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The self anointed and appointed “ally”

December 29, 2010

My first official post, as a co-blogger at AROOO, was about what is “passing” as female. I wrote that in response to the bitter hatred trans”women” (I put the word woman in quotes because it has not yet been defined by me which makes what I’m saying way to open to interpretation without it, more on this soon,) displayed at tmp in particular, and fab women, in general. I focused specifically on males appropriating femaleness and the experiences, which are fab specific, of women. I wrote something personal and troublesome for me. It was not a cake walk to find that image or to process the emotions viewing that image caused.

My blog posts after were black female specific, Privilege and being a “woc” and Blatant Lies and Cooptation.  They covered the inviziblization of black female oppression and discrimination and linked to posts by Margie that addressed, in much greater detail, the point that there are words and actions that erase our experiences and oppression as black women, same with other non-white women.  That said, having explained myself and carefully pointing out two additional resources for understanding, I felt confident that my views on terms and actions that inviziblize black womens oppression, were clear and understandable.

References, by white women, to white folks as european began to pop up in the comments section in the What “passes” for “female” thread that made me uncomfortable. For the record I made a promise to myself that will not suffer discomfort from white ignorance without saying something.  I say things in my own way and time, btw.  So, keeping that in mind, I simply stated, at the time, that we should be calling folks what they are, and as aforementioned, felt confident that my views on terms/actions that oppress and erase the oppresion and discrimination of black women were understood and available etc. What has happened from there is absolutely shameful, especially from someone claiming to be both anti-racist and an ally of black women… which brings me to my point:

You do not get to anoint or appoint yourself an ally to black women.
You do not get to anoint or appoint yourself an ally to black women.
You do not get to anoint or appoint yourself an ally to black women.

Was three times enough? Is that clear enough?

The commens section at what passes as female will reveal a convo about how to properly reference me, as a black woman. You will notice that those comments do not suggest solidarity or respect of my naming and preference in naming myself or referencing myself as a black woman. What exists, instead, is an example of a white woman using black women she was friends with 25 years ago to silence a black woman today.

I know that privilege is confusing and frustrating, especially when you have it in your mind that you have been ally #1. I get that, but is it really a symptom of confusion to use outdated references to something black women, allegedly, told you 25 years ago when a black woman has said she is black and wishes to be called such, today? Directly?

This reminds me of something the “native american” white woman, former co-worker, said to me a while back. She said that my opinions and understandings on race were because I was raised black vs her “black friend” (the black women she called into existence to silence me) who was “raised white” (meaning not as critical of her racism and whiteness as I am)  with “white values” and understandings of “race relations.” For those of you who don’t get it, she was basically appointing herself as an ally (being “native” and having a black friend and engaging me in a discussion about her whiteness after derailing and reframing it so its an attack on my black female experiences, understandings and truths on white women and their racism) and also as the authoritative and expert figure on “race relations” (what the FUCK) because her “black friend” said blah blah blah. Cause ya kno, in the white hetero and male supremacist world we live in, white “values” are virtuous “values” and are the only acceptable truth, according to whiteness. One need only look at the leading voice in “anti-racism” work and “efforts” to understand this, to see it as it is.

PSA to white women, finding (or creating from whole cloth) the “black friend” who agrees with and endorses your racism, is racism. You are not anti racist according to how many black women you think agree with your every racist white privileged word. The true anti-racism work lies in working through your whiteness and listening to a black woman who is telling you her truth, experience and preference in these situations.  It is NOT in aggressively restating that your actions aren’t racist, or whiteness or white privilege abuse. Privileged ppls need to honestly develop a listening posture when they are engaging oppressed ppl, and it needs to be the only posture. If you wanna challenge other obtuse racist white women on their use of terms that reference non-white women, fine. But do not show your ass to black women, who know better than you could ever hope to, about what it means to be black and female.

Its amazing to me how white women are just like their brothers/fathers when it comes to white privilege and racism.  The arrogance, the entitlements, the brazen declarations of how “great” an ally they are and how much a black woman is “missing out” on for not accepting their interpretation of “solidarity” and the “support” they’re willing to bestow upon us; regardless of whether or not that “solidarity” is worth the energy it takes to say the word, of black women and the ability to name ourselves and our oppression… it is the same, s-a-m-e same.

Don’t we have a right to call ourselves black if we so prefer? Even if that conflicts with what some black woman allegedly told you decades, or even hours ago?

The problem isn’t with how a black woman responds to your ignorant assertions, the problem is that you insist on using terms, and defending/explaining said usage. And I say allegedly because those black women whose existence you are using to validate your ignorance and Whiteness, aren’t present to describe what they said/didn’t say or how they meant what they said. I have some “news” for you ppl, black women, when talking to you, often use either the most “patient” (long suffering through your ignorance is not the same as “patience” and using the word patient repeatedly when talking to a black woman about how you feel about her experience(s) with the racist oppression and discrimination that certain terms mean for her isn’t at all whiteness… no not at all ***sarcasm) — means possible to interact with you or we use language that you can understand/identify with or we speak plainly without making sure we take good care of your feelings. There are others and I typically take the latter route, just in case you haven’t noticed, and do so after trying the long suffering thing, and watching it fail on you (general reference to white/identified women).  My experiences as a black woman have taught me that no matter how patient, kind, nice, polite and accommodating I am in my dealings and conversations with white women (and all men) if I do not outright agree or lick their ass about their fuckery I will be accused of not being all of (or being enough of) the above and more.

It really doesn’t matter how nice or polite a black woman is in her interactions with whiteness or in her descriptions of her experiences with whiteness. She must suck up to white supremacism, will be described as having been “raised white” with “white values” and understandings of “race relations” by those whites she is interacting with, OR she is portrayed and viewed as an aggressive, entitled person who expects others (whites she is interacting with) to “obey” her or “bow down” to her explanation of her truth and request to be named and identified by a term she feels represents her.

Is it really a call to obey to say “I am black, I want you to call me black and stop using words that exist primarily to erase my oppression?” Is it a call to “obey” when you (black women in particular) reject whitesplainin about the continued use and defense of terms that are offensive to you?  Because, you know, white women maintaining the myth that they are solidarity sister #1 (blue ribbon and ALL) is by far more important than their assertions meaning that they have stripped a black woman of her right to name herself (and request of others to do the same). For lack of a better example, atm, it is the race based equivalent, if you will, of judging never het lesbians as “virgins” for not having fucked males and when they express that they desire not to be measured according to het normativity, when you insist, defend, silence a black woman by not identifying her using terms she is comfortable with or that she feels erase her experiences as a black woman under patriarchy and white supremacy.  I kno, I know more recently white women have taken to confusing black womens critique on racism with the abuse of male “women” within feminism and their cooptation of the same. I have been seeing it everywhere, but you see the difference is we are women! Just like lesbians are women, and both are women whose voices, oppression and concerns are NOT centralized in (white)feminism.

Thinking about all of this helped me to understand why it is so important to closely examine who you consider to be your political ally. Not all allies are created equal, and far too many of them exhibit self-righteousness and entitlements that aren’t a part of the job. Simply adding the words “anti racist” to your bio doesn’t make it true. Its through work, and that is lifelong and no you will not get cookies from me for saying you were being an “anti-racism” activist for the last bajillion years.  I would like to consider myself an ally to all women and all of the various ways in which they are oppressed and discriminated against. The difference between me and you (general) is that I recognize that no matter how much I care and how strongly I feel about the oppression and discrimination, faced by women other than myself, I have privileges and access that others do not (example: able bodied, literate, the ability to go to college, living in/bring raised in a “first world” nation and culture.) I recognise this, I respect it and I understand what it is like to have someone who doesn’t experience what you do/will appropriate your experiences and their validity as your own.

And when black women tell you that your attempts at solidarity don’t at all match true solidarity with them, or solidarity that is meaningful, and their struggles and oppression, a true ally would listen and consider and most importantly they will respect your boundaries and truth. This is not the same as obedience, but calling it such, or attempting to present it as such, is a convenient derail of any and all discussions on the oppression, discrimination and erasure of black women from so-called “feminist” discourse. A white woman who really is an ally would not take to defamation, slander and refraiming what a black woman said about her whiteness to look like an attack against anything but whiteness and the erasure of black female specific oppression. None of us owe you white women kind critique on your whiteness and inherent racism. If you should be so fortunate to find a black woman who can “patiently” point out your racism and whiteness and the ways your actions/words/political motives erase their oppression, be appreciative. Do not expect or demand this treatment/reaction/response as the norm. We are not one monolithic body, you cannot use one (potentially imaginary) “black friend” to silence the rest of us, and when you do, you’re not an ally.

23 Comments
  1. December 29, 2010 9:26 pm

    Thanks for writing this, sis. I was actually thinking of writing something myself about it, because the incident really left a bad taste in my mouth. A while back, I had a blatant racist, Luckynkl, “quote” something she said Angela Davis told her in person in order to shut me up. And this recent episode reminded me a lot of that – I mean, the idea that something a couple of black women said to her 25 years ago has any relevance to a conversation about what a black woman wants to be called today is just absurd. And, no, it’s not ageist to maintain an awareness that whatever some young black woman said 25 years ago might not be the same thing she’d say today now that she’s no longer in her youth. And it’s not ageism to suggest that the political paths taken by black women 25 years ago may actually have influenced the choices black women make today. Certainly, when I think about the way that white people swooped in and appropriated terms like African-American and African-descended to refer to just about anyone on the planet – the many white South African colonizers I knew in college who called themselves African-American, the many white smart-asses who cite the fact that all human life began in Africa in order to justify saying that everyone on the planet is African – my choice to use the term ‘black’ is not at all uninfluenced by the terms black women chose in the past. The fact is, white people re-purposed those terms, and the women who did use them 25 years ago have/had in all likelihood also taken that into account at some point in the interceding quarter century.

    I know I’ve said before that the LAST thing I want any white woman doing in some ostensible gesture of “respect” toward ME is throwing any of what I’ve said in some other black woman’s face in order to “prove that black woman wrong” or “excuse” whatever it is she’s said that’s offended that black woman. Any white or non-black woman who would misuse my words in that way is not and has never been any kind of ally to me. And I know for a fact, the white woman in question would be highly offended if anyone took that kind of liberty with regard to butch lifelong lesbians. In fact, over at treesister’s blog, I saw it in action. Treesister (a straight woman) said something about there not being any such thing as real butch pride, taking what she’d seen a few butch lesbians write, and the woman who so “defiantly” refused to “obey” what you were saying and just had to “respect” her “black friends” from 25 years ago by throwing their words in your face stepped in quickly to tell Treesister that she had no right to repeat what she’d seen a few butch lesbians say, that it was disrespectful and misrepresentative.

    And, YES, sis, this idea that white women – or any woman in a position of privilege – gets to name *herself* an ally to those she oppresses is really just ridiculous; as is the idea that some random white woman who chances by the blog for a little while has any idea whatsoever who among the readers/participants actually is an ally and who’s just a reader/participant at the blog.

    • December 30, 2010 10:07 pm

      YES. And I have made that exact same point, sis. Angela Davis wanted white women RAPED. White women shouldn’t even hold that woman’s name on their tongues, let alone hold it there long enough to hurl it in the face of other black women.

      Any ole nigger will do to shut up the one who’s calin out my racism.

      Basically.

  2. December 29, 2010 11:49 pm

    As a matter of fact, I went back and looked at that thread at treesister’s, and it really is even more analogous than I thought! Treesister uses examples from the 70’s as justification for saying that butch dykes don’t have butch pride nowadays! And does the white woman in question just lie down and take it? Does she agree that she’s insisting that treesister “obey” her when she says that her interpretation of events from back in the 70’s have nothing to do with her making an offensive statement about butch lesbians today? NO! Of course not! She’s not going to accept some warmed over interpretation of what went on 30 or 40 years ago as an excuse for why this straight woman is offending lesbians NOW any more than Soulsis and I are going to accept some regurgitated 25-year-old stuff that black women she’s not even friends with any more said in the 80s as an excuse for why she’s offending black women NOW. But she sure got her hackles up here on this blog (and in countless emails) when it came to her dredging up decades old stuff in order to justify saying offensive stuff to/about black women now. Here’s the thread:

    http://treesister.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/natural-womanhood-part-three/#comments

    It really is a study in hypocrisy when juxtaposed with the recent happenings on this blog and the subsequent storm of emails trying to justify it and telling me that I’ll “never know what I’ve lost” in refusing to accept the “alliance” of a woman who has the guts not to submit to het women but who wants to stomp out the courage of the black women here to stand up to white women’s bullying. “Never know what I’ve lost” my ass.

  3. December 30, 2010 10:14 am

    I’m trying to keep this comment brief but not sure if I am pinning down my point, but what I’m trying to say is, as has been said before, there is an objection from white women in general to black women controlling the meaning of the words they use to define themselves, which is expressed in the idea that ‘politically correct’ terms are always changing, and white people cannot keep up with the twists and turns of what they are ‘supposed’ to say/not say. White people talk about how they used to be ‘allowed’ to say one thing and now the meaning of that word/phrase has changed and if they use it, they are going to look racist, which is so horribly unfair. Of course, the truth is that a non-black person using the term ‘coloured’ to describe black people, for example, is going to look racist, because they are. It’s a giveaway, really. It’s like when older people are given a free pass for their racist language and behaviour because ‘times have changed’ – but times haven’t really changed (there’s no less racism), just the code words for racism and the cover stories for racism have changed. I also think it’s a way white women test the waters with each other – use a term that they know is racist or ‘politically incorrect’, and see who picks it up or lets it go. If they are challenged, they use that defence of ‘oh, I can’t keep up with what I’m allowed to say’. Yes, that thing of being ‘allowed’, as if to suggest that black women somehow have the power to allow or disallow white women anything.

    The meaning of words changes all the time, new words are used all the time, and no one really has any trouble keeping up because that is the nature of language. But language that originates from black women is either immediately co-opted and stolen, or is ridiculed/dismissed. So I guess I’m saying I see this incident as part of that. It seems a very basic thing that anyone styling themselves an ally to black women should care about the language they use to describe black womanhood. And, it’s more than that, because it’s about who controls language – when white people control language, there isn’t any room within that language to describe/define/explore black female experience. So it is undeniably white male supremacist for a white woman to insist on using language that excludes/silences that experience. I find it very hard to believe that any white woman who is allied to black women for the last few decades has not heard black women referring to themselves as black women. So either she has encountered this language before and has dismissed/ignored it, or she hasn’t, which could only be because she has dismissed/ignored black women altogether.

    • December 30, 2010 11:08 pm

      So then, Margie, has to email her the links and does she read them and come back with anything different or constructive? Nope. Did she even read them at all? Not sure, don’t look like ot to me.

      Never looked like it to me either. The only thing I ever heard back from her on the race thing was her outrage that you’d spoken to her “like she was ignorant” and she wasn’t having it. Sounds to me like when she said herself, “So, I want to not offend, I want to support, and I want to fight racism. But I’m not sure what to do!” that she was admitting herself that she was ignorant (in addition to pulling the “god it’s so hard to keep up with black women’s language” thing that TBL pointed out). So, what, she can admit it herself but the thought that black women might also see it for ourselves is a travesty?

  4. Mary Sunshine permalink
    December 30, 2010 2:16 pm

    Hi Soulsis, Hi Margaret,

    I spotted this when it first went down here, but didn’t say anything. At that point, I was just too removed from any possibility of speaking to anybody on the internet.

    But, yeah.

    And thank you, thank you both for this thread and the brilliant detailed (patient!) articulation.

    • December 30, 2010 11:09 pm

      Careful, Mary. There are white women who would say you’re “sucking up” to me by simply noticing these things. 😛

  5. December 30, 2010 3:04 pm

    Even though I am a Native American and raised to value that aspect of myself. Growing up and living my life has taught me that I am white.
    I understand the invisibility that many people who are biracial feel and the devaluation of our identity is something that can be hard for many white people to face.
    I think recognizing that race is a social construct puts this into perspective (or should anyway) because at the end of the day, although my makeup and earliest memories are of one experience, living in this society has made me white. I’m always confused that people seem to cling to those aspects of themselves without any understanding of what being white means. When I go to the grocery store I’m read as a white woman, thats all it means. It means passing as “default”.
    I recently got into an awful mud-slinging match with a typical macho dick who called himself Mexican to get out of being labelled a “typical white guy” (although the convo hadn’t gone there yet, he was just being pre-emptive I guess). I pointed out that this man is white. He then proceeded to tell me he was Cherokee (oh gee, me and half the other white people in ‘merica as well). I carefully told him that he’s white and needs to deal with it.
    White people (especially white women) don’t want to be identified as oppressors. They (even me sometimes) want to be good guys who don’t hurt or oppress anyone.

    But moving on from that, I’ve also found that its common for white women to tokenize a particular black woman and have her used as some kind of justification for their fucked up racist beliefs. Look – SHE AGREES WITH ME! CAN YOU DIG UP SOME BLACK GIRLFRIEND TO JUSTIFY YOUR DISLIKE OF MY MISAPPROPRIATION OF BLACK EXPERIENCE????
    The insecurity is pathetic. But white women like being girly and insecure right?

    Sometimes I think these issues come down laziness. The laziness of “why should I have to change?”

  6. December 30, 2010 3:07 pm

    PS.

    I’m gonna go read the happenings. The holidays has kept me out of the loop.

  7. December 30, 2010 4:04 pm

    As far as women self-appointing themselves ‘allies’. I don’t think that (member of an oppressor group, e.g. white women) can ‘be’ an ally as a permanent state of being. It has to be expressed in terms of actions, as in, are my actions at this time in solidarity with the interests of oppressed group. I am thinking back to Margie’s post on Solidarity, and about who benefits from this.

    White women are, by default, in alliance with white male supremacy. So any alliance with black women has to be demonstrated in actions, it can’t be taken on faith, and can’t be seen as a permanent, unchangeable quality of the white woman herself. I think this connects to the idea of ‘intentions’ – if you genuinely have good intentions, then your actions will follow your line of intent, and can be traced back to your intent. I think every time women plead for their ‘intentions’ to be heeded, rather than their actual words and behaviour, they didn’t have good intentions in the first place – they either had bad intentions (and thought they’d get away with their sneakiness), or they had defaulted to their default alliance with white male supremacy.

    • December 30, 2010 5:00 pm

      Yeah, that doesn’t actually make much sense… I think I was trying to say, ‘by default’, no matter what stated ‘intentions’, ww are privileged as white, and have been brought up in that privilege, and so our experience/understanding is automatically centred around that experience of white privilege, and unless it is de-centered and broken from, that is the place where ww are speaking from. (Short version: white women are white. I know I’m not setting the world on fire with my thinking here…) Does that clarify or have I muddied the waters more?

  8. Noanodyne permalink
    December 30, 2010 10:10 pm

    The thoughts I’ve had while reading your posts and the comments on this issue have no doubt been stated many times before, but I think they bear repeating.

    Your descriptions so remind me of the liberal dudes who show up across the feminist blogosphere to assure us what great allies they are as they mansplain, talk over, patronize, troll, and use every possible derailing technique to re-establish their (assumed) rightful place in the hierarchy. And one of their favorite techniques is to trot out conversations with girlfriends, sisters, best female friends, wives, ex-girlfriends, a woman on tv, any so-called “feminist” woman (Palin? Wolf? anyone will do) or something a woman said to them 20 years ago or on another blog 10 minutes ago or whatever they need to use to prove they know exactly what’s what for women. Doesn’t every experienced feminist see through that shit and aren’t we all sick to death of it?

    So why can’t we also see that there is never a good reason for a white person to claim anything that gives them a reason to puff up about their experience and opinions regarding racism and/or what black women are saying for themselves? For us white women, examining our privilege, words, and deeds, plus shutting the F up and listening – and doing it today! – are the least we can do if we want to be in community. It’s not heroic in the least and we shouldn’t expect a cookie, gold star, banner, badge, or special designation (Ally! Anti-Racist!) for it.

    And it’s immediately telling when someone does expect that (or, especially, claims it for herself!) which again, so reminds me of the liberal dudes who clearly just want a pat on the head so they can continue to do exactly what they want, while brandishing their gold star at anyone who points out their unacknowledged privilege and resulting behavior. One thing that always sets off my alarm bells is a man who calls himself a feminist or who claims he’s anti-sexism or even uses the word “misogyny” in a sentence. You know he’s going to re-assert his privilege the first chance he gets. All under the banner of being an ally, of course.

    I guess it’s hard for a woman to imagine that she could be just like that, but the analogue of male behavior should be enough for any white female feminist to wake up, get the points you’ve been making and either decide to learn and grow or at the very least, STFU (as we would expect any posturing male to do if they didn’t have anything constructive and meaningful to contribute).

    And speaking of which, I hope this is contributing something to this conversation and not derailing.

  9. Pseudoadrienne permalink
    December 30, 2010 10:59 pm

    Re: The “Black female friend” defense; it’s the racist white woman’s ‘deus ex machina’ device intended to silence Black women right after they call out their racism and whiteness/privilege, as you perfectly described in your post. Afterall as a privileged [hateful] white woman (or a light-skin woman or another non-Black woman) why would you allow an underprivileged, second-or even third class citizen (*a Black woman)– whose only purpose in the scheme of things (at least in your white-supremacist world view) is to hoist up your own pathetic status in the white capitalist heteropatriarchy– *challenge* your anti-Black-women bigotry and your whiteness-idolatry and threaten your delusional pedestal? So you resort to your racist deus ex machina– your imaginary Black female friend, who is clearly a house-slave caricature (or you shamelessly misconstrue the words of a Black woman you know or a Black female author or activist in order to serve your racist agenda) to silence, marginalize, and ultimately continue the cycle of brutal and systematic oppression against the voices, minds, hearts, and bodies of Black women. Because it’s so easy, as Black womankind is at the bottom of the racist/sexist hierarchy. It’s by far one of the most disingenuous and cowardly acts of anti-Black women racism on the behalf of white women and non-Black women.

    And I am only a participant/reader of AROOO, not an ally (though I would like to become one but I still have a very long way to go).

  10. December 31, 2010 12:28 am

    I don’t think that (member of an oppressor group, e.g. white women) can ‘be’ an ally as a permanent state of being. It has to be expressed in terms of actions, as in, are my actions at this time in solidarity with the interests of oppressed group.

    I think this is an important point. I’ve always found it strange to hear people referring to themselves as allies, and I never really could put my finger on why. But it’s both because of what Soulsis was saying about it not being the kind of thing you can just declare for yourself (taking agency from those with you’re you’re supposed to be allied and who should be the ones making the declarations, if they’re to be made at all), *and* because, like you say, it’s not some kind of constant trait inherent to the individual, but just a way of describing certain actions.

    But, yeah, like you say, sis, most privileged people don’t want the focus to be on actions, so they talk about “being” an ally, rather than *acting* in solidarity.

    And it’s immediately telling when someone does expect that (or, especially, claims it for herself!) which again, so reminds me of the liberal dudes who clearly just want a pat on the head so they can continue to do exactly what they want, while brandishing their gold star at anyone who points out their unacknowledged privilege and resulting behavior.

    Hi, Noanodyne, welcome to the blog. Yes, it is exactly the same thing that men do. And, yes, most of these sorts do want to just continue doing what they’ve been doing (for 25 years, no less, in this case) and never have to change.

    PA, I’m glad you’re still around.

    • Pseudoadrienne permalink
      December 31, 2010 12:38 am

      Thank you Margaret, Soulsis, and Kitty for letting me stick around 🙂

  11. December 31, 2010 1:36 am

    I missed that shit going on in that comments thread (I’ve missed a lot of shit this month!) and will go read but just from what you say here, I don’t understand. I mean I understand everything *you’re* saying (I think and hope) but I – I should just go read that fucking thread, because I can’t get my mind around a white woman saying “no” when you say to her “I refer to myself as a black woman and those are the words I prefer others use as well,” (as opposed to whatever she was insisting was the right words to name black femaleness).

  12. December 31, 2010 3:59 am

    I read the comments for all three posts referenced here (what passes for female, blatant lies, privilege and “woc”) and I don’t see where you demanded anything from anybody so I’m baffled as to where the “trying to get her to obey you” thing comes from. In fact I don’t understand any of this any better from reading the comment threads on any of those posts.

    So I’ll just say I agree about self-appointing and anointing and ally-hood/ship/whatever. And often the first time I see someone mention how great of an ally they are to whichever group they think they are an ally to, the first time I see that claim is when someone from the group they decided they’re a champion to has said “whoa, not okay” about something. Not always – some people do like to pipe up about their imagined “credentials” early and often, but with some people it’s specifically when confronted that they insist they are TOO an ally and how dare you and stuff.

  13. joankelly6000 permalink
    December 31, 2010 4:27 am

    (I meant that I don’t understand how/why it went the way it apparently did, off-blog, with how the other person says she felt and what she said about it and you.)

  14. December 31, 2010 8:13 am

    The bottom line is it is selective empathy. When I read or hear someone say something ridiculous I know it is because that someone did not do the mental legwork required to truly empathize with someone with a different plight than themselves. Yes, so many know that they supposed to imagine walking a mile in another’s shoes, but they don’t actually do it. They never actually engage in the activity of imagining what it is like. If they did, they would not require others to point out how they said the same thing regarding something they hold near and dear to their heart while ignoring how it may affect someone else and they would not say some of the things they say. Nor does it show that the mental legwork has been done to truly understand structural oppression and its intersections.

    Every day I am becoming more and more convinced that laziness is the root of most indignities, disrespect, and indifference.

    • December 31, 2010 10:06 am

      If they did, they would not require others to point out how they said the same thing regarding something they hold near and dear to their heart while ignoring how it may affect someone else and they would not say some of the things they say.

      I think that’s what really gets to me – the fact that when it comes to oppressions affecting her, she’s not going to accept “but this other butch lesbian told me blah blah blah” (and especially not 25-30 years ago) as an excuse for why someone is offending her right at this moment. But she fully believes that it’s an acceptable excuse for why she’s offending black women right now. Yet *I’m* the one who’s losing out in rejecting an “alliance” with her?

  15. December 31, 2010 8:31 am

    And if I have not made myself clear enough let me be as plain as possible. White women do not readily empathize with black women because there is nothing in it for them. White women will empathize with black men because white women can mate/marry black men. Not to talk about/for lesbians, however I imagine that a white lesbian woman would have no interest in the plight of black lesbian women either, unless she is in a relationship with a black woman and then it becomes complicated because already the black woman is in a vulnerable position and may bite her tongue and not really express herself fully for the sake of the relationship and the white woman’s interest would be limited to that one black woman.

    Also, regarding something TBL said about keeping up with the language (and mores) and what have you of black women. That alone still others black women. It demonstrates how even the interest of wanting to keep up with black women is kept separate from actually engaging with black women. Like it is a to do list, or a check off sheet to serve a purpose for the white woman. If a white woman is truly engaged with black women, friends with (and when I say friend, I mean being a friend, not just a social acquaintance) etc, there wouldn’t be an effort to keep up with black women it would be a natural progression in her life.

    • December 31, 2010 9:51 am

      Exactly, Kitty. And I think TBL mentioned that too, or maybe it was Soulsis, about how if she actually had any black friends she wouldn’t be reaching back 25 years to what some women she doesn’t even have contact with anymore said in the 80s, one of whom is now dead, and she wouldn’t be offended that black women aren’t all the same as those two she knew back then.

      And you’re right about black lesbians in relationships with white women biting their tongues – and not just around their white lovers but just in general when it comes to racism.

  16. December 31, 2010 8:44 am

    Those who are affected and hurt deeply don’t have the privilege of opting out.

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