one major problem for black writers and black poets in particular who engage in writing programs and other whiteness centered and dominated spaces is that allowing the white people in those spaces to edit and shape your work is often an act of erasure. the white people in those spaces generally do not have a vast store of information about the references that a black person embeds in their work. instead of acknowledging this fundamental ignorance, often writing gets changed to fit what resonates with the white person’s construction of black culture and blackness. this results in writing that simply reinforces the constructions of black consciousness that whiteness allows, the history that whiteness allows to be acknowledged, the culture that whiteness finds engaging. all of these things are forms of systemic racist oppression.
if i am working with or around white poets, which i most often am, this only works for me if there is a complete openness on their part to the ways in which i give shape to my voice,and if they have a strong, and i mean Strong anti-racist/anti-whiteness framework. otherwise they will do their best to ignore you and/or change your writing to fit into whatever oppressive stereotypes of blackness they’ve got floating around in their head.
there is just always some tiny white woman straining her nipples under your thumb in all your fantasies. not, mine, just cis men, white cis men, white-identifying poc and all the rest that hate blackness. the only erotica is that heaving tiny field of whiteness. i am so sick of it, i am more enamored with my genderqueer translucent yellow-brown mass, the hourglass and the uneven ridges of my skin, my veins and moles and freckles and scars incongruous and incredibly beautiful. if this is not what you want, then you are worthless.if you want that other thing endlessly then it doesn’t matter what mind moves the white breast. all of that is null and void. all of that is the eros of the great unraveling. perhaps people cling to white women out of a love of apocalypse, catastrophe and the like. out of a love of a blankness that comes from being washed and sanctified by the blood of black womyn. again, this is a sign of worthlessness.
"For even if I left, I would have to return, would have to recross the borders of the United States, where the significance of the Negro designation is so thoroughly sedimented that it conditions even my attempt to forget what it means"
→ 15 Jun 12 at 6 am
Sharon Patricia Holland, from the introduction to “The Erotic Life of Racism”
"The focus on moving “beyond” race and its black/white binary…actually speaks to a persistent problem inherent in the black/white encounter: namely, that this crossing seems impossible; that this crossing almost never happens. In other words, what happens when someone who exists in time meets someone who only occupies space? Those who order the world, who are world-making time—-those animals and humans who are perceived as having no world-making effects—-merely occupy space. When James Baldwin asked, “How much time do you want for your progress?” he was marking this dichotomy. If the black appears as the antithesis of history (occupies space), the white represents the industry of progressive-ness (being in time). It is possible to surmise that resistance to this binary might actually be telling a truth about our sense of time and space instead of a truth about the meeting itself. We often talk of inequalities that emerge in black/white meeting, but we rarely understand those structural impediments and inequalities in terms of the phenomenological readings of time and space."
"…when you have a literary community oppressed by silence from the outside, as Black writers are in america, and you have this kind of tacit insistence upon some unilateral definition of what “Blackness” is or requires, then you are painfully and effectively silencing some of our most dynamic and creative talent, for all change and progress from within comes about from the recognition and use of difference between ourselves."
Many historical supporters of black struggles now argue that liberals and leftists must put aside the obsessions with race questions, since by aligning themselves with antiracist reform, they have done little more than alienate a silent majority of Americans and initiate a backlash that has pushed the country on a more or less continuous rightward course since the late 1960s. Meanwhile, on the ascendant right, it is imagined that the legacies of antiracism (that is, antipoverty programs, affirmative action, minority set-aside programs, and voting rights legislation) are the real obstacles to achieving a truly color-blind America as well the crutches that continue to hinder black boot-strap self-discipline and progress.
Such arguments represent the appropriation and dissolution of many of the political and intellectual gains of black struggles over the past century. Indeed, Harold Cruse may have been close to the truth when he predicted in 1968 “that when the legal redress in civil rights reaches the point of saturation de jure, the civil righters will then be disarmed and naked in the spotlight of adverse power.” Cruse argued that liberal individualistic conceptions of racial integration underestimated the extent to which racially defined collectivity was part of the American life-world. Rather than withering away, it was constantly being redefined by state institutions, market forces, and the everyday practices of racialized subjects. At the same time, the civil rights view overestimated the universalizing propensities of the nation-state and thus failed to grasp how anti-black racism was always a latent force in the nationalization of the individual and the creation of the citizen-subject. Proof of this, he argued, was that the dismantling of the formal vestiges of apartheid were routinely twinned with disciplinary accounts ascribing black deviation from national norms to the poverty of black culture and inherent pathologies of black socialization.
It is important to acknowledge that the central achievement of the civil rights movement, namely, the formal conquest of citizenship rights by African Americans, appears in retrospect a less than partial victory. This was recognized by civil rights activists working in the South surprisingly early as nonviolent efforts to expand black voting power were thwarted in Birmingham; Albany, Georgia; and by the national Democratic Party machine. This became even more apparent when the movement faced the durable obstacles of de facto apartheid in northern cities and suburbs. It has become even clearer today, as whatever value accrues to formal citizenship depreciates under the pressures of inegalitarian distribution and is remanded under the auspices of excessive policing and punishment. Perhaps the most disturbing fact of the current period is the structural and political reconstitution of racial alterity with the decimation of urban aid programs and the concomitant expansion of a prison-industrial complex. The latter processes have been ideologically mirrored and justified by the replenishing of age-old national fantasies about the black anti-citizenry, today populated by criminals, drug users, predatory youth, teen mothers, and welfare queens.
One does not need to follow Cruse into a doctrinaire black nationalism to recognize that the political demand for color-blindness, heard from all quarters of American public opinion today, is a product of the steady erasure of a legacy of unfinished struggles against white supremacy. It is also inadvertently an apt description of how racism itself persists in its many forms, but in ways we now have great difficulty seeing. Overall indices of black political representation and economic prosperity have undoubtedly risen since the 1960s. Yet, when we scratch the surface, it still bleeds. Despite the growth of a black middle-class, three decades after the passage of the civil rights act, the median net worth of whites - which includes inherited assets as well as income - is a staggering twelve times that of blacks. Black unemployment rates during this period have remained in double-digits and have not fallen to less that twice the rate among whites since 1976. Even with the decline in the overall number of blacks living beneath the poverty line, the black urban poor comprise approximately one-quarter of the black population, and one million black people are in jails and prisons. Three decades after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, one in seven black men is barred from voting due to felony disenfranchisement laws, many of which date from the high era of southern white supremacy. Blacks are 12.5 percent of the population and yet 40 percent of inmates on death row. Blacks are seven more times more likely to be murdered than whites, yet of the last 840 people executed in America, 80 percent have been executed for killing a white person. Admission to college and professional schools, one of the few places where black gains have steadily registered with the aid of affirmative action, is now under sustained attack. Black life, in short, remains simply less valuable than white life.."
or cultural contexts
and especially in the United States
the us history with the pathologization of blackness, and that in relation to things like schizophrenia or ‘dumbness’ is a complicated
so no, when a black person says ‘dumb’ i don’t think that’s inherently ableist.
you can’t talk about neurotypicality as if it were an objective concept
biological phenomena can be the result of internalized social conditions
something that i’m really having a problem with is the way in which black womyn refuse to center themselves and other black womyn. we deserve praise, encouragement, support, space to be vulnerable, multifaceted, adored, regardless. i really really really am sick of the traditional black social justice trope that we are supposed to martyr ourselves for black men, give them everything, hold our breath and take all their shit and exalt them when that is NOT what they do for black womyn. in fact they even feel like they have the right to tell us how we should behave in order to deserve the things that are our basic fucking rights, they add to the degredation of black women in the culture by constructing hoops and ordering us to jump through them, they will invoke the insidious and oppressive myth of the ‘strong black woman’ to justify it. martyrdom is NOT solidarity. if you are not anti-kyriarchal, then i am NOT in solidarity with you, whoever you may be.
"I’m trying to say something, and I want you to hear it. We have no models. The black American has no antecedent. We, in this country, on this continent, in the most despairing terms, created an identity which has never been seen before in the history of the world. We created music. Nobody else did, and the world lives from it, though it doesn’t pay us for it. In the storm which has got to overtake the Western world ,we are the only bridge between their history which is the past and their history which is the present. We are the only black Westerns. We are the only people under heaven, the black Americans, who have paid so much for their father’s father’s father’s father’s father and mother.
We are the only people in the world—in the world!—who know anything about this country. Nobody else does. Nobody. Nobody else knows white Americans except black Americans. No one else cares about the white American. He can fool the world, but he can’t fool me. He can’t fool us, We are the only hope this country has.
I attest to this: the world is not white; it never was white, cannot be white. White is a metaphor for power, and that is simply a way of describing Chase Manhattan Bank. That is all it means, and the people who tried to rob us of identity have lost their own. And when you lose that, when a people lose that, they’ve lost everything on which that depended, which is the bottom of their moral authority, and their moral authority is the power to persuade me that I should be like them. But I have decided that I would rather be me than be like Maggie Thatcher or Ronald Reagan or Teddy Kennedy. I have realized there ain’t enough raisins in this fuckin’ pie to feed nobody. White people don’t give nothin’ to each other, so I know they ain’t gon’ give to me. They had children dragging carts through mines before they got to me. Furthermore, you ain’t got no pie to share with me. I know that what you call the “energy crisis” means that I am no longer forced to sell what I produce, to you, at your prices. That’s what it means. Before the Cuban Revolution, people were forced to grow sugar, called sugar cane; cut it for us—I mean, for the American government—at our prices; sell it to us, at our prices; then buy it back from us, a year later, in canes, at our prices. It was then called “cane sugar.” Everybody knows that one of the things hiding behind what you call the “energy crisis” is the profit motive.
Finally what I am saying is this. I am saying that the Western world has lost whatever authority it had. The moral authority in the Western world is gone. And it is gone forever. It is gone, not because of the criminal record—everyone’s record is criminal. It is gone because you cannot do one thing and pretend you’re doing another! None of us, who are sitting around in some of the true limbo out-of-space, which we call “now,” waiting to be saved, civilized or discovered, have the moral authority to say anything. And this is America."