Are you a Jehovah’s witness of Social Justice?
dane tomas
63

Dane, you probably know who this is, seeing as your blog post is in response to my comments.

My response is very long — because there was a lot to cover/so many faults in your reasoning. I probably repeat myself a few times — this is because I was and still am very angry, but also largely due to overlap in your tangled logic.

I would greatly appreciate it if you did read it all though, seeing as you have proven you have a lot to learn by displaying many misunderstandings on some basic sociological theories. What’s more, I think it would be very rich for a white person NOT to listen to a person of colour when it comes to racism (which has been your problem all along).

So with no further ado, here are my raw words….

I don’t expect you to even read more than the first couple and perhaps the last paragraphs, with a quick scan of the others, let alone click on any of the links or even give much feedback to many of my points. And this is what it means to be a person of colour: No matter how you try to explain things, most white people just do not want to know, but you still feel you have to give it a shot anyway. This is so utterly exhausting.
 
 Firstly, the way you open, with humour, making a mockery of what is something many of us have to face every single day. Don’t you think that marginalised people spend enough time being scoffed at by the privileged? I will decide if I want to bring humour into the oppression I face, that is not your place, you can do it about your own issues.
 
 Now that’s out of the way: Does it make a difference whether someone started giving a shit about racism only yesterday or has done their entire lives? It seems you didn’t really think about people of colour when writing that, because most of us have been dealing with this shit every single day since we were born. And as for our white allies who don’t experience what we do, but echo and amplify our voices; I thank them very much for realising their moral responsibilities (although they still won’t be getting any cookies).

Your past experiences, apparent knowledge of racism and realisation of privilege mean nothing if you do not actively fight racism. This is just an elaborate version of “my best friend is black”. Being an ally is something you constantly do, you work at it every day. And if you were a good ally, you would listen, rather than make this all about yourself. No true ally boasts about their “good deeds” or how “conscious” they apparently are.

And great, you’ve been explaining to other white people why racism is fucked up! How does that absolve you from anything you say or do now? Maybe now is your time to be quiet and listen to what people of colour have to say about their own oppression? Or are you going to further marginalise us? White people have been claiming they know what’s best for people of colour for a very long time, and it’s not done many of us many favours! There’s a pretty long history of it and it’s not very pretty.

“There have also been a greater number of people who have tried to ‘get through’ to me and have failed miserably — not because their message isn’t on point, but because the way they’ve attempted to communicate has come from an unhealthy or non-respectful place.”
 
 Now this is where it really gets ugly. So you’ll only listen to people of colour and work against your learned and conditioned racism, on the condition that we put your feelings before our own? On the condition that we don’t get emotional about racism? Something to which our emotions are central. After all, racism wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t piss us off. Don’t you think we’ve tried that already? Do you not realised that it’s only because we have to say these things over and over again (usually to the same person who has not listened to us from the start)? How do you expect people of colour to react to white people who refuse to listen, and that refusal is what perpetuates racism? 
 
 I shouldn’t have to be asking for this in the first place, so no one has any right to tell me how I should go about asking for something that I deserve by virtue of being a human being.
 
 Besides, how do you expect me to react after a lifetime of this, when I see videos and newspapers articles of people the same race as me getting abused, beaten up and sometimes murdered in broad daylight, all because of the colour of our skin? How do you expect me to react to white people constantly asking me where I’m from, no where I’m REALLY from? For me there is no escape, there is no day off. This is constant. And then for a supposed ally to not only expect me to take the time out to remedy their ignorance (as if plenty of other people of colour haven’t said this before me), but for you to then refuse to listen? Anger is only a healthy and reasonable response to such injustice.

For me, this isn’t just some debate for the sake of debate about some abstract, theoretical concept and I expect you to think exactly how I do. For me, your attitudes and beliefs have a direct impact on the everyday lives of myself and other people of colour. I call you out because it is racism, plain and simple. I don’t get to just “choose” whether or not I care about this. I have to act as if it were a chronic health condition. It will always be there, but doing nothing about it will only make it worse. And like a chronic health condition, it hurts and I react to that pain, I don’t just sit there and pretend like everything’s alright.

Here’s more about why people of colour shouldn’t be putting white people’s feelings first — http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/not-responsible-white-feelings/

Here’s piece on white fragility: http://www.alternet.org/culture/why-white-people-freak-out-when-theyre-called-out-about-race

Here’s a link further explaining this subject of tone policing: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/derail-using-anger/

Why should I have to modify my reaction to accommodate the feelings of those who are oppressing me? And it’s not that I would have to do it only there and then. No, I have to deal with this for the rest of my life, and therefore will always have to put the fragile feelings of white people before my own. I might live another sixty years or so. Can you imagine me having to keep my cool when talking to a white person who could easily educate themselves and is refusing to listen to me when I take time out of my day to remedy their ignorance? Can you not see how that in itself upholds white supremacy.

And what you fail to realise is that a lot of the time, people of colour DO hold back because if there are any accusations of racism it’s almost a certainty that the white person in question will throw their rattle out of the pram. And if the “R-word” is used, it will often by in a passive and indirect way, in order to cater to white fragility. People of colour NOT accommodating white fragility is a necessary part of dismantling white supremacy.

And the thing is, it suits white people just fine to remain ignorant, because if they’re ignorant they can shirk their responsibility: Here’s more on that matter. This is why it is so incredibly frustrating.
 
 I’m not surprised the number or times you’ve “been approached in a ‘God don’t you understand this you dumb, privileged, white, male, cis, hetero, able bodied asshole’ manner is phenomenal”. Why should the manner matter? What’s more, the conversation isn’t just about that person you are talking to, it’s about every other person who experiences that same form of oppression. Are you going to continue with your oppressive behaviour all because ONE MEMBER of a particular marginalised group didn’t conform to YOUR behaviour standards and accommodate YOUR feelings? Hang on a minute…. isn’t that…..? Or even worse, it’s because a marginalised group’s ally hurts your feelings, so you continue punishing that group. That is the implication of what you are saying.
 
 And no, you definitely do not present “as an intelligent and open minded human who is able to let go of old ways of viewing things when the time arises”. If you did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because everything I have said has been said thousands of times before, by many different people, for a long, long time.

You have no insights that can help me on racism and yes it should be a monologue or a lecture, just as if you were learning about plumbing or bricklaying: The person with the experience would be doing the teaching. What “insights” and personal experience do you have on being asked where you’re from, no, where you’re REALLY from? What “insights” do you have on having the shit beaten out of you because of the colour of your skin? What do you know about being “randomly selected” for extra screening at airports on every single flight? What do you know about seeing constant fabricated news reports about men of your race all being paedophiles and abusing women, and that these lies are somehow justification to dehumanise you all? What do you know about the colour of your skin always having a bearing on everything you do (not just when you engage in conversations of this nature)?

And what makes you think that you know more than lived experience and academics who have been studying race on a sociological level — some white, some of colour — for most of their lives?

And great, you recognised your privilege. Your work doesn’t stop there. Decolonisation is a continual process, a lifelong battle against privilege. You will always have things to learn.

So please tell me, what “insights” can you offer to this conversation? That idea is as preposterous as someone who is not diabetic or who has never actually studied it and spent an awful lot of time talking to people who are diabetic and LISTENING to them, trying to dish out advice on how to manage diabetes. It is equally as absurd as someone who has never driven and owned a Ford Mustang banging on about what it’s like driving a Ford Mustang. Yeah, sure, your friend might have once owned one, you might have even sat in the passenger’s seat with your friend, but you never got your hand on the fucking steering wheel. So why should the subject of racism be any different?

When a troll wants to play devil’s advocate with you, what they’re really saying is: “I am in such a place of privilege that I actually believe that what I’m about to say to you is fascinating, intellectually stimulating debate and not just a regurgitation of the status quo that you’re already trying to dismantle. I am delusional

It means you with to retain your privilege and that is incompatible with anti-racism. You are only interested in fighting racism if it requires no work from yourself and no loss of anything.

Do you tell someone to calm down if they are in pain? Do you tell them you will not listen to them until they pipe down?

We have to act a certain way before white people stop being racist to us? Do you not see how your logic is paradoxical? To do so would uphold white supremacy. It is a necessity of decolonisation that we do not cater to white people’s needs when it comes to eradicating the social disease that is racism.

To suggest that we’ve been doing things wrong all this time would imply that we somehow have brought this upon ourselves? It would also imply that every academic who has ever studied race has got it all wrong — whether they are white or of colour.

Throughout this, you have displayed nothing but a colonial attitude and exhibited colonial thinking. You have a hell of a lot of reading to do before you can even consider engaing in conversation.

— — — — — — — — —

Oh, how noble of you to “invite” one of these conversations, as if that somehow makes you special. You don’t get any prizes as a white person for simply doing your bit to dismantle white supremacy.

Do you think I “invite” racism? Do I get to experience racism on my terms? No. If it were on my terms there would be no racism. What I actually have is the people demanding their terms actually perpetuating racism for me.

And referring to someone getting angry about their oppression as a “sermon”? Is there really any need to be so facetious. It would appear as though you are simply mocking this.

“Not having a well developed worldview that places social justice in a bigger context of human evolution” Excuse me? Try telling that to the families of black people who are being murdered by police at the same rate as lynchings during the height of Jim Crow. Try telling that to blackfullas who are still being forcibly removed from their communities and being jailed at greater rates than black South Africans in the eighties. Try telling that to Muslims in France, the UK, or just about any Western nation, who are simply trying to ride public transport without the threat of attack.

“Restoring the rights of marginalised groups and individuals IS a great and noble goal. For me that’s not why I’m here though, although it is a step in the right direction.”

It’s not fucking “noble”, it’s justice. And to choose not to do it is to choose injustice.

“The frame I’m holding is that the point of human life on earth is the evolution and maturation of our consciousness and the full expression of our creative potential.”

Well if some of us didn’t have to deal with systemic oppression every day of our lives, we would maybe have a shot at achieving our potential!

So “the greatest good possible” for your privilege is to help other privileged people achieve their potential, is it? You don’t think that maybe “the greatest good possible” for your privilege is to be an ally to those whose oppression your privilege relies upon? Privilege is not possible without marginalisation and oppression.

“We all have causes we want to fight for and injustices we want to fight against.” Like I said, for many of us it is not a choice but a necessity. And good allies see it as a moral obligation.

This talking about fighting for what is right and healing a personal wound, why does it have to be binary? At best it is disingenuous to suggest this. And so what about healing a personal wound? Can you blame women for imagining a world without men? Can you blame people of colour for imagining a world without white people?

How can we heal our inner reality when we are still experiencing these injustices every day? How is this possible? How can you expect us to separate our anger from these issues? Responding with anger is a healthy reaction from any healthy human. And are you aware of the effect of racism on mental health? You are asking people of colour to respond to racism the same way an ignorant white person who doesn’t experience it would. If we weren’t angry, there wouldn’t be a problem.

And please, spare us the bullshit references to Gandhi and King. I was wondering when this would crop up. Firstly, let’s get Gandhi out of the way: Gandhi was a racist, he believed that Indians were above black South Africans in the racial hierarchy. He was also a misogynist. Here’s more about him.

And as for freeing India from the British; there were many factors as play. Firstly, the Second World War played a huge part in the dismantling of the Empire. Secondly, there were many resistance groups in India at the time, groups who were somewhat more militant than Gandhi.

King wasn’t as passive as you seem to think. He in fact become more and more radical and militant as time went by, realising that he had been naïve in the past and had loved his enemies a bit too much. Here are a couple of quotes that might be something of an eye-opener for you if you’ve never read them before. I’ve had to dedicated a second comment to King quotes that you really ought to read, but I’ll get you started on this one:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”

“If your [sic] focussed more on “taking away privilege” from those who’ve had it for so long than you are on restoring agency to those who’ve been denied it — you’re not really about equality. You’re about revenge.”

Ok, so you obviously fundamentally misunderstand what the hell privilege is. Privilege cannot exist without inequity/inequality. Capiche? This is why you should be quiet and listen when it comes to matters of social justice.

With regards to 4), what you fail to understand is how categories and labels play a big part in our identities and who we are. White people barely notice they are white unless they are forced to confront racial issues or they are walking through a neighbourhood of colour. For people of colour and for all marginalised people, it is impossible to detach themselves from these labels because they have such a noticeable impact on our lives. When most people — and that is white people describe your physical appearance they would probably say you’re man, of x height, with a short light brown hair and a beard, etc. When most of these white people see me they will also mention my skin colour. See the difference? I am constantly reminded of my race and have been from the moment I was born.

Your life and my life are fundamentally different because of the colour of our skin. To ignore these labels and categories means to overlook social inequalities such as the astronomically high incarceration rate for Aboriginal Australians, or the rate of homelessness among queer youths, or the murder and suicide rates of trans people. To overlook these things is incredibly ignorant, dangerous.

Do you ever hear many people of colour say things like: “I don’t see race” or “there’s only one race, the human race”?

To you there might be “ideologies” about gender or race, they may be “abstract political concepts”, but for millions of people who are not you, they are everyday life and they play a huge role in everything they do. It’s very easy to reject these things when you are not living them.

And no, people who are ignorant of these things are not “forced” to reject them. They CHOOSE to reject them because it makes them uncomfortable and it means they have to face their privilege, when in actual fact the status quo suits them very well.

With regards to men and the patriarchy. Firstly, I’ve never come across anyone telling a man he IS the patriarchy, but rather that he contributes to it — big difference. Secondly, what you are saying there is that it is the duty of the oppressed to make him understand and this fails to hold him accountable. This only serves to reinforce these inequalities in our society.

“Grouping people into categories and judging them based on the category is prejudice — regardless of who its directed at.” Actually, it’s not that simple. When you have evidence, and when people of privileged groups are displaying certain behaviours, it’s perfectly valid. That privileged person is not oppressed because of it,

Everything that you have said in your post, some ignorant white person said to Martin and ignorant white people are constantly saying it to Black Lives Matter activists. It is very telling indeed that you should have such a whitewashed image of Gandhi and King in your head. Perhaps this ought to be a lesson for you? Maybe now you are beginning to realise you don’t know as much as you think you do? King fought using civil disobedience, he put a hell of a lot of spanners in the works, pissed a hell of a lot of white people off, ended up in jail and eventually murdered.

You expect me to “be nice” when I’m reading stories every day about people who look like me being kicked off public transport because some white person’s afraid of them, or being so badly beaten up they are in hospital? Media reports of Asian grooming gangs, black people being murdered and brutalised by police. The number of people openly admitting to harbouring racial prejudice has increased, the government are spying on communities of colour. How do you expect me to take this?

And you will only listen if I talk the way you want me to? Or maybe you’ll say that you hear me loud and clear, but it’s other people. Well why don’t you join me in the shouting? The only reason our voices aren’t being heard are because there are not enough white people shouting at other white people. Unfortunately, white people are more likely to listen to other white people than to me. Talk about privilege! This is why you must be a genuine ally, as opposed to criticising my methods and giving your fellow white people a free pass.

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