perpetuates the dysfunction and by extension racism, sexism and all the rest.
The more I blame others the more I victimize myself. This has taken me a lifetime to discover. As soon as I quit playing the blame game, peace and serenity followed. But only after I stopped my dysfunction was I able to tolerate others’ their dysfunction without becoming offended at every turn.
I hope this has helped clear things up Meg.