Tag Archives: privilege

Too bad about most of humanity

21 Nov

Its really too bad about most of humanity. They kind of suck.

Recurring theme in my life- conflict with people who refuse to take a stance on any issue or situation until they feel it directly affects them. Which is a bullshit way to live your life. Yes, take the time to get the information and make a decision on situations and issues, but don’t use your privilege or lack of direct participation in that situation be your cop out from having to do anything.

There is that famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller about WW2-

“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

I remember learning about that statement sometime in middle or high school history I think. And it definitely stuck with me. I wish it spoke to more people, who not only would read it, but would do their best to live their lives with it in mind. If we wait until something directly affects us, it could be too late. And even if we don’t think that their will be the inevitable shift of oppression to ourselves, the fact that it is happening to others SHOULD be enough to push us into action.

But people mostly strive to preserve and build their own privilege. Adages such as mind your own business have convinced people that they are better off struggle independently in capitalism to find the best little consumer identity their money can buy. Maybe thats not it. I am open to other explanations for why most people try so desperately to not help out others, to avoid acting in solidarity at all costs.

And to the critics- no I am not claiming that I never avoid a situation that doesn’t affect me or that I always act in solidarity with other groups dealing with fucked up or oppressive situations. Instead of trying to find a way to criticize me, why not reflect upon yourself and your own actions. I am an hypocrite. We are all hypocrites. But that does not invalidate our ideas and values. Not having achieved one’s goals does not invalidate the goals themselves.  Trying to avoid the issue and turn it into a personal attack is just a cop out. Grow up.

On Racism- from CPHP#5

19 Oct

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Racism

My collective and roommates Kayla and Eric and I went to Diversity Thrift the other day to see if they had halloween decorations and to get some more clothes for the cold weather. We checked out the LGBTQ book section and I found some really cool murder mysteries with LGBTQ characters. I love crappy mystery novels and so it was super good to read some that were not supporting the patriarchy. One of the books was pretty awesome, called Murder in the Collective by Barbara Wilson. It talked about collectives and consensus and queers and dealing with alcoholism and more! And there was a really awesome quote which I will repeat here! Page 133,

 

you worry about being called racist as if it were syphillis or something. Like you were accused of carrying some dread, disfiguring, incurable disease. But I think it’s more like telling someone or being told, “Hey, you’ve got snot hanging out of your nose.’ You say thank you and wipe it off. Though that doesn’t mean the snot’s not ever going to drip again.”

I think that is soooo good. And I want to reproduce it a lot, and would encourage other people to as well. It is such a good way to talk about racism (or classism, sexism, etc.) and point out why there is no need to be defensive. Of COURSE being oppressive or racist/sexist/classist etc. is fucked up. But of COURSE we all fuck up all the time. These things are not good, and they do need to be called out, but people need to realize that trying to avoid being called out is counterproductive. No one is perfect.

*An addition that was not in the zine but that ought to be thought about by white people- prejudice+power= racism. POC are not racist towards white people, because they do not have the backing of institutional powers.

Also, letting someone know they have proverbial snot hanging out of their nose is not the same as saying that you yourself have never had snot hanging out of your nose. Frankly, I think a lot of the reason people are ABLE to point out to others when they have been racist or sexist etc. is because they recognize their own previous behavior. Getting called out can make your ego feel bad. Getting defensive and attacking the person who called you out is not a productive or appropriate means of dealing with the situation. Someone calling you out is NOT them saying they aren’t fucked up. Someone with privilege can call out others on their privilege- it does not mean they are denying their own privilege or problems. Allowing guilt or defensiveness to get in the way of dealing with the snot hanging out of your nose is not going to lead to positive things for yourself or your community.

This Is War- From Cuddle Puddles and Hot Pants #5

17 Oct

<!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>This is an essay from the 5th issue of Cuddle Puddles and Hot Pants. If you want to get the whole zine you can mail me 2 bux to Mo Karnage P.O. Box 6025 Richmond, Va 23222

This is War

 

This is War. We exist in a state of war. I strongly suspect that stating “This Is War” is going to be taken by some as a declaration of war. It is not. This is an observation of war. This is an acknowledgment of war. Anarchists are at war. People of color are at war. The poor are at war. Women are at war. Queers are at war. Animals, the environment, differently abled folks, and the elderly are at war.

This war was declared on us. And I think it might have always been a factor, since the beginning of human history, at least for some of these groups. Capitalism is a major factor in the way that today’s situation is played out- it defines the format of the struggles/war.

Let me break it down some. War is defined as- 1- a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations or -2- a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism- a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.

Without even stretching the definition of war it is clear that the capitalist/straight/white/rich/male powers that be are at war with the rest of us. The capitalist system, as well as the governing system in the United States of Amerikka, depend on hierarchy to exist. And hierarchy is maintained by keeping certain people down/oppressed.

Memes like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs make this situation even more explicit. The bottom line is that for centuries people have been enslaved, hurt, tortured, harassed, sexually assaulted, imprisoned, massacred, murdered, executed, assassinated, assaulted, and generally speaking really fucking oppressed. Our side is losing and it hurts.

Memes like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs are also important to understand as meaning more than simply fighting drugs and fighting terror. Because there are basically certain groups of people who are more effected by these concepts than others. The War on Drugs is basically a cover for a racist and classist war against people of color and poor people. The War on Terror is racist, colonial and Islamaphobic, as well as clearly an oppressive political tool.

Why does this matter? Might be the question running through your head. I strongly believe that we need to conceptualize this situation as war in order to understand fully the gravity of it, as well as in order to develop appropriate and effective tactics and strategies. Continue reading

Class Privilege

24 Sep

My parents just bought me a brand new bike for my birthday. Riding it home I came up with the start of a song on class privilege.

I’m not gonn a lie,
my parents bought me everything
you see class privilege,
well it is a real thing

I’ve got a ford truck,
it was given to me
I’ve got a new bike,
its that trickle down theory

lets talk about privilege
without that immobilizing guilt please
how privilege affects us
we’ve gotta speak truthfully Continue reading

Genderqueer

18 Aug

I think that there are many misconceptions about the concept of gender queer. It has not been a particularly mainstream idea for very long. Arguably, it still is not mainstream.

Genderqueer is essentially a rejection of the binary gender system (male or female, boy or girl, man or woman). Claiming gender queer is basically saying, fuck a binary gender system, these gender roles that exist are too confining/limiting/inaccurate/fucked up etc.

Claiming genderqueer is not the same thing as saying you are trans. There is definitely overlap. Many radical trans people will also identify as genderqueer because they see the gender binary system as inherently oppressive. Some genderqueer people choose that identity because they see more than 2 genders. Others, because they don’t feel comfortable as either of the 2 genders. There are many reasons people choose genderqueer. It is a fairly fluid concept, with the main point of unity being a rejection of the binary gender system.

Claiming genderqueer is not oppressive. Claiming genderqueer does not cancel out other privileges that one may have. It is not a way to deflect those privileges. If a male bodied person says they are genderqueer, but they frequently pass as male, they still ought to acknowledge the way that male privilege plays a role in their lives. If a white person is genderqueer, that does not in any way eliminate their white skin privilege. And I have never personally encountered anyone trying to use genderqueer as a way of avoiding accountability for their other privileges. Continue reading

Thanks to all Anti-Racists

10 Aug

To preface this, I am white- just to let you know if you don’t know me.

And where I was born and raised (Hanover and Richmond Virginia) the issue of racism is not dealt with particularly well. When I went to college in Massachusetts I found myself very out of my element. I did not want to be a racist, but back in Virginia had never encountered anyone challenging me on issues of race, privilege, appropriation, prejudice etc.

I had a hard time learning to deal with being called out on my behavior. I had a hard time coming to understand the difference between racism and prejudice. I was very difficult and I’m sure seriously upset and traumatized and angered people who were fighting racism and privilege. I’m sorry for any tears, sleepless nights etc. that my insensitivity contributed to.  I’m sorry it takes me being in your shoes to be able to even begin to understand the shit you have to deal with.

Now that I am going through the ordeal that is trying to explain to people what racism and prejudice are and are not etc., I have a serious appreciation for how much upset and strife I no doubt caused everyone who called me out in the past. I wish there was a better way to let everyone know how sorry I am for being so ignorant/resistant/defensive.

I am trying to not be so ignorant/resistant/defensive. I think working on privilege and race are life long tasks, so I am sure I am going to be making more mistakes.  I want to try not to, but I also want to try to be open to criticism and to avoid getting defensive. Please do call me out, preferably in a non-attack manner.  Genuine attempts to call me out will be met with a ready listener.