The Everyday Struggle…

From AskWhy:

I’ve read some of the discussion and this is just bits and pieces but wanted to say hello and thank you:

– I so appreciate the way you’re going about getting at truth here, and I totally feel like you are onto something huge and crucial and true.

– It’s also interesting to me to see the reaction of many (all?) of the white people who commented on this idea here in your blog. It makes sense to me that this reaction means there’s something seriously important/true in what you are trying to get at. (Also, it was just — I don’t have the word, just argh! — to see how even in the place where you asked specifically for comments from black people, most of the comments were from white people arguing with you!)

– Your identification of “White Women’s Syndrome” type dynamic coming into play crystallized something I felt last week when I came across this discussion somewhere, can’t remember if it was your previous blog or where, but I had this icky feeling about the dynamic and you just pinned it right down here!

– I feel that there is so totally a vivid intense “tone quality” of insanity/mental illness to white supremacy thinking and action, to the whole Euro-white cultural system and the behaviors that flow from it. I feel there is a visceral truth in what you’re working out and seeing here.

– I’m white.

– Did I say thank you? Thank you.

Thank you, AskWhy. Thank you very much.

You know, I almost hate it sometimes when I have to cut the cord with folks in conversation. But my commitment is to getting at truth – relationships be damned. I love people, but I love truth, honesty and clarity more. When people get to lyin’, I get to steppin’.  By steppin’ – what I mean is, I lay folks out with truth.

One of the people in the conversation, Thinking Girl, dangled our fledgling friendship and our previous agreement on certain matters, over the chasm of our disagreement – and my stating that racism played a part in her inability to get what I was saying. And threatened to X-out our friendship – which she did. That’s not the kind of ‘friendship’ I’m after, or would mourn.

To quote a blue-eyed statesmen, “I have no permanent friends, only permanent interests.” In growth, in understanding, in truth.

There was an intellectual dishonesty in the entire conversation: “I’m right because I’m mentally ill” “I’m right because I hate how mentally ill people are stigmatized” “I’m right because you stepped into my identity politics.” “I’m right because I say so.”

“I’m right because I’m White,” didn’t make the cut (openly); but why else was there no give, no humility, no openness to the possibility that they might not know every fucking thing, particularly about racism. Thinking Girl talked about how she preferred the term brainwashing; well if that works for her, how is she so sure she’s not still under the sway of her ‘controller?’

When I refused to capitulate to their whitewash, they took their jacks and scooted home. I’ve spoken with truly honest people. But not in that conversation.

I wasn’t desperately attached to the idea of ‘racism as a mental illness’ until this conversation. Now, I’m convinced. And my brother Asa’s assertion that “the MOST racist white person is the so-called liberal/progressive” was proven by this conversation.

Yes, I agreed quite often with these people but the Red Sea parted and I found myself on the opposite shore – in a profoundly enlightening way. The way they interacted on the blog, the unanimity, the cotton stuffed tightly in their ears, the unwillingness for a second to consider that their opinions, their precious intellectual constructions were rooted in the very insanity that they were insisting didn’t apply. Didn’t exist.

They were the people who are always white and right; they strut around with their leftwing epaulets front and center as if they took a vaccine innoculating them from Racism/White Supremacy. I don’t care how much Foucalt or Chomsky you read: the disease is bigger than you, it’s bigger than the pet theories you’ve plagiarized from your racism encoded school books.

But they are too white to see it.

Glad you’re not so white, Ask, that you can’t see it. Peace.

11 Responses to “The Everyday Struggle…

  1. i guess i didn’t realize this was going to be your new tack from now one.

    shit.

    it’s hard to read. damn hard. because for whatever traction you might be getting off this idea, the association i have drilled into my head by the force of my encounter is this…

    mental illness means people not understanding, judging, telling me to think my way out of it, denying the reality of the problem, confining me, using physical violence to control, coercive and flatly non-consensual use of drugs, and most of all, a white as the new fallen snow, male as a gay orgy, privileged as a Republican fundraiser medical establishment that ALWAYS fucking knew best, even when they were screwing me over. A mafia of white coats and institutional power.

    Say what you want, but it’s gonna be a hard sell to convince me that i oughta think about making progress in dismantling racism when i think about those things.

  2. Sly, you say “the association i have drilled into my head (regarding mental illness) by the force of my encounter is…”

    I say, what’s been drilled into the heads of you and other white people about racism is a million times deeper more fucked up, more destructive, much of it completley invisible. Why? Because it attacks the singular organ you have been taught to use and rely on in order to perceive and understand EVERYTHING. If the primary tool that white people use to comprehend their environment (the brain), is compromised by racist termites, and white culture doesn’t encourage, support or allow one to use their other God given attributes (feelings, intuition) then folks are up shits creek.

    And Sly, I’m not “trying to convince” you or your brain of anything; I’m talking to those other internal sensors that have been grayed out, put on mute, maybe even deleted; racism means “people not understanding, judging, telling me (white folks) to think my (their) way out of it, denying the reality of the problem, confining me (ya’ll in intellectual, non-intuitive, clinical treehouses), using physical violence to control…) only, globally and in every conceivable cubbyhole of white culture.

    But a thimble few of white folks have been able to liberate themselves from “The Matrix.”

    The phrase “hard sell” indicates ‘head comprehension.’ Stop using your head – White People – and breath our words in, meditate on them, feel them. Suspend your hair-trigger disbelief (as you’ve done at thousands of bullshit films that teach you the white man is GOD) and try believing, try on believing that which is incomprehensible for you to believe. Try the shit on, in spite of your cranium. Try on the idea that every idea you are stuck on ain’t right – just cuz you think it is, but is likely a product of your miseducation.

    Huey Newton spoke of being placed in the whole in prison, nicknamed “the Soul Stealer.” This culture is a soul/brain/intuition/humanity stealer. Operate from the idea that you’ve lost something being a white person and that I am trying to help you find out.

    Try that out, Sly, and see if that has any traction. With you, with Thinking Girl, it may have none, but I’m fine with that.

  3. I’m still trying to catch up on the entire flow of this conversation, but the word that keeps springing to my mind is TACTICS.

    I’m white, been white all my life, and it sure shocked the shit out of me to learn that each of us American white people seem to be armed with an inbred-arsenal of tactics to lob at anyone who shakes our foundation.

    Whether we fly Old Glory or Tibetan Prayer Flags, if someone dares to disrupt our status quo (western/euro worldview), out come the grenades to silence/discredit/marginalize the opposition.
    Here are some tactics I’ve heard used against People of Color:

    “You are too angry to converse with rationally.”
    “You are abusive.”
    “You don’t KNOW me, so how can you possibly say that about me.”
    “You haven’t read as many dead white men as I have, therefore, you are ignorant.”
    And most recently, when they went after Max Julian for “improperly” applying the term “mental illness”. Going as far as to discredit his source (Wikipedia) Refusing to “hear” him out because he hadn’t consulted the big, dusty, STANDARD dictionary, compliled by the wooden-toothed, powder-wigs, full of all those latin roots.
    ETC…..

    What was even more shocking to me was that when I began to have conversations about this topic with other “progressive/groovy” white people–um, even my “closest” friends and family–& they started lobbing a different set of shiny grenades at me!
    Here’s a short list of what I’ve encountered.

    “I didn’t know Leigh Anne was so MILITANT”
    “Indian Lover”
    “Aren’t you a little too obsessed with this stuff”
    “You’re as dogmatic as George Bush” (!!!)
    And here’s my FAVORITE: “You used to be cool.”

    These tactics are weapons to keep our asses in line. In our place. Even my lilly white one.

    So now, I’m in the process of learning the enemies language so that I can develop my own arsenal to shoot their shit out of the air. (Sorry for all the militaristic metaphors. I’m really a peaceful person). 🙂

    LA

  4. But my commitment is to getting at truth – relationships be damned. I love people, but I love truth, honesty and clarity more. When people get to lyin’, I get to steppin’. By steppin’ – what I mean is, I lay folks out with truth.

    I’ve started to understand, for myself, that the one place that I personally have footing outside of the insanity is how I feel things related to truth, honesty and clarity. For me, the system loses any hope of my deep inner loyalty right at that spot, and since this system is based on hypocrisy/lies/illusions, that is a space with some wiggle room for me (the system still gets to me in terms of threat and fear of what it will do to me if I don’t play by its rules, but not on this other side).

    So, what you say right here about truth, honesty, clarity — yes. I see and feel that that is the space you’re working in and that is the space that those white people arguing with you are disrespecting.

    I wasn’t desperately attached to the idea of ‘racism as a mental illness’ until this conversation. Now, I’m convinced. And my brother Asa’s assertion that “the MOST racist white person is the so-called liberal/progressive” was proven by this conversation.

    I never thought about it like that before but my experience is that this method of figuring out the situation does work in situations like this.

    In my experience, there is a point where the truth is so disorienting/uncomfortable to people inside the space of white supremacy thinking/action that there is a reaction — and in my experience it’s not just any old critical reaction, it’s not like I would say “if you argue with me on anything you are just reacting.” No … there is an energy, tone quality (again that phrase), something that comes up as backlash to scary truth — an underlying desperation to hold on, to re-hide what is coming out through an exploration of the situation. It gets pretty frantic.

    It uses various tactics but the purpose is the same: trying to re-hide what is emerging.

    If the primary tool that white people use to comprehend their environment (the brain), is compromised by racist termites, and white culture doesn’t encourage, support or allow one to use their other God given attributes (feelings, intuition) then folks are up shits creek.

    Seems to me that at least part of what people are arguing with you about is control and superiority. You saying stuff like this shows that you know that we white people are not the superior beings we claim to be in the cultural system.

    You are decentering white people perceptions, using a way of finding truth that we don’t culturally have access to, and calling out a truth that threatens the core of the white self: we are not superior, we are not “in control” based on superiority. Why then are we in control in the arenas where we do have so much ugly power — control of land, of systems of decision-making etc? Illegitimate, the power is illegitimate. Wrong.

    PS And it’s interesting to me that Sly Civilian is reacting to you, here and elsewhere, as if you are invoking the power of these white institutions he has been hurt by.

    But it’s obvious you are coming from a very different space, as well as a very different location in the power structure/dynamic. He is speaking as if the truth-based threat you pose to white illusions is the same thing as institutionalized exercise of power-over inside the white cultural/structural system. But these are entirely different types of threat, one being positive and the other harmful.

    His words/actions in the discussion are about regaining the white authority you are threatening by positioning himself as your victim — a position which, if accepted as accurate, carries some moral weight where you would need to listen to him, center on his perception of what is actually going on, and allow him to return to the white role of definer of what is going on.

    And finally — thank you again. I feel like all this stuff that comes from centering in commitment to truth and clarity is so so valuable inside this horror. So so valuable for resistance and real change.

  5. I very rarely comment to others on your blog space Lubangakene, but first I must commend “Askwhy” on his/her effort to listen and at least contemplate another point of view. Their assessments are valuable and correct in my opinion… but that is not the most admirable thing to me… the fact that he/she is “listening” is.

    I must admit that even I am a bit taken aback by the vitriolic nature of Sly’s post. HOWEVER… it’s obvious to me that YOU have touched a part of him that had been dormant by choice Lubangakene… his emotional intelligence. Ergo, the energy with which he debates with you as he tries to quell the “feeling” that you may be right, regardless of what his mind=rational construct, traps him into believing. Askwhy in their own way observed it also and stated: “No … there is an energy, tone quality (again that phrase), something that comes up as backlash to scary truth — an underlying desperation to hold on, to re-hide what is coming out through an exploration of the situation. It gets pretty frantic.” Sly sounds desperate and “frantic” as he holds on for “dear life” to the familiar and comfortable and not drift into the sea of affective truth.

    Sly’s words condemn him Lubangakene. I find this sentence very revealing of his “mindset” and desperation: “the association i have drilled into my head by the force of my encounter is this…”. “DRILLED INTO MY HEAD!?!?”… why would he need to drill anything into his head?! We only DRILL when we are trying to force a foreign matter into another substance which is providing an equal resistive force… or energy…. which begs the question what force or energy is he DRILLING against… into his head! (i.e mind=rational construct) hmmmm. He also refers alot to his “thinking” process. At the end of his rant he states: “Say what you want, but it’s gonna be a hard sell to CONVINCE me that i oughta THINK about making progress in dismantling racism when i THINK about those things.” Why does he need to be convinced? He fails again to see that the objective isn’t to “think about” this or that… but sometimes to be quiet (mentally) and listen to (meditate) your inner being, which I term our emotional intelligence…. DAMN… let me just say it…. Sly needs to “feel” his way through this process and not “think” so much about it!!

    Walk Good.
    Asa

  6. You know, Max, I never said I didn’t want to be friends anymore. I never said I wasn’t ever coming back here to participate with you in discussions that we both think are important. I said I thought your analogy didn’t work, was harmful, and that you were behaving like just because I wasn’t agreeing with you, that alone was evidence of how deepseeded my racism runs. I never said I wasn’t racist, either.

    I have thought a lot about this since the whole thing went down, and my initial comments were certainly not thoughtless. While I did react strongly, the reason I reacted as I did had to do with a blanket refusal on your part to do just what you were asking “us” to do – project outside your experiences. If my experiences limit my ability to perceive, isn’t it possible that yours also do? I don’t believe in negating anyone’s lived experiences; I do believe in pushing ourselves and one another to question those experiences for ourselves. I said I was finished with the discussion on the topic if all you were going to see in what I had to say was racism and white supremacy. I have since returned to see mainly posts about the topic, and since I said I wasn’t interested in engaging in this discussion any longer, I stuck to that.

    I don’t appreciate being personally vilified in your posts; I think that’s pretty petty. You can attribute my comments to racism if you want, but you should certainly know that isn’t what is in my heart. If you want to simply use this disagreement as a reason to disengage from our friendship, that’s your choice, but that wasn’t in my heart, either. If you wish to discuss it any further, you have my email address – please have enough respect to use it.

  7. Asa, what I feel is that there is this way in which we invite people to “DESCEND” to another level. And how in response, they bob and weave, using all manner of seemingly logical arguments not to go deeper. This dynamic is what they don’t see: themselves from a distance, evading what is truly their duty as white folks, to don their scuba gear and get the fuck in the water and go SOUTH – into that abyss, into their soul/feeling space. There’s where the truth lies.

    Long as they stay up in their heads, keep it surface, neat, clean and cerebral, they are safe.

    You said, Sly and all of these other white folks need to feel their way through this shit. The number one thing you aren’t supposed to have in the white supremacy system is your feelings. The better to exploit you. And what is a person devoid of feelings – a damn fool. Crazy. CRAZY. And I know THAT from personal experience.

  8. More from me, in the very fragmentary and spacey style I seem to have in responding to this.

    1. I said I’d work on it New Year’s Eve, and I did, and found the whole thing very unsettling.

    2. I like LA’s comments, above.

    3. I think it is weird people put so much energy into hairsplitting on that analogy: racism, like a mental illness, it is suggestive and interesting, that’s all.

    4. I see why people think the analogy is in part inaccurate. What I do not see is why they got upset about it to the degree that they did.

    5. While I was gone, another set of arguments seem to have taken place elsewhere, apparently about transsexuals, and many feathers are ruffled.

    6. In both cases, I wish people would just relax. It’s someone else’s blog. Take a breath and think about it before jumping down its throat. For instance: I, too, could b**** about the partial inexactitude of the mental illness analogy, but it would be beside the point. I think MJ came up with it as an approach to the questions, what is racism like, how does it operate in the mind/ the consciousness, how does it perpetuate itself, etc.
    Is it just “false consciousness” or a logical error, or is it something more complex and multifaceted, etc., etc. So, it wasn’t a comment on mental illness per se, but an attempt to see what racism is like. Maybe the analogy works, maybe it doesn’t, maybe it does so partially, but MJ was throwing it out for exploration.

    But everyone wanted to say, very quickly, “I am not racist” and also “you are being mean to the mentally ill.” Much was said about this but the original intent of the analogy was not explored.

  9. Good grief! I am SO embarrassed that I’ve been slip-sliding around the blogosphere for a year without somehow winding up here. Please forgive me. You are now duly linked on my blogroll, along with Ask Why, and I promise I will be haunting you from now on. ;^)

    I’ve been saying for years that I think racism is a form of insanity or madness. (I like to use madness, actually, because “insanity” suggests that it could appear in the DSM-IV tome, the “official” list of scientifically-accepted psychological diagnoses, while madness seems to have more of a drooling-in-your-soup quality accompanied by an incapacity for self-analysis (shocking enough to make people listen for a minute–I mean, even most “mentally ill” people don’t see themselves as “mad”). The only thing that amazes me is that any European-American, myself included, is everable to step outside the madness long enough to get any other perspective, but a thimbleful (as you put it) of us do. Somehow.

    When the entire culture was created in the first place by White men with money and unapologetically imbedded with the cultural reference points–through all the social institutions–guaranteed to insure that centuries later, White Supremacy would still hold thrall, it’s hardly surprising that White people don’t see it. (I’m not saying “can’t” here, because we’ve already established that some do, so it MUST be possible, right?) “Mad” people see everything through the window of their madness (and they often have some personal and interesting “reason” for their view). We tend to imagine that they “can’t help it.” But I once watched a man who had been “mad” for eighteen years make the decision (on some level–it must have been very deep) to join the rest of the human race. Overnight. It was inexplicable to his doctors. They just shrugged. There was some kind of choice involved even though he had looked previously so utterly out of his own control.

    Two of the sharpest “therapists” I ever saw believed that “insanity” is a choice, that a person decides that among all the coping mechanisms at their personal disposal, “insanity” is the best for them at a given moment. Now, I’m not trying to start a shit-storm here. This is just one perspective. But I will say that once I heard this from them (I was working for them at the time), forever after that (and it has been decades), whenever I felt like “losing it,” I would ask myself, “Okay, now, what are ALL my choices and which one do I want to consciously choose?” This process saved me from a multitude of trips to spaces I really didn’t consciously want to inhabit.

    For God’s sake, I’m not trying to imply that every mentally ill person can do that, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. But I AM trying to suggest that it is easier for me to believe in madness than it is to just sweep everything under the rug of “evil.” If institutionalized oppression in the name of racism is just “evil,” then “nice” White people couldn’t possibly have it, right (at least from their own perspective)? But if institutionalized oppression in the name of racism is A FORM OF “madness” that they have been raised with and in, it would appear “normal” to them, wouldn’t it?

    A recent comment I wrote here addressed the “it’s in there” aspect of racism, as well.

    But this is enough. I have other things I really must do today, but oh. my. god/dess. I am SO glad I finally got here. I needed to find you and to be a part of this. It’s like food for the hungry and rest for the weary. And I SO need it. Thank you.

  10. Changeseeker: very provacative. Insanity as choice. That strikes me as ‘situationally true.’ True in some cases. Is denial of and accomodation to racism a form of madness/insanity? Hmmm.

    Welcome here. And I guess I should say this to all (white) people who come here, and I quote:

    “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy ride!”

  11. Insanity as choice. That strikes me as ’situationally true.’ True in some cases. Is denial of and accomodation to racism a form of madness/insanity? Hmmm.

    This whole discussion and especially this comment, FS, reminded me of some stuff I was writing a few years ago in my personal journal — it’s about my own adaptation to the larger Euro-white cultural system, feeling it as coerced choice (yet really choice) and feeling kind of crazed with pain and confusion about it. Not focused specifically on racism but still relevant maybe?

    (BTW, the post is not a statement about everyone, just what I was experiencing)

    Anyway, I posted it here

    And I guess I should say this to all (white) people who come here, and I quote:

    “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy ride!”

    IMO nothing is worse than what we’re in with these lies, despite what cracking the lies might feel like.

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