Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hey white men? What's up your arsenal?

How familiar is this sort of image, just below, to you? You've seen it a lot before? Stuff like it? When have you ever seen an image like the one above in which the people with virtually all the weapons were women of color, and the one being assaulted was a white man? Just curious. Rent Born in Flames and begin imagining it. And please keep this in mind. What happens in the photo below happens every day on Earth, by white men against women of color, in one form or another. Women of color "retaliating" or organising militantly against white men: it's just in the imagination--the fearful imagination of white men. Do you understand the difference between what's actually happening in the world and what isn't? I hope so. And I hope you're working, if a white man, to end what it is that white men do, globally, without accountability to anyone.

[image of U.S. white cops with all manner of weaponry, including the misuse of GERMAN shepherd dogs, being used to terrorise, dominate, subordinate, oppress, and control African Americans was found here]

The most common "native" language is Mandarin Chinese. English is a distant third. [source cited below]

I write in a minority language but one that the white speakers of it believe is "international". I am part of a gendered class of people that is less than half of the world's gendered populations. My race, whiteness, is shared with approximately 8% of the world's population, depending on how such things are measured. But, regardless of whether whites are 5 or 15 percent of the world's people, we are, needless to say, a minority.

White English-speaking men are a small minority in the world, yet no other group seems to have managed the ego and force necessary to try and get the world to believe "WE ARE IT: THE definition of HUMANITY!" We aren't "IT" if by "it" we mean representatives of the world's population, of the languages spoken in the world, of the gender most alive on Earth. Minority, minority, and again, minority.

One of the most effective means of maintaining an oppressive system or set of systems is to make sure that, structurally, there are no mechanisms, no means, and no value placed on holding white men accountable to what we do, both one-to-one, in small and large groups, organisationally, or institutionally, to women of color around the world. Nor are we made to be accountable to, to answer responsibly to, what women of color have to say to us about our oppressive ways. We can just play our white music, or our awesome World Music collection, and call it all good.

Do you know, in twenty-five years, how many white men I've met who are "well-read" (as white "educated" men define that term) in radical feminist writings by women of color? Maybe three.

That's THREE in twenty-five years. Consider that for a moment. How many white men are well-read in what white non-feminist, racist men have written? In my personal experience, hundreds.

And I tend to hear about such white men, where and when they show up in society. (I'm in that loop, more or less.) I'm aware of both Robert Jensen's and Derrick Jensen's good work, for example. (No, they are not related.) And I can't even say that Derrick is "well-read" in radical feminism. But I can say he listens to radical women with an open heart and mind.

What does that tell you? It should tell you a lot, not the least of which is that white men don't care to know much about the world unless we've said it and written it down, no matter how fucked up our views of the world, no matter how utterly egotistical and delusional our views of ourselves are.

A function of being privileged, as James Baldwin and so many others over time have noted, is that those of with a particular positioning as oppressor get to be as in denial about the effects of what we do as we wish. If a woman of color calls us out, for example, we can shrug it off and call her all the names we have not stuck far enough up our WMS arsenal.

Through what means do women of color have of holding to account white men for the atrocities we do? What happens if individual women of color request we get out of their way, leave them alone, stop talking, stop coming onto them, stop assuming all WOC are prostitutes, stop assuming all WOC exist to do is serve men, and white men in very particularly misogynistic ways that reside in the white heteromale supremacist imagination. The WHMS imagination, tragically for the world of women, is not kept interior--it is not held only in the mind, privately. It is, rather, projected, displayed, acted out, enforced institutionally against women of color in every horrific way imaginable.

What white men do to women of color in pornography is just one example. I won't be linking to those WHMS human rights abuses any time soon. That alone would be enough to convince anyone that, clearly, there are no systems of accountability in place, no laws, no customs, no practices practiced by white men to call out, shut down, and stop our oppression of women of color by white men.

John Perkins, who is not well-read at all in radical feminism, and who holds to some fairly sexist/misogynistic views about such things as "the feminine" and women's role, does at least detail accounts of how white male power works, globally, against the interests and bodies, against the cultures and civilisations of women of color. Robert has a clear understanding of what's fucked up about whiteness and manhood as it expresses itself in a white male supremacist society. Derrick gets the connections between how women of color are treated and ecocide.

There are a few white men whose writing I find valuable. But there's one thing white men can't tell me about: the experiences of women of color as experienced by WOC. Only women of color can do that. Only women of color can write out their lives, tell their stories, analyse their experiences, including the societies in which they live and die. White men cannot do this. White women cannot do this. Men of color cannot do this.

So, given that, why don't more white men read what radical feminist women of color have to say? What don't more white men read novels and essays, if not also non-fiction work and plays, by women of color?

Can at least one white man reading this answer that question, please.

I didn't read the writings of women of color because I'm a white man, to be clear. I read it because my feminist womentor, a white woman, gave me a reading list that included a lot of writings by women of color. That's when I learned about the Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, which is linked to on the lower right of this blog. That's where I learned about Barbara and Beverly Smith, Gloria Anzaldua, and so many other women of color. And what I realised is that white women's experience doesn't explain what women of color experience. There's some overlap, of course, as there is among all humans who are having human experiences, among all women who are having human experiences as women in patriarchies. But what women of color have to say, collectively, in my view, in my experience, is THE source of something white men are fond of calling TRUTH: political truth, intellectual truth, emotional truth, spiritual truth. But white men seem incessantly to insist that such TRUTH is not knowable unless "discovered" or "revealed" to one or many white men. So what god is can only be taught to us in the West by white men, by white men's writings. By white men who mistranslate language, who don't understand things, who are largely ignorant about what most of the world's human beings is EXPERIENCING. Please think about that for a moment.

We know a few things, us white men, don't we? We know, for example, that one out of every five human beings on Earth is Chinese. (The single largest ethnic group on the planet by far is Han Chinese, which represents 19.73% of the global population. Source: a white male run place called Wikipedia, here.) We know that over half the world's human population is female, not male.

Here's some more info about the preponderance of white people, women and men, in just three countries that have lots of white folks. (Keep in mind half, at least half, are NOT men.)


Argentina, along with other areas of new settlement like Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United States, is considered a country of immigrants where the vast majority originated from Europe.[44] According to different estimates, white Argentines make up anywhere from 86.4%[45] to 97% of Argentina's population, or around 39 million people.[46]
Most immigrants came between the mid-19th century and World War II. Nearly half were from Italy,[47] and almost one third from Spain. Poland, France, the Ottoman Empire (chiefly Christian Lebanese, Syrians, Greeks and Armenians), Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Portugal made up the other eight top sources of immigrants. Switzerland, Belgium, United Kingdom, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States were the next largest. European Jews were among the Eastern European arrivals.
Argentine censuses are conducted on the basis of self-identification. According to the last census, 95% of Argentines identify as white.[48][verification needed]
Criticism of the national census state that data has historically been collected using the category of national origin rather than race in Argentina, leading to undercounting Afro-Argentines and mestizos.[49] Africa Viva (Living Africa) is a black rights group in Buenos Aires with the support of the Organization of American States, financial aid from the World Bank and Argentina's census bureau is working to add an "Afro-descendants" category to the 2010 census. The 1887 national census was the final year where blacks were included as a separate category before it was eliminated by the government.[50]


From 1788, when the first British colony in Australia was founded, until the early 19th century, most immigrants to Australia were British and Irish convicts. These were augmented by small numbers of free settlers from Britain, Ireland and other European countries. However, until the mid-19th century, there were few restrictions on immigration, although members of ethnic minorities tended to be assimilated into the Anglo-Celtic populations.
People of many nationalities, including many non-white people, emigrated to Australia during the goldrushes of the 1850s. However, the vast majority was still white and the goldrushes inspired the first racist activism and policy, directed mainly at Chinese people.
From the late 19th century, the Colonial/State and later federal governments of Australia restricted all permanent immigration to the country by non-Europeans. These policies became known as the "White Australia policy", which was consolidated and enabled by the Immigration Restriction Act 1901,[51] but was never universally applied. Immigration inspectors were empowered to ask immigrants to take dictation from any European language as a test for admittance, a test used in practice to exclude people from Asia, Africa, and some European and South American countries, depending on the political climate.
Although they were not the prime targets of the policy, it was not until after World War II that large numbers of southern European and eastern European immigrants were admitted for the first time.[52] Following this, the White Australia Policy was relaxed in stages: non-European nationals who could demonstrate European descent were admitted (e.g. descendants of European colonizers and settlers from Latin American or Africa), as were autochthonous inhabitants of various nations from the Middle East, most significantly from Lebanon. In 1973, all immigration restrictions based on race and/or geographic origin were officially terminated.

United States

The current U.S. Census definition includes white "people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.[108] The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation describes white people as "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa through racial categories used in the UCR Program adopted from the Statistical Policy Handbook (1978) and published by the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce.[109]
The cultural boundaries separating white Americans from other racial or ethnic categories are contested and always changing. According to John Tehranian, among those not considered white at some points in American history have been: the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Spaniards, Hispanics, Slavs, and Greeks.[110] Studies have found that while current parameters officially encompassed Arabs as part of the White American racial category, many Arab Americans from places other than Bilad al-Sham feel they are not white and are not perceived as white by American society."[111]
Professor David R. Roediger of the University of Illinois, suggests that the construction of the white race in the United States was an effort to mentally distance slave owners from slaves.[112] By the 18th century, white had become well established as a racial term. The process of officially being defined as white by law often came about in court disputes over pursuit of citizenship. The Immigration Act of 1790 offered naturalization only to "any alien, being a free white person". In at least 52 cases, people denied the status of white by immigration officials sued in court for status as white people. By 1923, courts had vindicated a "common-knowledge" standard, concluding that "scientific evidence" was incoherent. Legal scholar John Tehranian argues that in reality this was a "performance-based" standard, relating to religious practices, education, intermarriage and a community's role in the United States.[113]
In 1923, the Supreme Court decided in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind that people of India were not "free white men" entitled to citizenship, despite anthropological evidence in "the extreme northwestern districts of India"[114] there is present the "Caucasian or Aryan race"[114] with an "intermixture of blood"[114] from the "dark skinned Dravidian. [source for the above info on whiteness and population: here]

The CIA lists ethnic groups accordingly, and we can note that they use the racist term mulatto, and that any militarised government in the West is tracking this information to be able to maintain white male supremacist control of as much of the world as possible. Keep in mind, race is a political term, not a "natural" one, or even a "cultural" one.

What do we know about the populations of people by the primary language spoken?
World Diversity Patterns

There are more than 6.5 billion people in the world today.  Nearly 2/3 of them are Asians living on less than 1/3 of the land.   Only about 5% of the world's people live in North America.


  Europe (including nations that
    were part of the Soviet Union)

  Latin America and Caribbean
  North America (U.S. and Canada)  
  Near East
  Oceania (Pacific Islands)

Source: Global Population Profile: 2002, U.S. Census Bureau 2004

map of North America with Quebec Province in Canada highlighted

Just how many different societies, cultures, and ethnic groups make up the world's population is not certain.  This is due, in part, to the fact that these social entities are not always distinct enough to clearly warrant their being considered as separate groups.  For instance, Canada and the U.S. are separate nations but culturally and linguistically similar almost to the point of not being distinguishable by outsiders (except for French speaking Quebec Province).

Contributing to the problem of counting the number of societies, cultures, and ethnic groups is not only the overlapping nature of many of these groups but the fact that they are now changing rapidly as mass media and relatively inexpensive long distance travel increasingly blur cultural differences.  We are experiencing culture change on a scale and at a pace that is unprecedented in human history.

A good indication of cultural survival is the continued use of traditional languages and dialects.  People who are unable to readily communicate because of language differences are more likely to maintain cultural differences as well.  Linguists estimate that the world's peoples speak 5000-6000 languages.  The most common "native" language is Mandarin Chinese.   English is a distant third.

  Spoken as "Native" Language 

  Mandarin Chinese
  Hindi (India)
  Bengali (India and Bangladesh)  
  German (standard)

Note: If the 15 major variants of Arabic are considered one language, Arabic is the 6th most common language in the world having 198-201,000,000 native speakers.
Source:  Ethnologue Volume I: Languages of the
, 14th ed. (2000).  These statistics are only
rough approximations in most cases.

While English is not spoken as a native language by the largest number of people, it is the most world wide in its distribution.  It has become the second language of choice in most countries.  About 1/4 to 1/3 of humanity now understand and speak it to some degree.  As English and a few other major languages grow in popularity and as cultural diffusion accelerates, many of the languages of smaller ethnic groups are dying.  As many as 1/2 of the languages in the world are no longer spoken by children.  This is a major step in the direction of language and cultural extinction.  The languages that are becoming extinct are not doing so because they are "primitive" or unable to allow adequate communication.  They are dying because their speakers find it more useful to speak other languages.  This is largely a result of the growth in influence and power of nation states over their indigenous minority populations and of the increasing globalization of our economies.  The culture homogenizing effect of mass media should not be underestimated either.  Much of the television programming viewed around the world originated in Western Nations.  It is startling to realize that the most popular television shows world wide in recent years have been stereotypical American sitcoms such as "Will and Grace" and "Friends."
The rapid global growth in the importance of the English language and of Western culture (especially American) has not been as straight forward and simple as it initially may seem.  Cultural traits have not only diffused from the Western Industrial societies to the rest of the world.  They have gone the other way as well.  American society, culture, and language have become far more diverse.  For instance, English now contains words from more than 240 other languages.  In less than a generation, the cultural influences of Asia and Latin America especially have dramatically changed life in the U.S. and Canada.  This has been particularly true of the food preferences in urban areas.
Countering these rapid globalization trends in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been the dramatic resurgence of tribalism.  [As named by whom? It's an English word, right?] While many small indigenous societies are disappearing into national societies, many larger ethnic groups are violently reasserting their presence and even independence from the nations that they have been integral parts of until now.  The breakup of Yugoslavia into ethnically "purified" areas in the 1990's is a prime example.  Similar "tribal" reemergences have occurred throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.  Tribalism also recently has spawned genocidal conflicts in Africa, especially in Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, and Congo. [source: here]

I leave y'all with this piece of completely non-feminist analysis about us whiteboys--who the author below prefers to refer sexistly refer to as "white people":

Comparing People to Hitler
By: Isaac “Absent” Amirian
Being a truly advanced white person means being able to speak with authority about pretty much any field of conversation- especially politics. In order for white people to streamline the process of knowing everything, all human beings can be neatly filed into one of two categories: People I Agree With, and People Who are Just Like Adolf Hitler.

Comparing people to Hitler is an easy way for white people to get a strong point across to the less enlightened, or the insufficiently white. Everyone knows who Adolf Hitler was. And everyone knows that Hitler was very, very bad. Therefore, if a white person really, REALLY, doesn’t like something or someone, he or she may angrily say something to the effect of, “This is exactly the same kind of thing that Hitler used to do!” accompanied by varying levels of profanity based on blood-alcohol content. No matter what your gut reaction may be at that point, do not disagree with that white person. Otherwise, well, you love Hitler.

This time-tested white-person maneuver may seem so awesomely useful to you that you are tempted to go out and try it right now. Not so fast. White people have spent the last 30 years perfecting this technique. There are cultural guidelines.

It’s also critical that you avoid the fatal mistake of getting creative and comparing people you don’t like to other evil dictators, such as Joseph Stalin or Fidel Castro. With few exceptions, white people are actually fond of almost any dictator not named Hitler, and your remark that “this is just like something Mao Zedong would do” will be met with blank stares and possible social alienation. This is because, with the exception of Hitler, oppressive dictators share a passion for many of the things white people love- such as universal health care, conspiracy theories, caring about poor people while being filthy rich, and cool hats. Stick to the script and compare things you don’t like to Hitler, and Hitler alone.

Now, like most reasonable people, you might find this strategy distasteful, and even a bit disrespectful, since after all, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, and probably doesn’t have that much in common with Pat Robertson, in perspective. If you prefer to avoid hearing or using the Hitler technique, we recommend you speak in soothing, affirming tones around angry white people to prevent the phenomenon from manifesting, and change the subject tactfully. To something that doesn’t involve George W. Bush. [source: here]

Or, to update, that also doesn't involve Barack Obama. Or Hillary Clinton. Or any white person or person of color with a progressive to radical political agenda and perspective. Or to any feminist. Or to any Black Nationalist.

Because, really, it is the White Nationalist men who really, truly, DO worship Adolph Hitler. Really. I'm not kidding. And they think women have their place serving white men. Really. White Nationalists tend not to be class-privileged. And there is a theory that because poorer and working class white males don't grow up with the esteem and "sense of self as of value" that white class-privileged men grow up with, they channel that lack of esteem, that pain, into an obscenely huge investment in being WHITE--not the liberal kind. Also in being MEN--not the gay kind.

But from whatever class background, with whatever levels of white male institutional "education" white men have the audacity to demonstrate such profound ignorance, in the guise of intelligence, no less!, in stating that any feminist, any one, is "like a Nazi". (Without, you know, being completely embarrassed no less!) Geesh. On the whole, what is the evidence that white class-privileged "educated" white so-called "intelligent" men care about what is happening in the world to the majority of people who live in that world? Where is the evidence of white men stopping other white men from committing atrocities to women of color worldwide. Send me the links to the groups' websites, please. I'll link to them. ALL of them. As long as it is their policy and practice to be fully accountable to feminist women of color.