white guilt and “colorblindness”

But what is it to acknowledge one’s whiteness? Is it to acknowledge that one is inherently tied to structures of domination and oppression, that one is irrevocably on the wrong side? In other words, can the acknowledgment of whiteness produce only self-criticism, even shame and self-loathing? Is it possible to feel okay about being white?

What Should White People Do? by Linda Martin Alcoff

What is white guilt? “White guilt refers to the concept of individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently.” Guilt is not a productive emotion. Guilt is self-blaming, self-pity. When you feel guilty, you focus on obtaining acceptance and forgiveness. Guilt is all about self.

White guilt is often the immediate reaction of a white person when they first realize their whiteness—when they first see their own privilege. It is a childish, reflexive reaction. But many do not learn and grow beyond this first feeling. They are so uncomfortable with their guilt that they are unable to face and discuss racism—and so they keep themselves from learning how to move past their white guilt to a more productive response.

Claiming “colorblindness” is a way of concealing white guilt. “[In] Adrienne Rich’s “Disloyal to Civilization: Feminism, Racism, Gynephobia” (1979) … [s]he argues that “colorblindness,” or the ideal of ignoring racial identities, falls into white solipsism because a racist society has no truly accessible colorblind perspective. The claim to a colorblind perspective by whites works just to conceal the partiality of their perceptions. […] For… Rich, [becoming disloyal to whiteness] clearly cannot mean upholding some form of colorblindness or individualism, which would only conceal white privilege and implicit white perspectives.” (Alcoff) Colorblindness keeps white people safe from their white guilt by denying that racism exists. Colorblind whites close their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears. If they don’t see color, it doesn’t exist! Problem solved.

Claiming to be colorblind doesn’t help anyone. It might temporarily distance you from your feelings of white guilt—it might make you feel a little better. But it certainly doesn’t help people of color for you to deny they exist, or that they are living in a racist society. Move beyond your white guilt and colorblindness. Educate yourself, take a stand against racism—be an ally.

When POC experience true racism/bigotry/discrimination and wish to share their experiences, one has to avoid taking it personally. Don’t make it about you. Don’t be offended if somebody talks about an experience you’re unable to relate to. Simply listen and be objective about it. Try to understand the other person’s position. […] There are many white people who wish to see everyone being treated fairly. It should not stem from white guilt, but from a real desire to see positive changes in the way humanity works. Commenter Melinda Bishop on The Do’s and Dont’s of Being a Good Ally


what i’m reading 3/17/10

A police officer in Vermont tasered an elderly homeless woman for standing in front of a store.

Was the woman a coked up drug addict trying to fight off the police officer? Nope, the woman was a 58-year-old senior citizen who happened to be homeless and have a mental illness. She could be someone’s mother or grandmother. Her crime? Keeping her arms folded in front of herself, refusing to move, and then refusing to be arrested.

Unfortunately, not much has change since this Discover article was published in 1992:

The team went on to determine that the sperm tries to pull its getaway act even on the egg itself, but is held down against its struggles by molecules on the surface of the egg that hook together with counterparts on the sperm’s surface, fastening the sperm until the egg can absorb it. Yet even after having revealed the sperm to be an escape artist and the egg to be a chemically active sperm catcher, even after discussing the egg’s role in tethering the sperm, the research team continued for another three years to describe the sperm’s role as actively penetrating the egg. […]

In fact, biologists could have figured out a hundred years ago that sperm are weak forward-propulsion units, but it’s hard for men to accept the idea that sperm are best at escaping. The imagery you employ guides you to ask certain questions and to not ask certain others.

Not sure I agree with this criticism of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but it’s an interesting point of view:

More action means more violence, and Alice was no exception. It’s remarkable that Carroll’s brainy, plotless tale of fanciful wordplay could become a fiesta of bloodshed and mayhem. Violence in kids’ media contributes significantly to violent behavior

And finally, I happened to stumble across this PSA from Fandom Lounge. I was recently contacted by this troll and coincidentally found this post soon after. He seems to be quite active in the feminist blogosphere.

If you have recently received a random message or contact from an unknown person containing text similar to the title [“‘can i talk to you?’ troll”], it may be a troll. His name seems to be Paul Melville Austin, but he uses a variety of pseudonyms […] This behaviour has continued over many years. He may or may not be dangerous.

the man in the bushes with a knife

First I want to say that I am not belittling what these women have gone through. Rape is a horrible crime, no matter the perpetrator or circumstances.

police sketch of suspectThis man has been attacking and raping women for 13 years. He literally hides in the bushes with a knife—he is the perfect cliche to perpetuate the stranger-rapist stereotype.

I’m not sure why this is breaking news. The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to publicize these crimes to help catch the guy.

In a study published by the Department of Justice, 82% of the victims were raped by someone they knew (acquaintance/friend, intimate, relative) and 18% were raped by a stranger.

Only publicizing stories like this perpetuates the lie told to women that they only need to watch out for the stranger in the bushes.

Where is the breaking news on the other 82% of rapes?

scary statistics about makeup / what are you afraid of?

This survey of 3,000 women produced some disheartening results about how makeup still runs the lives of women.

  • One of of five boyfriends have never seen their girlfriends without makeup- not even in bed.
  • 41% of the women polled said they would be mortified if a colleague saw them without makeup.
  • One of of five said they would not let even close girlfriends see them without makeup.
  • One third would not even consider leaving home unarmed with a full grooming kit—including lip balm, eyeliner, deodorant, and hairbrush.
  • 71% said they are much prettier with makeup on.

What are we afraid of?

Read the rest of this entry »

a well-written article about a [disabled] male knitter

Today I came across an article by Capi Lynn at Statesman Journal in Oregon about a blind man who wrote a beginner’s book about knitting.

As I was reading it, I was thinking about a blog post I read recently at FWD/Forward, about “inspiring crip stories”: stories or articles written about disabled people overcoming their horrible afflictions in order to inspire normals (you can hear my sarcasm, right?).

Maybe it’s because I’m coming from the perspective of an able-bodied person, but I thought the article was well-written and respectful. Read the rest of this entry »

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