White Racism: The Major Obstacle To A United Left
Why hasn't the Left been effective...at any thing other than PR?
George Jackson, Blood In My Eye..."The major obstacle to a united left in this country is white racism. There are three categories of white racists: the overt, self-satisfied racist who doesn't attempt to hide his antipathy; the self-interdicting racist who harbors and nurtures racism in spite of his best efforts; and the unconscious racist, who has no awareness of his racist preconceptions...the self-interdicting racist, no matter what his acquired conviction or ideology, will seldom be able to contribute with his actions in any really concrete way. His role in revolution, barring a change of basic character, will be minimal throughout..."
George Jackson's words in 1971. How could something said so long ago have such perfect applicability to today? How could so few understand processes so evident to their victim/inferiors, yet continue to deny the existence of such conditions?
"Minimal throughout", is a phrase one could use to describe the Left and its contributions to real change. Racism effectively shackles any constructive response to the system, because deep in the soul of the white activist, their identification with racism/white supermacy appears, veiled, yet absolute. George Jackson recognized it in his day and the disease is still present. The only blacks or other people of color desired are the controllable mascot/mammy/magical negro type.
The response of self-identified lefties is to question the sanity of any person of color who doesn't drop to their knees and lick their tofu hemroids. I question the Lenscrafters of the lefties I see, hear and interact with in Portland and I demand that you look in the mirror quick, if you can find it. Once we deal with your astigmatism, we can perhaps deal with mine.
Just last night, a white woman who is a PDX transplant was talking about how Portland is this great "facade," that appears groovy on the outside and is reactionary and close-minded in the gooey center. Fuck, the political action component of this equation: that's small potatoes. We're talking, if we're talking correctly, about people who are prancing around in a dreamworld and who don't want to be awakened. And sleepwalkers are incredibly dangerous, especially to those who attempt to wake them.
Ralph Ellison in his masterpiece, "Invisible Man," talks about the invisibility of black people as a condition of whiteness, a condition afflicting white people. We black folks are perfectly visible; the blindspot that causes white folks to not see us, to act as if we aren't here, causes them to brutalize us accidentally on purpose - is internal. It used to be called "the Negro problem." We were the problem people and white folks needed to figure out how to fix us. The converse is true; the problem people are the white folks. But still, many whites attempt to brand people of color the problem. Lani Guiner speaks of us being the "Miner's canary', the ones who call out the poison in the culture. And we are condemned by those who want to maintain the status quo, who don't want the poison to stop poisoning us.
We raise our voice and tell them that they are behaving in a racist manner, that even they can manifest virulent racism...And they are incapable of believing that they are or could be racist. I have been told - repeatedly, no matter what tone of voice, no matter how polite or impolite, no matter what words I use to describe what I see - that I am blind. Whenever black folks raise their voice in protest, they are condemned, be it MLK, Malcolm X, Stokely, Angela Davis, Cynthia McKinney. We always crazy.
Is it possible to help white folks who aren't inclined to see? There has to be, the planet is depending on it.
There is a wonderful resources online - "How to suppress discussions on racism" ( http://coffeeandink.livejournal.com/607897.html) that is not only hilarious, but painfully true. The pathology of whites who are challenged about racism triggers a plethora of tactical responses that are used to parry, repel, muddy the water, misdirect, kill the messenger and a thousand other spontaneous behaviors unified in their ability to torpedo conversations on racism. These methods are so consistent that Coffee and Dink has literally written a book on how white folks fight the power of the racism allegation. Shockingly, what Portland has taught me - and I came here with high hopes - is that no matter what political stripe, there is a unified field of racism/white supremacy that is deeper than I had come close to imagining. And it feels like a group psychosis.
I urge those of you who claim to be liberal, progressive, have positions in lefty media or are otherwise leaders in your community: check yourselves. I truly believe that, like George Jackson, when whites deal with the racism in their marrow, then and only then will they be able to create solutions that solve and provide answers that answers (RIP Fred Hampton). Until then, anything that you all do will be teathered to earth by the racism you were fed on in-vitro. Don't believe me, ask one of the unsmiling, non-shuffling black people you know. Or, look for the white transplant who isn't laughing along with the hipster hippies in-jokes on Mississippi.
I know it sucks to have someone black call you out. How do you think it feels to experience it?
I'm calling on all white people to consider themselves racist until proven innocent. Consider that racism/white supremacy permeates EVERY institution of this country, the educational system, the media, all of it. There is no escaping it and if you are not actively engaged in a ferreting out and cleansing process - 24muthafucking7 - you are a non-racist in name only. Non-racists are made, not born and they are made not by reading a couple of bell hooks tomes. This isn't simply or merely an intellectual problem; this is a whole-person, spiritual issue. Its a lifetime process to heal. It takes honesty, guts, courage. Few have it. Do you?
When are we going to have a teach-in on racism/white supremacy in the Left? I wonder if any local lefty organization would sponsor such a thing? I don't expect it, thus, I advocate POC's doing there own thing as much as possible.
***Black folks and other people of color are going to have to create solidarity amongst each other. We are going to have to heal our communities, even with this gorilla of racism on our back. We can do it. We need to mend OUR colored relations and develop strategies to deal with the ills in our communities, as well as the racist in the sheet or the tie-dye shirt.
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