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white trash vs white guilt

A look at class and miscommunication with in sub-culture
White trash vs. white guilt, by Bood Samel ( rise3141@hotmail.com)


The aim of this text is to point out a great flaw in the ideological view that provides the conceptual frame work for a large amount of the various scenes that make up the sub-cultural underground. This is done in hopes of that more communication and understanding between the individuals that each on their own right make up this underground, and that work with in each scene can increase in scope of function.

The radical left alienates poor and working class white people. It seems to go even as far as to deny their existence, and large and by it has to. The presence of white trash contradicts its world view. While racism is inherently a component of the systems of power and control in America, it is a means and not an end in itself. America is not inherently white supremacist, it is green supremacist, that is money is the goal. Every trailer park and apartment complex attests to this. To be welcome in capitalism ones needs only capital. Not to say that the odds aren't stacked against certain ethnic groups, they most certainly are. The show is rigged like a carnival scam, and it's a game played out in terms of brutality and survival. But quite a few white folks, in fact most of them, are set up to be marks as well.

This may not always be apparent in sub-culture because almost every scene, from ravers to punk rockers, is predominately made up of white kids from middle class to rich backgrounds that have the excess resources to live outside of social norms, and access to the information that informs them that such options exist. People with in sub-culture tend to it and its products for granted. Most people don't know what a 'zine or 7 inch is, or that such things exist. All they know and ever will know is work, family, survival, the pursuit of leisurely numbness, and death. The notion of white privilege is a myth, rhetorical convenience for the few wealthy white people to project a need of redemption on groups viewed though a lens of otherness so they may absolve themselves of the guilt from having excess money and resource.

Every poor white person is a hole in their coping mechanism. No leftist groups reach out to the trailer parks or apartment complexes. They are not some group with a sense of otherness that can be set up as a sacrificial lamb to absorb guilt. Which is essentially Christianity cast in extreme left wing and anarchist political terms and symbols, rather then religious ones. This basis in guilt that the extreme leftist/anarchist influenced scenes are built upon becomes rather evident when one looks at the throngs of protesters who throw themselves before eager cops to be victimized and cast in the role of martyr. It even comes complete with saints elevated to mythological proportions. Look at Mumia, patron saint of white guilt. His story has been told so many times, and has so much weight behind it, it doesn't matter what really happened anymore, or that there is still a very real man suffering.

All and all it's dishonest to the groups projected upon with a sense of otherness, and even worse to poor whites. Things aren't fair or balanced between groups of people, nor are they between individual people. If you happen to be born into a position of excess of wealth and privilege you shouldn't feel bad about it. Try looking at wealth and resource like energy. Energy isn't good or bad, it's how it's used. Be grateful for what you have, but also mindful of its cost. Accept the individual responsibility of having excess resources, don't feel bad about it, and stop alienating poor white folks!

The right wing speaks to poor white people, but only for its own ends. Is the talk of white privilege going to speak to a kid who's grown up seeing his family struggle to survive? Is a kid like that going to be able to relate to P.C. standards stemming from guilt? Obviously a poor white kid has no basis for feeling white guilt, and is going to be left out. Also how many times are the products of white trash youth (music, 'zines, etc.) pushed to the absolute fringes because of not conforming to such standards?

However the suffering that a poor white kid's family has gone through can be preyed upon by right wing groups who tell them that his or her suffering is the fault of minorities for whatever reason. It's hard for people clear across the board to accept individual responsibility for their lives, in this case either rich white kids projecting on others, poor white kids trying to blame their problems on others. Rich white kids push poor white kids away with guilt laden notion of political correctness and often straight into the hands of right wing based scenes which openly accept them. Every new skinhead is usually anarcho-punks fault. Crass is easier to hear and get a hold of then say rahowa or screwdriver. Heartattack and similar publications are easier to find then pro-racist ones. Why do groups like A.R.A. spend all their time policing the underground for white racist sympathies rather then confronting usually very out in the open non-white racist groups in the same cities that A.R.A. has chapters in? Black Israelities and Five Presenters operate very out in the open, in the public spotlight, and have been doing so consistently for many years. Because A.R.A. has less to do with confronting racism as it has to do with absolving white guilt.

It's time to stop a minute, step back, think about all this, and see how we all contribute to the issue, and on all sides. It's a waste clear across the board.

homepage: homepage: http://www.boodsamel.com

Clap, clap 03.Aug.2004 22:25

clamydia

Clap clap clapclapclapclapclapclap...

Speaking as a poor white 03.Aug.2004 23:03

George Bender

The enemy I see is the middle and upper classes, who look down on us because we don't have money, while exploiting us by making us work for low wages to provide them with cheap goods and services. Also the two major political parties which represent the middle and upper classes, and not us. Never us. Working-class people have been losing ground in this country economically since the early 70s. We need to revolt. Radicals need to work with lower-income people. I think a lot of radicals ARE lower income people. Economics and war are the two main reasons I'm supporting the Nader campaign. Read his platform on the national Nader website, and then join us.


As another poor white... 03.Aug.2004 23:55

poor PSU student

...I can tell you that I am working to join the middle class. I am tired of not having health insurance, nor dental insurance, nor being able to consistently buy healthy food, or decent clothing, or reliable transportation. And I'm willing to work for corporations to get the money to do these things. I will try to not work for the most evil among them. But, really, does anyone enjoy being poor? I sure don't. I'm sick of it.

ick 04.Aug.2004 01:47

is this supposed to encourage me to get more involved?

I don't understand the purpose of this article.

For instance, why the hell SHOULD anybody who's not already into punk-rock 7" records, like, want to find out more about them? Is anybody still laboring under the, um, rather remarkable late-'80s-style delusion that if they sold a few more crappy records there'd be a revolution?

I respect self-consciously bad music as much as anybody, but why pretend it's, like, IMPORTANT when it's so, so, so, so not not not not not.

it's not color, it's power 04.Aug.2004 10:08

kamf

it's not people of color who are getting used by the system. it's poor people everywhere. and it's just that most wealthy and power is held in the hands of white folks.

it turns out that europeans were imported into America as slaves, as well. and i suspect that it is their descendent who have become the poor white.

yet they were given the hope of freedom after a period of being endentured, and eventually a shot at the american dream of instant wealth. and so to this day, they believe that one day thier ship will come in, and that they too can become a wealthy person. hence their support of tax breaks to the wealthy.

maybe the left should be reaching out to these people.

just a thought

capitalism kills 04.Aug.2004 17:19

jemma

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE!

I have been struggling in the PDX activist scene for a few years after emigrating here from a small and very poor village in NM. I have had a hard time feeling like I "belong" and have ended up being very disillusioned with the activist/anarchist scene because I feel that the rhetoric is often empty, and the assumptions are often based on a middle to upper class experience of race, gender, and class. I am drawn in when people speak of revolutionary change, because I think of the people I love and grew up with, and it is a NEED, not a want. But do people with a direct stake in capitalism (namely their own comfort, their parents wealth and wellbeing, their family LAND and other posessions...) really see this as a NEED, or is it just a phase in their differentiation from their parents?

One thing that really brought this question up in my mind for the first time was when I was involved with a "white anti-racist group" here in town with some of the self-appointed gatekeepers of "white anti-racist activism". I was interested because I think there IS such a thing as white privledge, and I wanted to figure it out better, so my work would be more relevant. BUt the group took up all its time, repetitively and without moving on, with discussions of "what the white experience is". It was determined by the popular groupthink that the "white experience" consisted of suburbs, wealth, not knowing any people of color (or being related to any people of color), not having anything to struggle for, psychological challenges instead of physical challenges, on and on... but meanwhile I was feeling- none of this represents me. In fact, the "development" of all of this is what my community and I were fighting against for all of my childhood- we fought against the suburbs encroaching on village land, we fought aganst their stealing our water from our community well, we fought against the physical threats of cops and ATF and DEA and FBI raiding and oppressing our neighbors. Us kids got beat up on the bus together for being from the village instead of the suburb. I dropped out when I was 12- happily with the support of my parents. I got raped when I was a very young and so have all the women in my matrilineal line, and I knew and know a lot of people of many races who have faced the same things...

When I lost my government school grant and dropped out of college I felt suddenly differentiated from many in that "scene". I suppose school is the breeding ground for the middle class, and it was suddenly clear that I didn't "have it in me". Dropping out of the "white anti-racist group" also seemed to chill my personal relationships with many of the activists involved. So I agree with you. Many leftists have no place for poor or poor-er whites in thier organizations or their "analysis". Except as negative stereotypes- it makes me mad to hear middle or upper-class people talking about "red-necks" and "trailer trash" and "white trash" and using this to dismiss people on the basis of class. Also many activists seem to think that poor whites are all neo-nazis, and it is only the "enlightened" and educated activists who have the "correct analysis".

So what do we do? Any ideas? I have a hard time acting independantly of the dynamics of the scene, because any time I do anything, there is a myriad of middle-class activists waiting and ready to "hold me accountable" to the activist status quo. I would be psyched if everyone held everyone else accountable for working in the interest of actual change, regardless of whether or not the tactics are new or old, but this is not the way it is. As it is, the scene maintains its status quo by the enforcement of a bunch of "well-educated" leaders and their hand-picked proteges, mysteriously endowed with both means and more self-confidence than I can seem to muster. It's nothing new, but I think it sucks.

I've been reading "The People's History" by Howard Zinn with a group of my comrades, and we've been talking a lot about the development of class and race in this country. One thing that I don't agree with the poster of this article about is the assertion that "there is no white privledge". In the beginning of the slave trade in the Americas when they were still colonies, poor whites from Europe were traded as slaves and sold into bondage, just like the Africans and their descendents. But the bonds between these two groups grew strong, and enslaved whites and blacks rose up together against their rich enslavers. This scared the governments shitless, so they came up with a devious plan- divide and conquer by giving the whites an incentive to betray their black neighbors, coworkers, family and friends...it was called indentured servitude. That's how whites became "servants" and blacks remained "slaves", and whites gained the "right" to freedom after a given number of years of slavery, while being black was the same thing as being a slave.
White privledge is the privledge of being given a chance to "buy in" to the system. Class privledge is the privledge of owning the system. At least, that's the way I think it works.

Slow news week? 04.Aug.2004 18:03

Joe

Yawn. zzzzz.............. Poor white trash, get a job.

green supremacy 04.Aug.2004 18:04

j

I know I already posted a lot, but I also wanted to say that racism has a lot more to it than black/white dynamics as well. The halocaust that was the conquest of the "Americas" was the most brutal genocide because of the strength of the engine that powered it- and how much those rulers knew they had to gain. The distinctions made by the US between tribes, or "races" had nothing to do with the way people defined themselves, and everything to do with what would be most profitable. My great grandmother tried to get a government job in the 20s, but was rejected on the basis of being a "half-breed"- they had no need to give her hope in the system, because they'd already decimated any other base of support. But see what's happening now with Latino/as and Chicano/as? The government is freaking out because of the projected census numbers for the coming decade. They're working and hoping for "the next generation to have a strong drive to assimilate" because of the potential power of the demographic. So they're not about to be- "go away you wetback- we won't give you a job. you half-breed". No. they're like, we got to make money however we can. Divide and conqer however we can. Parents from children, or race from race, or class from class, or gender from gender- however we can.

Paris Hilton 04.Aug.2004 18:28

.

Paris Hilton is proof you don't have to be poor to be white trash.

Hey dot 04.Aug.2004 20:02

Tammy Piskacorpy called

and said to go ahead and use her joke it was lame any way.

You know I agree 05.Aug.2004 22:28

Red neck

You're touching on some difficult, tricky subjects. Subject we going to have to confront but very carefully. Not only because the can be misunderstood and used against us but because the can be destructive and divisive.
America has done a brilliant job playing class off against class and class off against race and vice versa. Guilt is mostly a liberal construction, not only does it legitimizes the system. ("we" have made progress) It delegitimizes opposition in many different, often contradictory ways. One example is the real-estate market, racism (economic apartheid) is one of the major, if not the major engine of that market. Stigma and laws legitimized by guilt prevent poor whites (I mean most of the middle-class) and ethnic and racial minorities also from of having any control over the make-up and market value of their neighborhoods. There is never even any talk of going after real-estate agencies, developers and investors, certainly not the market itself, that is portrayed as the natural order. If I sound like a disgruntled white, I'm not. I've spent a good deal of my life living in black neighborhoods by choice. I can't stand the suburbs. I live in the countryside now. I'm merely stating the obvious facts.
Class is mostly only a vague (in America it can be very vague) sense or at best a concept of identity.
In this last recession (although it's hardly new) it's become startlingly apparent to many people who believe they're solidly middle-class that economic and social security is not an inherent right. That downward mobility is not only a working class prospect. They can be made redundant by corporate restructuring and consolidation That being replaced by cheap labor by ether import or export is possible. That they too can be automated out of a job.
This movement has a message and massive amount of information to share with not only the middle-class but also working-class after all they are really one in the same. The only way to escape this misery is seeking alternativatives. There are alternative for every aspect of this system.
America has 20 million people living in trailers!

to *POOR PSU STUDENT* 06.Aug.2004 12:12

Call the wahhhhmbulance

You said
As another poor white...
poor PSU student link
...I can tell you that I am working to join the middle class. I am tired of not having health insurance, nor dental insurance, nor being able to consistently buy healthy food, or decent clothing, or reliable transportation. And I'm willing to work for corporations to get the money to do these things. I will try to not work for the most evil among them. But, really, does anyone enjoy being poor? I sure don't. I'm sick of it.

So you are all that poor, yet still a PSU student. Methinks you are whiny. Not poor. Quit yer whining and let the real poor people speak up.

WTF? 06.Aug.2004 14:24

clamydia

I have three friends that are poor PSU students. They used to be PCC students, but they finished their 2-year classes and had to move on to PSU for their degrees. They live in shared housing, and between financial aid (which doesn't completely cover their school costs) and the meager income that they get from their 25-30-hours-a-week-on-average jobs, they have barely enough to pay for school and rent. One of them was ecstatic when I introduced her to the joys of dumpster-diving; the other two do not eat very well, subsisting mainly on Top Ramen, peanut butter sandwiches (half of which are made from bread that they don't realize came from a dumpster...ha!), and tuna. Sometimes they get eggs, and then they boil the eggs and crumble them into the top ramen with some tuna, but the peanut butter stays on the shelf. My point is that these kids are poor and white. They have a lot of determination, which is great, but they are hanging on by a thread most of the time. That having been said, I would like to cordially invite you to go fuck yourself, whaaaaaambulance. RSVP!

Fight back 06.Aug.2004 18:10

George Bender

Yeah, and the political choice we're being given is whether we would like to be fucked by the Republicans or the Democrats -- as we were during the Clinton/Gore years when they abolished welfare as an entitlement and cut safety net programs to balance the budget on the backs of poor people, while dishing out the corporate welfare.

I would rather turn it around and fuck them. This is what the Nader campaign is about. Send a message to the Democrats and tell them this marriage is over.


Chris Crass' work might help 06.Aug.2004 19:00

Yumi-chan cat

Towards An Anti-Racist Politics And Practice
A Racial Autobiography by Chris Crass


part one: "Don't you know what color you are?"

As I walked that picket line, in front of the administration office, I could feel the anxiety and tension growing. I knew that it would be unpopular to protest for Chicano Studies at Fullerton College in Orange County, California. But I wasn't prepared. I didn't know what to expect. I had been to countless protests and actions over the years. Politicized at 15, I went to protests against McDonald's and factory farming, Shell Oil and apartheid, the Gulf War and militarism. But this was different and I wasn't entirely sure why.

Let me give you some background. The protest for Chicano Studies was the latest action of a student coalition that had formed a semester earlier, in 1993. When the student coalition first formed, the main priority was fighting back against student fee increases. The State of California was cutting the budget for higher education, as the prison budget swelled, and the cut was being transferred to students as fee increases. The coalition was largely made up of Chicano/a nationalists from MECHA and white anarchists from the United Anarchist Front. We linked the fee hikes and the cuts in education to the growing prison population. We put out flyers, put together a couple of actions and we held a mass rally that was overwhelmingly successful. In fact the rally was so successful that it prompted some retaliation from the administration. During the rally, the majority of speakers were people of color, which reflected who was in the coalition. I was one of two white people who spoke at the rally and actively participated in the coalition. A week or so after the rally, both of us white students were called into the Dean of Students office.

I walked into the office, completely unaware of the reason why I was summoned. When I sat down, there were two security guards sitting on both sides of me. A secretary took notes of the meeting verbatim on a type writer. The Dean of Students informed me that I had been spotted vandalizing the school late at night with this other white student from the coalition, who I honestly didn't really know. A custodian identified us from pictures taken during the rally. We had supposedly been seen wheatpasting huge posters of Governor Pete Wilson wearing Mickey Mouse ears. I liked the poster, but had truthfully never put one up. The Dean told me that as a result of this vandalism, I would be fined and expelled. My class units made non-transferable, and I would be arrested at some point during the week while I was in class. I couldn't believe it. I left that meeting full of fear. When word spread in the coalition about what had happened, David Rojas - one of the most amazing organizers I've even met - told me that we were going to fight this. "They are trying to divide us," he said. The administration targeted us for two reasons, I believe. They assumed that it was the two white people who were leading the coalition and they were afraid of multiracial organizing.

We put flyers out everywhere. We started up an underground newspaper called the Molotov Cocktail - "serving one up for authority everywhere". The school newspaper, the Hornet, loved us and every week printed articles about us along with guest editorials and letters to the editor that we wrote. Our demand to stop all fee hikes was widely supported by the students. The Dean of Students eventually apologized for his accusations and nothing happened to us. The semester was coming to an end. We had done some great work.

Towards the end of the semester, more and more ads began appearing in the school newspapers about how fee hikes were the result of illegal immigration. There were also student actions on other campuses calling for more Ethnic Studies programs. At UCLA students had occupied an administration building and then launched a successful hunger strike.

Over the summer a group of about 15 of us started a study group reading Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States". Although the study group itself didn't last very long, reading Zinn was a powerful experience that opened my eyes to histories of race, class and gender oppression and resistance. Over the summer, the coalition decided that our focus for the next term was going to be Ethnic Studies and Women Studies generally and Chicano Studies in particular. I had already taken the only Black Studies class and Women Studies class at that point and was currently enrolled in Chicano Studies. Eventually I majored in Race, Class, Gender and Power Studies at San Francisco State University (a hybrid of Ethnic Studies, Women Studies and Political Science), so Ethnic Studies was both personally and politically significant for me. When thinking about this change in priorities, it didn't occur to me that the response on campus would be different. We were going from one important demand to another and I thought people would continue supporting us. I was really naive about how big of a decision it was to go from student fee hikes to Ethnic Studies, but I would learn.

On September 16th of 1993, a rally had been called for Chicano Studies. Busloads of high school students and college students from other campuses were going to come to Fullerton College for a march. David Rojas and I created a special issue of the Molotov Cocktail together (an 11x14 double sider with 3 articles and graphics). We wrote, "Last semester, much of our focus was directed on the rights of education for all. While we will continue with this struggle, it is also equally important that we fight for a quality education. We, as students, must remember that this is OUR education and that we must have a role in shaping the education process." We continued, "Fullerton College does not meet up to the state and federal affirmative action guidelines and this effects us and our education. If there are classes that are not available to us, then we must demand them. We must reclaim our history! We must reclaim our education!" Of the last 56 people hired, only 6 were people of color. The college population was 57% Anglo, 22% Chicano/a, 12% Asian Pacific Islander, 3% African American and 1% American Indian. There was not one full time African American professor on the entire campus.

The rally happened, hundreds of students showed up and the energy was high. There were Mexican flags and speeches in Spanish. The students began to march into the streets of Orange County. It was energetic and peaceful. Police in full riot gear were everywhere. The police surrounded the students and ordered them to end the march. Shortly thereafter, the police went wild with pepper spray and batons. High schoolers and college students, almost entirely Latina/o, were hit and sprayed as they ran back to the campus.

I missed the march. I had left the rally to go to work. It was a critical mistake on my part to have left - regardless of work. I should have been there. I was naive, and thought of this march as just one of many marches. But the reality is this: when Latino/a students take to the streets of Orange County, or anywhere in this country, it is different than when mostly white activists do it. The threat of communities of color mobilized is enormous and it scares the police to their bones. I had read about white supremacy and called myself an anti-racist, but there was so much that I just didn't understand.

The reaction on campus to the student march for Chicano Studies was overwhelming negative. The school paper attacked the rally and march as being "anti-white", "angry", "provoking violence" and "counter-productive". The administration, the school paper and the overwhelming majority of white students blamed our student coalition for the violence. Some called for MECHA's funding to be cut, others blamed the Molotov Cocktail for urging young students to use violence.

For weeks there was constant debate about Ethnic Studies. "We're not protesting to have white studies", we were told over and over again. "Chicano Studies is exclusive and narrow", we were informed. I was a white student taking Chicano Studies and I tried to talk with other white students about that. To discuss with them that Chicano Studies, like Western Civilization class, was something for all of us to take. To talk about how the history of Chicana/os was systematically eliminated from most classes - not from conscious decision making necessarily, but because the ideology of white supremacy says that there is nothing of Chicano history worthy of study. This is why many of the white students would say things like, "the books I read are written by white people, because that's who writes and that's not my fault". This is how white supremacy operates - whiteness is universalized as the norm of what is. It does not require a conscious decision to have thoughts that are racist, as it is racism that shapes the sttructure of our thought. "It is not my fault that Black people do not write books." "It is not my fault that most of what is important was done by Europeans and European Americans." "I believe that all people are created equal, but it is not my fault that white people just do more". "We are not studying white people, we are studying the presidents of the United States and it is not my fault that they all happen to be white." White supremacy is the tide that directs the flow of our thoughts. It does not require us to go out of our way to be racist. It just requires that we go with the flow of the status quo.

My job in the coalition was to try and talk with white people about this stuff. I would write articles and identify myself as white, because white students wanted to say that this was just a bunch of "crazy Mexicans". I was white, and I was crazy, too.

This brings us back to the picket line in front of the administration building. I could feel the anxiety and the tension growing. I was the only white person in the picket line. A white friend of mine was coming with me, but when he saw the picket line and all of the angry white students, he left because he was afraid. I was scared too. By this point, our student coalition, which had once enjoyed popular support, was being attacked from all sides. The school paper slammed us for having abandoned "student demands" (fee hikes) and taking on "exclusive and divisive self-interest demands" (Chicano Studies). We had little support for our protest. Our picket line was about 30 people, aside from myself, all Latina/o. We were quickly surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of white students. They were yelling at us - "Go home" and "We're not fighting for white studies". I remember my sense of time changing - like slow motion - and hearing students screaming at me, "what are you doing with them?", "don't you know what color you are?", "you fucking traitor". It was surreal. I was really scared, but I knew so strongly that I was on the right side of this picket line.

The picket line has weighed heavy on my mind over the years. It made me realize that I was white and it made me question what being white meant. Why were those students yelling "don't you know what color you are?" I began to realize that white supremacy is all about creating and maintaining relationships of power based on skin color. White privilege is granted to white people on the basis that they maintain loyalty to this system. It doesn't require being an active racist per se, but just going with the flow. For standing in solidarity with Latina/o students, I was being called out as a traitor - I felt myself fearing physical attack from those white students. Now I wonder about the other people who were in that picket line. I was being denounced for organizing with Latina/o students, but I still have no way of understanding what it was like for them. For me it was experiencing the reality of racism in my face. David Rojas, my Chicano nationalist mentor, broke the situation down and said, "this is what happens to us all of the time". That picket line, that experience of struggling for Ethnic Studies, of struggling for racial justice in a white supremacist society was a catalyst that changed my life.

part two: Movement Building and Challenging White Supremacy

"We shut down the WTO!" I could hardly believe it when the news was spread via messengers and mobile phones. Our blockades, our creative resistance, our commitment to the earth and to justice had stopped the World Trade Organization. November 30th, 1999, was also a day that changed my life. I went to Seattle and joined with my affinity group of mostly San Francisco Food Not Bombers. After years of using consensus decision making, practicing civil disobedience and utilizing direct action, it was amazing to see it come together on such a mass scale in Seattle.

Shortly thereafter, I read the essay by Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez, "Where was the Color in Seattle: Looking for reasons why the great battle was so white". Martinez's essay struck a chord with me. For years I had studied how race, class and gender have played out in social movements throughout history. Racism and sexism have narrowed and undermined the labor movement. White women suffragists of the late 1800's utilized racism to secure the vote for white women. The sexism of the anti-war student movement catalyzed the feminist movement. This history is vast and full of racism and other forms of oppression undermining movements for social change. When I read this history, I would think about organizing today and how to actively challenge these barriers and obstacles to movement building. When Betita called out the ways that racism operated in Seattle, I was floored. This is how difficult it is to see and deconstruct racism and the complex way that white privilege operates.

After Seattle, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to go. I had spent the previous eight years working primarily with Food Not Bombs. For two years I had been focusing more on developing as a writer. My overall goal with both writing and organizing was to bridge race, class and gender analysis of power with anarchist theory and practice. In the middle of trying to make sense of what direction to move in, I had a dream.

It was a dream about power and the effects of internalized superiority on my mind. The effect that white privilege has on white people is a developed sense of internalized superiority over people of color. It need not be conscious, nor spoken of directly, rather it is the framework of thought that white supremacy develops in people. It is related to the way that male privilege generates a sense of male superiority over women. So guys can argue that men and women are equal, but still define reality through the perspective of male privilege (i.e., it's not my fault that most of the good books out there are written by men and that men do the most radical activism).

My dream was of a party. A party of my friends. I was the only white, male, middle class and (mostly) heterosexual person at the party. There were women of color, transgendered men and women and queers, older people and working class people and me. In the dream there were two lines of thought going through my head. The first was straight up white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and it was telling me that my friends were not good enough - as people, not as friends. Every imaginable hate word flooded my mind. This calm, yet stern voice just repeated, "you know that these people are inferior, you just can't admit it".

The other line of thought was that egalitarian relationships of power and respect were both necessary and right, that these were my friends, people who I care about, people who I am lucky to have in my life. When I thought about this, about mutual respect and basic equality, my eyes dulled and my jaw dropped and in my dream I turned into what looked like a zombie. When my thoughts returned to the "inherent deficiencies" of my friends, my eyes became clear and, over and over again, I heard that voice, "now you are facing the truth". I woke up drenched in sweat, trying to catch my breath.

I spent several days trying to make sense of that dream, of that nightmare. I kept thinking about consciousness and about how race, class and gender oppression create both internalized inferiority and internalized superiority. To oppose racism, one must also work to undermine the impact racism has on one's way of seeing and being in the world. White privilege functions in this way to both conceal and perpetuate racism - "It is not that you are worse than me, it's just that I'm better than you". My dream was about facing the truth of how domination distorts and disfigures one's humanity. It led me to start writing about and thinking much more about the process of decolonization for those who have been socialized to be in positions of privilege. For years I've looked to the writings of women of color feminists like Barbara Smith, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Patricia Hill Collins, Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez, M. Annette Jaimes, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Chinosole, Minoo Moallem, Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga and Angela Davis to learn from, to gain wisdom and find inspiration and guidance. I began struggling with how to use the concepts, tools, insights, analysis, and perspectives to undermine internalized white superiority, unmask white privilege and walk the paths toward a healing and healthy humanity. The question has been what does anti-racist work look like for white people and how do we do it?

I had been going to an anti-racism study group for about six months. Sharon Martinas, of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, put the study group together. It was a mostly white study group looking at anti-racism organizing in predominately white communities. My favorite things about the it was that it was multigenerational and that we were of multiple political perspectives - feminist, marxist, anti-imperialist and/or anarchist.

Sharon Martinas has been doing anti-racism workshops and trainings in the Bay Area for ten years. The Challenging White Supremacy Workshop was designed as two fifteen week long sessions. Challenging White Supremacy for activists and then CWS for organizers. One day on the way back from a study group session, Sharon and I started to discuss putting together a workshop series specifically for organizers in the anti-global capitalism movement. Both Sharon and I were deeply inspired by Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez's essay "Where was the color in Seattle" and so we began putting together a workshop called "Beyond the Whiteness in Seattle: challenging white supremacy in the movements against global capitalism."

The workshop would be in four parts. We met on Tuesday nights during the summer, leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. We utilized role plays, homework, small group exercises, presentations and discussions to look at how white supremacy impacts our work. We broke down white supremacy into both racial oppression against communities of color and white privilege that effects white communities. White privilege and racial oppressions are two sides of the same coin; they both maintain systematic inequality that punishes the majority of the planet and its inhabitants in the service of profit and power. In the workshop we stress the importance of overcoming feelings of guilt around racism and the need for action based on the guideline that non-ruling class whites are both privileged and oppressed.

I was really nervous doing this first session of workshops. Having been one of the few white people in Ethnic Studies courses and often times one of the only men in Women Studies classes. I was used to having people question my motivations and intentions. I was used to people wondering, "what the hell is that white guy doing here?" But I was nervous about how people would react to "what the hell is this white guy doing co-training a course on anti-racism?" I know that people are thinking this and frankly, I'd be kind of worried if no one did. Facing contradictions, facing difficult situations that make you feel awkward and vulnerable is the only way to do this work.

Luckily, I was in the company of two mentors while doing this workshop series: Sharon Martinas, who I was co-training with and who is an incredible educator and organizer and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, whose house we were using for the workshop. Roxanne is a long time radical, historian and author who has spent years doing anti-racist work. She started a group called Cell 16 in the late sixties that helped launch the women's liberation movement. She has been doing solidarity work with indigenous groups resisting the United States and she has been researching and writing about the impact of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism on white people. I was glad we were meeting at Roxanne's house as it was Roxanne who convinced me to go to Seattle and bought me a plane ticket. She told me that it would change my life, that all of the years of day-to-day organizing would manifest on the streets and that I needed to be there. She was right. So there we were doing an anti-racism training at her house, preparing for the DNC in LA.

Going to the Democratic National Convention in LA was a powerful experience and it reconfirmed for me the importance of white people doing anti-racist work. The workshops that Sharon and I do are directed primarily at other white activists, and activists of color are always welcome to participate. We do this because we believe that white radicals have a responsibility to talk about and work on racism with white people; that it is not the responsibility of activists of color to school white people. In Los Angeles there was amazing organizing happening that actively combined international issues of global capitalism with local struggles for justice. Many of the local struggles were led by organizations of color. There was a lot of confusion and debate about how the actions in LA went down. Why were there legally permitted marches? Why weren't people doing massive civil disobedience? This brought me back to thinking about the protests for Ethnic Studies in Orange County, that action taken by people of color is different than what white activists generally do. The stakes are higher, and calls for justice in communities of color fundamentally challenge the logic of white supremacy that says that people of color do not deserve justice. I saw how important it was for white anti-racists to talk with other white activists about this in LA and it is one of the reasons why I continue doing the workshops here in San Francisco.

Since the four part workshop series, Sharon and I put together a six parter of "Beyond the Whiteness" and I've done about a half-dozen one timers for schools and conferences. The workshops have been really successful in terms of getting people excited about this work and developing useful skills and analysis. Out of the last workshop series, an on-going discussion group (disco group) formed. The disco group's goals are to form a community of learning, to have a peer group of organizers to look at how to incorporate anti-racism into out projects, groups and campaigns and to train people to do workshops themselves (creating agenda, exercies, timing discussions, creating empowering group dynamics, etc.) The disco group is also helping to develop a community of anti-racist activists.

One of the tactics utilized in the workshop that has been extremely useful for myself and others is the "each one, teach one" model. Basically, Sharon and I meet with people one on one and talk about anti-racism, about people's organizing projects and offer feedback and help, when useful. It was used extensively in the Southern Civil Rights movement as a way to not only teach people and bring them into the movement, but also as a process of developing relationships, trust and respect. For me, this is an extremely helpful way for us to grow as a movement and for us to deepen the work that we do. Mass actions and mass mobilizations are necessary, but we also need to do the day-to-day work of sharing skills and building our capacities as organizers and radicals. That's one of the biggest lessons of Seattle, for me. That it's not just about large numbers of people, but that we are all active participants in the movement.

Our strategy, as Challenging White Supremacy (CWS), is to do anti-racist training and organizing specifically with predominately white grassroots social justice activists. We also believe that multiracial, anti-racist alliance building is at the core of doing this work. Our focus on anti-racism with other white people is part of a long strategy of working towards multiracial, anti-racist movement to oppose capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heterosexism.

To further this long-term strategy, several people started up a grassroots network called Colours of Resistance (COR). Helen Luu, Pauline Hwang and myself talked for about six months about wanting to see a stronger commitment in the anti-global capitalism movement to anti-racist and multiracial politics. We drafted up a Statement of COR, launched a webpage, started up an email discussion group and we are all involved in local work that reflects our politics. The idea behind COR: organizers of color wanting to work in communities of color around these issues and wanting to know that white anti-racists would be doing anti-racism work with predominately white groups, with the goal of us all coming together to fight the man. That is the basic strategy of COR, as it is with CWS. COR provides a way for radicals of color and white radicals to share ideas, stories, reflections, resources and build alliances through respect, trust and friendship. While COR is a relatively small group of people (a couple dozen) our goal is not related to numbers, but rather publicizing our strategy and putting anti-racist, multiracial politics out into the broader movement. So while I'm doing workshops and trainings, other COR folks are doing work like teach-ins and educational work on the impact of global capitalism on communities of color and resistance from communities of color to global capitalism. Doing alliance-building work is critical for white anti-racists, as white activists cannot and should not do this work alone.

So why do I do anti-racist work and why is it such a priority? Well, let me tell you one more story. When I was in high school, I worked with a group called the United Anarchist Front. We put out flyers, an underground newspaper and organized actions. We did really cool work and it was fun. But we would always talk about how apathetic the school was and how great it would be to work with other people. Years later, I was looking at a copy of our high school newspaper. I wrote a regular column called Love and Rage (named after the anarchist paper out of New York City) about activism and politics. Right next to my column was a guest editorial written by three Latina women protesting that lack of coverage of the Latino student population. They also called attention to the lack of coverage in the yearbooks, the school videos and the overall disinterest shown by white students in activities organized by the Spanish language club, Expanded Horizons. Here were students that were angry and ready to take action about issues impacting them on the campus.

I don't even remember reading that column in high school, let alone thinking that our group should hook up with them. Their issues of language and culture and representation didn't register for me. Their issues weren't "radical" as I would have defined them in high school. This is an example of how white privilege blinds white people and hurts the ability of white radicals to act. I remember once we thought about translating one of our flyers into Spanish, but we certainly didn't think that we might have something to learn from those students, about conditions in the school, about racism on campus and about what issues to organize around. How radical would that have been if a group of white high schoolers worked in solidarity with a group of Latina/o high schoolers to demand an end to racism on campus! In a state like California, where a majority of voters have passed anti-immigrant rights and anti-bilingual education measures, such solidarity and anti-racist activism is critical.

Doing anti-racist work doesn't mean that we no longer make mistakes, but rather that we are committed to doing this work, even though we will make mistakes. I'm doing anti-racist organizing because I have hope for our abilities to make history and transform this society. I have hope because there is a radical vision of love at the heart of our movement and it is growing. There is a long history of white supremacy undermining movements, but together we can make anti-racism a catalyst for building ours. Our movement is built day by day, with visions of the world we want seven generations down the line.

"Solidarity is the tenderness of the people of the world" - Nicaraguan Revolutionary Slogan

activesolidarity.net www.tao.ca/~colours

Poor & Fed Up Too/ Wanna Do Something About It? 06.Aug.2004 20:24

Working Class Mama

I'm so glad this article has been featured! I've been trying to find the time to write a similar article. I too have had a hard time finding anarchist groups that are conscious(versus pseudo-conscious) of class let alone working on class issues. I've nearly given up on this scene. I'm sick of upper class kids preaching the bourgie notion that violent revolution=oppression(In case you haven't noticed for working class people it's self defense). Despite the popular ignorance of the scene, I still wish to work towards making an anarchist revolution possible out of necessity for myself and my family. However I've just had it up to here with the white trash jokes and lack of any real thought about the needs of poor families. In the past I have seen upper class anarchists at least semi-interested in this although not in any practical sense. Lately, I haven't even seen this. It seems we are only a convenient victim for them to fantasize about rescuing. Many poor people(white, black, etc.) who come into this scene end up just feeling used as the token poor person who gives their politics credibility. We are real human beings who have very real needs. We don't need charity. We need equal communities where we supply eachother with things we actually need(not party supplies). Well I could go on and on but I don't have time. My point is it would be nice for something to come of this discussion. I would like to see people respecting working class people and being more sensetive to our experience(hint: living in a poor neighborhood of your own will and choosing/pretending to be poor does not mean you automatically understand our experience. That would be just a taste). Also, I would like to get together with other working class anarchists. It would be really refreshing to work with people who have very real incentive to revolt. Maybe we could start doing some meaningful work.

Posting Full Articles In Comments Area is Inconsiderate & Annoying 06.Aug.2004 20:39

courtesy police

Post LINKS to full articles in COMMENTS area, NOT full articles. Full articles are too large and makes it less likely that people will read the following comments.

Watch out when making broad statments 06.Aug.2004 22:40

about what anarchists are or are not interested in

I know its different than Portland, but Ive been doing outreach with oppressed white kids for years here in WV. Jemma I think you had oughta just start doing the same and fuck the bourgie credit card activists, you don't need their halp/approval and they can't relate to working class white kids anyhow.

Race and racism are REAL issues, and white kids of all classes need to be aware of this, but classism is also a real issue and us workign class white kids need to help our brothers and sisters wake up, the only other people reaching out to them are nazis. Remember, revolutionary change MUST come from the proletariat.

I don't think it's all that annoying... 07.Aug.2004 01:13

clamydia

...and I probably wouldn't have clicked through had it only been a link. If you don't want to read it, it's fairly easy to simply scroll down past it. If you're too impatient to do that, then that isn't anyone's fault but your own.

ha, ha, clamydia 07.Aug.2004 03:11

.

I read what you wrote as, "If you're too important to do that...".
Which fits well with the article.. both articles.

bark in our bite 07.Aug.2004 07:07

aron

This reminds me of the attitude that people have against militiamen. Folks think of them as redneck psychos. I think I remember a country in Europe (I think It was Sweden) where they have no military and every home is required by law to have an assault rifle with live ammunition. The ammunition must be separately stored because the guns aren't meant to kill burglars. If an army is invading you'll hear about it and have time to load your gun. The Idea is that it keeps the government has no military power it can't use it (no army means no drafts invasions "battleship diplomacy" etc.) at the same time the country's defenses are extremely strong because if an foreign forces invaded the common people rise up as a standing militia and defend their homeland via urban guerilla tactics. (Think of Iraq right now). Usually the mainstream Republicrats Push gun control on its civilians while at the same time turn a blind eye to militarizing police and creating bigger and better bombs for their boys in blue. Me personally I hate guns but If I had a choice of disarming the citizens of a country or disarming the government I'd disarm the government. So long as we are bringing up white stereotypes lets try to reconsider those "white" militia folks in Montana, there is a silver lining there beneath the camo.

hard topic 07.Aug.2004 09:21

kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

I took alot of shit for saying some of this in an article about privilege and the RNC protests. You can read a bunch of articles I have written about poverty, ( http://resist.ca/~kirstena/pagepoverty.html) on things such as what a welfare mom needed to hidden hunger in america, to migrants dying in the desert for water...poverty is a huge issue and I am writing an article right now about how many white kids I meet have "hidden resources" in the way of family they can fall back on and they drain the homeless resources when they feign poverty for a summer...but I get attacked pretty good each time I address class issues. I wrote an article about welfare being a male subsidy for male portions of child care and received 200 angry emails from men telling me why they do not pay child support to the "bitch" who raises their kids and "misappropriated" their sperm. Ugh. This topic is rife with explosion every time I breach it. But I am not going to stop breaching it.

From crimethinc.com
From crimethinc.com
A Sea of White Males
A Sea of White Males

Voting Democratic Helps - Screw Nader (message to PSU students) 07.Aug.2004 10:30

Prof Economist

When George HW Bush was President, I was poor but could not get financial aid. I think I made some huge sum like $8/hour.

When Bill Clinton got elected one thing he did do before the Gingrich Congress took control was expand federal student aid programs--The Stafford Loan was the result. An interest subsidized loan. Suddenly I could stop working my crap job, start working a part-time job, and go to school full-time. No vacation. Four quarters a year, 22 credit hours per quarter, for 13 straight quarters... I graduated $35,000 in debt, but made $44,000 my first year out of college. I rented a seedy room (shared bath w/ four apts) and paid off my loan in two years. No new car, still ate mac and cheese, turkey weiners, and all that crap. Now I'm doing very well, thank you, but I'm still liberal and use my finances to support good political causes and charities, accomplishing much more politically than I ever could listening to Corrosion of Conformity and chanting "fuck Reagan" at concerts.

Clinton also increased marginal tax rates from 31% to 39% on what was the top 5% of the income distribution AND raised the capital gains tax. Republicans bitched and screamed and pronounced a pending depression, but what followed was drastic reduction in the national debt, lower interest rates, and the greatest economic expansion in our nation's history. High interest rates benefit only the richest Americans, who can get a low a risk and high return on their money (sometimes tax free) through municipal bonds and such (why do you think Bush is running the debt back up so recklessly?). Low interest rates allow the creation of small business, investment from large businesses that must seek more risk to meet their required return, consumers who can purchase more for less, etc. The increased economic gains resulted in huge public revenues that generated a social security surplus large enough to fund the baby boomers (Bush went against Al Greenspan's strong advice and gave that away quickly). Had the Republican propaganda machine not smeared Clinton for the stupid White Water "scandal" (notice they don't say shit about Harken Energy), the Gingrich "revolution" probably wouldn't have happened, and those surpluses could have created national health care.

I know Nader's ideas have a certain appeal, and I know Democrats are also bound to many of the same rules of the system, but to say Clinton and Kerry are just like Bush or Reagan is to be completely ignorant of the facts.

And to you PSU students... Keep going and keep an eye on what skills are most demanded in the market and make sure you have them, then get rid of that debt ASAP. You won't have it as easy as the rich kids who's daddies buy them cars and pay their tuition, but you'll graduate with something they will never have, the wisdom that comes from struggling and taking risks, and that will pay off. I've blown those frat boys away in my career!

This op-ed article is absurd. 07.Aug.2004 13:40

Carlo Tresca

First of all, I try and make it a point to not listen to anyone who lists 'NON/Boyd Rice' and 'Death In June' as their favorite bands. DIJ is openly fascist, and Boyd Rice is openly white power. So that might give you an idea of where this chump is coming from.

But back to the points here. Even the poorest white person has white privilege, but that doesn't mean much. White privilege is there only to insure that when people in power want to start a fight between working people, poor white people will defend people in power as opposed to fighting against them.

In a society built on white supremacy (whether or not we're an outwardly white supremacist society anymore, you can't deny we had our roots there), those groups that espouse white supremacist idelogies are going to be the most dangerous. Fascism is built on the reclaiming of power lost, not of power never had.

When was the last time Black Israelites tried to burn down a church (like recently happened in Joliet, Illinois)? When was the last time someone from Five Presenters went on a shooting spree killing white people (like Ben Smith of the WCOTC)?

You can shit-talk ARA all you want, but you've never done jack to confront fascism. Hell, look at the music you listen to. If you go to their concerts, I can 100% guarantee that there are white supremacists and fascists at those concerts. They'll probably be pretty easy to spot, too. Have you ever done your part to confront them?

Or are you too busy talking shit on the internet?

Chris crass 07.Aug.2004 14:18

mb

I do not find fault with the aims of doing anti racist work. The goals of the anti racist platform. Doing solidarity work, vuluing the leadership of people of color. My expierence has been different. Alot of people I have met do not express the same degree of white guilt issues that crass is working through. My take, is that honestly people of "mean and vile conditions" share somthing intigral in thier expierence that forces them to relate to each other. For example I went to a school for low income droupouts that needed to get thier geds. It was hard but we helped eachother get through it. The school was mixed race, all poor, and we shared common expierences. Now that some of us are in construction apprenticeship we still keep each other in good council. This is not somthing I share with portlands anti-racist community. Or even actavists in this town as a whole. I have had one too many actavists twist my words to make others hate me and my politics. I have lost trust in you.
The focus of what I am saying is that as much as there are barriers that devide races there are commonalities of expierence that bridge these barriers on the personal level. Translating this to the political is a/the challenge. Will it be possible in an inviroment of class fear? If not then who is standing in whose way, and why?
When the white anti racist scene says "How can you walk around north east portland putting up fliers that call for people to stand up to the police?" I don't hear "Shame on you for speaking for those people!" I hear and see fear. My expierence does not include bieng afraid of people of color, bieng afraid of poor people, bieng afraid of addicts. I lived in ne for 6 years. I went to church there. I am not comfortable zipping around on a 20 speed bike from one "safe" actavist house to another making jokes about "white trash." As far as you're conserned I am white trash. Class fear like race fear seems transparent. White guilt exists and class guilt exists. I do not like bieng feared and I dislike your attempts at hiding this fear even less. I do not like how this fear taints "anti-racists" reactions to me. I have been accused of racism for trying to reach out and find common ground with people of color. I once organized a carpentry collective. We built a platform for a yurt that an immigrant chinese couple was going to live in on an organic farm. We were looking for a next project. On kboo I heard that a local group representing hispanic day laborers was looking for help to organize/build a day labor center for street corner workers. I asked a local anti-racist if they knew the name of the group. He did and he gave me the number. I called and spoke to a hispanic man that said they'd be really exited to talk about having us help them. I said "It would be great if thier group or the workers could own and run it." He said they would like to talk about it. I was happy. I've worked day labor and woke up at 4:30 to get there early enough to get work, and labor ready SUCKS! I was fueled with passion to create an alternative. A couple weeks later he never called me back. I was confused so I asked my anti-racist friend if he knew what was up. He said to call a woman he knows that represents the organization. I called her and she said that I couldn't speak to thier worker council, she accused me of white guilt, of missguided and RACIST charity, She told me that she'd told the man I's spoken to not to call me back. I aked her what I could do about it she told me some books to read. The authors are on chris crass's list. She sounded like a colledge educated white woman. I told her I didn't understand how she could lead this organization. She explained that she doesn't lead the organization she just follows the decisions of the council.
I was confused, I tried to convey that the least I could do is try to get them in contact with the people I know that had resources they could use. She dissagreed, got angry, and told me that she'd done this work back east, and that she was only "following the policy" of the council. I said doesn't blocking access to new resources represent an act of leadership?
I asked her why they had called for help on the radio? She said there's more to it than I would understand, and repeated that I couldn't adress the council.
The dissconect between my expierence in speaking with her and speaking to the hispanic man who was her subordinate angered me.

The same white anti-racists that have undermined my efforts here, are working with the IWW to run my friend and allies vegan restruant out of buisiness. I went to my partners friends house and they were there. Smiling smugly as if they were amused that somthing bad would happen to me. A man who called this shamefull council of white anti-racist allies to undermine a march (A MARCH!) against police brutality was there apologizing for not coming to my wedding, trying to hug me. He's in the IWW and he didn't tell me that him and his comrads are lying to the national labor relations board to try to get them to force CALENDULA to close.
If he gave me a blanket I'd burn it and damned If I wouldn't tell you the same.

That's right 07.Aug.2004 14:39

--

keep the gate clear.

You're Spoiled 07.Aug.2004 17:40

uliveinabubble

America needs a lower standard of living. The "poor" here really aren't poor at all unless they or homeless or something like that. The planet can't sustain it much longer. Don't have health insurance? NEITHER DO I AND MOST OF THE PLANET'S PEOPLE! Why are you special that you deserve it because you're in a country creates wealth from exploiting the world's REAL poor?
------------------

About six billion people live outside U.S. borders, of whom 1.3 billion—or about 20 percent of the world's population—subsist on less than $1 a day, or $365 a year. The combined annual income of those 1.3 billion people thus comes to about $475 billion. In other words, the world's poorest 1.3 billion people could survive on the U.S. tax cut for almost three years at their current subsistence levels.

Meanwhile, half of the world's population, or three billion people, live on less than $2 per day, or about $730 per year. That figure includes the 1.3 billion people who live on less than $1 a day, which means some 1.7 billion people subsist on between $1 and $2 a day.

On average then, a typical person among the poorest 50 percent of the world population lives on less than $1.57 per day, or $573.05 per year.

middle-crassness 07.Aug.2004 19:15

Red neck

It doesn't matter how you cut that American pie it's still just a cowpie.
Vote for Democrats?! To bad you're not joking Prof Economist.
So what is the world's second most enthusiastically capitalist party is going do to for the people? - rip them off .
The hard true fact is that it's a long hard road to the middle-class and staying there is even harder, work-work-work. Lose your job, get sick or even divorced you go back to start. Remember it takes most people
two full time incomes to retain that middle-class life style, add in daycare. Average cost of a house in USA is well over 200 thousand, in large urban areas forget about it. That's a major reason middle-class people are up to their ears in debt, that and those two 20+thousand dollar cars. But the good news is I just saved a fortune on my car insurance.
The "American dream" is mostly a cold war that was even in steep decline in the last decades of that conflict. The economy in the nineties was a bubble and they did some really bazaar stuff to keep it inflated, like the Y2K scam- how billions of dollars? Fact is that Capitalism doesn't work very well, it only works in spates. Capitalism is still boom and bust, they've just got better at mitigating the bust.
Your babbittry (from one of those books you should have read in college) is making me laugh, Pep up, keep your nose to the grindstone, it'll work out. You can be a middlie like ME! At least you're an honest liberal who wants nothing more than to return to age of Clinton.

63 percent of Americans go to college! Do you think all those
people, are going to end up in the middle-class? Hell no! They're going to end up, if they're lucky in the service sector. (target is Target) What else is there? Oh, High-Tec! Don't you remember the Jetson hype.
Average cost per year per student for university study, including books and housing is about $15,000
What really sad is that all these poor suckers really, (like really) believe they're entitled. That sheepskin has middle-class and maybe more, inscribed on it, when in fact it's just fleece. What even sadder is that they don't really learn anything, just how to jump through hoops and drinking.
Don't you remember PBS's infamous questionnaire to Harvard graduates, How does a plant grow? They didn't even know what photosynthesis was! Not an exaggeration by any stretch. I have a friend who's a permanent "career" adjunct(That's have PhD will work for food) who actually brings his students papers along to laugh at. Even the smart ones are as ignorant as grade-schoolers.
Anyway, the point is that if you're using your college edjucation as the foundation for your middle-classness and superiority, it's pretty rickety.

As far as-it's duh juws coment. I so tired of people putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with a four letter word. You're pushing little more than an urban legend. What about those ruthless Anglo-Saxons?
Clamydia, I've never dived for food, unless it was in can but I've dived for everything else. Americans throw everything out. I just found a 200 CD changer/player still in the box! What kind of idiot! Direct recycling! We need more people posting on the way it is.
Working Class Mama, we need a whole army of youz

You people need to try Class-X that's what it's about

thanks 07.Aug.2004 20:37

thanks

thanks 4 the article!

Going to colledge doesn't make you middle class 07.Aug.2004 20:58

mb

My friend Joe Jackson is blind, he's going to colledge to become a spanish teacher. He's white he grew up in a single parent family, his mom works. His partner grew up abused in the sticks. She's so far in debt from colledge she can't leave. Meaning she has to stay in colledge to keep the repo from coming to her place.
The racists I've met mostly had two parents with two incomes and a fierce intrest in preserving america's social structure. As for fighting racists I've come real close to loosing my job for fiercly confronting hate speach at my workplace. As for ARA.. ARA like the IWW has done some good shit. There's also the expierence of my friend that grew up hanging out around the early 90's anti racist struggle. He was in a band called the "procrastinators" that sung this popular song "bash a fash."
I've had a lot of folks tell me a bunch of ARA folks used to be white supremacists, and they're only in it cause they like to fight. That when ARA people were active here they'd go around attacking people and asking them if they were racist later. Attacking on the rumor that somone might be racist. As a person that's had a SECRET FUCKING TRIBUNAL of "white anti-racist allies" called on me I don't welcome a return to the hayday of punk politics. That said I've got another friend that's from Austin ARA that fought the holocuast deniers/clan and thier cop allies in the streets of chicago. He supports the political work I've done. The same work anti racists here hate me for.
Is it any wonder that the wobs spear heading the drive to KILL CALENDULA (Portlands only all vegan organic restruant) are from the crew of anti-racists Craig knew back in the day.

re: mb's comment 07.Aug.2004 22:22

.

The woman you spoke to presents the symptoms of "helper syndrome" or "socialworker syndrome". She is making certain she remains indispensible to those "poor latino workers".

I wondered about the IWW action.

There is a "peace and environment center" in another city which provides its director with a steady income, and a steady stream of worshipful young women. It sops up the energies of a bunch of young activists and produces annual reports justifying the director's salary. Nothing more. Maybe a bit of warm and fuzzy when news is slow.


The first woman probably really does believe she is protecting those poor latinos from... well, she probably doesn't think any further than that, and she probably plugs in "racism" when anybody asks. Racism undeniably exists. Latinos undeniably experience its effects. And everybody is supposed to stop thinking as soon as the word is dropped with a thud on the floor.

IWW no doubt has a list of class enemies, and Calendula is no doubt similar to Walmart in certain essential ways... and we are supposed to stop thinking right there. Your friend is a true hero of the workers.

The director of PEC has remained faithful to his vision for nearly two decades. Capitalism is remarkably adaptive : it is not due to any failing on his part that the system stymies him at at every turn. We are truly blessed that he keeps a tiny of resistence alive. Who can begrudge him the solace of a warm bed.

The only problem is all those people are accomplishing exactly what a good agent of the oppressor would. Then, it gets really, really complicated. If we ask them, their intentions are good, nobody can prove otherwise, and we must give them credit for their intentions. Love the sin and hate the sinner... No, that's what Newt Gingerich. We're supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. On the other hand, whatever their intentions, they are hurting the cause. Of course, they may be simple fools, and there would be an agent urging us to distrust them... which we should do... And Soros' minions doubtlessly know how to fund the inept and starve the skilled.


I have no magic solution. There is no correct analysis, no doubleplus rightthink deodorant, no lifetime relief from the symptoms of reality.

Maybe you can learn to straighten out your wobbly friend or those who wobble along behind him.

one thing more 07.Aug.2004 22:27

.

We don't know for sure much of anything that's important,
except, that John Wayne with his sixty-guns blazing
has always turned out to be an enemy of the people.

Tanya 08.Aug.2004 00:54

Elmo

People are just different

Working Class Brainstorm 08.Aug.2004 12:43

Working Class Mama

So I won't have free time til septemberish, but I'm very interested in meeting and discussing working class issues with others who understand them first hand. Anybody had ideas they felt they couldn't share with people who couldn't relate? Let's chat and see what we can do! I'm especially interested in anything involving outreach to other poor folks and families. Also discussing ways to empower our working class communities(white, black, brown, red, yellow, gay, trans, single, married, young, old, etc.) to break our ties with the system(preferably through anarchism but I'm open to ideas).

For those who are interested in anti-racism here's a clue: Right now the only people reaching out to poor people in any meaningful way are skinheads. I've seen even Mexican and I've heard of African American people get sucked into it(yes they literally hate and are ashamed of their own race!). Simply because these were the only people reaching out to them and influencing the neighborhood. The truth is that not all skinheads are violent. They do community projects and things that make them attractive to poor people. They preach pride, entitlement, and neo-empowerment. This is how they win so many recruits. They have NO competition except upper class charity organisations which don't look very attractive to a people who want empowerment and freedom from the system that makes fun of and exploits them. So if you care about stopping racism this is where you need to start. Confronting individual skinheads and kicking their ass only goes so far. Even if you scared him out of town, because of their collective recruitment efforts 5 more pop up in his place. Listen to the people who come from these neighborhoods, then you'll start to understand the vicious cycles. It's not something you can read about and walk with your nose in the air thinking you understand. Most of the anti-racist (mostly upper class, formally educated) activists I have talked with about this are totally clueless and arrogant in their ignorance.

discussion 08.Aug.2004 17:25

mb

I work with a local anti-imperialist study group we'll be holding discussions next month. We all work for a living. I can't get to detailed cause some punks will try and shut us down, or flood it with haters. My email is  mb@resist.ca if you email me I'll write you when we get the where and whens worked out.

JEMMA from NM?? 09.Aug.2004 00:10

siren

What is the appropriate response to privledge then?

I would also love to talk with Jemma from NM. I am from NM too and would love to talk to you.

RE: Uliveinabubble 09.Aug.2004 11:35

Working Class Mama

I will concede that america consumes too much of what it doesn't need. It consumes so much that my family lives off of it's leftovers. But it does not provide needs very well. Your attitude is all too typical of classist activists. You fail to see classism in your own backyard/mind. Maybe in the neighborhoods you grew up in your idea of poor is still fairly well off. I've lived in neighborhoods right here in Portland that look like the pictures you see on tv of "3rd world" countries. Houses/plywood shacks with large holes in them, children sleeping in the biodegrading boat in the backyard, no water, no electricity, mothers who can't afford childcare so they have an 8 yr old do it, etc, etc. Maybe it's easier for you to imagine that that sort of thing doesn't happen here in the good old US of A. The truth is not everyone in the U.S. is getting a piece of the pie. Welfare does not cover everybody and doesn't cover anyone adequately. Moreover that's just charity, not empowerment. People are being exploited under extreme conditions right here even in Portland. There are sweat shops, there are dangerous factories that haven't been inspected for decades(where people have died), day laborers being used to clean up radio active and toxic materials without protective gear or training, children working on farms with no legal protections, adults working on farms with no legal protections, (side note: yet upper class activists are only concerned with jobs where college students typically work, i.e. restaurants, etc.) I could go on and on. I realize it's much easier to fantasize about rescuing someone in a far off land that in reality you are almost powerless to do anything for. This doesn't challenge your societal status. You still get to keep your class and your backup family resources, nobody gets hurt and you don't have to feel guilty. Regardless of what you think, I want a better world for me and my family. What better way to slow U.S. consumption and exploitation than to empower those who are under the heal of it. If we can escape the system, then suddenly the system doesn't have slaves and therefore doesn't have power. But then maybe you don't want that. Maybe you want to continue thinking that that only happens somewhere else so you can play activist for a few years and settle down when you get your trust fund/inheretance/phd.
My point is you can't write us off so easily. I want out of this system. I want a more sustainable existance within a community of support. You can either support that or get the fuck out the way.

SIREN 09.Aug.2004 16:08

jemma

email me:  b17rio@yahoo.com looking forward to it...

So I guess I mis-spoke when I said that "college is the breeding ground of the middle class" because that's totally not necessarily true. For those of us who have gone into debt in the attempt to get an education, that's one more thing that the ruling class holds over us. Debt in general seems to function that way. For instance, my coworker keith is deeply in debt because his girlfriend and kids lived on credit when keith was put in jail for a few months- now the interest compounds faster than he can earn (at 7.50 an hour, and three kids). Someone told me that "they'll put you in debt, or jail, or both" if you're poor and thats a truth. Brings a whole new light to those debtors' rebellions back in the 1780s- they were being put forward as the basis for revolutionary change in this (new) country.

I think this whole IWW/Calendula thing sucks. I know a bunch of people in the kitchen as well as Craig, the guy who started it- and it really makes me mad that the IWW is demanding things impossible for this new cafe to provide which will run the thing out of business. No one in the kitchen is a part of this so called "labor- struggle" - no it's made up soley of the best-paid people at the cafe.bah!!!

To working class momma, I think you're really onto something and we should all pull something together. Do you have a specific vision?

My musical tastes 12.Aug.2004 00:56

Bood Samel rise3141@hotmail.com

Next to my death in june CDs are my crass CDs. While I don't care to get into a debate about noise and apocalyptic folk, remember that it also occult and religous music. Most fans of that music are satanists,chaos magickians, thelemites, and practitioners of other types of darker occult/religous traditions.

When I encounter nazis (which isn't often)their usualy sad poor white trash kids who want to fit in with somebody. I don't condemn them. I let it be on an immediate level, but try to give them conceptual trojan horses. Tell them about all the weird SS occult stuff,the thule society, or the real context of the term aryan. Tell them about the nazi connections with Tibet and india, and how high caste indians are more aryan then most white people. Most kids claiming to be nazis really know very little about it. If you told most of them that the nazi party was started by an occult order (thule society)who thought that the aryan people were the remains of half-angel godmen from Atlantis they'd most likely get freaked out. Let their ideas crumble by their own hands.