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July 2012
30

Um No…Everyone Doesn’t View Marriage In The Same Way

I’ve heard some people suggest that most women would have accepted the marriage proposal that a man who abandoned a woman (and their baby) to die during the Aurora theatre shooting, offered her after the fact.

NO.

Not every woman worships marriage and a ring beyond anything else. True…single women are stigmatized and disrespected, while heteronormative coupling is worshiped as the gold standard. I don’t deny this. At the same time, the notion of a being happy about a wedding proposal by any means necessary escapes me. I don’t worship marriage. I don’t even worship dating/coupling.

Some suggest that we would have to be in the situation before making a judgment on whether or not such a proposal would be acceptable. I disagree. This is a values dilemma over an experience one (though values impact experiences and experiences shape values).

An experience dilemma arises when various idiots suggest that if everyone at the theatre had guns, the terrorist could have been stopped. This makes the assumption that having a gun makes one an effective sniper, that everyone there wouldn’t start shooting everyone else—-hitting innocent people along the way, and worse, that the perception of bravery matches actual bravery. Playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty is not experience as far as how to handle a terrorist act as it is occurring. Body armor, gas, automatic weapons and the sheer element of surprise gave the terrorist James Holmes the advantage. So did chaos and mass panic. White privilege is why he was not seen as a threat at any point in his life until the attack itself. The illusion that everyone there could go into battle mode and eliminate the terrorist without harm to themselves and others is inaccurate and reveals an experience dilemma.

Accepting marriage by any means necessary is a values dilemma. And, every woman doesn’t put marriage on a pedestal to the point that even when a man doesn’t care if she dies, he’s still a worthy partner.

This is not saying that this woman is a “bad” person. Not…at…all. Many women endure a lifetime of abuse by men who don’t care if they die AND these men are the ones inflicting the threats daily. That physical abuse and psychological warfare is bad as well.

However, I find the assumption that all women would run after this kind of proposal problematic. This man abandoned her. Conversely, three other men died trying to help their partners. Strangers helped each other. A stranger helped her. Thus, the possibility of help existed in that situation.

If I have ended relationships and denied proposals for much less by men who did care if I live, I’m aware of my values regarding marriage. I don’t have to be abandoned and left to die and then receive a proposal in order to know that’s not acceptable to me. Again, I don’t worship marriage, so a proposal by any means necessary is not an honor, wish or desire for me. (To be fair, differing values and experiences means that even the possibility of such a proposal being offered to me is fairly small. But, the context of the proposal can be examined. I’m interested in the context of this proposal itself, more so than anything against this woman specifically/personally.)

This doesn’t make me “better” than this woman. I don’t know what shaped her values prior and I don’t know what experiences she had prior. We all have our choices to make in life, and we have the right to make them.

I simply reject the notion that a shared negative event produces the same desires and wants in victims since the differing and divergent values and experiences individuals had prior still impact their perceptions and decisions afterward. Her ideas and values regarding marriage were shaped before that night.

July 2012
23

The High Cost Of Protecting Institutions and Ideologies Over Individuals

Americans have been known to place the sanctity of institutions, whether actual ones or ideologies, above the safety and rights of individuals. (Ahem…everything from slavery to the Penn State cover up to protect sports culture.) No matter how many sermons, speeches and laws claim to care about the individual, preservation of institutions and ideologies—even to the detriment of individuals—reigns supreme. To many Americans, ideologies always matter more than individuals, especially when such ideologies confer cultural hierarchy and reinforce White supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy.

The reason why (despite the spree of violence that terrorist James Holmes brought down on Aurora, Colorado, killing and injuring other Whites as well) many Whites rush to defend James Holmes’ character, his past scholarship, personality, or mental health is because the very validity of White supremacy, the open acknowledgement of White privilege and the notion of racism-motivated blanket labeling of people of colour, in relation to crime, is under the microscope. With such responses, it becomes clear that the protection of the ideologies that dominate the institutions that impact all Americans is more important than the individuals themselves, even when the individuals are White victims (and the only people that are viewed as full individuals anyway, as I mentioned in a highly shared tweet). 

When Whites suggest that discussing race in relationship to this act of terrorism is somehow demeaning the lives and injuries of the victims, they know this is a lie and a silencing tactic. They know that between a Black president, the violent and hateful rhetoric of the Tea Party, Jared Lee Loughner, George Zimmerman and now James Holmes, the false narrative of their cultural superiority, including a false claim of a lower propensity for violence is crumbling at the seams, taking hits from all sides. Their numerical superiority is even crumbling, as the Census Bureau recently revealed. This doesn’t mean that their political power and the power associated with White supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy has evaporated, but throughout history, any challenge to this has been met with everything from social denial to orchestrated violence.

July 2012
21
Brouhaha on Twitter Yesterday…
I’m not famous, so maybe something “popular” in my stream gets 50 retweets. Usually, 1-25. But over 2500? Apparently, people can relate. They understand. (I actually sent a lot of tweets yesterday, in regard to the shooting, not just this one.)
They understand that I of course DO NOT view people in the highly negative monolithic way that the media, the government (from politicians to actual legislation) and a great deal of the populace do…and I used such statements in my tweet to illustrate the absurdity of the existence of these assumptions in the first place. They know that the word “but”, the word “just,” the question mark, and the use of the statement “please” is to illustrate the juxtaposition between monolithic labeling in relation to religion/race (the Muslim and Black mention in the tweet) and crime, and how that differs from how White people are viewed…as individuals. They understand the context of the tweet that I used to create the comparison to speak to the injustice that starts and ends with labels.
Now a few people had a problem understanding the CONTEXT of my tweet. They only read the words, with no regard to context. Thus, they assume that the tweet itself is racist, instead of understanding what the context of the tweet is actually commenting on—White privilege. (Yesterday I wrote a post titled White Privilege and Criminal Justice.) When I talked to my best friend on the phone last night about all of this, she brought up a point that helps to explain some of the problems (a few) people had understanding this tweet. IF a person actually already believes in the monolithic view of Muslims and Black people in relation to crime AND they miss (whether inadvertently or on purpose) the contextual narrative my tweet conveys, they will then assume I simply stated the racist beliefs that they themselves have, but never (can) publicly state. Then, what I tweeted is “racist” to them only because I got to voice it, not because of the core reasons they misinterpreted it in the first place…reasons in this case, that go beyond grammar.
It just makes me think of something Jon Stewart alluded to once. You cannot control how people interpret what you say. You can only control how you voice it. People can inadvertently or willfully choose to misinterpret what you say.
I…do think it is interesting that only 1 Black person (of the thousands that retweeted this) misinterpreted what I said. They knew what I was saying even if they don’t know me. Only a few people with location (on their Twitter profile) in the Middle East misunderstood, and that may be because some of the nuances of English were lost. Conversely, others with that same location actually thanked me for speaking out. The only ones who did what I mentioned in the 3rd paragraph were White. Hmm.

Brouhaha on Twitter Yesterday…

I’m not famous, so maybe something “popular” in my stream gets 50 retweets. Usually, 1-25. But over 2500? Apparently, people can relate. They understand. (I actually sent a lot of tweets yesterday, in regard to the shooting, not just this one.)

They understand that I of course DO NOT view people in the highly negative monolithic way that the media, the government (from politicians to actual legislation) and a great deal of the populace do…and I used such statements in my tweet to illustrate the absurdity of the existence of these assumptions in the first place. They know that the word “but”, the word “just,” the question mark, and the use of the statement “please” is to illustrate the juxtaposition between monolithic labeling in relation to religion/race (the Muslim and Black mention in the tweet) and crime, and how that differs from how White people are viewed…as individuals. They understand the context of the tweet that I used to create the comparison to speak to the injustice that starts and ends with labels.

Now a few people had a problem understanding the CONTEXT of my tweet. They only read the words, with no regard to context. Thus, they assume that the tweet itself is racist, instead of understanding what the context of the tweet is actually commenting on—White privilege. (Yesterday I wrote a post titled White Privilege and Criminal Justice.) When I talked to my best friend on the phone last night about all of this, she brought up a point that helps to explain some of the problems (a few) people had understanding this tweet. IF a person actually already believes in the monolithic view of Muslims and Black people in relation to crime AND they miss (whether inadvertently or on purpose) the contextual narrative my tweet conveys, they will then assume I simply stated the racist beliefs that they themselves have, but never (can) publicly state. Then, what I tweeted is “racist” to them only because I got to voice it, not because of the core reasons they misinterpreted it in the first place…reasons in this case, that go beyond grammar.

It just makes me think of something Jon Stewart alluded to once. You cannot control how people interpret what you say. You can only control how you voice it. People can inadvertently or willfully choose to misinterpret what you say.

I…do think it is interesting that only 1 Black person (of the thousands that retweeted this) misinterpreted what I said. They knew what I was saying even if they don’t know me. Only a few people with location (on their Twitter profile) in the Middle East misunderstood, and that may be because some of the nuances of English were lost. Conversely, others with that same location actually thanked me for speaking out. The only ones who did what I mentioned in the 3rd paragraph were White. Hmm.

July 2012
21

Aurora Theater Shooting = Terrorism

If in another country, a citizen opened fire on citizens of that same country, and booby trapped his home to kill law enforcement, the action would be viewed as “political” and it most certainly would be called a terrorist action. This exact action occurred in America. It can’t be called terrorism here (unless the assailant is the “appropriate” race for that label) but change the latitude and longitude (and ahem…race) and then it is? When something awful like this occurs abroad by someone domestic (or foreign) to that place, it is called terrorism.

Some (mainly Whites) argue that an action has to be “political” to be terrorism. (One even suggested to me that since James Holmes didn’t shoot up a federal building, it isn’t terrorism. What? By that definition, neither are roadside bombs.) But politics is more than just “voting” and “elections.”

I like how Melissa Harris-Perry approaches the word “politics” in her book Sister Citizen. She makes the claim that internal, psychological, emotional and personal experiences can be political.

If you ask most people what they think of when they hear the word politics, they are likely to give a definition that includes voters, parties, elections, public policy; and process of contestation and representation. But formal participation in the government is only one part of a more encompassing effort to be recognized within the nation. The struggle for recognition is the nexus of human identity and national identity, where much of the most important work of politics occurs.

The idea that politics is something seperate from personal lives and choices is a false one. If it were, LGBT people wouldn’t be fighting for marriage, a personal and political institution. The Loving v. Virginia case wouldn’t have had to exist. The personal is political. And personal motives (say the motives of James Holmes) can have inherent politicization.  

Even so, was not Gabby Giffords an elected official when she was shot? At a political event? Arizona District Court Judge John Roll died. Wasn’t he in political office? And weren’t others there actively participating in “politics” under the rigid definition that some Whites (at least the ones who tweeted/talked to me) and the media want to allow? Yet the media, the government and the much public at large still do not fully associate that action by Jared Lee Loughner as terrorism. Thus, I know it is not about what “terrorism” means or what “politics” mean. White privilege makes White people feel compelled to play semantic warfare with me. Question my intelligence. Redefine words. (This makes me think of what William C. Rhoden calls The Jockey Syndrome.) Determine that nothing I say is valid without their approval. Anything to make sure that the harsh labeling and monolithic application of labels associated with crime remains among minorities only. Using White privilege…to debate White privilege?

(A common example of semantic warfare occurs in conversations about undocumented immigrants. Many Whites claim that they’re only upset about their “legal” status, not race. Interesting…since my father is a legal immigrant from Jamaica, yet encountered racism all of his adult life here. He’s 69. I know better than to assume a legal status that other people can’t see on sight is what their anger is about, versus the bigotry that it really is.)

A woman (somewhat jokingly…it later seemed) tweeted me that she hates being White. I replied to her that she shouldn’t hate being White, (that’s not the answer, it is self-destructive, and solves nothing) but hate White privilege, White supremacy, and racism, stay educated on it and speak out against it. There’s White people who do this. Some of them, I follow on Twitter. There’s no point in hating yourself. Speaking out against what is individually, systemically or institutionally racist (or any other “ism”) is possible for everyone, including Whites.

Some people think that discussing race is “more racist” than racism itself, which is so ridiculous that I genuinely have a hard time mentally processing it. They think discussing how White privilege permeates every facet of society means that those who discuss it hate White people. (I LOVE individuals, I hate oppressive systems and ideologies.) This is the result of ignorance or sometimes maliciousness (people who know how important these conversations for are change, but conflate them with hatred for Whites as a silencing tactic.)

I don’t hate anyone. I don’t want this violence and suffering for anyone. I can’t be silent or apathetic though. The notion that if I never speak about race, challenge racism, and engage in varying levels of awareness, advocacy and activism, somehow racism won’t affect me, is false. It’s the one of the worst lies that both Whites and many minority people believe.

Media labeling and images impact us. It is beyond naive to assume that it does not. Media affects perception. Perception affects action. Action affect legislation. Legislation affects culture. Culture affects media.

Call the event what it is. Terrorism. Or, don’t use the word at all, for anyone. (Language can be a tool of freedom or one used to oppress. Thus, some will never admit that this word can include the action of Whites.) But the idea that terrorists can only be a race that isn’t White, is pointless labeling and in fact just a slur then, not a social or “political” term.

I worry for the families of victims and wish them peace. You never really get over the loss of someone you love. You do learn to live with the pain and remember the joy…in time. These victims did not deserve the act of domestic terrorism that they suffered that night.

Related Post: White Privilege and Criminal Justice

July 2012
20

White Privilege and Criminal Justice

Like most people, I feel angered, disgusted, outraged, annoyed, disappointed and many other emotions in regards to shooting that occurred in Colorado at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. While many people think that this is a time to be silenced about race, how can I be? Race is all over this thing. Anyone who thinks it is not is playing “colourblind” (a form of “evolved” racism, common to Liberals) or in denial (how many Conservatives act when a crime is committed by someone White).

I submitted my fifth submission, #776, to the This Is White Privilege Tumblr blog, and it was about how White privilege effects criminal justice, and most certainly relates to this tragedy.  

White privilege is not having to be a perfect person to deserve justice as a victim. Example: Trayvon Martin

White privilege is not having to have your whole family behave gracefully at all times (after a loss due to crime, able to be fully human and express the plethora of emotions that accompany the five stages of grief), to prove that you and other victims/families who look like you have “earned” the right to justice, something that’s supposedly automatically constitutionally guaranteed for all citizens. Example? Trayvon Martin’s parents.

White privilege is the luxury of being considered a “lone gunman” and not having your entire culture blamed and pathologized as the reason for one person’s crime. “Lone gunman” vs. “those/you people are inherently violent.” Example: The Dark Knight Rises shooting and Columbine style shootings versus ANY crime committed by someone Black.

White privilege is being able to commit acts of terrorism, both domestic (ahem…the recent shooting) and foreign, and never be labeled as a terrorist.

White privilege is not having intraracial crime labeled as “White on White” crime, despite the fact that ALL racial groups have a higher incidence of crime where the race (and often socioeconomic status, and general community/location) of both criminal and victim are the same.

White privilege is knowing that you won’t receive an “extra” long sentence or greater potential of death row for killing someone Black.

White privilege is not breaking into a cold sweat, increased heart rate, lack of focus or full-fledged anxiety attack whenever you see a cop, are being followed by a cop or are pulled over by a cop.

As I tweeted earlier today: 

Times like these ARE the right times to talk about race. It does not take away from caring for the victims and their poor families who lose their lives in such violence. I can walk and chew gum.

My other This Is White Privilege blog submissions: #739, #726, #686, #569

Related Posts: Social Justice and Cultural Hierarchy, Race and Crime - Myths Debunked