Some Truths That Perhaps Have Not Sunk In Yet

Black people in California =/= All Black People

10% of population =/= 100% of the problem

~30% of Black Californians Who Voted NO on Prop 8 =/= People you can spit on, blame, rage at, and dismiss, then turn around and expect to support you. Not that they would support a ban on gay marriage and other gay rights issues (because, if you’ve forgotten, many of that 30% are LGBTQ), but I wouldn’t count on their money, or their time, or the effort it takes to knock on doors, talk to people, and other grassroots activism. No matter how much I believed in a cause, even if it affects me personally, I would have a hard time being active for a group that actively despises me, devalues me, and blames me for their own problems.

The Black Community =/= Monolithic Groupmind

Black People =/= The Reason Prop 8 Passed

Are we clear now?

(thanks to Jenn for the inspiration)

Of Politics, History, And The Future

So a blogger (apparently protesting some of the misogynistic macros aimed at Gov. Palin) gets the idea to post:

and then decides to “pull it down” but not. Because I’m hotlinking to the picture (which is still hosted on his webspace) right now. And then he tries to act like he had no idea it could be construed as a death threat. Meanwhile McCain supporters are being coached to accuse Obama of being a terrorist while they canvas neighborhoods. And McCain has the temerity to get on television and try to play the victim over these tactics being compared to George Wallace’s tactics in the 60′s? Really? Keith Olbermann had his say earlier and it was great. It addressed a lot of the issues.

But now it’s my turn. There’s been a lot of Us vs. Them rhetoric surrounding this election. And mostly I could understand the ins and outs of that rhetoric on both sides on the fence. But now? Now I’m stuck. Because a presidential candidate is really trying to say that being called a racist is worse than death threats. And that’s not making any sense to me. I sat here tonight and tried to let this all sink in, and become something I could grasp. And I cannot. Perhaps it is the historian in me, but I can see so clearly the way this could all end if we stay on this road. And it’s not a scenario that plays out well for anyone. Not for Obama and his family. Not for his supporters. Not for his opponents. Because if the United States of America is still a country where being a black man with high aspirations is a justification for murder? Then America is sick unto its soul with a terminal disease. People have asked me why I get so angry when I discuss politics. The answer to that question is very simple. It might be a minor concern for some people, but for my people? It is still a matter of life and death. Think about that the next time you discuss whether or not someone’s middle name makes them a terrorist.

You say “Angry Black Woman” like it’s a bad thing.

Amazing!! Cal Thomas, “Syndicated Columnist” for Fox News, thinks all black women are angry. All 12+ million of us. Well, okay. Except one.

THOMAS: I want to pick up on something that Jane said about the angry black woman. Look at the image of angry black women on television. Politically you have Maxine Waters of California, liberal Democrat. She’s always angry every time she gets on television. Cynthia McKinney, another angry black woman. And who are the black women you see on the local news at night in cities all over the country. They’re usually angry about something. They’ve had a son who has been shot in a drive-by shooting. They are angry at Bush. So you don’t really have a profile of non-angry black women.

PINKERTON: Oprah Winfrey.

THOMAS: Oprah Winfrey. Yes, there you go, Oprah Winfrey.

Oh. Well, then. As long as there’s Oprah, there’s hope.

Okay, look. None of us are surprised at Fox behaving badly, now, are we? Even if they have belatedly acknowledged that the “baby mama” drama was, to put it mildly, “poor judgment”. Fortunately I don’t have to point out The Stupid here, since Daily Kos has done it so inimitably.

But he asks an important question, which I think bears repeating:

What I’m also shocked about is that this disgusting statement was made on Saturday, and the first time I heard about it was on Dan Abram’s show tonight. And he didn’t provide any analysis or discussion of the statement. Why aren’t all those people who denounced sexism during the primary race up in arms with this racist and sexist nonsense?

Yeah. That’s a good question, isn’t it? Food for thought.

Michelle Obama Watch thought about it too.

The double-whammy of race and gender make Michelle Obama an irresistible target. And the relative silence from Hillary-supporting feminists reveals a serious flaw in the idea that feminists will defend all women.

In all fairness’ sake, as people in the MOW comments pointed out, some of the third-wave feminist blogs (like Feministe) have indeed come out in defense of Michelle Obama, which I’m relieved to see. But it’s hard not to notice that there’s not nearly as much commentary about this in the feminist blogosphere as I saw when there were sexist media attacks against Hillary Clinton. Talk about angry black women — what those Fox pseudopundits really ought to be afraid of is angry white women. They’re kickass, man. I mean, there was just so much furor out there — and rightly so — over the sexism heaped upon Clinton. All the big names of feminism and politics — Steinem, Ferraro, Jong, and more. All women who speak softly and carry big no-phallic-pun-intended-sticks. I’m sure these same women are going to come out guns blazing now that Michelle is getting the same ugly treatment. It’s still sexism, right? Even if it’s compounded by racism. Sexism’s still sexism.

Right? Right? So the defense should begin any minute now. Right?

Oooh, I can’t wait to hear what Rosanne Barr or Linda Hirshman have to say about this. I mean, they’re just so articulate. (And, of course, clean.) Any minute now, I’m sure I’ll see a trifecta of blasts on the Huffington Post and the New York Times and the Washington Post, all from big-name second-wavers who are disgusted, simply disgusted, by Michelle’s treatment.

Any minute now.

Any minute.

Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller?

On Feminism, Part 2

I bet you don’t remember part 1, do you? Here’s a reminder.

I said back then that I was still trying to put my own feelings into words and hadn’t succeeded yet. Considering what’s been going on in the blogosphere lately I think it’s time to finally crystallize my thoughts. The problem I keep coming up against is that my interactions with feminism and feminists varies greatly depending on the venue, I am finding a hard time resolving my feelings in one area with my feelings from another.

I’m being vague, sorry. Let me be specific.

As many of you know, in my other life I am a science fiction and fantasy writer. I have spent almost my entire adult life hanging out in that community. Now, from the outside, the SF community would not seem to be a place to understand, interact with, and discuss feminism and feminist issues. But lo, there are feminists to be found. Really smart feminists. There’s even a con dedicated to feminism and feminists in SF–WisCon.

WisCon is one of my very favorite conventions because of the topics of panels, the conversations I have in and out of panels, and the caliber of people who attend. These are smart, passionate folks who care about literature and media in equal measure. And, if they’re at WisCon, they more than likely consider themselves feminists or, at least, allies.

Through attending WisCon I became interested in feminism in a more direct way than I had been before. I vaguely understood feminism and felt, as most intelligent people do, that the core ideal of feminism as I understood it was a right thing–i.e. women are equal to men and should be treated as such. That women and men may be different, but men certainly aren’t better, in general. But from attending WisCon, I began thinking about the issues of gender, privilege, and feminism in ways I had not before.

Over the years I’ve convinced many people to come to WisCon, but it was sometimes a struggle because I had to break the barrier of ignorance surrounding the word “feminist”. I’m sure many of you have encountered this same problem. People equating feminism with “FemiNazi” (what a bullshit word), or with the extreme types who ruin every ideology/movement/etc. At this time I was not aware of the real problems of feminism. Ones that were far more disruptive and dividing than women who “hate men” or other such nonsense.

Since that first WisCon my involvement in SF’s feminist contingent has deepened. I’m one of the bloggers at FeministSF.net, I contribute to the Wiki, I consider some of my co-bloggers there to be good friends, I participate in WisCon programming, and now I’m a jurist for the Tiptree award, an honor that arose from the ideas and ideals that WisCon was created to explore.

If this was the only experience I had with feminism, then I would have no need to write this post. I’d be perfectly content to call myself a feminist and be done.

But oh. Then there’s the wider world.

Then there’s Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong, Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte, and any number of white feminists from the second and third wave that really ruin feminism for the rest of us. If they’re not insisting we put aside our “of color”-ness in favor of our woman-ness, they’re busy using their white privilege to marginalize, dismiss, silence, or otherwise treat us the way those pesky white men they’re so angry with do.

I hadn’t been on this blog long before I apprehended that all was not well in feminism-land. Remember the post about Cesar Milan? It started on some blog where the white, female poster was up in arms because Cesar had made some comment about women that she objected to. She claimed that if he’d made a similar comment about black people the entirety of America would have jumped down his throat. Because, see, racism is no longer a problem in America, but sexism is.

Sigh.

It just gets worse from there. As we have daily proof.

And these recent blow-ups not only make me angry because of what these white feminist bloggers are doing to women of color, but because it makes me angry at feminism itself. As Aminah put it way back when, feminism just isn’t made for us women of color. And as someone else (I can’t remember who, but someone please tell me in comments if you know) said recently, it seems like what white feminists want is to become white men. They want what white men have going on, up to and including privilege and the ability to ignore voices of color unless it suits them.

Some of you may feel this is an unfair generalization. And others of you are sitting at your computers right now shaking your head and saying, “Nuh uh, not me!” Maybe so not you, and maybe so I am being harsh. But you take a look around the blogs right now and tell me that the view from where I’m standing doesn’t bear that out. And take a good look at yourselves. Think about if you can honestly say that you’ve considered your own privilege when dealing with the issues of feminism and race lately. Some of you have, of course, but some of you absolutely have not.

And unfortunately, even my happy pocket of SF feminism isn’t immune from this crap. Last year at WisCon I heard more than one report of goings on in places I was not that revealed the racist attitudes of certain feminist con-goers. This was extremely sad, but not a great surprise. I resolved that this year I would make it my special project to watch and listen out for such attitudes and do what I could to put an end to them. Because I believe that WisCon and the community therein is worth my time and effort to make an even more excellent space than it already is. I want to be able to attend a con without base sexism and racism at the same time. I’m willing to be one of people making that happen.

But I’m not entirely sure I want to do that on these here internets. Why? Because maybe the wider swath of feminism isn’t worth saving.

Feminism is made for and by white women. And I really feel like this is one of those areas where the white women need to get enlightened before things can change. But, of course, many of them won’t be because they don’t see racism, which is directed against women of color, as a feminist issue. They’re hard pressed to acknowledge that racism is as great a problem as sexism at all.

No, actually, what I should say is that the white feminists who are seen as leaders, who are given press and attention and cred are in need of enlightenment. Because there are plenty of white feminists who do get it, who are enlightened, who can see the interconnectedness between anti-racist work and anti-sexist work. So what’s really needed is a good purge. Those of you who know what’s up need to weed out or educate those of you who don’t. Because obviously we women of color are too angry or jealous or indelicate to do it.

And, quite honestly, I am tired of the burden being on us to fix this mess. I’m tired of having to decide if I want the label of “Feminist”, not because someone might think I hate men, but because someone might wonder why I would want to associate myself with people who think my voice and experiences are less important because I refuse to put my gender ahead of my race.

What am I, if not a feminist? I’m not sure. Maybe this will help me figure it out:

When I offered the word “Womanism” many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. [...] We have come a long way, Sisters, and we are up to the challenges of our time. One of which is to build alliances based not on race, ethnicity, color, nationality, sexual preference or gender, but on Truth.
Alice Walker

Not Going Anywhere (But I Damn Well Feel Like It)

So I get back from my little vacation and find that Black Amazon took down her blog.

I don’t have a lot to say about that, because it should be obvious that it fucking angers me that white feminist bloggers (need I say ‘certain white feminists’? Or name some names? Nah, I’m sure y’all are smart enough to figure out who I mean) are silencing, disparaging, stealing from, and otherwise oppressing women of color bloggers all while whining about how they are victims and oh, it’s so sad. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE WHITE WOMEN PLEASE!

It’s all just so much bullshit. I have a long post about it coming, but I wanted to say one thing:

I’m not going anywhere.

And let me also say that this is not some sort of underhand condemnation of those who choose to close down their blogs because of this shit. I understand the inclination. I support that choice. There have been times when I had to step away from this blog and other parts of the internet just to salvage my sanity. One day I may need to do so again. But right now? Right now I am staying here.

(and oh, you don’t know how hard it is for me not to use gendered slurs against you whiny little princesses right now. oooo!)

Seal Press, Amanda Marcotte…Proof That Feminism And Racism Go Hand In Hand

So, I had just about decided not to speak on the Amanda Marcotte issue and the Seal Press issue because I figured everyone knew I supported BFP and didn’t think too much of Seal Press or their tactics. And I know I am absolutely not capable of much in the way of diplomacy or tact so I left commenting to the people that could say the necessary things without the profanity. But then I saw this post with images from Amanda Marcotte’s latest book and I decided that the time for diplomacy and tact was over. Because when a so-called feminist puts out a book where she shows the empowerment of white women involving rescuing a white man from the evil brown people? Yo, the boys and girls over at Stormfront have lost track of one of their members. When the editors from her press feel the need to try to silence WOC bloggers for saying a resounding Fuck You to a company that is willing to put out this shit while calling themselves welcoming to WOC writers? The sheer ridiculousness of it is choking me. Or is that just vomit?

I’ve made no bones in the past about my feelings that feminism by and large has very little to do with actually helping all women and is really just for white women. Oh, I know it espouses anti-racist ideology, but it has never failed to escape my attention (or the attention of other WOC) that feminism has a distressing tendency to focus on the concerns of middle class white women while ignoring the realities of racism and colonialism and anything remotely to do with intersectionality between gender and race. It doesn’t help that I’ve seen white feminists assume a very paternalistic attitude with WOC particularly when it came to discussions about issues involving MOC while ignoring their own internalized racism. I once sat in a class on the psychology of sexual harassment (the only black woman in the class) and had the lovely experience of a white woman trying to challenge black women on their support of black men despite the misogyny in rap music and the Clarence Thomas case. She literally could not see (despite my efforts to beat reason into the conversation) a problem with her attitude. When I pointed out that white men weren’t immune to misogyny and no one was asking white women to abandon them? Yeah, there was a whole riff about how enlightened the men in her life were and so clearly there was hope for white men. Another white woman who had been sitting there listening politely pointed out her racism and suddenly she could see it. Because clearly the 20+ times I’d pointed it out just did not matter at all. And at this point it’s clear that WOC talking to Seal Press or Amanda Marcotte are actually beating their heads against a brick wall. Because the bigots never listen to POC. They absolutely cannot manage to get past their prejudices long enough to see us as people, never mind as intelligent or capable of critical thought.

So where does that leave WOC and feminism? Frankly we’re at a point where it’s time for feminism to either get it together, or for us to leave it where it is and continue on with our own progressive movements. There’s been some talk for years about how feminism is comprised of multiple movements and until now that’s been enough for me. But I think that I’ve been deluding myself by thinking that the behavior of the allies that do get it trumps the hurt spawned by the bigots calling themselves feminists. I can’t take calls for sisterhood or solidarity seriously from white feminists at this point and I’m sure someone is going to call that attitude racist. And that’s their lookout, but I can’t stand in sisterhood with someone that’s (maybe) willing to knife me in the back and it’s taking too much effort to try to weed out the ones that are really allies from the ones that are only claiming the title.

And yes, Holly at Feministe has spoken up and I do see plenty of white feminists that are acting as allies. I also see people talking about the need to give Amanda Marcotte a safe space from which to respond. Maybe it’s just me, but why exactly is it that WOC aren’t entitled to the same calls for safe space? If we’re supposed to be sisters then shouldn’t safety for us be a priority? AFAIK there is exactly one community devoted to safe space for WOC on the internet and I created it. My co-mod and I work very hard to keep the voyeurs, trolls, and bigots out and the community members guard the space jealously from anyone that might slip past us. And I wish we didn’t have to do that, but I look at this book and the responses to it and the original Seal Press fiasco and I think that we are operating in very hostile territory and the only choice WOC have is to pull back and operate our own spaces in our own ways because we can’t expect anyone to fight for us. And yes, I know many of the people reading this are truly allies and I’m not saying this to hurt you. But we’re going to need you to commence cleaning up your house before you can help us clean up the world.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.

Bill Clinton Can Kiss My Black Ass

Usually I try to craft these well reasoned posts complete with tons of links and back up data just so I can be assured that my audience is getting a complete picture. Today is not the day for that kind of post because I’m really just too pissed off by politics and politicians for words. See, when a former President that benefited from a good 90% of black voters turning out for him has the nerve to say some jacked up racist shit in South Carolina about his wife’s opponent and then tries to spin that shit into gold in advance of today’s primary? I’m about done with politics and proof, and even attempting to talk about this election cycle without profanity. This idea that Obama is the usurper and somehow it’s wrong for his supporters to recognize racism when it spews out of an elected official’s mouth is wearing me out. So all I really have to say to the Mr. Clinton at this point is a resounding FUCK YOU. For feeding into the same racism you claim to have opposed when it suits you, because you’re thinking it’s worth it if it can advance your cause even a little bit. Fuck you for making me ashamed to have voted for you in the 90′s. Fuck you for jumping all over Jeremiah Wright as though you weren’t the same one that invited him to the White House after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. Fuck you for killing my hopes of an election that would be run with the racism only coming from outside the party. Fuck you for trying to frame things as though black voters owe you a damned thing for doing the job you were elected to do. I’m pissed. I’m tired. And I’m not going to pretend for even a second that this shit is acceptable.

ETA: He doesn’t seem to understand what giving a radio interview actually means in terms of deniability after the fact. Any second now he’s going to claim it wasn’t him that was being interviewed, and I’ll succumb to the urge to just start laughing hysterically about the state of the Democratic Party.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.

Standing is Solidarity With My Sisters

Fuck Seal Press.

Fuck Salon Broadsheet.

Fuck Amanda Marcotte.

No seriously, Fuck You.

How can I even begin to describe how annoyed I am with certain elements of the white feminist blogosphere right now? It’s going a bit beyond words. So much so that really, all I can find it in myself to say is Fuck You and don’t give a shit whether or not that needs some explanation.

You are all behaving badly. You need to check yourselves.

And really, you couldn’t be more clear about the fact that you don’t give a shit about women of color and wish they would just sit down and be quiet in your movement if you made a big sign that said:

ALL DARKIES TO THE BACK, PLEASE BE SURE TO PUT ON YOUR MUZZLES BEFORE TAKING YOUR SEAT AND STAYING THERE.

There are times when I feel I could really quit feminism, and this is one of those times.

Nothing Says Internet Popularity Like

Being linked to from a White Supremacist website. Happy Monday!

ETA: Wow, if you all could see my moderation queue right now.

This is the kind of thing that makes people leave the Internet. It really is. I went through a good chunk of my early life never encountering any blatant racism. I’m sure there was some, but my young, naiveté, and probably my parents shielded me from most of it. No one ever called me a Nigger, or said I couldn’t do something because I was black, or anything like that.

I got to wait until I was all grown up for things like that to happen.

But even still, I don’t think I ever encountered the kind of raw, ignorant, stupid, dangerous, and hurtful hate due specifically to my heritage and skin color until I started this blog. I have been called a Nigger 47 times today. TODAY. And it’s not fucking over yet.

This is the kind of thing that turns people militant.

This is the kind of thing that makes people scared for their well being.

This is the kind of thing that silences voices, and I cannot lay any blame on anyone who chooses silence in the face of this.

This is the kind of thing that makes me a FUCKING ANGRY BLACK WOMAN.

I am not only angry because you have the gall to come here calling me names and telling racist lies yet saying I am the hateful, racist one. I am angry because you don’t want anything but to see me hurt and silenced and shamed, and I will not be. I am angry because it is people like your dumb asses that give white people a bad name. I am angry because it’s due to people like you that we can’t move forward as a culture and a country on race relations. Because for every rational, well-educated and well-informed person who wishes not only to understand, but to make things right, there are 20 of you throwbacks trying to drag the conversation down and everyone into the 1930′s.

Fuck you. And fuck that.

This blog isn’t for you or about you. And if you’re pissed that I won’t let you air your opinions, I couldn’t give less of a care than I do right now. This is not your space, it’s mine. And no, I won’t be coming over there to “discuss” anything with you, because you don’t want a discussion.

You think MY blog is racist and hateful, people? Go visit Stormfront and learn what real hate and racism is like. And if you don’t find it completely objectionable over there, then don’t bother coming back. We do not want you.

You wanted to see me angry? THIS IS ME ANGRY.

Daughter of ETA: Two things. First, the blog is currently set so that folks who don’t have an approved comment go straight to moderation. (This is to keep me from having to delete the Stormfront assholes from the posts. As it is, I’m the only one seeing their messages.) However, this also means any messages of support aren’t showing up right away. Never fear, I will approve non-evil comments when I can. (Nora and Karynthia might, as well, if they happen to be online.)

Second, thank you to everyone coming by posting messages of support and solidarity. I will have to revise my ratio of allies to assholes, because so far there are at least as many messages from you as from them, and that’s only because they had a head start. You are all awesome and I cannot state strongly enough how much I appreciate your words.

Thank You, White People

This needs to be said, and it’s a long time coming, so listen up:

Thank you, White people, for all you’ve done for Blacks.

Thank you for kidnapping and/or buying my ancestors in Africa, packing them onto ships where malnutrition, disease, anti-hygenic conditions, beatings, and rape ensured that a significant percentage did not survive the trip, but enough did for you to turn a profit.

Thank you for enslaving my ancestors, forcing them to labor in the fields and in your houses for no pay (room and board is certainly enough!), in poor living conditions, without education, without their families, in many cases, and without hope that their lives would ever get better.

Thank you for raping and beating my ancestors, I appreciate it. Thanks also for forcing them to “breed” as if they were animals, selecting out certain men and women for their strength, hoping that their children would be strong, too, and be able to pick more cotton or engage in other work you couldn’t be bothered to do yourself.

Thank you, White people, for freeing us from actual slavery only to put us in virtual slavery with sharecropping. Additionally, thanks for messing up Reconstruction, enacting Jim Crow laws, lynching, and poll taxes.

Thank you for silencing, assassinating, or disappearing those who inspired us to do better, be better, and stop taking racist shit every minute of our lives. We didn’t need them, anyway.

Thank you for making sure our schools were underfunded, that our neighborhoods were filled with drugs, that any attempts to get the government to correct any lingering problems of racism were labeled “hand outs,” and perpetrating the myth of the Black Welfare Queen taking her food stamps and driving off in a Porche.

We have so much to be grateful for, you see.

And so my brothers and sisters won’t forget:

Thank you, Europeans, for all you’ve done for us through the centuries.

Thank you for coming down to Africa and deciding that every brown or black person you saw was an uneducated savage, assuming because their culture was not like your culture, that they had none worth noting or caring about.

Thank you for colonizing the continent, inciting strife between different tribes, playing one tribe against another until, once many were weakend, you took down the one that was meant to be your ally.

Thank you for using up the continents’ natural resources, for destroying the land in an effort to exploit the natural resources, and for abandoning areas that you fucked up when it became clear it wasn’t going to be profitable for you.

Thank you for inventing the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We owe you one.

Thank you for your continued interference in Africa, which has caused no end of fighting, no end of exploitation, and has contributed to the current climate in many African countries.

Thank you for Apartheid. And throwing Mandela in jail. We didn’t need him, anyway.

Thanks, White people, for everything you’ve done for Black people in America and Africa. We really, really should be more grateful and keep these thoughts in our hearts.

P.S. Dear White people, before commenting on this thread, please click the links in the first sentence. Also, see this illustrated guide. Also, please see this post. Thank you!

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