The Break Down, Part I
Here are the (rhetorical) questions that I posed in my initial ‘damali post’:
I mean, are we talking about racism/white supremacy, or a schoolyard spat? ‘Easy to do solutions?’ ‘Exciting?’
Who are these ’solutions’ geared towards and designed to help? The people who suffer racism/white supremacy, the people who inflict it on those people, or, the people who use R/WS to sell product and services?
How can someone focused on ‘growing their niche race-business’ and publicizing themselves and their ‘approach that works’, truly be about telling the truth at all costs? What happens when business conflicts with angering (white) friend and foe by bursting their necessary illusions, or alienating the paymasters who book ‘popular’ speakers?
How can you tell the truth about racism/white supremacy – when you are looking for ’specific contacts in schools and organizations who can benefit from my work?’
I posted her response as a post and the subsequent comment by her and that of a friend of hers (see below). I don’t see anything resembling a response to these questions. What I read is a counter-attack – which, frankly, I understand. But, what I also read is the assumption that, ‘because I say I am totally committed to social justice – I am.’ Because I am talking about “race relations” I am actually engaged in REAL struggle to end R/WS – as opposed to appearing to be. Some would call that ‘magical thinking.’
Because you say so, doesn’t make it so. I need my own particular kind of evidence – beyond mere assertion – to believe such a claim. (And clearly, not everyone operates that way. That’s their business.) I, as my own human being who has lived on this planet for a few years, can use my own two eyes and come to my own conclusions. And I did. I am also open to arguments/evidence to the contrary.
Telling me “I’m wrong”, is like telling the jury they made a mistake when they find you guilty. That ain’t exactly evidence. Maybe you had a bad attorney or a bad case; maybe the evidence just doesn’t demonstrate your truth. So rather than deal with the charges – ATTACK the jury/juror. Could be, the jury is merely ‘petty,’ but that’s a pretty infantile, surfacy charge. Maybe they are simply blind. That let’s you off the hook, from examining your case and yourself at greater depth. Deeper. I fear this is at the root of many of our problems.
The unwillingness to look deeper and go deeper.
ANY person – I don’t care if it’s Tim Wise, Oprah, or YOU – who says that they have a ‘METHOD’ that works,’ that ‘solves’ racism/white supremacy,’ ain’t talking about racism/white supremacy. They are talking about the foam on the top of that particular latte; they are NOT talking about the vicious ass global system of R/WS bubbling beneath the surface.
Where do you derive your expertise at solving the problem of racism/white supremacy? Or, more accurately, the race relations problem which is an entirely different animal?
White people will pay a pretty penny to be taught (in an entertaining manner) about their racism – so long as it doesn’t deal with their racism. Their privilege, the illegal ill-gotten gain from their theft and occupation of Native land and their lived lives as white royalty – I would imagine – is off the table in these conversations. But I could be wrong.
An info-mercial approach to what people of color suffer, that has a “guaranteed progress in 30-days or less” flava – is about as noxious as it gets.
There I said it.
I deal in hard truths. They are mine. I take full responsibility for them.
So, damali, I invite you and your friends to engage with the specific questions I’ve set before you. Or, you can trash me as you feel I’ve trashed you. The bottomline is that I can’t hurt your bottomline. But what I could help you with is to look deeper (as others have and continue to help me) and see how you, me all of us are made complicit in furthering this racist madness. Even WHEN we think we are doing the work.
Even when we are doing work that appearts to be “the work,” work that is in the vicinity of doing the work – and yet so far away.
You talk about your method…They have and use many far more diabolical, sophisticated methods and tools to confuse and co-opt us: money, jobs, their women, their men, sex, drugs, position, power. None of us are immune. For those of us who can’t be thoroughly prostituted or broken, they have harsher methods.
You may think you are going to these talks giving a message, but you are also getting one in return. All people of color need to understand it:
“We’ll pay you a bit of money to make you think you are free…we’ll even let you talk about us a little bit…but if you attempt to remove the curtain that hides the Wizard, if you slip up and describe the machinery, the operating system of this white OZ —- WE WILL DESTROY YOU.”
Ask Cynthia McKinney and a thousand others if that’s not right.
We have to, as people of color, remain teachable, even when it tastes like castor oil, or feels like a rap on the knuckles. If we don’t, we are done. My message is a harsh one and I wouldn’t like it either, I suppose, if I were on the receiving end. But, I have been. I’ve been checked, challenged, told to search my soul, motives and feelings by people that pissed me off for stepping to me like that. And I am better for it. You don’t have to like it – to use it.
That’s my response. Hope you can find some value in it. Perhaps it might even be useful.