Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Politics of Atrocity. White Male Cop Punches Black Girl in the Face. Challenging the Political Practice of a White Het Guy

I saw this once on the news and refuse to watch it again. Once is quite enough, and hopefully the girl who was punched, the African American young woman, will not have to ever endure this police abuse or abuse by any man, ever again.

What we have here, is yet another flagrant abuse of power for which WHITE DUDE COP has an explanation. What we have here is a big ol' white man with a gun, thinking a Black teenage girl without one MUST require a punch in the face because she's THAT dangerous. Because Black GIRLS, and Black women are perceived by whites as being exactly the same as Black men, with regard to "danger potential". Because all Black people--girls, boys, women, men, trans and intersex folks, are SEEN AS LETHALLY DANGEROUS by (and against) most whites. Oh yes, we whiteys do. Yes we do. Find ten white people who deny this and nine (probably plus one) will be lying through our pearly whites.

What we have here is video footage of a white male cop taking his white male supremacist power, fueled and emboldened by a police badge, and misusing it to abuse a young women with his fist in her face, because, apparently, that's what he considers "an appropriate use of force". Police force. Male force. White force.

Fire his racist/misogynist white ass. NOW!!

Coming up in a bit is an example, much subtler, of how white het men think they get to speak to everyone critically. What appears below is from a ridiculously very long and dreary discussion from anti-racist Jewish white het male activist Tim Wise's Facebook page. (Tim isn't in the discussion much at all.)

I'd argued there that "atrocity" when defined by white het men, typically and conveniently leaves out things like battery of women by men, white men's genocide and rape of American Indians going on NOW, and slavery going on NOW--not primarily of white het men but by plenty of them--because you know how those white het men love to shop (for people).

Any other atrocities white men commit against people they structurally oppress? Plenty. What do whites call those realities? Poverty is an atrocity. But it is "unfortunate"--literally, without fortune, to rich white het men, but surely not "an atrocity". I say, YES, it IS. Rich white men don't think so because it's poor people's fault, not capitalism's, which benefits those white guys no end. Government welfare is poor Black and Brown women stealing from the rich. But corporate welfare is NEVER seen as rich white men stealing from poor women of color, and men and children of color, and poor whites too.

White supremacist policies in this country: an atrocity. Male supremacist practices in this country: an atrocity. What do whites and men call these realities? White men would prefer to change the subject and discuss those damned immigrants (presumed not white) and gay men (presumed white) and feminists (presumed white) threatening the very foundation of this (allegedly) civil society. It's about as civil to the oppressed as it is "unfortunate" to rich white men.

White male cops punching, beating, hosing down, shooting, invading, raping, and destroying the property and human rights of people of color in the U.S. will not be called an atrocity by white male cops or the U.S. government. Why? If a police officer kills someone, he didn't commit murder and isn't a terrorist, necessarily--let's wait for the trial before prosecuting someone in the court of public opinion! If a civilian kills a police officer or a soldier, they committed murder and can be called a terrorist, necessarily--fuck the courts and their own conclusions.

Not only that.

If a person of color kills a white people, s/he and ALL the people of her ethnic group will be called terrorists, or fascists. That men call feminists any variation of "fascist" only means that men are about as stoopid as stoopid gets. That white men call people of color "terrorists", when whites are as terroristic a race as has ever existed on Earth... to date, is downright fucked up self-denial and self-protectionism.

Radical feminist Patricia Hill Collins' clarity on the matter is needed now:

Matrix of DominationThis is a featured page

SociologisPatricia Hill Collinst Patricia Hill Collins coined the term "Matrix of Domination" to describe the way the specific forms of privileges fit into a larger system. The example that is given in "Privilege, Power, and Difference" by Allan G. Johnson is that white men in the past have made black males out to be scary sexual predators towards women and that women are helpless and need the white males to protect them. This not only reinforces many negative stereotypes but it also makes individual stereotypes entangled in a web, or "Matrix of Domination". The matrix also lays out "how different dimensions of privilege and domination are connected to one another". The matrix explains how the multiple aspects of privilege and power can reinforce one another and are intertwined. It also explains how when people are privileged in one aspect it gives them a higher chance to be privileged in other dimensions. The example given in the book is when males are born white they have a greater chance to earn more than women and live in a higher class.

Works Cited
Johnson, Alan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. Second Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

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I challenged this college white boy on this--the politics of what gets named "atrocity", and why.

I said of course "9/11" will get called an atrocity, because it happened on whiteland in the West, and because WHM lost their lives and the U.S. got a tiny taste of what it is doing all over the world: committing terroristic acts that are horrific, murderous, cowardly, and cruel, destructive of property, toppling buildings which fall on live human beings, but curiously aren't called "atrocities" by U.S. WHM collectively.

Paul Muriello
@Julian - "I'd argue as one among the most privileged "class" or "demographic" it's not for you to decide what people with less structural privilege ought to do."

What? So I could not, for instance, say to a non-white male "you ought not beat your wife"? Or are you saying I don't have the necessary lack of privilege to label things as atrocity? Help me out here, your non-sequiturs are getting out of hand.

Julian Real
@Paul - What I'm saying is that we ought not publicly critique people who we structurally oppress in the areas where you oppress them, because, quite frankly, they've/we've heard enough out of you. That's what I'm saying. Whites can shut the fuck up when it comes to critiquing people of color on matters of race and racism, and men can shut the fuck up when it comes to critiquing women publicly on matters of sexism and male supremacy. That's what I'm saying. Same for straight boys critiquing gay men and lesbian women. Same with white Christians criticising Jews of any color and Muslims of any color.

Can you, a white boy, critique a man of color for beating his wife? Sure, as long as it's not a race-based critique. Call out any man's sexism, but if you find yourself steering clear of critiquing WHITE men's sexism--and society will make it very easy for you to never do this, if you never want to--then ask yourself why white men aren't hearing from you on this matter. Because surely it's not because white dudes don't beat women of all colors. Especially when cops:

I'm saying that if you make your political practice calling out men who share your positions of politics/structural/institutional power, you'll have a lot of work to do. I'm making the point that you, Paul, have enough white het men to criticise, including cops, CEOs, politicians, media owners, corporate pimps, and other rulers of our society, for their racism, misogyny, and homophobia that I seriously believe you can fill at least one lifetime calling out just folks from that demographic.

If, for example, you think any oppressed group hasn't heard six days past ENOUGH from the likes of our/their oppressors... well, think again.

I'm not speaking for anyone but me. I'm laying out what I believe here, and plenty of people across the spectra will disagree. I'm not talking about letting a friend of any gender, race, sexuality, or religion know "that was the worst pizza I've ever tasted" if they made a pizza for dinner and it sucked, in your opinion.

I'm asking you to state your beliefs as yours, to own them as coming from a perspective, and to not claim knowledge of any Truths beyond your own experiences.

And, I beg you, PLEASE tell other white het men with class privilege to stop critiquing "other" people. And start calling one another out. Because y'all have a lot to call each other out on.

I'm talking about the matters at hand, respectively: race politics, gender politics, sexuality politics, religion and ethnicity politics. Not "identity" politics, mind you. Structurally oppressive reality politics. The political reality whereby you occupy political space, not just social space. And wherever you go, Paul, you occupy white het male space. And everyone around you, who you structurally oppress, knows it. You can decide if you'll reinforce their oppression with your behavior, or not.

Please read Pearl Cleage's Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot, in the section "Basic Training":

As well as the blog Stuff White People Do:

As well as the FAQs on the Fiinally, a Feminism 101 Blog:

As well as the Feminism 101 section of this blog, Shakesville:

And dump your ego-defences.


ayoungethan said...

"I'm saying that if you make your political practice calling out men who share your positions of politics/structural/institutional power, you'll have a lot of work to do. I'm making the point that you, Paul, have enough white het men to criticise, including cops, CEOs, politicians, media owners, corporate pimps, and other rulers of our society, for their racism, misogyny, and homophobia that I seriously believe you can fill at least one lifetime calling out just folks from that demographic."

Which then begs the question back again: WTF was that white cop doing spending his time and energies policing black women for jay walking in the first place? There are plenty of more serious (let alone white-driven...let alone white-collar..) crimes going on. At best, the cop's focus is just a shining example of lazy, cowardly, opportunistic sexism, racism and classism.

Shit went down in P-town again to the same effect:

can't even make my way through the atrocious comments.

Julian Real said...

Welcome, ayoungethan,

Indeed. WTF WAS that white cop doing worrying his not so pretty little head about jay walkers? Surely he must have some CEOs and bank execs to go shoot for stealing from the working class?

I just did scroll through those comments at the link you provided (thank you) and typically, the issue gets framed as "whether or not this individual was bad" and "whether or not he deserved to be shot by the cops". The issue does not get framed this way: "Is one of the functions of city police forces in the U.S. to maintain and enforce white male supremacy by any means necessary, including the use of deadly force?"

My answer to THAT question is YES.

Some jerk over there gets into the fact that there are good people and evil people, and guess who lines up as evil? A young Black male. Hmmm. And the white rich guys in the area who are financially investing in the on-going atrocities of genocide, U.S. racist/misogynistic militarism, corporate imperialism and ecocide, and poverty... are they "good people"???

The answer is NO. Will a white dude who thinks some relatively poor Black people, including a young man with a gun, are EVIL see these rich white folks, including the cops-as-murderers, as EVIL? Nope.

And I realise those bigoted racist individualists would rather not "go there", to see the systemic, institutional violence because you don't get to debate about a good guy and a bad guy when you realise the systems themselves, and those who control them, are corrupt and evil.

vluk said...

This white hetro male cop is a criminal upholding an illegal justice system imposed by the palians. He is no different to any of the other bully boys in his white male club.

When I saw this clip I thought of the scene from Thelma and Louise in which they lock a white cop in his trunk. I could not help but think how appropreate that would be in this case.