Saturday, January 28, 2006

blogging on race

Also via Jill, I found this poem at blackademic, reproduced in full below, and with commentary after the flip.

i blog because:
of the racism that runs deep in the queer community
which has created an image of black lesbians
as militant, angry, loud, sexually undesirebale
ghetto, butch, studs, uneducated, weed smoking
bitches with baggy clothes and gold teeth
left to fuck in urban ghettoes
far away from the white castro
or east village hipster spots
cuz white lesbians and trendy gay boys
can't tell if we are male
or female sometimes
and they turn a deaf ear
to our stories of racism and sexism
because they know oppression,
as they remind us that they are queer too

i blog because:
even though i have been invited into the academy,
they do not let me speak.
my (in)visible black body sits in seminars
not afraid to talk
instead silenced
because my queerness
and blackness
intimidates even the most "conscious" future scholars
looked at only when african americans, puerto ricans,
afro-latinos, cubans,
jamaicans, haitians
sometimes, even when the japanese
are mentioned
claiming that skin color doesn't matter
only to forget that slogan
when it's time for the end of class dinners
and social gatherings
and i am not invited

i blog because:
i get angry with white feminists bloggers
owning and controlling the ideas of feminism.
focusing only on abortion and equal job opportunities--
while ignoring more salient issues
that all women face
and some of them,
focus on race--
when it seems appropriate,
like on:
blog against racism day
or king's birthday
or when hillary says the word plantation

ignoring sexual violence, the prison industrial complex, police brutality,
segregated school districts, healthcare, neocolonialism, welfare reform,
drug addiction,
not everyone is fighting to have an abortion...
they have co-opted, appropriated and commodified assata, angela,
audre, patricia, and nikki,
to make themselves feel a sense of an identity,
to try and displace their privilege,
waiting, hoping, wishing,
trying to save us all

i blog because:
i hope to combat the images of black women
that dominate the media
hip hop bitches
big asses bent towards an invasive camera
with no face
hoochies who speak in ebonics
with tongues wrapped around lollipops
representative of dicks
that is all that we seem to be useful for
gold diggers
diseased bodies
waiting to infect the next nigga
with our venom
of aids
and even condoleeza
can't escape these images

i blog because:
i have found a community of women
who appreciate what i have to say
who do not question my experiences of racism--
claiming that maybe i am just paranoid,
or it is my own fault that i did not succeed
women who understand
and have shown me respect
through the internet
in the best ways that they can
through email
and love

i blog because:
i have a voice
i have something to say
i have something to type
i do not want to be ignored, silenced, erased, avoided, negated
i do not want to become co-opted
i want to be visible
i want to be heard

I will admit -- I am guilty of not being all-inclusive in my blogging.
The first bolded section, especially, resonated with me:
i get angry with white feminists bloggers
owning and controlling the ideas of feminism.
focusing only on abortion and equal job opportunities--
while ignoring more salient issues
that all women face
and some of them,
focus on race--
when it seems appropriate

In my defense, which is not an attempt to excuse my lack of inclusiveness but merely an explanation, I don't know that one person can really focus on every single aspect of intersectionality that is at work within feminisms. I, personally, focus on the rape culture, on pro-choice activism, on the White Male Controlled Political Issues, on queer issues, because that is what resonates most with me. That is what I am most affected by.

But in doing so, in recognizing only these most salient aspects of The Patriarchy that affect me, perhaps I am ignoring the more inconspicuous aspects that nonetheless affect me and everyone around me.
Race issues, for example.
When I blog, it's because I find something that I must comment on and share via this site. As is evidenced by the content of my posts, however, most of these things that really hit me hard are things like the rape culture, homophobia, queer issues, etc. Racial issues rarely make that list. Why is that?

It's not like I don't deal with racism. I do, pretty much every day. Even though I'm Italian, and therefore technically among the "accepted," "white" race, my grandfather is from Sicily, and so my dad and I both have very dark skin. At least once a week, I'm asked if I'm Indian, or black, or Mexican, or Middle Eastern, or Hawaiian, or (most recently) Somalian (??). People who bother to ask aren't the ones who I have to worry about though. Most of them are just genuinely curious.
But my skin colour shouldn't be something to comment on. I don't want you telling me how "beautiful" my complexion is, or how you wished you could get as tan as me. I don't want my "complexion" to be reason for you to ask me how I've dealt with certain things as a "woman of colour." Though I am perceived as such, I am not a woman of colour, and I do not want to co-opt their experiences.

I have white privilege. I acknowledge this, and I accept this.
But I somehow shy away from acknowledging that because of other people's perceptions, that white privilege is sometimes taken away from me. They see me as another "angry black woman", or as a terrorist sympathizer, or whatever else they seem to believe goes along with being Mexican/Hawaiian/Somalian/Middle Eastern/Indian. But I still believe I have white privilege, so I am reluctant to believe that it can effectively be taken away from me.

Which leads me to ask a lot of questions that I do not have the answers for.
What makes a "woman of colour" a woman of colour? Other people's perceptions of her as a "woman of colour"? Or does she herself have to identify as a "woman of colour"?
And can someone who normally would have white privilege, and who acknowledges said privilege, identify as a "woman of colour" without somehow negating the experiences of "true" "women of colour"? What is a "true woman of colour," anyway?

Are these experiences of racism that I experience as a perceived woman of colour, but not a "real" woman of colour (as in, I'm not actually Latina or Chicana or Indian, etc) any less experiences of racism?

And what role does my internal and acknowledged white privilege play in these experiences of racism? Is my white privilege separable or inseparable from my identity? If others try to take that away from me, does that negate my white privilege, or reinforce it?

Like I said, I have no answers for these questions. And I am no less confused than I was when I started writing this post. But it's food for thought.

1 comment:

nubian said...

that is a very interesting question..."what makes a woman of color"