Thursday, September 14, 2006

A European-American Sets Me Straight (2)

"I find it very sad," Ms White went on in an email to which I began responding in an earlier post, "that you, as a white person, have chosen the path of self-loathing and self-hatred in order to sacrifice yourself at the altar of an ill-fated agenda."

Now, as those of you who read this blog regularly know, I choose to avoid referring to myself as a "White" person. I find the construct of "Whiteness" to be misleading. It implies that "Whiteness" is natural and acceptable, rather than socially-constructed and ignominious. So as soon as she addresses me as a "White" person, we're already talking two completely different languages.

Then, of course, she asserts that I am suffering from "self-loathing" and "self-hatred." This is rather like a German Nazi in 1941 castigating a German who doesn't believe in using death camps for not loving their "race." Excuse me? It would appear that Ms White is saying that I need to hate and persecute others in order to love myself. Which sounds really, really sick. In fact, it seems to me that if I can't love myself fully, embracing all that is me, while celebrating all that is represented by all other life on earth (including other humans), then perhaps I've missed the point about being alive period. Those who must destroy and degenerate others to feel acceptable manifest in a most obvious way their own sense of inadequacy. This is why they really must attack. They know no other way to feel beautiful. Even though they are. Which is a shame, particularly considering what has had to happen to them to bring them to that conclusion and especially since no one but they themselves can break the chains of their mental slavery.

One can only imagine what she means by "an ill-fated agenda." What might she possibly think my "agenda" could be? To place people of color in domination over European-Americans (as if I wanted to go from one system of oppression to another)? To take away all her goodies and give them to people living in storm drains in Haiti (not a bad idea, really, but hardly my "agenda")? Why do I have to have an "agenda" at all? What if I just hold these truths to be self-evident: that all humans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What if I just value truth, peace, and freedom for all peoples? What if I just espouse principles such as "honesty," "openmindedness" to reality (as opposed to mindlessly following the party line), and "willingness" to grow spiritually and be useful? What if I really believe that what goes around, comes around? Lots of people say they believe that, but you can tell by examining their lives, attitudes, and behaviors that they do not. Ms White, for example, who continues:

"To offer one self (sic) up in this manner is not only tragic but humiliating. Those who advocate this line of thinking for white people are not only self-serving but truly racist."

Here I become befuddled. "To offer oneself up" would seem to me to be the antithesis of anything "self-serving." Admittedly, a bank robber seeking 15 minutes of fame by engaging in a police shoot-out might be said to be simultaneously "offering herself up" and "self-serving." But how would I be typifying that kind of go-for-broke insanity? I am writing about what's in the best interests of the human race rather than what appears superficially to be in the best interests of one minority group (European-Americans and "White" people in general being a distinct minority in the overall world population). And, certainly, the human race does, in fact, include me, yes. But Ms White calls what I'm doing "tragic" and "humiliating." She appears to see my assumption that all humans are ipso facto deserving of basic human rights and considerations somehow degrading to herself as a "White" person. If I follow her thinking, she would seem to suggest that seeing "White" as superior and more deserving of privilege is not only appropriate, but altruistic (the opposite of "self-serving"). "Huh...?" you might grunt. That's right. According to Ms White, "White" people who see and treat people of color as inferior must be actually just accepting them as they are and looking out for them.

This is not a new idea. Europeans who first constructed the concept of "race" did so for capitalistic reasons--they smelled money and they wanted it. But they understood that in order to stand the test of time, the concept would have to be couched in protective coloration, if you will. Such as religious acceptability (people of color would be better off as "Christians" than as anything else). Or "scientific" "research" (in publications supported by and provided to those with the power to define, "finding" people of color to have smaller brains or a "culture of poverty"). Or morality (people of color need "White" people to "take care of" them, just as women need men to "take care of" them--skip that people of color have been taking care of "White" folks for centuries and women have been taking care of men for milennia).

Since I fly in the face of this type of reasoning, Ms White sees me as a threat to the paradigm into which we've all been born, a world view that people who look like me are superior and therefore should rightly dominate everyone else. If this is a tragic and humiliating stance for me to take, in her opinion, then I stand tragically and humiliated with all those others she would reduce summarily as being less deserving of life's joys than she is herself. The unfortunate reality, of course, is that people who think like Ms White are typically joyless, rather than happy, and in view of the fact that their money-driven, self-aggrandizing, and bitterly myopic perspectives would drive the human race into mass collective suicide, I can only say that I'll dance on her grave in a red dress before I'll sit idly by and let her and her ilk lead us all into ultimate extinction.


Frederick said...

I can't help but think of Rome, where Africans, Italians, Germans, Semites, Greeks, Persians and Turks were all equals within the same class. Hell, even Pope Victor was an African. People who toil under these notions of superiority give away their underlying flaws of self confidence and self worth.

Peacechick Mary said...

Some of us ride on the crest of true Democracy while others are bottom feeders who never know the joys of real freedom. Poor Mrs. White and others like her are enslaved by their own mind traps.

Each-1-Teach-1 said...

Oh boy, this is way better than any reality show, in fact it's way more real. Sadly there are so many others that think like Ms White, that are not even European American, but that have been socialized to embrace whiteness and oppress the rest. Sadness is all that comes to mind right now, sadness that might transform into anger if ever face to face with someone so beneath the human touch.

changeseeker said...

Yes. Yes. And more yes.

(to Fred, Mary, and each-1 teach-1)

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

I stand tragically humiliated with you my friend. i am tragically humiliated by a humanity that cannot release itself from the throes of bigotry. From the onslaught of racism. From the useless worth of skin color over heart and mind. Ms White sees me as a threat to the paradigm into which we've all been born, a world view that people who look like me are superior and therefore should rightly dominate everyone else. Bang! Sing it sister! Sing it loud! Warble over the din of inequity and ignorance!


Professor Zero said...

I'd say Mrs. White is silly, pay no attention to her, if I had not met so many people who 'reason' exactly as she does. It is amazing.

Friday Dialogue said...

Most excellent post!

changeseeker said...

Peace to you, too, Poetryman. What a joy to have a visiting poet stop by from time to time. Makes me feel rather like a pioneer living far removed, but who has well-loved visitors brightening up her life. I'm not physically in the hinterland, but psychologically, emotionally, and even in certain senses, socially, I am living on the edges, as it were, of the human experience. At least as the human experience presents itself in 2006. It is good to know that there are others of us out here, good hearts and wise souls who bring each other sustenance for the spirit so we won't fall off the path and lose our way.

Stay tuned, PZ, she gets better. :^) I thought I could handle this in two or three posts, but I can barely deal with a paragraph at a time, so it may take somewhat longer. It's like job security, though, I guess, in a bizarre way. At least I know what I'm going to write about. I just have to find the time to write. Right? :^)

Thanks, Maxjulian. I'm liking taking Ms White's email a bite a time. It allows me to savor more fully her thoughts...and my own.

billie said...

here! here!

Hillary for President said...


what you do is talk and talk about how disadvantae POCs (Peoples of Colour) our. what you never ever talk about is the Mislams or Scientologiests or Ladys. Look, what Hillary CLinton four President, it is POCs, Ladys, and Mislams what will find equal.

Serious, we will rerite herstory and fix the lye's what the white male rite too being with.

Cocacy said...

Excellent, excellent blog. Look forward to reading many of your posts!

changeseeker said...

Thanks, betmo.

H4P: I'm interested in "power relations," so that sometimes results in my referring to gender-related issues and/or others. But African-American/European-American relations is my slice of the pie, as it were. I have more than enough to write about as it is, so I'll keep my focus, but I do hear you.

Welcome to my house, cocacy! Glad you like what you see here. I'll be returning the favor soon. I just barely sniffed around the edges over at your place and found much of interest. Thanks for stopping by.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Hello Changeseeker. This was a fantastic post! I'm visiting from Professor Zero's place.

Society would have many of us believe that this sort of thinking is a thing of the past. I see it daily in the faces of people during my commute and here at work. For example, last year my company (85% White) launched a company wide survey that asked employees to list 18 items in order of importance (family, pay, health care, etc.) This list also included work place diversity and equal opportunity employment. The end results showed diversity at number 17 and equal opportunity employment at number 18. These items were in my top 10. I really like your blog and what your doing to address issues of race here in America.

changeseeker said...

Stephen, that's a great anecdote and, unfortunately, a graphic example of everything some of us already know only too well. Yet Ms White (and her buddies) maintain a denial so rabid it's apparent that even they don't believe themselves. You can tell because of how hard they work not to see the truth. Reminds me of a ten-year-old with her fingers in her ears chanting, "I'm not listening. I'm not listening."