Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hammering Out Justice and Freedom: The White Man vs. James Baldwin in Take This Hammer


[this image of James Baldwin on the cover of Time magazine's 17 May 1963 ECD issue, is from here]

When James Baldwin speaks of "America" he is using the term most used often by many people to describe "The United States of America". It's the term that was, and is still today, used by many people to refer to this strange land that, as Andrea Dworkin once noted with stunning accuracy, has "no memory and no mind". Neither Baldwin nor Dworkin ever wrote about this country from a white heterosexual male conservative or liberal point of view. Andrea was a white Jewish radical feminist lesbian raised in a predominantly working class neighborhood of New Jersey. James was an African American boy, later a gay man, who was raised poor in Harlem in NYC. (For an utterly brilliant analysis of many aspects of James Baldwin's work, please read the "Communion" chapter in her greatly misunderstood and incredibly important book, Intercourse. For those who can afford to buy it, please try and get a copy or that tenth anniversary edition, as the twentieth anniversary version is being boycotted. To those who cannot purchase it, the tenth anniversary edition is most likely available through the interlibrary loan system across the U.S., if not also in other countries. To know why there is a boycott of the latest edition, click here.)

New York's harbor was an entrance point not only for people from Europe to come here to colonise and destroy this land, forging it with great violence into the United States, but was later a place for European immigrants to come to escape atrocities unfathomable to the new arrivals. What had been done here against African slaves and American Indians, was already wiped from the history books, or was told in such ways as to make slaves grateful, and Indians savage. But there has never been anyone more savage than the white man, and no Indigenous person could even attempt such savagery.

Born on August 2, 1924, Baldwin left this country for a good many years beginning in 1948, to escape the racism and homophobia that ran rampant across this land. He returned in 1957 to get involved in the struggle for Black Civil Rights.

All the quotes that follow were found  here.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. --James Baldwin

People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned. --James Baldwin

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him [or her], and a child cannot afford to be fooled. --James Baldwin

Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field. --James Baldwin

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. --James Baldwin

There's so much in Take This Hammer to analyse, appreciate, and apply to contemporary misogynistic Amerikkka. (I have three primary ways to refer to this country in writing: the U.S., Amerikkka, and "The United Rapes of Amerikkka".) The term America, to me never means only the U.S., as people from Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and Argentina are all equally American. That is has been used by the white founding fathers to mean only the U.S. speaks to the arrogance of those white heterosexual men, living on land that never legitimately belonged to him.) There's so much for this radical profeminist (yours truly) to listen to and learn from. I wish there were more conversation between Baldwin and young and older women in it (there are bits, but they are brief indeed). But the footage is what it is and we cannot know that he didn't spend more time speaking with women; we only know this is how the editors thought it could be presented to a television audience. Most of his dialogue with women may well have ended up on the film editor's cutting room floor. James was not a man to see women as less human than men, which is obvious if you've read his novels. He portrays women with more complex humanity and political insight than any other male novelist, essayist, and playwright I know.

Be that as it may, what this film is reveals a great deal about oppression, how it works, what it does, how it impacts individuals who are part of a socially despised and politically subordinated group, and why morale is never ever an individual matter. It is always social and political, however personal it may also be. This is so whether we're speaking of the morale of women being structurally and intimately dominated by men; people of color or whites enduring and resisting white supremacist discrimination and invisibilisation; lesbians and other queer people or heterosexuals negotiating stereotypes, stigmas, and a lack of civil rights nationally; the poor enduring a country in which the rich are the greatest recipients of welfare (corporate welfare); in a capitalist state; Indigenous nations and people always facing genocide on lands stolen and colonised by white men; or Muslims and Jews being discriminated against and targeted for violence by white Christian men and boys--and all combinations thereof.

It's the sites of intersection and the overlapping of ways of being oppressed and oppressor that I think become especially truth-telling in a political climate where one issue and one vantagepoint tends to take center stage, as if everything else isn't also, always, going on too. So, for example, a working class Black woman in the U.S., some of whose heritage goes back to England and France as well as to the slaves as well as American Indians, due to white men raping each: what is her single issue? What is the single issue of any white middle class gay man who is part of a white settler country that Indigenous people are appropriately trying to reclaim? What about the white heterosexual woman who is being battered by her white husband, raising two children--a girl and a boy--from a previous marriage whose father was African American? How does she raise those children to know who they are in this country, while figuring out how to survive each day with a terrorist who threatens to kill all of them should she leave? And what of an elderly disabled Chicana woman who lives alone in an apartment in a white-majority city that won't keep sidewalks clear in the stormy winter months? What is the single issue for a homeless transgendered teenager who is drug-addicted and economically and psychologically trapped inside a system of prostitution and pornography, whose pimp takes most of the money, leaving them only with enough to buy drugs?

While people do not ever really live single-issue, single vantagepoint lives, urgent necessity may force--as class and race privilege often will allow--a person to prioritise one issue and perspective only. The battered woman may prioritise her need to escape over where she raises her children so that they are among people who can teach them how to survive in a white supremacist country. The gay white man think "gay rights" [not trans rights, not lesbian rights] is THE issue, never bothering to notice how his male, white, and class privileges make him ignorant of and callous towards the people fighting to take back their homeland.

There are many overlapping issues lessons in this footage of James Baldwin visiting a predominantly African American section of San Francisco, to speak with the people there about the condition of their lives, their experiences of The White Man, and what forms of survival are possible while living under WHM supremacy. "The Man" has always been white in this country, and the white man has always been straight--or at least heterosexist, racist, misogynistic and classist as hell. Baldwin is not there to discuss matters of sexual orientation, though he was most certainly an openly gay man when he visited the city. But, as you may well know, the predominantly gay male parts of town have never been the Blackest parts of town, and wealthy white gay men have made sure that will not ever be the case, as long as they live in The Castro.

Simplistically white liberal minds will not likely be able to hear or understand what James Baldwin is talking about. White conservatives won't bother to listen to him, period. Even white progressives may make some very simple mistakes in comprehending what Baldwin and the people of San Francisco are discussing.

One likely liberal misread would sound like this: "the way those Black folks speak about 'The White Man' is racist and misandrist". To say this, let alone believe it, is to be willfully, seriously, and irredeemably trapped in the illusions of the privileged, who are so very fond of professing "all people should be treated the same" or "feminism has succeeded" or "Blacks now have it good: we have a presidential Black family in the White House, after all". And that proves what, exactly? That white men don't rule this land? They do, while Barack Obama figures out how to work with the majority white Senate and Congresspeople to pass legislation that will likely do very little to shift this country away from its odd obsession and sadistic infatuation with wealth and white supremacy, its condescending "Christian" faith in heterosexual male power in secular and religious laws and customs. Regardless of the color of the man who is presently president, the U.S. government, on the whole, will not do a goddamned thing to change the power structures that Amerikka is built on.

These structures are no less in place due to Obama winning the election in the fall of 2008, and they are maintained with enormous force by white conservatives and the white liberals who wish to believe--against all evidence--that we live in a just land that cares about its citizens. Liberals, at least, tend to recognise our xenophobia, our racist and classist wars against nations of color, but only if off these shores. The racist, classist, gynocidal and genocidal war against American Indians remains some footnote in history in the white liberal imagination.

Our atrocities are generally invisibilised as such no matter how frequently or systematically the force of the oppressor comes down on the oppressed who wish to live in freedom. It takes a lot of effort, to say nothing of ignorance, to hold to ideas of what "America" is, when such ideas never were part of what constructed this country. And few, if any, white men have been willing even to own what this country really stands for and is, in the sense of naming it accurately, detailing the violence done, to whom and by whom.

The White Man exists, but only in a deadly manner of speaking. He exists politically, but not humanely. He rules this country with force as surely as adult disciplinarians rule children with the strap. And neither oppressed child nor oppressed adult wishes to be treated in this way, as a thing, owned, possessed, and ordered about by conditions that are beyond any individual's control. It is not just that The White Man is totalitarian and domineering. He is also delusional, ignorant, egotistical, defensive and offensive. His sense of self requires the subordination of others to be what it is. He doesn't exist unless all women, and men of color, are oppressed by him. He can't know love or empathy or compassion because he cannot see people as human beings because he is barely one himself. He can only see them through his White Man distortions and deceptions, stereotypes and stigmas. He perceives by projecting his inhumanity onto those he believes are inferior, never caring to note that no one could be as inhumane as he is.

His perverse position of power is held in place with forces seen and unseen. There is no meaningful consolation or redemption in being an oppressor, except that one doesn't have to experience what those s/he oppresses institutionaly. The oppressor's humanity is atrophied, ghostly and garish, because s/he will not own what s/he does and what it means that s/he does it.

As a white man, knowing what I am and what my people do in the name of being willfully and unwittingly white, in the effort to bolster some straight idea of manhood, I have learned to listen most carefully to two groups of people, who overlap significantly in many regards, primarily by existing as the same people. Women, and people of color. Each group is oppressed for being what it is supposed to be in the imagination of the white man. The African American is seen as the n*gger. The woman is seen, among other things, as the wh*re. And each group has to bear the brunt of the white man's projections and resist taking in anything he has to say about them. This is hard in a country that offers so little to so many, and so much to so few. And so it is to women of color to whom I most turn for the deepest truths about who they are and who I am--about what it means to them to be human, and what it means that I with my people, are grotesquely inhumane, some horrid combination of both n*gger and wh*ore. These two terms best describe white straight men, even while they greatly and bitterly resent knowing this about themselves, and will do just about anything, commit any atrocity, to prove that they are not either. One day white men will wake up to what we do, and we will know the whole ugly truth about ourselves. On that day, and not until that morning's sun rises, there will be a new kind of hope for humanity.

Before viewing, I welcome you to listen to this one song. It is about what to do with a hammer, should you find one in your hands.

Take This Hammer will hopefully be discussed here for a while.

Please note that just under the video's frame, there is the option to view the film with or without captions. These captions are largely accurate but not entirely so; there are moments identified in them as "[inaudible]" when, if you are a hearing person and listen carefully, you can usually discern exactly what is being said.

I hope you get a lot out of viewing this amazing program that aired on National Educational Television in 1964.  It might just as well have been filmed last week: Take This Hammer. I hope we collectively use it wisely to create more justice and freedom for all.

[An addendum, written 23 Nov. 2009: As Dog16arma notes below, one need not watch this footage to learn about oppression. There are plenty of women of color whose work reveals the intricacies and entanglements of many forms of oppression, including the brutality, interpersonal and institutional of men's war against women.]

31 comments:

Dog16arma said...

I think you have to assume that James Baldwin did not have any close political relationships with women. There is no film footage for the most part, because he didn't talk to women politically.
This is pretty typical of most gay men actually, so I wouldn't gloss this over. These guys need to take responsibility for their own idea that black rights is about men. Now if black women are talking about civil rights, then I'll listen, but I don't believe men even think of women when they are talking about civil rights.

Maybe it's why I never felt Baldwin's works were all that interesting and compelling compared to Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and Zora Neal Hurston to name a few. Even Elaine Brown has more to say about all of this.

And I don't agree with Baldwin when he says we can't take men's "huMANity" away, of course we can. As a radical feminist, I just don't want men in my spaces, both public and private. The time is up for the guys, and I need as much women only spaces, jobs, places and showcases as possible.

There is no more room for men now, it is about women building the world for themselves. Straight women may really be stuck with this, but who knows, they often seem the angriest as well.

Julian Real said...

Hi Dog16arma,

I should have clarified, or really not written at all that THIS film needs to be analysed carefully by any woman. Because of course, as you note, many WOC writers and activists have much more insight about women and this film has little to say on the subject.

So I take that back: this film doesn't need to be analysed or viewed by any women. I stand corrected. No film about men, primarily about men is going to tell us much about women's condition.

I have read a lot about James Baldwin's life and your conjecture that he was basically only hanging around with men is simply untrue.

I think you have to assume that James Baldwin did not have any close political relationships with women. There is no film footage for the most part, because he didn't talk to women politically.
This is pretty typical of most gay men actually, so I wouldn't gloss this over. These guys need to take responsibility for their own idea that black rights is about men.


I find this comment of yours to not only be patently false, but also racist and homophobic. You assume Baldwin didn't care about or get to know women, apparently without knowing anything about his relationships to women or his life. You make this assumption based on him being a gay man. Do you know how many gay men have very intimate emotional relationships with women? I can't imagine what you are drawing on, socially, to assume gay men only hang out with men. Every gay man I've ever known had deep connections with women. John Stoltenberg was with Andrea Dworkin for thirty years, and it was their relationship that allowed her the economic security to write--which never earned her that much money. There is example after example of this. So I just don't know what you're talking about.

Did you know he was close friends with Lorraine Hansberry, and that this is common knowledge? Did you know he wrote an introduction to her biography, titled "Sweet Lorraine"? Did you know he wrote an essay about the extraordinary value of Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun in his essay, "The Devil Finds Work"? (A portion of which appears just below:)

"... in order for a person to bear his life, he needs a valid re-creation of that life, which is why, as Ray Charles might put it, blacks chose to sing the blues. This is why Raisin in the Sun meant so much to black people - on the stage: the film is another matter. In the theater, a current flowed back and forth between the audience and the actors, flesh and blood corroborating flesh and blood - as we say, testifying... The root argument of the play is really far more subtle than either its detractors or the bulk of its admirers were able to see." (James Baldwin in The Devil Finds Work, 1976)

Now black women are talking about civil rights, then I'll listen, but I don't believe men even think of women when they are talking about civil rights.

Well, that's just plain wrong. You get to think it, but it's not the truth. Do most men think about women when they consider the matter of civil rights? I don't know. But I know that for many African American men, it was what they witnessed their mothers go through that fueled a burning desire to see civil rights for Blacks in the U.S. Do women always give more to men's battles for rights than men give to women? I'd say yes. Lesbians have given more to gay men than gay men can and will ever give to lesbian women, in terms of political allegiance and support, including financial support. So there are significant places of overlap in what you write and in what I believe.

Julian Real said...

Maybe it's why I never felt Baldwin's works were all that interesting and compelling compared to Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and Zora Neal Hurston to name a few. Even Elaine Brown has more to say about all of this.

Fair enough. You of course get to choose who you study. And I think any person can get a full literary education about the human condition by reading only the works of women of color.

And I don't agree with Baldwin when he says we can't take men's "huMANity" away, of course we can. As a radical feminist, I just don't want men in my spaces, both public and private. The time is up for the guys, and I need as much women only spaces, jobs, places and showcases as possible.

I think that statement is also deeply racist, coming from a white person. Deeply racist. For any white person to deny the humanity of any person of color is messed up. It's just messed up and wrong and it won't go unchallenged as such if such comments appear here.

There is no more room for men now, it is about women building the world for themselves. Straight women may really be stuck with this, but who knows, they often seem the angriest as well.

You have always, in your comments, reduced political struggle down men's war against women, as if you, too, as a white person, are not, in ways you don't acknowledge, kill women of color daily. This idea that violence is only done interpersonally is dangerous in an of itself, and allows for genocides and gynocides to happen unnoticed by those with various privileges, including class, gender, and race. You have race privilege. Please be responsible and respectful here when you speak about any person of color, man, transperson, or woman.

Baldwin's understanding of women in his novels (have you read the "Communion" chapter of Intercourse?), shows a fairly deep level of insight about the condition of women with regard to gender, class, and race, and that's not something he'd just pick up from knowing men. Lorraine Hansberry was not the only woman he knew, as a colleague or a friend.

But I can certainly understand why Baldwin would not be (and not need to be) a compelling literary or political figure for you.

Consider this:
"In his memoir Sweet Lorraine, writer James Baldwin fondly recalled days spent debating and shooting the breeze with his fellow Greenwich Village intellectual. He claimed that A Raisin in the Sun, written while Hansberry made a living as a waitress and cashier, 'put more of the truth of black people's lives on the stage than any other play in the entire history of theatre'".

That Baldwin implicitly and explicitly included women's experience as part of the Black experience, even centering Black women's lives as THE example of Black experience, shows just how committed he was to the cause of Black women, not just Black men, finding civil rights recourse in the U.S.

Dog16arma said...

Although this may be hard for you to believe Julian, I have never known one black lesbian who has ever said one word about James Baldwin, other than to tell about his funeral many years ago. At the funeral, there was not one mention of his gayness, and the entire funeral service colluded in his erasure as a gay man.

Anyway, black lesbians I have personally talked to had about had it with men in the civil rights movement, both black and white. Even Barbara Smith reported many years ago that she was never ever invited to any mainstream civil rights organizations until about 1994. She is a major black lesbian feminist, one of the founders of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, and yet, those civil rights establishment straight people just froze her out. She was pretty sick of it.

There is plenty of women's herstory to be written, plenty of films to be made about the lives of all lesbians and women. It is a waste of time to watch a documentary about some man, because you know there are going to be almost no women in it. So this erasure is ever present everywhere. So let men make male dominated movies, and let the women walk out of patriarchy as Mary Daly did during her sermon at Harvard Memorial Chapel in 1970. She walked out of that oppressive patriarchal institution, but Peter Gomes walked right in thank you very much. I find this juxtaposition revealing, to say the least.

There is more to say about this, a very complex subject. As I said before, each race of women has to be in charge of its own liberation.
It is most certainly not racist on my part to take away white men's humanity, because in my mind, and the presidential campaign was the last straw, white men are no longer human. I take their humanity away as punishment for every crime they have comitted and will commit against women. It is a fitting punishment for what they've done, and even that is not enough. What punishment would be fitting for the rapists? What would women have to do to shut down patriarchy? First of all, we can desire the end of it. Second we can celebrate in every way the deaths of our enemies, and take over more space for women to dream.
That would be a good start.

Are there any black lesbians out in the universe who read James Baldwin?

Dog16arma said...

P.S. And when you have time, read what a black woman wrote about Thomas Jefferson in a book about the Hemmings family. I think it won a pulizer prize. Makes me think that women can write all the biographies from now on, and I don't think men would be heros anymore after that happened.

Julian Real said...

Hi Dog16arma,

Although this may be hard for you to believe Julian, I have never known one black lesbian who has ever said one word about James Baldwin, other than to tell about his funeral many years ago. At the funeral, there was not one mention of his gayness, and the entire funeral service colluded in his erasure as a gay man.

So this is a surprise? Most gay men's funerals don't mention their gayness, depending on who is in charge of arranging the service. I'm not sure what point you're making there, and welcome you to clarify.

And there are Black lesbians who have and who have not read James Baldwin's work. So what? Again, I'm not sure what you're getting at there. I will say to any gay man I know: have you read Sister Outsider and other work by Audre Lorde, and if their answer is "Who?" then they see my back getting smaller in the distance.

Anyway, black lesbians I have personally talked to had about had it with men in the civil rights movement, both black and white.

The issue is you speaking for them and you've already been called out on that here. Lesbians of color, including Black lesbians, can speak for themselves, and I personally don't know any Black lesbians who welcome white women, or men of color, or white men, speaking for them.

Even Barbara Smith reported many years ago that she was never ever invited to any mainstream civil rights organizations until about 1994.

The context for the discussion was the film, set in 1963, airing in 1964, during that particular period of intense struggle for African American Civil Rights. I haven't seen much in the way of civil rights work since then, except the Dworkin-MacKinnon ordinance. It seems like "civil liberties" have eclipsed the whole issue, as liberalism has eclipsed radicalism.

She is a major black lesbian feminist, one of the founders of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press,

I know who she is. I was reading KTWOCP books in the 1980s. I met her.

Julian Real said...

and yet, those civil rights establishment straight people just froze her out. She was pretty sick of it.

Which civil rights establishment people? (Seriously. I'm ignorant on this one.)

There is plenty of women's herstory to be written,

You got no arguments from me there. That's why I am so appreciative of radical lesbian feminists who are digging into that herstory and telling it, like playwright Carolyn Gage. I wish radical feminist women doing such work could get more funding. And I have a particular wish to support lesbian work.

plenty of films to be made about the lives of all lesbians and women.

Ain't that the truth!! I really do hear you on the complete male-centeredness of that film. It is rather gross to see women with plenty to say be given about 30 seconds tops of air time.

It is a waste of time to watch a documentary about some man, because you know there are going to be almost no women in it.

Well, that film certainly proves your point!!! lol (and, not so lol)

So this erasure is ever present everywhere. So let men make male dominated movies,

Yes. Lorde knows we don't want men doing the films about women!!! (We've had enough of that too. I'm still pissed at S. Spielberg for his butchery of Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple.

and let the women walk out of patriarchy as Mary Daly did during her sermon at Harvard Memorial Chapel in 1970. She walked out of that oppressive patriarchal institution,

With various levels of privilege, mind you. I know WOC with children who would NOT be able to make that choice. Her choices were informed, in part, by the grotesque, disgustingly male supremacist bullshit she had to deal with... up to that point. But, as I understand it, her privileges in combination with her need to be in a politically healthy environment, led her to walk out. The woman is white, after all.

but Peter Gomes walked right in thank you very much. I find this juxtaposition revealing, to say the least.

I no nothing at all about him, and it sounds like I shouldn't rush to get to know much about him!

There is more to say about this, a very complex subject.

Agreed.

Julian Real said...

As I said before, each race of women has to be in charge of its own liberation.

Yes. But it's for each ethnic group to make its own declarations. You can't speak for them. Whites aren't calling the shots about what WOC do... or ought not be! And you, as a white woman, in my experience, are in a tiny minority among whites who believe WOC should be in charge of their own lives. Too many whites I know think "they know best" and have all manner of condescending attitudes and beliefs about WOC being able to "get" radical feminism, as if radical feminism is primarily white! As if it's radical in feminism to ignore white supremacy! (How convenient for the white women, herstorically and currently, to ignore the way they are oppressive to WOC, to centralise the work of someone like Mary Daly, who showed her racist hand years ago. And Lorde called her out. And it seems too little has come of that, because I still see white profeminism, for example, being:
1. Completely centered around the work of white men, perhaps tokenising one profeminist man of color, or
2. Revering only white feminists, as if only white women can be radical feminists. As if being white even lends itself to being radical. Clearly, it doesn't. Nor does being male.

Julian Real said...

It is most certainly not racist on my part to take away white men's humanity,

That's not what I called you out on. THIS is what I called you out on: "And I don't agree with Baldwin when he says we can't take men's "huMANity" away, of course we can."

We is who? Whites? You are white. I don't believe you have any right to question the humanity of any person of color in a public forum in a context like this. Yes, depending on the specifics of any given case involving the oppression of a woman interpersonally, we may question any man's humanity. But that's not what you were doing with that statement. So I support WOC dealing with MOC's humanity, and white men's, and white women's, in any ways they see fit. Because there's plenty of inhumanity in each of those groups towards WOC, in my experience. PLENTY.

because in my mind, and the presidential campaign was the last straw, white men are no longer human.

I understand and appreciate your view on this. And I disagree. If white men aren't human, what are they? I know what you think of men, and I support you thinking of men however you need to, to support yourself, to take care of yourself and be present for women in your life, and for the struggle to figure out how to end the war against women. But when you as a white person come to an anti-racist space, and declare that men of color are not human... well, as I said, that won't go unchallenged here. (Men of color ARE men, after all.) As someone who has not seen much evidence of white men's ability or capacity to be concerned with anyone else but groups of people that include white men, or are ONLY in service to white men, I share your skepticism about the levels of wm's humanity. But of course they are human, as opposed, say, to giraffes.

I take their humanity away as punishment for every crime they have comitted and will commit against women. It is a fitting punishment for what they've done, and even that is not enough.

I hear you on that. And I support your withdrawal of investment in what white men do and are. I truly do, and I've learned a great deal from you about this matter. And thank you, btw!!!

What punishment would be fitting for the rapists?

I think women who are survivors of sexual violence from men ought to decide any male perp's fate. Forget the court system, which handles rapists as if they are god's gift to humanity.

What would women have to do to shut down patriarchy? First of all, we can desire the end of it.

Yes! That is a significantly important part of it. And how to cultivate that desire, and not have it disappeared in the media. Have you seen "Born in Flames"? I'll probably do a separate post about it.

Second we can celebrate in every way the deaths of our enemies, and take over more space for women to dream.

Whatever gets women through the night and day. Whatever women need to do to TAKE BACK the night and the day... got for it. With my blessings and prayers for your success.

That would be a good start.

Agreed.

Julian Real said...

[I pressed "post this comment" and then it disappeared! But I found it in my email, so here it is:]
Dog16arma wrote:

P.S. And when you have time, read what a black woman wrote about Thomas Jefferson in a book about the Hemmings family. I think it won a pulizer prize. Makes me think that women can write all the biographies from now on, and I don't think men would be heros anymore after that happened.

Posted by Dog16arma to A Radical Profeminist at Monday, November 23, 2009 3:26:00 AM EST

Julian Real said...

I agree: the time for white men telling "his-story" is done.

I think Annette Gordon-Reed's work should be read in every school in this country, and beyond this country, if anyone beyond these shores wants to know the truth about Thomas Jefferson.

Dog16arma said...

Let's get clear here, each woman, in each country has to form a unique movement to end male supremacy. And there are several feminist movements in operation all at once. You'd have to visit each country to find out first hand what women are doing there, because the male dominated press doesn't report on women unless it's a male defined story (attrocities) usually.

So I don't think we have much of an argument here.

Peter Gomes is the chaplin of the Harvard Memorial Chapel, and he was visibly uncomfortable when I asked him about Mary Daly and her stand against patriarchy. Peter Gomes is black and gay, and I asked his opinion about radical feminism and the work of Mary Daly.

There has been a concerted effort to discredit Daly by calling her a racist, and I personally think there is a lot to this that has not been reported. I believe Daly provided the actual keys to overthrowing patriarchy, and that a lot of anti-radical feminist reporting goes on about her.

You'll have to read the chapter on Daly in the most recent biography on Audre Lorde, because a black woman got at some interesting facts, and Daly reports about it a bit in her book Quintesscence.

Each radical feminist writer has a unique message for each individual radical feminist on earth. And I admire Daly because she is a heroic radical lesbian feminist who battled it out in THE most male dominated places on earth. She broke ground and considered THE founding mother of radical feminist philosophy. In my opinion, she is the greatest lesbian feminist mind alive in America today bar none. No other radical lesbian feminist I know of was able to get at the very underpinnings of patrirachy, how it is constructed, how to take it apart like a car engine in a lesbian owned car repair shop.

I think it is a tactic of male supremacy to label women racists, and I am on to this tactic. Only women can call each other racists in my opinion. What men have to say about it is irrelevant, and you need to look at the actual accusation to reveal what is behind a racist charge. That's why I found it interesting to read Lorde's biography, because it got at the evidence of how Mary Daly defended herself against Audre Lorde's open letter to her.

When I met many feminists from African countries, they said Mary Daly was a big help in being one of the first white American feminists to reveal attrocities against women as a global system, not just an American system. She was the first to do this as far as I know, and then it was up to all women to continue to uncover the sources of male supremacy, and the destruction of women at the hands of men. Radical feminists are always insulted and degraded, and I don't trust any reporting on people I personally have met and whose work I know inside and out.

Dog16arma said...

I think my other comment to your comments disappeared. Sometimes this system works and sometimes it doesn't.

Anyway, Annette Gordon-Reed's work on Jefferson and the Hemmings family is fascinating for its truth. No white people are capable of writing about what slavery is about, or about the horrifying aspect of white male ownership of black women. Since the white men were the owners of blacks, and also the owners of white women too, no wonder the abolition movement and the feminist movement came to fore.

This kind of story is a real breakthrough in American history, and it was fascinating to see how uncomfortable the white male academic panel was with Gordon-Reed on it. They had to shut up. And this they rarely do. The research was too damn good.

That said, the white oppression of the world is not the same as the male oppression of the world. White men did not invent oppression or rape. Rape has been around a very long time.

What is amazing is to see first hand the brutality of men in each culture I have visited and lived in, that's what is so shocking. Most of this is never widely known in the west, not written about, not covered, not even reported.

We don't know much about women worldwide, until we go and do our own research. The US is a very closed system, and not at all like other cultures of the world. Each culture has a unique way of destroying the souls of women, and after you've seen enough of this, well for me, you realize just how enormous the job is.

The solutions are very local, and very subtle. There is no point in reporting this stuff to the male terrorists on the Internet.

Julian Real said...

HiDog16arma,

I have written a lot in reply to what you have here, in the most recent posts. I think I will send them to you in email rather than post them here, as they are not for a public venue.

[...]
No other radical lesbian feminist I know of was able to get at the very underpinnings of patrirachy, how it is constructed, how to take it apart like a car engine in a lesbian owned car repair shop.

I agree she has written a great deal in just that way, and that anyone who can analyse, describe, make clear, and not only all that, but point to a way out, is needed desperately. I'm glad any woman anywhere makes use of any radical feminist writing, by anyone of any color. And I know women who don't read, who understand the dynamics and mechanisms of patriarchy very well. I don't believe one has to read books to know that. I believe you do have to pay attention and not be invested in not knowing the truth, as so many men are, for example. Or men know the truth about male supremacy, but simply won't discuss it, unless only around other misogynistic men.

I think it is a tactic of male supremacy to label women racists, and I am on to this tactic. Only women can call each other racists in my opinion.

Do you also think only men of color can call other men of color sexist? Or do you think I can call a man of color sexist or misogynistic too?

And, why have you not responded to Soul Sis here, if that is the case. Your silence in response to her says a great deal about your unwillingness to be accountable to women of color, not only imo.

I'll tell you this: no radical feminist woman of color has ever told me "don't call out white women's racism". Not one. Context matters, of course. But this is my blog, after all, where all and any white supremacy WILL get called out, even your own. The rules have been set here, and you come to this space willingly. So when I call you on what I perceive to be your racism, your white supremacy, you either have to answer here to that, or not post racist and white-centric stuff here that isn't named as such. Or, at the very least, answer to the WOC here who DO call you out here.

When will you do THAT, at least?
When will you answer Soul Sis directly here, not treating her as if she doesn't exist? That's beyond racism, to me. That's other stuff as well.

I saw precisely the same shit play out at Stan's blog, except it was white men who wouldn't respond at all, or respectfully, to a woman of color there. I called their asses out on it and was welcomed to do so by that WOC.

Do you believe white radical feminists are and can be racist/white supremacist against radical feminist women of color? Do you believe you do that, as a practice?

Julian Real said...

What men have to say about it is irrelevant, and you need to look at the actual accusation to reveal what is behind a racist charge.

That's an extremely convenient mindset to have at a white militantly anti-racist man's blog. It works perfectly for evading accountability, yes? Why not post only at Arooo, then?

That's why I found it interesting to read Lorde's biography, because it got at the evidence of how Mary Daly defended herself against Audre Lorde's open letter to her.

Yes, MONTHS too late! Again, the white woman who doesn't feel she has to answer to a woman of color. I've seen it so often it's just expected by me at this point. And there's little difference, in the blogosphere, in how white women ignore what women of color have to say, from how white men do it, from how men of color do it. It's called "ignoring it". It's called "pretending what a woman of color said wasn't even uttered, or didn't make a sound, like a brown tree falling in a forest of white trees: apparently it doesn't make a sound.

But in a feminist or profeminist context, I hold this expectation: that whites will hold themselves accountable to anti-racists of any color, and to people of color who call them out.

So you are accountable to me here on matters of your own racism and white supremacy. Just so you know.

Radical feminists are always insulted and degraded,

Yes. Of coure. Primarily by stupid white heterosexual class-privileged men who don't know their asses from their elbows, when it comes to comprehending the brilliance of radical feminist writings, such as Lorde's, Collins', hooks', Cleage's, Daly's, Jeffreys', or Dworkin's.

And WHITE radical feminists (radical on gender, virtually never on race) who are not and will not be accountable to radical feminist women of color... what do you think about that as a "feminist" political practice?

and I don't trust any reporting on people I personally have met and whose work I know inside and out.

How well did you know Mary Daly? Does just meeting someone mean they cannot be critiqued by others who know them well? And if they are critiqued by those who have also met them, what then?

I have met Andrea Dworkin. I hold her work in very high regard. But if a radical feminist has an analysis of places in Dworkin's work where she's been racist, I won't deny that reality. Nor will I deny the reality of Daly's racism in Gyn/ecology, that Audre Lorde VERY respectfully pointed out to her, in a very sisterly way, to be met with silence. For four months. There's no disputing that, is there? The only dispute (as I read it) is: how long did it take Daly respond to Lorde's personal correspondence (beyond a few months of no response at all). And when did that long-awaited reply of Daly's, which I believe exists and was sent, arrive relative to when Sister Outsider went to press.

Whether or not Lorde got the letter in time to NOT publish her own letter to Daly, Lorde felt what I believe to be an accurate and morally appropriate responsibility to call Daly out publicly, because no women of color who were calling out white radical feminists' racism were being respectfully responded to publicly. Much in the way you do not respond to Soul Sis.

Dog16arma said...

I think you have to read the recent biography of Audre Lorde, and that black herstorian helped solve the mystery. I don't know why Mary Daly took several months to respond to a letter, but I do know that Audre Lorde said that she had never received a response at all, so the biographer was surprised to discover that Mary Daly had indeed written a letter to Audre Lorde in Lorde's files.

Mary Daly should have addressed the charges of racism directly on the phone or in a one-on-one meeting with Lorde, and that never happened. But then again maybe she did, you'd just have to ask her directly.
By the way, have you read Daly or the other books? I have a feeling you really don't know here work at all.

Julian Real said...

I've read all about the Lorde/Daly issue.

And I've read some Daly, but found it more to my own ways of thinking/feeling/being to read the work of radical feminist women of color. And Dworkin.

To each our own favorite writers. I need to read work by women who know what whiteness means, in every regard.

soulsistasoulja said...

"I think it is a tactic of male supremacy to label women racists, and I am on to this tactic. Only women can call each other racists in my opinion. What men have to say about it is irrelevant, and you need to look at the actual accusation to reveal what is behind a racist charge. That's why I found it interesting to read Lorde's biography, because it got at the evidence of how Mary Daly defended herself against Audre Lorde's open letter to her."

Dog,

You are being racist and your are seriously abusing your white privilege and you're doing so in all the ways that Julian pointed out.

Does that mean something to you now? Now that a woman, a black woman, has directly called you on some very inviziblizing, and white language, are you giong to take it seriously and own how what you said and how you're carrying yourself on this blog in damn near every comment I've read from you is a complete abuse of white privilege?

Dog16arma said...

Soulsista,

I actually don't see how my comment about the actual discovery of the letter Mary Daly wrote to Audre Lorde is a racist comment. In the past, Daly was accused of not writing anything at all, and this is not racist it is simply bad fact checking. The wrong Mary Daly did was not talking one-on-one with Audre Lorde, and somehow, since I wasn't there at the time, I don't know the answer.
If women can't get their own herstory right, then we won't get anywhere. I think lots of feminists are called names, particularly radical feminists; it's one reason I don't do much work within US feminism anymore.

So I am sorry if you found my comments offensive, and I wish you well on your journey.

Julian Real said...

(What follows is the first of several replies, in succession, to Dog16arma, re: your replies to Soul Sis here on this blog:)

Hi Dog16arma,

I have lots of problems with that comment of yours as well, and others here. I welcome Soul Sis to reply to you, but also don't feel she should have to do so. It shouldn't take a WOC to call you out on your racism, and this blog won't be a place that puts that burden on WOC.

I'm going to reply to you, in my own voice, as this blog's host, about how I see your behavior here as racist, in these last couple of posts to Soul Sis, particularly.

Soul Sis quoted you stating:
"I think it is a tactic of male supremacy to label women racists, and I am on to this tactic."

Do you realise that not only is this a deeply woman-hating and woman-invisibilising thing to believe--in that it is wrong and it is white supremacist to the core--but the very phrasing of it reveals your racism and white-centric ways of viewing social-political reality?

"I think it is a tactic of male supremacy to label women racists, and I am on to this tactic."

Who are "women", in that sentence above, Dog16arma? Women of color? Apparently not. So you making "women" = white means you don't regard women of color as "women" like you, as human as you are, as entitled to speak and critique as you are, and that you will, consciously or not, try and silence women who DO call out white racism and white supremacy as it is spoken and otherwise flagrantly displayed by whites: women, trans people, and men.

Julian Real said...

It has been noted elsewhere that white women, including white "radical" feminists, often view African American women as "the problem". Black women are the problem, allegedly, according to white "radical" feminists, because they toss around accusations of racism in order, in your own words, to reinforce male supremacy. Women of color naming white women's racism is a tool of male supremacy?!

How silencing and grossly invisibilising and insulting (and domineering and arrogant, and self-centered as a white person) is that to say to a radical feminist?

That you made this statement means, to me, that your concerns and distress are about how women of color, who are often and routinely perceived and also portrayed politically as men or as politically man-like, BY WHITE "RADICAL" FEMINISTS. Apparently, in this distorted view of humanity and political reality, it is WOC who do things that are tactically male supremacist and harmful to white women (= women?). I keep hearing white "radical" feminists declare, over and over again, that Black women conspire to hurt white women with spurious, false, or flagrant accusations of white women being racist.

This rings a bell for me. It reminds me A LOT of men accusing girls and women of making false allegations of rape, incest, child molestation, and other sexual assault.

What both these messed up political phenomena have in common is that they reveal the truth of who CAN speak truth, under and within white male supremacist societies.

The answer is this: not women of color, EVER. Both men of all colors and white women will CONSPIRE, WILL JOIN WHITE MALE SUPREMACIST FORCES TO SILENCE AND MALIGN WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE U.S.

So your comment, not Soul Sis's is both white AND male supremacist, in this view. Do you get that?

Julian Real said...

White men--profeminist and anti-profeminist--and white women--feminist and antifeminist--are demonstrably so racist and white privileged as to deny that that is even the case: that white women's and men's views of women of color and their "complaints" are white and male supremacist. The charges are not. The views are, just to be clear.

I find nothing at all white or male supremacist in a woman of color calling out a white woman's racism. And for you to portray her words this way means, to me, that YOUR whitewomanness = being a white male supremacist, and that being a woman of color = being a woman = being human. You have refered here to men as being reptiles or not human beings at all--that that is how you view them and that is what you believe about them.

So what does it make you when you behave, politically, as they do? When your actions to a woman or color are completely consistent with what whites generally, and men generally do to women of color: Silence, shame, disregard, misinterpret, and distort what WOC say and do to such an extent that the African American woman, and by association and stigma, ALL Black women and all women of color, becomes, functionally, "the enemy", not white men?

Other analysis and commentary is required, on this blog that is supposed to be RESPECTFUL and WELCOMING of women of color.

I actually don't see how my comment about the actual discovery of the letter Mary Daly wrote to Audre Lorde is a racist comment.

And if we made Mary a white man, and Audre a white women, would this get clearer, I wonder? If a white woman called out a prominent white man's sexism, his male supremacy, and he didn't respond to her for several months, and she later put her letter to him in a book saying she never heard back from him, would white women rush to defend him if it came out later that, well, yes, he did reply, but it WAS over four months too late?

In the past, Daly was accused of not writing anything at all, and this is not racist it is simply bad fact checking.

She didn't write anything at all in a period of time considered to be "appropriate", "caring", and "respectful" by most human beings I know regardless of gender, race, or sexuality. That's not "an accusation" it's the truth, if you just check the facts of the matter.

The wrong Mary Daly did was not talking one-on-one with Audre Lorde

I strongly disagree. Mary Daly is well-known among women to be a woman hater. That her work has value means, well, that her work has value.

Why would or should Audre Lorde meet one-on-one with a racist woman-hater? Whose interests are served in THAT meeting? How would that be a safe, comfortable, or desirable "meeting" for Audre Lorde. We do know that when Mary later met up with Audre, Mary was very cold to her, not apologetic, not congenial, not sisterly, not warm, not open. Those are the facts, right? And hundreds, if not more, women can corroborate that Mary Daly treats women this way, apparently regardless of race.

Julian Real said...

That Mary mistreats women of all colors indicates that she is, in those ways, at those times, a white male supremacist, does it not? So who is she separating from in being a "separatist"? Her own white male supremacists ways of harming women? Apparently not. What women are safe to be around her?

As I see it, as a radical profeminist/prowomanist, Audre Lorde had no obligation whatsoever to meet one-to-one with a racist misogynist. And she did, in this view, have a self-loving, self-respecting obligation to NOT meet with Mary Daly.

If women can't get their own herstory right, then we won't get anywhere.

So you're helping Soul Sis not get anywhere? You're helping women not get anywhere? Your herstorical account is racistly skewed and biased by your whiteness, which is a form of male supremacy, right?

Being racist, as a white person, means being grossly dehumanising of and disrespectful to women, right? Well, if "women" = women of color, that is.

What do white "radical" feminists call white men and men of color who are gross disrespecters of white women? What do you call and consider them to be? Human?

I think lots of feminists are called names, particularly radical feminists; it's one reason I don't do much work within US feminism anymore.

First, your comments here ARE work within US feminism. Any time you engage as a U.S. white woman with a U.S. woman of color, publicly or not, you are working within US feminism, aren't you?

This is a classically liberal, intellectual, politically expedient slight of hand. A specific case of a white person's racism against a radical feminist woman of color gets generalised. It shifts out of context to somehow become about what happens to all feminists, especially "radical feminists" who have already been portrayed by you as being "white women". What (and who) is invisiblised and oppressed by doing that?

I just got replies to the piece on Hating Thanksgiving from two white women of european heritage, one born in Germany--a blond, very light-skinned white woman, the other whose family comes from Germany, among other places in europe. They both said in similar ways: "ethnic groups don't treat each other well". The discussion is about white men'sgenocide of American Indians, and they want this to become about how "we all don't really treat each other very well, do we?" I wrote back to one, and will also reply to the other commenter:

My family, on one side, goes back to the Ukraine. Jews. (My father was born in the Ukraine, in fact.) They didn't commit genocide, according to any history books I've read. German Nazis did, against all european Jews, among other ethnic groups, like the Roma. That's not "ethnic groups not treating each other well", unless you want to utterly pervert the reality of genocide into a mere matter of "folks not being nice to their neighbors".

So I am sorry if you found my comments offensive, and I wish you well on your journey.

She didn't say she found them "offensive", Dog16arma. She said THEY ARE RACIST. And I find it grossly dismissive and insulting of you to reframe her comments that way, and also to do the patronising, condescending, and racist/misogynistic "brush off" thing of wishing her well on her journey. Her journey clearly includes encountering white "radical" feminists' grossly unowned racism. So how does you being racist to her, repeatedly, assist her in her journey being one that provides her wellness?

soulsistasoulja said...

"She didn't say she found them "offensive", Dog16arma. She said THEY ARE RACIST. And I find it grossly dismissive and insulting of you to reframe her comments that way, and also to do the patronising, condescending, and racist/misogynistic "brush off" thing of wishing her well on her journey. Her journey clearly includes encountering white "radical" feminists' grossly unowned racism. So how does you being racist to her, repeatedly, assist her in her journey being one that provides her wellness?"


Dog was just as racist and dismissive to me in her initial response (one that she gave ONLY because a white man instructed her to with the "threat" of not publishing any of her comments until she did) to me. I am not willing to expend any real energy to engage white radical feminists. They're bitter racist assholes who regard black women especially as men and who are racistly dismissive, didactive and DISGUSTING towards woc who aren’t white identified.

Personally, I want nothing to do with white racists, duh. The only reason I ever engaged her and that asshat recorta is because I saw the camaraderie between them that most white women share whenever their asses are called to the carpet for their racism.

“These guys need to take responsibility for their own idea that black rights is about men. Now if black women are talking about civil rights, then I'll listen, but I don't believe men even think of women when they are talking about civil rights.”

Civil rights or racism? Do you not see your own racism in this comment here? Discussions on black civil rights are discussions against white racism/supremacy. That you won’t listen to a black man is telling, and it’s not because you don’t believe black men consider black women, since you didn’t listen to a word I said either…

“And I don't agree with Baldwin when he says we can't take men's "huMANity" away, of course we can. As a radical feminist, I just don't want men in my spaces, both public and private. The time is up for the guys, and I need as much women only spaces, jobs, places and showcases as possible”

Then why, the fuck, are you here? If you are so anti-male (which I fully support any woman being given how vile they are) why the hell are you here whining on and on about how unfair shit is towards white men and constantly needing to malign black men as you see fit? Also what right do you, as a white woman with white privilege, have to take away a black man’s humanity? Your racism is so gross, you see NOTHING at all wrong with that?


“Although this may be hard for you to believe Julian, I have never known one black lesbian who has ever said one word about James Baldwin, other than to tell about his funeral many years ago. At the funeral, there was not one mention of his gayness, and the entire funeral service colluded in his erasure as a gay man.”

You really DON’T get it. I’m not surprised, your white skinned privilege is so friggin bright it has blinded you. First of all, homophobia is an issue period, but it is an issue particularly in the black community so of COURSE there wouldn’t be mention of his gayness. No doubt his family wanted him to be laid to rest with “dignity” (smh at the ignorance in THAT too.) I won’t dare go into discussions with you on this, would hate to give you ammo for use in your blatant racism. However, here you go again speaking for black women. We don’t need miss Ann and her well to do ass to muck up other places talking about how many dark female ppl (cause we’re note women all the women are white in this fucked up world view you espouse here) you know. Let them tell their testimony and narrative. Miss Ann need not speak for us/them.

soulsistasoulja said...

“As I said before, each race of women has to be in charge of its own liberation.
It is most certainly not racist on my part to take away white men's humanity, because in my mind, and the presidential campaign was the last straw, white men are no longer human.”

THEN SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT BLACK WOMEN’S THOUGHTS, FEELINGS ETC ON BLACK MALE MISOGYNY and let US talk about it. And further more, since you conveniently ignored this part of Julian’s comment, you responded about stripping men of their humanity in RESPONSE to Baldwin, a black man, saying we cannot. You said we can strip men of their humanity as a punishment. Or is it that no poc is human in your mind? Since automatically woman and man to you = white.

This is about as much energy I can expend to your racism and unowned white centric/white privileged views. Deal with this, and with what Julian has said and for the LAST TIME stfu about black women’s realities/experiences/opinions/lives. You are not a mouth piece, are you? Last time I checked, I was not involved in the vote to make you the spokes woman for black female life and experiences.

soulsistasoulja said...

Julian,

I appreciate your dedication to your efforts to be accountable to woc, and to honor us as women. Most white ppl dont, as we see here with Dog...

I find NO problem with a white person telling another white person that what they said is white centric, racist and an abuse of their white privilege. As you can see, dog isn't opposed to men telling white women they're racist, she has a problem with ANYONE calling white women out on how they inviziblize, disrespect, and dishonor black women with their racism, and white supremacist foolery. She won't hear it from me, she won't hear it from you. She is above critique and she cannot/will not be accountable.

Not even to the women she calls her sisters. Dog is one of those white women who hang around black women so they can appropriate our experiences and co-opt them so they can show off how "aware" they are. Truth be told, Dog likely doesn't have any black friends. I don't know many black women (unless they're white identified) who would see how she writes and not take issue with it. Not even lesbian black women, since she clearly has a hatred for hetero women and is using alleged words of black lesbians to support her racism...

Dog16arma said...

Just to summarize here, all white people born in America and educated here for a period of time are racists. All men are sexists and/or racists. That's the given.
Homophobia is a different situation I think, and I don't know exactly where that fits. It's too complicated for blog writing.

I think white women have no place on women of color blogs anyway. So perhaps this should be just for women of color. So if this is truly a women of color blog, then that's a good thing. I am not sure there is hope for anything run by white men, because I know the best groups I have been in have been free of them. Just as black women have said their most powerful lesbian groups were African-American and African.

First, women have to find their lands. Needless to say, the US is a small place, the world is filled with women who are finding their own voices, and creating new and inventive ways to do this. My greatest optimism always comes from this larger world, and from the very best in communication that comes when women meet and talk to each other one-on-one.

Julian Real said...

Women are punished, ridiculed, and killed for not being worshipful and deferential to men. And, being worshipful and deferential does nothing to stop men from harming, oppressing, and killing women. People of color are punished, ridiculed, and killed for not being worshipful and deferential to whites--women and men. And being worshipful and deferential doesn't abate the punishment, the ridicule, the killing.

Any woman or man who is not appropriately "gendered" according to a society's standards, may be punished, ridiculed, and killed by those who assess her to be, in some way, "queer". And all women who are "appropriately gendered" are also targeted for sexual harassment, rape, and murder by men.

Do you appreciate the risk that women of color, whether heterosexual or lesbian; trans, queer-appearing or not; butch or femme or neither; are targeted for white and male violence interpersonally? And do you appreciate how women of color are structurally located in a white heteromale supremacist system to be denigrated and oppressed on several fronts simultaneously in ways that are always personal and political?

Julian Real said...

I think white women have no place on women of color blogs anyway.

Why? If those blogs are not separatist, only for women of color, why do you believe that?

So perhaps this should be just for women of color.

Why? Because you can't be respectful in your language to women of color here? Because you don't wish to be called out on what you do that is racist? If that has been your ethic, your political view, why post here to begin with?

So if this is truly a women of color blog, then that's a good thing.

Again, it isn't. I'm a white man. Obviously this isn't a WOC blog. How odd that you'd think that a blog that sets up a space to be welcoming and supportive to women of color has to equal a space where there are no white people--women or men. What does that say about the level of safety and respect women of color get at ANY white blog? Are you saying that white women cannot be respectful and responsible to women of color online? Why can't you be?

I am not sure there is hope for anything run by white men, because I know the best groups I have been in have been free of them.

This blog is run by a white man. The best groups you have been in are not run by white men. (I can easily imagine that to be true!!!) But clearly you are speaking about yourself as a white woman, because you've demonstrated here, repeatedly, a level of racist engagement, ignorance, and condescension to at least one radical feminist woman of color here that means what for how you are with U.S. radical feminist women of color offline? How many radical feminist WOC are in your life in the U.S. offline?

Julian Real said...

Just as black women have said their most powerful lesbian groups were African-American and African.

You are speaking here as if you are entitled to ignore and be unresponsive to at least one woman of color who addresses you directly. Do you get that?

You once again SPEAK FOR Black women, stating what is best for Black women. Black women you know, apparently, have said that to you. Do you get how that isn't all Black women? And that you concluding what is best for Black women based on what a few (or many) Black women have told you directly doesn't say anything about what's true for Black women generally, and that there's not going to be "a formula" for how WOC can be safe and respected?

If you understand yourself to be, necessarily, racist, actively so, do you elect to not engage with women of color at all?

Why can't you speak for yourself, and about whiteness and how white women destroy sisterhood with their racism? Why is your solution to have all groups be separatist?

I have witnessed most spaces that are dominated by white people, women or men, to be actively racist and white supremacist (which is to say misogynistic if women = women of color), without apology or ownership of what that means, and what that requires of the white moderater of that group. I see you attempting to duck out of your responsibilities to learn how to be present to and respectfully responsive to a woman of color here. You do this one again by not addressing Soul Sis directly and instead posting about what your experience is about what is best for Black women, what works best for Black women.

This is my experience: what works best for the Black women I have known is for any other human being they encounter to be respectful, to be accountable, and to listen carefully and often shut up and just listen. And own our shit. And not pretend we're not accountable to women of color. And not use our privileges and entitlements as whites to evade and avoid being accountable.

In my experience--which is necessarily and obviously quite different from you own--women generally don't have the option to live in spaces where there are no males ever.

U.S. people of color do not generally have the option to not encounter whites--unless perhaps completely ghettoised and imprisoned by capitalism and white male supremacy, by poverty and the desire of whites to segregate POC from white supremacist society. And even then, whites are around, causing trouble. Men make trouble for women and whites make trouble for people of color. Interpersonally AND institutionally.

First, women have to find their lands.

Dog16arma, can you NOT move into a posture and voice where you tell WOC what to do? Can you instead listen to and be appropriately, feministly responsive to another woman? Have you read what Pearl Cleage recommends to oppressors in terms of listening and being appropriately responsive as an oppressor when speaking about matters of oppression? That wise counsel is in Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot. Have you read that book? Have you read the chapters in Sister Outsider about white women's racism? What did you learn from each of those books?

Have you avoided dealing with U.S. radical feminist women of color because you only wish to believe the problem is men oppressing women? As if whites don't oppress women due to their whiteness?

Needless to say, the US is a small place, the world is filled with women who are finding their own voices, and creating new and inventive ways to do this.

This blog is an even smaller space. Why can't you figure out how to be respectful and directly responsive to Soul Sis without reinforcing racism every time? That's a very serious question.

Julian Real said...

My greatest optimism always comes from this larger world, and from the very best in communication that comes when women meet and talk to each other one-on-one.

I agree that in-person meetings allow for more communication (non-verbal as well as just written or just spoken). But most people will never meet most other people. Most people in the world cannot travel. Most people in the world will be born, live, and die, in the same area.

The internet is one means of connecting women who would not otherwise know one another. If you don't think the internet is an appropriate place to engage with women of color, as a white person, why do you come to a WOC-friendly blog to post your comments and not figure out (preferably before, or at least while being here) how to be accountable and respectful to a WOC--how to not be racist in your speech here?

Is that expecting and asking too much? Again, this is a serious question.