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the fruit of an insomniac night, inspired by derailing for dummies.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
i feel moved to convert my anger into something semi-useful. as in, work on my own skanky race issues, which mostly consist of good ole liberal colour-"blindness". i wasn't raised that way; i did it myself, partially in reaction to my birth family's racist attitudes against roma and turks. i am 1/16th roma, but i don't look it, though it's obvious compared to how the rest of my family looks, that the genes expressed themselves differently in me. i'm never read as anything but "white" anywhere else, so i've never experienced any racism directed at me from outside of my family, and definitely never any of the institutionalized kind.

the self-trained colour-"blindness" didn't mean that i don't see human skin colour, but i've always treated it just like horse or cat colours -- yeah, i see it, and i use it in descriptions, and i might find some colour particularly pretty, but it's irrelevant to how i treat the being in question. and online i've never sought to find out about people's race, just like i don't care about their gender and age.

which is whitey-white privilege, of course. i know that now. i can choose to ignore race and even pat myself on the back for that. it doesn't follow me home like it does every PoC over here. *gah*, i was a clueless git. i want to improve. though i also know i don't have many spoons. so, baby steps.

#1: if any acquaintance of mine who is a person of colour, feels i've acted in a oblivious racist way towards them, please tell me. i promise to listen and not act defensively in return. i also promise not to ask you to teach me better; you're not required to assist me in passing racism 101. though if there is something in specific you would like me to do, please tell me that as well.

#2: a result of my selective vision has been that i am not usually aware of the ethnic background of authors, unless they write about their experiences as a person of a specific background, or for some reason i've picked up that they're of that background (it sort of comes with the territory when talking about manga that pretty much all the authors are japanese; when the ethnicity changes, the genre changes to manhua, manwha, or OEL). it's not that i imagine everyone to be white; i just don't imagine them to be anything. but i realize that this denies a part of who people are. so i want to become more conscious of it, and i want to make an effort to read books in particular by people of colour.

i've already found [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc, and will add to my reading list after going through it. i'm not committing to actually reading 50 books from that list in a year because i do so badly with obligations for my free time, and because my book reading is never meant to be a chore of any sort, and what jumps in my lap to be read NOW is impossible to predict. i do commit to buy the books from that list, and to allow as many of them as possible to yell "SHINY! pick ME!" when i am in prowl mood. and manga doesn't count, because i already have oodles of it around to be read. i am also not allowed to make the entire list japanese, even aside from manga.

the list needs to be constructed to contain not much reading that requires extremely heavy lifting, but lots of SFF and mysteries, mostly novels (not short stories; novellas ok, but nothing under 10,000 words).

maybe some of you can help me with the list of authors. i know of: these )
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"america's PAC", a republican group that claims to have swayed the 2004 presidential election with provocative radio advertising aimed at blacks and hispanics is spending nearly $1 million this year to boost the GOP. they're running ads like the following in 10 battleground states:

a dialogue between two men.

"If you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked," one of the men says.

"That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed," the other replies.

"Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican," the first man says.

yeah, i see blacks rushing right out to vote republican after seeing that ad. after all, blacks all talk about their 'hos amongst each other. what a sham. how much more obvious can one make it that one doesn't actually respect the target population at which one aims one's advertising? the key financial backer of this PAC -- you guessed it, white.

unfortunately, the other ads will probably work better. they're just as dirty, but they slam democrats by associating them with david duke regarding being weak on terrorism, and by accusing them of racial genocide (because they support abortions, and blacks abort at a higher rate than whites).

"offensive" doesn't even begin to describe this.

via [livejournal.com profile] obsidian_wings, from an article in the NY sun.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
so apparently there was a panel at wiscon about cultural appropriation, which has set off a firestorm of LJ commentary, which has transmogrified into various posts on my flist talking about privilege and racism (as well as feminism thrown in because the subject wasn't complex enough i guess :).  i've been working my way backwards, and the actual cultural appropriation discussions are quite interesting, and i'll probably read more of them tomorrow.  but before i get to that, i need to deal with this proposed bit:  that white people (and men) should just shut up and listen.  if in a discussion of racism initiated by a person of colour they reply with anything other than active and skilled listening, they're recasting the conversation.  if they defend themselves or ask too many questions, they are making it all about themselves.

*whew*.  well, i feel i can't freely say much in reply to those posts because i've just been exhorted to shut up, and if i say anything that's not directly supportive it's gonna make that conversation all about me.  i don't really care to derail it, even if i think the rails are running into an abyss.

but in my LJ, i am gonna talk about myself without guilt.  not because it's all about me, but because i am the only person about whom i can speak knowledgeably, with authority, and without presumption.  this is, btw, also what informs my preference for the pronoun "i" and those infamous weasel words such as "i believe", "i think", "in my experience", "in my opinion".   it's not to elevate me as all-important, but it's to limit what i say to my experience, and to avoid speaking for anyone else.  anyone who knows me at all knows that generalizations are my biggest pet peeve, and that it irks me when people say "we" and include others in their group by default because of some superficial trait they appear to have in common.  i constantly ask people to please speak for themselves, and not for all of humanity, all {wo}men, all <nationality>.  really, generalizations are much more than a peeve to me:  i consider them to be the root of much evil.  sloppy generalizations (and that would be the vast majority of them) are paving a broad pathway to the hell of stereotypes, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia...

somebody just outed me as "white" in another LJ because zie has met me, and i looked white to zir.  did zie ask me about my ancestry?  nope.  zie assumed.  and apparently looking white must mean that i've not experienced racism, and that i have nothing worthwhile to contribute to a discussion about it because i am privileged.  did zie ask me about my experiences?  nope.  zie assumed.  now, for one, i am not american.  the vast majority of people in these discussions are talking as if american WASP culture were the de facto white culture of the world, period, and as if the racism said culture engages in against african-americans and other people of colour were the only racism in existence.  it's parochial to assume that.  (and it's not even particularly observant within the US itself -- i think racism against blacks is a different thing from racism against asians, frex).  even liberal white american guilt, however worthy it may be, needs to generalize less, please.

i am 0 (zero) part american WASP.  i am however 1/8th roma.  if my birth family had not carefully hidden that part of the family history, i would very likely never have been born because my mother would have died in hitler's camps.  but the family hid it long before the nazis came to power, they hid it out of shame and disgust; they hated those thieving gypsies.  they felt the family blood had been tainted.  i grew up as a dark child (in every sense of the world) in a lightskinned and fairhaired family.  no, i don't know what it is like to grow up black in america.  but i know a bit about growing up as an outsider, disrespected and distrusted for my appearance.  no, i am not claiming this is the same.  just that i did not live a pampered, sheltered, ever-so-privileged life as a child, and the life i did live has left scars i've been working long and hard to erase.  yes, i am privileged in some ways -- after escaping my family i could blend into society; i do look white.  did that white look-alike privilege make up for having a clinically insane mother, and the sexual abuse?  i don't know -- how can one even measure that?  in any case, i grappled with a form of racism very early on, though i didn't call it that, and it was a different form than institutionalized racism such as in the US.  it doesn't make me black.  but it gives me empathy for people who got dealt an outsider hand in the birth sweepstakes -- nothing more, but also nothing less.  and for the record, i don't self-identify as white, and i never check the "caucasian" checkmark in surveys (i write in "human"  or check "mixed race").  my relationship with my own racial background is complicated and personal -- and it's not even in the same ballpark as that of most americans.

listening is good, ya know.  i am all for listening.  i can even shut up for lengthy periods of time.  heck, i am an introvert, offline i shut up much more than i yap, unless with close friends.  i am known as a good listener; people come to me with their troubles, and usually leave feeling a little better.  yup, i am greatly in favour of listening.  people should definitely practice it, it's a special skillset, and i keep learning new things about it.

yes, we should listen, but not because we're white, or men, no.  because we're individuals.  because we don't know it all.  because we don't live in a vacuum.  because every single person's story is worth listening to, with attention, with care.  because only if we listen carefully to each other in turn, do we learn how differently we perceive things, do we experience how strange and interesting our respective worlds are, do we hear the pain each one of us suffers, do we have a chance to develop true empathy, will we overcome the devil that lies in the details.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
ok, i am peevish because the blogosphere (sorry, telophase!) and howard dean are going nutso over bill bennett's badly considered remarks to a caller on his radio show the other day. now, i don't like bennett at all, and can find plenty of things he's said and done to get offended by, but i feel this is a tempest in the tiniest teapot in the world, and i've therefore taken out my tiny violin to accompany the screams that he's a genocidal maniac.

IMO, bennett was making a reductio ad absurdum argument, in order to point out to the dimwit caller that zie was being a dimwit, without actually saying so. this is not a thing one should try on national radio, of course, or indeed on any sort of radio show, other than maybe the one on local access that only your two best friends are watching. stupid, ok? not genocidal. and his argument actually holds, and no, it does not require that one have a racist mindset and presume one ethnic group commits more crime than others.

and because somebody on mefi was telling me that i should spend more time thinking than protecting racists, i did the math hahaha -- don't look. really. it is ALL WRONG. )


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renaissance poisson

July 2015

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