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queerness and whiteness


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#1
Troublemaker

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Hey folks,

as the issue of racism within queer community continues to come up, both here and out there in the world, i wanted to open up a conversation about how those of us who are white work with that. i know for me, it's sometimes really hard to figure out how to talk about racism, especially with other white people. i'm really interested in how (whether?) others experience this. what does it mean to be anti-racist in queer spaces? what's it like where you are? is it considered normal for a white person to work openly against racism, or is it kind of weird or awkward? is racism a part of how we think about things, or does it only come up when there's a problem?

how do we challenge things we think are racist? does it work? how do we react when we are challenged? what counts as racism anyway, and who gets to decide? is it just the overtly violent, obviously bigotted things, or should the word racism include more subtle patterns? is everyone racist, or is there a clear separation between racist people and anti-racist people? what about the whole idea of white privilege? what does it mean to you, and how do you sit with it?

what about feelings of guilt, what about intention? how does it change things if a person isn't intentionally racist? what kinds of racism happen on purpose, and what kinds happen by accident?

how did you learn about racism, or how to fight racism? was it connected to sexual orientation/coming out, or separate? has fighting other people's homophobia helped you understand racism? what has helped, what has made it harder to learn about anti-racism? Any suggestions, examples, stories, or even more questions??

let's bust it open.
troublemaker

#2
Nan

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WOAH! Hell yeah lets bust that one open!

Okay, lots of things to cover here. I wish to first share some preliminary thoughts concerning the idea of privilege. I think that most people experience it on some level. Whether they recognize that is another thing entirely. Hence, privilege.
I tend to think faster than I can type, so I shall make a conscious effort to slow down and make sure that I attempt this in an organized fashion.
Better yet, I think I shall allow my thoughts to crystallize before making a vomitous mess for all the forum to see.
"When life demands more of people than they demand of life--as is ordinarily the case--what results is a resentment of life almost as deep-seated as the fear of death"

#3
Guest_Anonymous_*

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TroubleMaker...I'm not sure, if you would like to hear from...Black lesbians, on this thread. If this thread is totally directed to white lesbian women...let me know...:roll:

There are so many things to say, on the topic of racism in amerika, and since we are existing in an empire, this racism, has affected the way all people of color around the world...view themselves.

As an African woman, I have to commend you on the fact that you choose to discuss such a sensitive topic...there are those people in the world who view "tokenism", as a sign that "the blacks" are moving up in this country...that is very far from the truth...

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is it considered normal for a white person to work openly against racism, or is it kind of weird or awkward?
I'm not the biggest fan of micheal moore...(because of the way he views the African continent and it's current state)...but I do give him credit..(somewhat)..because he is a white man who takes on some responsibilty....he doesn't say shit like: "Slavery happened a million years ago...I never owned any slaves...of course we're rich...but that's because my great-great grandfather worked with the blacks, to have what I have now....Black people should just stop complaining.....they should work harder, and stop pulling the race card...so what if they undergo racism...if I were black...I would never complain..I would have more pride...."....these are just some of the things that I have heard out of the mouths of white lesbian women...who rally...and "fight" for civil rights, for their own causes and not mine... Mumia Abu Jamal...has been (for the last 30 years) saying the same things that micheal moore is now famous for....but because he is a Black man in jail....his words about amerikan capitalism...continues to fall on deaf ears....

Living in New York however, is extremely difficult, because you have such a large population of lesbian women, and at the same time...some of these white women allow their race to get the best of them...There are some white lesbian activists...who would rather rally and organize...for the benefits of animals...than rally against police brutality against other humans beings, this is one of the biggest reasons, as to why I feel that people who kill themselves to rally for "animal rights", is somewhat of an escape for some white people in amerika who choose NOT to deal with racism...how can you rally for an endangered bird, somewhere in Bora, Bora...when young black females in amerika, are constant victims of an injustice system?...this puzzles me...alot.

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what about the whole idea of white privilege?
The reason...I feel that...racism, among white lesbian women is never discussed is because that, rasicm mixed with imperalism, and capitalism and all the "isms" you could think of, allows for white women to be somewhat safe..in their country..which for so long upheld the ideal of white womanhood...Ida B. Wells, spoke of this, in her defense of the hundreds of black men, lynched, in the name of white womanhood....while history has showed, that Black womanhood...was not even considered and constantly violated by...Black men, white men, and last but not least...white women. If white women in my opinion, attacked racism and capitalism in ALL of it's forms...this would mean that they would no longer benefit from their "white-skinned privileges", or better yet...their invisible napsack...

#4
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:roll: TroubleMaker...what are your experiences....?

#5
zami

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Quote

Any suggestions, examples, stories, or even more questions??

Hmm...kinda upset that this amazing topic has been started and no one has really ventured to bust it open except other folks of colour on this board.

Seeing as this topic is really not directed at me (which is totally cool) I would however like to add ACCOUNTABILITY to the discussion. Cuz I hear you on that "non-intentional racism" but - when does that get used to absolve one of responsibility? I mean, as whiteness and racism get perpetuated on my body every damn day, I do think white folks need to think about how they are accountable for keeping systems supported, so that they can continue to benefit.

So this conversation therefore needs to be TOPPED.
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive" ~ Audre Lorde

#6
Ramona

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OK (kinda hiding head) . . . but I'm here. I'm a white lesbian. I don't know if I'm qualified to "bust it open" but I'm here to ask/answer questions AND be challenged and educated, if any of you groovy dykes care to engage me.

I'm not even going to try to do the quote thing since so much interesting stuff has already been said in these few posts, but . . .

- I think the issue of being anti-racist in a queer space is really a difficult one. Not only because of the extreme complexity of such a thing, but because well . . . I've attended many queer discussion groups, community forums, that sort of thing, and challenging the participants is not typically encouraged. I think this is because the moderators (or whatever you'd call them) of such a space are already trying really hard to just welcome folks for showing up and just plain identifying as queer or even queer-positive. I think the feeling is that the group in question wants everyone they can get to show up to just be a part of a queer-oriented community and learn about that, that being the primary objective, anything else less so. If you challenge someone who's just now (quite possibly) coming to terms with/becoming a part of a queer community based on their burgeoning queer/queer-positive identity, you risk alienating them entirely to the extent they'll not show up again if you take that opportunity to challenge them on something else. Just to reiterate/clarify . . not saying this is RIGHT, but if you have an audience for something queer-positive, do you take that opportunity to try and further any/all agendas you might have, and risk losing them altogether . . . or do you try and hang onto them for the few things you do think you can do?

- Since I've been old enough to vote I've lived in Austin, NYC, Atlanta, and Seattle. I've NOT found that it would be considered normal for me, as a white lesbian, to work against racism in the spaces I've encountered. I've dated women that were Asian, Latina, and African-American, but when I did that while I found that they thought me "ok" on the racism variable (or at least told me so), they either felt that working within the lesbian community against racism was not a big priority overall (thinking the rest of the US that was non-queer was more imporant) or they felt I wasn't qualified to do it. Should I have challenged them on that? Maybe. Did I? Not really. Maybe because while I have dated women of color, I've dated many more white women, and my longest and still current relationship is with another white lesbian? Or maybe because I didn't feel qualified myself? Probably both. I pretty much accepted their verdict that I was unqualified, and confined anything anti-racist I might have done to talking to other white folks.

- (Troublemaker) "Is there a clear separation between racist people and anti-racist people? what about the whole idea of white privilege? what does it mean to you, and how do you sit with it?"

I have no idea. I do feel I'm not racist or not intentionally racist, but I don't know that I qualify as "anti-racist" nor do I have a clear idea about how I would become so. I'm interested in learning more about that, specifically how I could apply it to my own life.

- (Troublemaker again) "How did I learn about racism, or was it connected to sexual orientation/coming out . . . has fighting other people's homophobia helped you understand racism?"

Unfortunately, I'd have to say, not exactly. While I think I could say that my experience of the lesbian community overall is that it's somewhat less racist or at least tries to be, it's certainly not immune to or free of racism. And I don't find that fighting homophobia in my life has had much relationship to racism.

- (ZimbaBwe) "There are some white lesbian activists...who would rather rally and organize...for the benefits of animals...than rally against police brutality against other humans beings, this is one of the biggest reasons, as to why I feel that people who kill themselves to rally for "animal rights", is somewhat of an escape for some white people in amerika who choose NOT to deal with racism.."

To that I'd say we rally against what we know, what we see, what we understand or what we can be BROUGHT to understand. I, for one, would never make any apology for rallying for the rights of animals. And I wouldn't think that if I did such a thing that someone could rightly qualify that as an "escape." But I wouldn't "kill myself" for it, nor would I imagine that animals were more important than humans. While I don't doubt that you may have observed some activists who care more for animals than humans, I do think the assumption that those who care for animals don't care for humans is invalid. In fact, a lot of folks that consider themselves activists care about a broad range of injustices, animal and human both.

- (ZimbaBwe) "If white women in my opinion, attacked racism and capitalism in ALL of it's forms...this would mean that they would no longer benefit from their "white-skinned privileges", or better yet...their invisible napsack..."

I would entirely welcome your suggestions as to how I could do that. I really would. I'd ask you to realize that I'm not a Goddess, I'm just a little woman living her little lesbian life, but if you'd like to make a suggestion, I'm totally open to hearing it. Really.

But I don't know what you mean about "my invisible napsack." (looking around . . . ???? ) Wasn't aware I had one. Perhaps this is a literary reference I'm not getting? :)

- (zami) "So this conversation therefore needs to be TOPPED."

I'm waiting. Nah, that sounded like a sexual flirt, and I didn't mean it that way. But, (zami again) "I do think white folks need to think about how they are accountable for keeping systems supported, so that they can continue to benefit." I'm not sure how I could actually and practically do this. But I'm open to hearing about it.

#7
zami

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Quote

But I don't know what you mean about "my invisible napsack." (looking around . . . ???? ) Wasn't aware I had one. Perhaps this is a literary reference I'm not getting? :)

For Ramona - this is the reference (click here)

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But, (zami again) "I do think white folks need to think about how they are accountable for keeping systems supported, so that they can continue to benefit." I'm not sure how I could actually and practically do this. But I'm open to hearing about it.

Hey Ramona,

Just so you know, I'm actually gonna sit back and watch white folks discuss this for now. I think that is what Troublemaker intended - well, I believe so - and I think that a discussion on whiteness and how white folks should think through their accountability in racist oppression should be pretty much the domain of white folks.

Ok. Really leaving now.
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive" ~ Audre Lorde

#8
Ramona

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Quote

I'm actually gonna sit back and watch white folks discuss this for now. I think that is what Troublemaker intended - well, I believe so - and I think that a discussion on whiteness and how white folks should think through their accountability in racist oppression should be pretty much the domain of white folks.

I'd really rather you didn't, because I think it would be more interesting for all to hear what you had to say as well. It's also not clear to me that Troublemaker intended this thread to be only for white folks, but even if she did, I don't think that's necessarily the way it has to be. But if that's the way you feel, perhaps you could put your thoughts in a thread that's for everyone and direct me toward that.

Thanks for the knapsack reference, I'll read that soon, but right now I actually have to get back to work!

#9
Guest_Anonymous_*

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I have every speech, that Malcolm X, Patrice LumumBa, and Kwame Ture, have ever given...since all of these men are dead...here are some of the ways that they thought white people should deal with racism...I remember a speech that Malcolm X gave after he left the nation of islam...he spoke about white activism in the black community. I believe that if white people are sincerly concerned with attacking racism...they should proceed to attack it in their own communities. It seems as if, in my personal experience anyway...that members of the white community who are so hell bent, in rally for...and mostly around the black man/black woman...have something to prove...as if to say..."hey brother...look at me...I'm with you...I am not like the rest", this is quite annoying because...the questions lies as...If I weren't watching you...will you still rally for me? Would you still fight? In most cases the answer is no. When white people organize within their own communties...it leads to more results, and more problems being solved....

For example....I'm not a fan of the New York Times, but a few years back, after I recieved my B.A. there was an article of these two men, one was black and the other was white, they were both investment bankers. The white guy noticed some bullshit was going on and decided to do an experiment. The men would take the same background information to different banks...and request loans. The two men...had the same exact background on paper....the only difference between them was race....it turned out that the black guy was constantly denied loans, and the white guy wasn't...studies like this are great because it allows..white people to understand that "the niggers", or "the blacks" are not making it up. It's not all in our heads. And for those of you who want to know...why I always use the term "the blacks", that is what I am called, by the white liberals "rallying" in my community.

#10
domino

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Hello,hello..I was not aware that this particular forum existed until it was brought up in a different spot on this site :shock: I am glad it's here,and think that it is important we as lesbians period discuss it,regardless to color issues.ZAMI; I think the invisible knapsack description was completely awesome..as far as describing what racism is and isn't in a (huge,long)nutshell.I was completely in awe of that..fabulous...I was completely amazed at that,and wish to print that out to further observe it. I am sure that none of you will miss me,but I am on a borrowed computer,and will not be getting on here that often,from now on,probably.I am working on getting a computer of my own,just not yet.I wonder if any of you have an organization in your cities called Eracism.We have one here,and the name says it all.I believe racism is partially caused by ignorance of anothers culture,etc. and the more we discuss our diferences,the more we find we all have in common as human beings,as women,as lesbians. Let's continue to respect each other though,rude,stupid shit only serves to confuse and hurt one another.Goddess Bless..Hope to be on here again soon>ONE LOVE DOMINO DIABLO :twisted:





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