Sunday, July 17, 2011

All the Whites are Racist, All the Men are Sexist. But mostly it is denied in order to maintain white and male supremacy

image/text is from here
The definition above works well enough, although it isn't one that I'd write to define racism and sexism, because it begins with prejudice, thereby locating the source problem with how people view and treat, or misperceive and mistreat one another. Once white supremacist and male supremacist institutions are in place, we don't need prejudice, we only need those racist and sexist structures to be maintained. People might be prejudiced, and they might not. Whites and men might know they view women of color in fucked up ways, or they might not--regardless, if they protect their privileges and power, the effect is generally the same for those oppressed and insulted by both.

Given that women of color fight both systems of oppression (and others), so why don't whites and men fight all those systems too in the name of radical anti-racism work and radical feminist work? Why don't whites fight white (and male) supremacy, acknowledge and challenge racist-misogyny wherever it exists? Why don't men fight male (and white) supremacy and acknowledge and challenge racist-misogyny wherever they exist? And, what is the difference in ways whites and men deny and defend power over other human beings--structurally, institutionally, and interpersonally?

In a recent discussion on Facebook, which I found to be beyond discouraging, and to my mind racism-loaded, conversational dynamics of maintaining white power and privilege showed up very soon after I presented my initial question by most of the respondents who asked me questions--asking me to prove the racism I was referring to. I find nothing wrong with asking a white person to point out racism, necessarily. But in the flow and context of this particular discussion, I'm also interested in analysing how the flow and content reveals white supremacist tactics of invisibilising, denying, defending, and perpetuating racism.

Only of those contributing respondents is male. I am edited out his voice from the discussion because I have had lots of conflict with him personally and don't, at the moment, want his voice here on my blog. Every woman who responded is kept in the conversation, unedited, below. And I'm only including the names of those people in the discussion who welcomed me to name them. If other folks later welcome me to do so after this post goes up, I'll add in their names too.

I plan to offer up a thorough critique of the racism and white supremacy embedded in what follows that comes from the form and content of questions brought to me.

Before I offer some analysis, I'd like to give you, dear readers, the opportunity to read and reflect on the content and let me know what you see there, and where, if at all, you find the conversation to perpetuate racism and white supremacy. A clue: the question I pose in italics, just below the question as it appeared on Facebook. And for more clues, I link to several past posts on related matters.

Whites and racism; men and sexism: what's the difference between how whites protect their power and how men protect theirs? [Readers: please note which white people attempt to answer the question, and which only ask me to prove the charges of racism.]

by Julian Real on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 9:53am
Why is it that white people are so unwilling to name and challenge each other's whiteness? It's about as politically messed up as men not calling out one another's male supremacist CRAP. It appears to be identical, to me, in fact--with whites protecting and defending each other and anyone who challenges white privilege is called all kinds of negative names by whites. Thoughts? Concerns? For example, the white women of Rad Fem Hub have been challenged in the past and have not been responsibly responsive, and instead have only been defensive and in denial. Why won't white women continue to call them out? See this for more--this is an edited down version of a longer initial post.

One white radical feminist wrote to me saying she can't support me "attacking" the white women at Rad Fem Hub. I welcome y'all to point out to me the part of my post that's an "attack"? Or is it just that whenever white power and privilege is challenged--by a person of color or by someone white, it's "an attack". See here for more:

Feedback and discussion welcome. [Note: only now on my blog, not on Facebook.]
· · Share · Delete

  • N., D. and 2 others like this.

    • Beth Chamblin:
      Have I told you lately that you are brilliant??? Very clear, rational suggestions in "Challenge" and you are so on target in "Attack." From my own experience as a woman with white privilege, I know that at time I can become defensive when I am challenged about racism. (I have exercised my dominance by being deflective and putting the spotlight on me: "Why am I being attacked." After I have a moment to digest it, I usually (I think) come around and grow and learn from the experience. You are so ahead of you times, Julian. Thank you for everything that you do to make this world a better place!

      July 12 at 7:45pm · · 1 person

    • Beth Chamblin: Julian wrote: "There's are no such systems or structures in place in the West for whites to be victimised by people of color, despite how victimised and threatened whites say we feel when we encounter people of color who want to be treated as the fully human beings they are." TRUE, TRUE, TRUE!!! Keep it up, Julian, and keep challenging me. I'm in the mood to read some Pearl Cleage!
      July 12 at 7:49pm · · 1 person
    • D: Because once a person if feeling attacked, they're thinking in their head we're saying they're "bad" people. Have these women read any work by Audre Lorde? bell hooks? "Master's tools" Not listening IS and being resistant IS form of privilege. Thanks, Julian.
      July 13 at 12:56am · · 2 people
    • C: Just curious, but aren't you a man?
      July 13 at 9:18am · · 1 person

    • Julian Real: I'm male, gay, and an adult. Why do you ask?
      July 13 at 9:24am · · 1 person
    • C: Putting aside the issue of structural racism for the moment, which every rational person acknowledges, was there precise content or viewpoint on that website that suggested racism by any specific individual blogger?
      July 13 at 9:26am ·

    • Julian Real: There is historically on their own blogs, in print for anyone to read. And it is there, structurally, all through their blog, which I've identified in my post.
      July 13 at 10:33am · · 1 person
    • C: I'm sorry. I must have missed those posts of concern to you. It would help, if you asserting that specific statements are racist, to have those links. On your statement that the bloggers "have only been defensive and in denial," what specific evidence do you have to support that assertion? I could not locate any evidence of that on the RadFem Hub. Thanks.
      July 13 at 10:44am · · 1 person
    • D: Oh Julian, I feel your pain.
      July 13 at 10:58am ·

    • Julian Real: ‎@D. - thank you so much for your understanding and perspective and knowledge about all of this. ♥
      July 13 at 1:21pm · · 1 person

    • Julian Real:
      ‎@Beth - Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. It means so much to me. My feminist mentor, a white lesbian feminist, taught me all of this thirty years ago, and it is soooooo sad to see how little it has made a difference in the intervening decades--that white radical feminism is just as racist now as it was then, it's so discouraging how much radical feminist women of color and other radical women of color have been systematically marginalised or ignored completely.

      July 13 at 1:23pm · · 2 people
    • C: Julian - Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!
      July 13 at 1:27pm ·

    • Julian Real:
      ‎@C - for me, the racism at R.F.H. is evident in so many ways. It's embedded in their positions on issues, on how they understand oppression, on what they focus on as "the problem", in their refusal to take intersectionality seriously as a critically necessary part of radical feminist theorising and practice. And it shows up in their unwillingness to be responsible with their whiteness--in privileges, location, and entitlements. It is very evident in how some of the white women who are part of R.F.H. won't deal honestly or without evasion with their white power. They've put forth ideas such as "women cannot oppress other women" as if race and class don't exist. They've refused to contend with what a radical Lesbian has to say, and when a member posted something by a radical Lesbian, she was thrown out of the group. There is likely "more to the story" of course. But all of this with the structural stuff--which is, also, a set of individual practices, shows me that they refuse to deal with whiteness as much as their understandings of patriarchy, even while both whiteness and patriarchy harm women of color; to only deal with one thing and not the other is to effectively and willfully protect white power.

      July 13 at 1:31pm · · 3 people

    • Julian Real:
      to A., Beth, C., and D. (Hmmm. Quite a coincidence about the names being in alphabetical order!!!) Would you mind if I post this to my blog? I can't seem to generate any discussion there. And I'm realising that's because people really do choose Facebook as a central place to track discussion and keep in touch with folks. I get it, but I don't like Facebook enough or trust them enough to make this my main place to have political discussions. So I'd like to copy and paste this to my blog so others can benefit from reading it and I hope the discussion expands and deepens too. Thank you for being part of it and for supporting it happening here. ♥

      July 13 at 1:35pm · · 3 people
    • C:
      Julian - As you are a male person, I find it amusing your own unchecked male privilege in calling out a RadFem blog. Has it not occurred to you that perhaps anonymous Internet bloggers have, in fact, thought of these issues, but prefer not to engage with you? Are you saying that every random Internet person (that would be you) deserves a response? If you cannot point out specific racism and instead point only to structural racism, which all sane people acknowlegde exists, what exactly are you trying to accomplish, other than being an overbearing concern troll? I mean this with all good intent - it's nice to want to do good, but it would be better if you would do good well.

      July 13 at 2:05pm · · 1 person
    • W:
      I really enjoyed the recommended readings by woc you suggested they read Julian (a lot of white radfems tend to read mostly white women unfortunately), and I do feel this discussion needs having. But I also agree with C. in asking why you are taking this upon yourself (a white male)? What discussions with women of colour have you had about this? Have woc done blog posts/fb talks about this? I would really like to read what woc have said on this.

      July 13 at 3:13pm · · 1 person
    • Beth Chamblin: Hi Julian, you have my permission to post what I wrote on your blog.
      July 13 at 4:50pm ·
    •  C.: By "gender," I assume you mean your biological sex, correct?
      July 13 at 4:55pm ·
    •  C.: I'm sorry. I am talking about the male privilege males have - that is, biological males. Is that clear?
      July 13 at 4:58pm · · 1 person
    • C.: I am assuming you are not making the statement that gay males do not have male privilege vis-a-vis females. Correct?
      July 13 at 4:58pm · · 1 person
    • C.: I'm sorry. I am too busy laughing to take you seriously now. Have a good day.
      July 13 at 5:01pm ·
    • Beth Chamblin:
      Many of you have raised really good points. I, too, believe that we as radicals (myself included) can play the "gotcha game" and fall into the trap of "one upping" each other. It is a big reason why I've shied away from many radical circles- the infighting, the wasted time, the meanness, the divisiveness and the exclusiveness (i.e. only the truly "cool" radicals who instantly "get it" can belong). I also know that Julian's heart is in the right place and that he is truly advocating for women of color (as he does for all oppressed people). In fact, Julian and I became friends when he "called me out" about racism in one of my articles. (Remember Julian?) I didn't even know him at the time and at first I got defensive. (Who does this white guy think he is?") Julian and I processed our thoughts and feelings via email and wa-la, I realized that I had my "white blinders" on (not because I'm a bad person but because I'm steeped in white privilege), and I made necessary changes to my article (thank you, Julian). Also, as a result, Julian and I became friends. (Some of my best allies are white straight pro-feminist men even though I do see the need for "female only space" at times). I feel that Julian raised some very important issues in his blog that I need to pay attention to as a white woman.

      July 13 at 9:36pm ·
    • Beth Chamblin:  
      Do the women of color who are following this feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings about this issue? I do understand your reluctance to do so of course...all too often your experiences are dismissed. I'm willing to listen and will do my best to understand. :-)
      July 13 at 9:42pm · · 1 person

    • Julian Real: ‎@Beth - thanks so much for sharing what you have here, Beth. I really appreciate it.
      Thursday at 11:30am · · 1 person

    • Julian Real:
      ‎@W. -
      Yes, many women of color have addressed this on their blogs. You can see Margaret's writings, at AROOO of a few months ago, or more currently at A Premature Curmudgeon. Or Celie of Celie's Revenge. Or SoulSis's at Don't Call Me Ya Sista. Or Dark Daughta's at 1TBM. Or Renee at Womanist Musings. Also many posts and comments on Racialicious. I have disagreements about many things with most people, including with some of the women named here. The person I stand in closest solidarity with is dedgurl at The Vagina Conspiracy.

      I hope that helps.

      Thursday at 11:48am ·

    • Julian Real:
      The question remains: if white women can't, don't, or won't call out white women of Rad Fem Hub on their racism--but not on their site, as it is a woman-only space. I have seen this for decades, in many other places. So, who should? Or, who will? In my experience, white women do not systematically call out other women's racism, in very similar ways to how gay men don't call out other gay men's misogyny. As an ally to radical women of color, I call out any white person's racism and any man's misogyny, and have done so a lot on my blog--mostly focusing on white het men, however, because white het men have far more institutional and media power than any radical feminist or, even, than any gay man.

      Thursday at 11:53am ·

    • Julian Real:
      I will note this for now: to me there's some wicked white supremacy brewing in the very idea that I should have to prove to anyone that racism exists in the white radical feminist movement, or among all-white or white-majority groups of any political persuasion. Requests for me to detail the racism, or to check my motives, are part of the white supremacist strategy of going after the messenger so as to avoid dealing directly and unflinchingly with the message: white folks are racist as hell and where and when they gather in groups, white power will be protected and defended. I've yet to see one example of this NOT being the case, among anti-feminists and among feminists too. Now, what are the white folks here going to do about that?

      Friday at 12:44pm ·

    • Julian Real:
      ‎@C. - 
      As you are a male person, I find it amusing your own unchecked male privilege in calling out a RadFem blog. Has it not occurred to you that perhaps anonymous Internet bloggers have, in fact, thought of these issues, but prefer not to engage with you?

      I can't be too concerned about whether or not you're amused. And I assume they don't want to engage with me because I'm male, C. And I believe whites ought to be accountable to their racism. I hope you'll call them out on theirs. But I don't assume you will.

      Are you saying that every random Internet person (that would be you) deserves a response?

      No, I'm not. And I don't much appreciate your disrespect here either.

      If you cannot point out specific racism

      Isn't it obvious to you?

      and instead point only to structural racism,

      Which is specific, isn't it? I mean if I write a list of stuff for folks to read about feminism, and only list men, isn't that a fairly glaring level of sexism on my part. Do you think it's not glaringly racist--the specific kind--for them to leave out all the great works of radical feminist theory and practice put forth by women of color?

      which all sane people acknowlegde exists,

      I don't agree. In my experience, many sane people don't acknowledge it at all, such as most white folks who are entirely sane--so white folks say, over and over again white denying "there's any racism here".

      what exactly are you trying to accomplish, other than being an overbearing concern troll?

      Re: When you address me with respect, I'll respond to that kind of question with regard.

      I mean this with all good intent - it's nice to want to do good, but it would be better if you would do good well.

      I don't find your words to be written with good intent, C. I find that to be very disingenuous and facetious, actually. And I don't know you at all or whether you, yourself, are a white supremacist troll. Some of your content here sounds mighty white-trollish to me. Why should I take your public persona to be anything other than a cover? You don't know me; I don't know you at all. So maybe after we get to know one another, we can discuss these matters in more depth, hopefully to greater beneficial effect for all the women of color enduring white's racism and men's sexism and misogyny.

      Friday at 1:00pm ·

    • Julian Real:
      Given some of the snarky-ass comments written here, and some of the evasions to the note's topic (the reason for the conversation), I'm closing this conversation to further comments and do not welcome any further discussion of this matter here. Thanks to those of you who were respectful here. Beth, I totally get what you're saying about the really shoddy way folks tend to engage with one another on these topics publicly and in groups these days, and before I find myself doing the same--more than I have already--I'm going to draw this sad occasion to a close. That is likely to be my last effort at communication/discussion here on Facebook. I think the culture here is truly hostile. If any of you have anything else to say, I welcome a respectful email. My email address is on my blog, A Radical Profeminist. I hope the weekend is good for y'all. Peace.

      23 hours ago ·
For more, please see these posts: