Questions, Questions????

By Maxjulian

June 20, 2007

Category: Uncategorized

18 Comments »

What is black?

How do color and race con- and diverge?

What does it mean to be “pro-black?”

Who decides who is authentically black? And who is not?

Who benefits from the judgemental, hyper-critical, ex-communicative obsessed pathology within our community?

What does black unity look like?

Where are blacks/African Americans going as a people?

As so-called Americans? Are we truly Americans and do we want to be?

What is our philosophy and can we go anywhere, as a collective, without a clarion clear philosophy?

Should we seek a greater economic share, a higher socio-political profile in a satanic, evil empire?

Should we be building something completely separate from this culture – either here or abroad?

Should we secede from the Union?

What about our 40 acres and a mule?

Reparations? How do we get what we deserve, what our ancestors are owed?

——————————————————————————————–

What should our relationship be to the Native American? Should we continue to ignore their plight and our connection with them?

What about the Latino/Latina? Immigration? Should we pit ourselve as adversaries? Or should we recognize our common enemy?

Who is our enemy? How are we our own worst enemy?

——————————————————————————————-

These and other questions need to be asked and answered. One day anyway. Why? Because, if your actions are predicated on a vision for the future, a vision for whoever you claim your people are, you’re not going very far.

I believe our future depends on uniting with people of color. I don’t believe that whites can be our allies under any circumstances, though, I’m not opposed to any John Brown white folks who sprout up. I’m down with brown, black, red, yellow, beige – if they are awake. They must be awake and it is essential that they look inward as well as outward simultaneously.

18 Responses to “Questions, Questions????”

  1. The two questions that stand out the most to me here are:

    1)What does it mean to be “pro-black?”

    2)What does black unity look like?

    Your question about the definition of “pro-black” raises many smaller but equally important questions. Can pro-blackness be determined through reading black newspapers? Is pro-blackness easy to achieve? I think “pro-black” as a word terrifies certain stratas of the black community. It has almost become a dirty word these days because some people believe that it is a euphemism for militancy and extremism.

    If the mainstream denounces pro-black initiatives, then certain smaller contingents of our race will follow in the hope of appearing to be just like “everyone else”. Pro-black does not have that glossy Iman supermodel image because many black people do not want to advertise it in the fear of being cast as a “separatist”.

    Look at 50 cents and r.kelly’s of the world and the countless support they receive. They are the antitheses of pro-black men in how they have treated black women YET they are still respected and worshipped. Being pro-black these days seems to have been given a sloppy definition of supporting anyone who is black regardless of their toxic effect on our society.

    As for black unity, I remember reading in French ELLE an article that featured some insight on some Black French women. One black woman noted that a black community in France did not exist because Black people come from different origins etc. I thought this was one of the most blatantly ignorant and infuriating comments ever. Why do we always want to separate ourselves instead of unite? Don’t respondents like that see that together black people can achieve much more than refusing to acknowledge our cultural links? I have noticed this a great deal with some traditionalist Africans who have silly rivalries with Afro-Caribbeans. More work needs to be done here so we are one single united fist, smashing all the obstacles that stand in our way.

    Clearly, there are some black people who do not want to be united as it does not serve their philosophies. I hardly ever feel pity but my pity is reserved for them because without black unity, we are shadows of what we are supposed to be.

  2. These questions may sound stupid but…

    how do you create unity around a vacuum? Is blackness defined concretely, enough so – and in a political sense – that we can unite around anything? What does it mean to be a black citizen/person? What are our values? What do we stand for? What do we want?

    Or are we just fighting, improvisationally, what ever seems like it hurts us, without a strategy or direction, and without organizing us around a set of values and towards no direction whatsover.

    People allow a lot of vagueness, as if what blackness is is understood; its not understood, if it ever was and it must be restated explicitly and repeatedly. Without stating what black is, positing where we should be going, folks can and do excommunicate black folks from the race, out of their own idiocy, for not meeting some phantom, half-baked ideas about race, rooted in insecurity/inferiority.

  3. I hate to inject myself in a highly intelectual conversation, but I will. I’m holding my nose and jumping in. Hopefully, I won’t drown in the thought and words. (smile)

    Well, Free, your questions that you put in your recent post made me think of Francis’ theory that we should not be defining ourselves by race. Maybe we are so messed up by this race matter, that we think that all people that look like us is us. Is it our so called race that truly connect us, or is it our set of experiences?

    How can we truly define where we want to go, if we don’t know who “we” truly are? Do the so called “we” want the same thing?

    Is it possible to truly believe that one deserves all human rights, if we think of ourselves as a segmented part of the human race, rather than a member of the human race?

    Yes, I know… More questions… And no answers…

  4. “I don’t believe that whites can be our allies under any circumstances, though, I’m not opposed to any John Brown white folks who sprout up.”

    I’ve been under the impression that being a John Brown white folk is being an ally. Am I confused?

    Incidentally, Macha at Double Consciousness wrote about this same stuff today.

  5. Changeseeker, you aren’t wrong – John Brown was an ally. He is really the standard by which we should judge allies. And I don’t mean the violence. He was incredibly honest. He was REALLY listening – to his heart, mind, God, conscience. And his actions lined up with his value system.
    Angie, you’re so right. So few of us know who we are. And its a process. So how and the hell do we figure out who we are, where we’re going, personally, and then connect with other people, most of whom want no parts of self-knowledge?
    I think it starts with us – ME – seeing myself for who I am, casting off the mental slavery – one shackle at a time. Trying.
    What you said there at the end is the great dilemma: we can’t see ourselves (though we insist that we do), as fulfledged people. The white man created this dichotomous consciousness – and we bought and sold it. So, we stay in our mental doghouse, deluding ourselves into thinking that we see, or be, “black” holistically, without it resulting in an acknowledgement of the status quo. Division. Hierarchy. We can’t escape it.

    We have to see, comprehend how we’re oppressed: but using the paradigms, structures, psychology of the oppressor to define ourselves doesn’t seem logical.

  6. As a white woman in the process of adopting an Ethiopian child, I have been immersing myself in everything I can get my hands on about racial identity, racism, race issues. I understand that I am a benefactor of white privilege, and I also understand that “knowing about” racism is completely different than “living” racism. Yet, I am frustrated that I cannot be considered an ally. Ending racism and inequality of all kinds is a fight we all must be a part of; we all suffer its consequences, whether or not some white people choose to recognize this fact. Is it your opinion white people can/should do nothing? Is it your opinion we are unable due to white privilege to honestly partner with African Americans in their quest? Where are whites commited to these issues to put their energies then? Thank you.

  7. Don’tmwm,

    I’m telling you what I’ve seen. Few whites are willing to tear down the racism/white supremacy that congests their brain. Why? What’s their incentive? There is no “perceivable” downside for white people to practice racism/white supremacy. We are all inculcated from birth with this disease, but the suffering is only one-way. I’ve spent years as have other people of color, explaining what whites individually and collective have done and are doing to us on the basis of our color. Not many whites want to hear about our experience, let alone change. After years of talking to liberal/progressive people who are even more resistant to looking critically at themselve, you begin to come to some sad conclusions.

    Whites, of course can be allies. Do they want to be? Or do they simply want to look like allies? White people should do EVERYTHING they can to tear down this racist/white supremacist/imperialist government and culture we have and create a new one. If whites are in favor of giving up all of their privilege in order that we have a just society…they can certainly be allies.

  8. “Whites, of course can be allies. Do they want to be? Or do they simply want to look like allies?”

    From a white perspective (which is extremely important to have in any sort of discussion like this, as the other two white participants are making clear with their participation), why would *simply looking* like an ally be such a bad thing? Image is very important to us as white people!

    Our new website covers this whole situation:
    http://www.whiteantiracist.wordpress.com

    don’tmesswithmommy: “As a white woman in the process of adopting an Ethiopian child, I have been immersing myself in everything I can get my hands on about racial identity, racism, race issues. I understand that I am a benefactor of white privilege, and I also understand that “knowing about” racism is completely different than “living” racism. Yet, I am frustrated that I cannot be considered an ally. Ending racism and inequality of all kinds is a fight we all must be a part of; we all suffer its consequences, whether or not some white people choose to recognize this fact. Is it your opinion white people can/should do nothing? Is it your opinion we are unable due to white privilege to honestly partner with African Americans in their quest? Where are whites committed to these issues to put their energies then? Thank you.”

    In our opinion, dmwm is doing an excellent job of preserving her White Anti-Racist (white ally) identity in the face of what you wrote in the post.

  9. Whiteantiracist: Isn’t it true that before white people can “preserve their white anti-racist (white ally) identity,” they must own the racism/white supremacy that is in their marrow? How does a white person who is really serious about being anti-racist, go through the process of admitting their racism and purging themselves (a lifetime process) and THEN becoming effectively anti-racist?

    This is an important step that I think whites miss. They think they can assume an identity (they way they went from hippie to yuppie) without doing a spiritual colonic of sorts, without really seeing the racism within and healing and dealing with it. Guilt, denial, shame and a whole host of other emotions are the price of the ticket, the price that a human being who really wants to change will go through. This is the path white folks must trod in order to be human again.

    But it doesn’t sound like you are willing to pay that price. Most whites don’t want to in my experience. This has been my greatest criticism of so-called white anti-racists. They want to go around the pain that a ‘racist to anti-racist’ transformation would require. No, you have to go through the pain, deal with the ugliness, the racism that will percolate. Its like kicking a heroin habit; it takes being done with addiction and being uber-motivated to see how the disease manifests in you.

    If whites are UNwilling to feel their racism/white supremacist internal static, face the gorilla within, then they are of little use to black people and other oppressed people. This is a spiritual journey that few are courageous enough to take.

    Joe Kennedy said, “its not who you are that counts, its who you appear to be.” Your image and how it is ‘plays’ to your audience, becomes your concern, motivates your action, versus a hunger to seek justice for all, create real change, ensure that a better world is birthed. Otherwise, your white anti-racist identity becomes a self serving pose, that raises you up, while it lowers us even more.

  10. Okay, whiteantiracist, I get it. I checked out your website and I plead guilty. Are you happy? Up to this point in my life, I have been that person who professes anti-racism with her mouth but continues to benefit from the existing social order. (I am assuming your website is satirical, because if it isn’t, you’re evil.) And I get that you are mocking me because now I can pat myself on the back for realizing I am the beneficiary of white privilege while happily continuing to accept its consequences for people of color.

    Which brings me to my question for freeslave: Would you mind sharing how I can move on from here? Specifically. Action points. In an earlier post you said, “If whites are in favor of giving up all of their privilege in order that we have a just society…they can certainly be allies.” What does this look like on a personal level?

  11. Action points: A friend of mine in recovery used to say often, ‘you only have to change one thing: EVERYTHING!’ Start with that assumption. Really observe yourself, your language, your thinking particularly around people of color (observe how your thinking and language change depending on the color of the people you are around; listen to people of color and feel the anger that many have. Don’t allow guilt to debilitate you. Guilt is an avoidance technique, it is not a legitimate impediment to white people understanding and owning their own racism/white supremacist thinking. Remember; the society is racist/white supremacist to its core. You need to see how that racism manifests in you minute. Stop pretending that you are one of the “good” white folks. There aren’t any good white folks, there are just white folks in various stages of unconsciousness/consciousness. Looking, feeling, sensing, experiencing, questioning, discussing, softening, opening, deepening…all of this and more characterizes white folks moving towards consciousness. Can you get with that?

    Whites who are allies stop playing the game; they call out their own R/WS thinking constantly and they call out that of their society. They assume R/WS is normative and are pruning it all the time. I have a friend, LA, who always questions/second guesses herself vis a vis R/WS. Sometimes it seems excessive; but then I think, no, it makes sense, to assume the worst and work back for a white person makes sense.

    Being able to look and keep looking and keep looking at yourself, really having the courage to keep searching for the pimples and saying, “yup, there’s another one and another and another.” That, instead of, the vain, narcissistic, “okay, there’s one pimple, I’m done, now let’s talk about how special I am for pretending to look, cuz I really ain’t trying to find shit.”

    There’s no formula, only the commitment of one human to see themselves for who and what they are. You can’t change unless you can truly see your essence as opposed to the false self that folks project.

  12. Thank you.

  13. Hey, folks, I never said that our skin-color and sociology (which do exist) shouldn’t play a role in our self-definition. I merely argued that “race” which DOESN’T exist as a BIOLOGICAL matter should NOT play a role in how we define ourselves biologically any more than the Flat Earth Theory should play a role in how we define the Earth.

    What can whites do? If whites want to do something powerful against “racism,” they should start 12-Step support groups for whites and Blacks recovering from”racism.” Racism is a cognitive/emotive/behavioral disorder, as are alcoholism, drug addiction and adult children of alcoholics syndrome. Support groups have been extremely effective in creating a subculture that provides reinforcement for rejecting old ways and adopting new ones. Support groups also help to build a constituency for new types of therapies and better public policy initiatives.

    We are making terribly little progress against “racism” because we believe it to be principally an ideology, but we ignore the fact that it is also a psychiatric illness Psychiatric illnesses do not respond well to blame-based therapies or name calling.

    So, here are yet a few more questions that I’ve been mulling over:

    Ten Questions about “Racism”

    It’s ironic that for virtually every common house pet and barn animal we have two names – one for the adults and one for the children, to distinguish between them. We have “cat” and “kitten,” “dog” and “puppy,” “horse” and “pony,” for example. We know that the difference between an adult and a child is pretty important.

    When it comes to “racism,” however, we insist that it is quite unnecessary to have any words at all to distinguish the full grown ones from the little bitty ones. “They’re all the same!” But, are “racists” really born with the keys to their pickup trucks and ropes for nooses, or do they acquire these artifacts over time? Don’t we need descriptive words to distinguish between those who have “the keys” and those who don’t? Are all racist really the same, from the ones in kindergarten to the ones in large corporation?

    If we have the term “full blown AIDS” why don’t we have the term “full blown racist” to distinguish the sickest cases from the no-so-sick? At what stage in its progression is “racism” most contagious? Wouldn’t it at least be useful to distinguish between “racists” based on their symptomatic behavior? Or based on the severity of the progression of their symptomatic behavior?

    Do we utterly lack this descriptive ability because we intellectually really don’t believe that there is any difference between someone who prefers to marry a person of their own color and someone who chooses to kill people because they are of a different color? Are these behaviors really “all the same thing”? Does everyone who marries based on color also kill based on color?

    I really hate the phrase “call a spade a spade,” but I think it’s worth noting that even in a deck of cards their are TWELVE spades, each with a different value. Even “calling a spade a spade” is more complex than it appears, because we have to distinguish between the “Ace of Spades” and the “four of spades” for example.

    I’m not proposing that we identify 12 different kinds of “racists,” but I don’t think differentiating between “mild,” “moderate” and “severe” cases would tax our minds inordinately. It WOULD require us to understand “racists” a little bit better, but that might be a good thing. Ten Questions about “Racism”> > > > >

  14. DMWM: As a woman who appears to be White (and I could say “European-American” here, but I think it’s important for us to understand that many, maybe even most of those who look like me don’t really know WHAT we are), I have been blogging for eighteen months on what I call the “socially-constructed, political notion of race.” If you go to my blog, you will find not only many, many posts on this topic, but near the top of my blog roll, you will also find a series of links to posts I entitled “How To Be An Ally.” You might find these helpful to your consideration. Keep in mind that I have been working on this process consciously for forty-four years now. As Maxjulian suggests, there’s no short cut or quick fix. It’s an inside job and it never ends. That’s part of the necessary commitment. And people that look like me get continual encouragement throughout this society to miss a given point in a specific situation or fail to step up appropriately or second-guess ourselves at a crucial moment…it ain’t easy being a conscious European-American.

    At thirteen, my son said to me once, “You know, you’ve made me so political” (read: “conscious” here), “sometimes I don’t have anyone to talk to.” My response (with great sadness), “I know. I often feel the same way. But when I feel that way, I ask myself if I’d really rather be like everybody else and I decide that I wouldn’t.” That was seventeen years ago and I’m still in process. That’s the way it works. People of color don’t have a choice but to deal with their skin tone and its implications and, the reality is, people who look like me don’t have a choice either. If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. And it’s not for or about somebody else; it’s for and about me.

    Do not mis-read me. It’s not about guilt. Guilt is still “all about me,” as in “look at what I’ve/we’ve done or not done.” Instead of focusing on working on myself right now more vigilently in the way that I live and perceive myself and others.

    And it’s not about running around butting into every conversation to fix stuff either. When I came back to this thread tonight, I thought immediately, “Wow! I’m glad I didn’t know about this before now because otherwise, I’d have jumped in too soon with my White-Person ‘let-me-take-over’ tendency and attitude when Maxjulian is more than capable of making the necessary points.” See what I’m saying?

    I am very glad to be in the space I’m in with all this. It has been and continues to be very worth all the work. In fact, I must keep it up for my own survival psychologically, emotionally, and intellectually. In certain respects, precisely because of the insidious nature of the “disease” of “racism,” if you will, my position in every social setting (even when I’m relating to another person who looks like me) is predicated and prescribed by my skin tone. That’s how pervasive the idea and implications of “race” are. Exhausting to keep track of? You’re damned skippy! Sometimes I think my life would be a lot easier and more comfortable if my brain wasn’t on this 24-7, but once you go “conscious,” you can never go back. Consciousness, though, requires waking up and just like a foot or a hand that’s gone to sleep, the waking up process is a veeeeery uncomfortable one. It is, however, an option.

  15. “People allow a lot of vagueness, as if what blackness is is understood; its not understood, if it ever was and it must be restated explicitly and repeatedly. Without stating what black is, positing where we should be going, folks can and do excommunicate black folks from the race, out of their own idiocy, for not meeting some phantom, half-baked ideas about race, rooted in insecurity/inferiority.”

    the problem w/ this [to me] is that this leads right back to “authentic blackness”, i.e. whatever falls outside the realm of what isn’t explicitly stated – what black is, where we should be going (& within that how we should be getting there) – isn’t “really” black. someone/some group still gets to define “what is black.” will they include anti-heirarchical structure, atheism, or calling out misogny practiced by woc; if those things aren’t in the place they are coming from? aren’t those of us who want to get rid of “the pie” in conflict w/ those who want a piece of it, or those who want a different flava pie?

    regarding the vagueness, i think the problem is our human tendency to want things neatly boxed before we think about thinking outside the box (this would be me too).

  16. B.medusa,

    I think you’re right! I was complicating it in my mind, but the simplicity of what you’ve said here is IT!!!

    Thank you for that.

  17. What is black?

    Black is beautiful.

    How do color and race con- and diverge?

    They converge around the world, and definitely mean something political around the world.

    What does it mean to be “pro-black?”

    To be positive towards the Black community. Working to contribute positively towards the Black community.

    Who decides who is authentically black? And who is not?

    I think the evidence speaks for itself. IF your actions get you to be lumped in with those that are active enemies of the community, then, no, I don’t believe you’re authentically Black.


    Who benefits from the judgemental, hyper-critical, ex-communicative obsessed pathology within our community?

    White Supremacists who use it to beat us down.
    Black Sellouts who use us to pimp us so that they can shill themselves as the only ‘bridge’ to us heathens, so that they can get PAID.


    What does black unity look like?

    I don’t know it in modern times (last 15 years)


    Where are blacks/African Americans going as a people?

    To the pits, period.


    As so-called Americans? Are we truly Americans and do we want to be?

    To be honest, we are definitely Americans. We EARNED those passports harder than anyone else in this country. The blood, sweat and free labor of our ancestors paid for our passports 10 times over.


    What is our philosophy and can we go anywhere, as a collective, without a clarion clear philosophy?

    I believe our philosophy should involve uplift and responsibility. Negative foolishness should be discouraged, because it attacks our community -internally – worst of all.


    Should we seek a greater economic share, a higher socio-political profile in a satanic, evil empire?

    Yes.


    Should we be building something completely separate from this culture – either here or abroad?

    We already are separate. We need to build up what we have.


    Should we secede from the Union?

    Not going to work.


    What about our 40 acres and a mule?

    Never going to get it.

    Reparations? How do we get what we deserve, what our ancestors are owed?

    Not going to get it,but that doesn’t mean that the fight shoudln’t be fought. It absolutely should be fought. This reparations battle is about the truth. It’s about leaving no stone unturned and bringing forth the depth of the evilness of slavery and how it truly is in the very soil of America. I believe the scholarship and information that has been revealed, all over the country, about the extent of slavery, is the reparation movement’s beneficial legacy right now. Every book. Every paper. Every document that pushes forth the hidden truths of what our people REALLY meant to the building of this country, is what we need to know.

    ——————————————————————————————–

    What should our relationship be to the Native American? Should we continue to ignore their plight and our connection with them?

    I had sympathy for them, until a nasty little thing began to happen in tribes – they began to kick out their ‘ Black Mixins’ while keeping their ‘ White Mixins’. I’m done with them.


    What about the Latino/Latina? Immigration? Should we pit ourselve as adversaries? Or should we recognize our common enemy?

    We cannot be allies or be in a coalition with people who, quite frankly, come here racist against us. We cannot afford to be delusional about forming this magical ‘ Black/Brown alliance against the White man’, when the Brown part has a tendency to throw over the Black man to curry favor with the White man without a second thought.

    WE are not the ones who demanded that Hispanic be DIVIDED into ‘White Hispanic’ and ‘ Black Hispanic’. We didn’t do that.

    Look at how they treat the Blacks in their OWN countries, and then tell me how it’s not ridiculous to think that they’d come here and actually want to be ‘ allies’ with American Black folk.

    I think the ‘ alliance’ thing is but a dream, so don’t get too attached to it, because the only ones I see doing the supporting is the Black community. It’s a one way street, and that’s NOT what coalition means.

    Who is our enemy? How are we our own worst enemy?

    Our enemy are White racists and their Black allies.

    We are our own worst enemy, because we fail to accept the responsibility of our own power.

  18. What is black?
    Black is the beginning of all, of life. Black is not color, Black is all color. Feminine, water, cool, yeilding.
    Who decides who is authentically black? And who is not?
    Only you can decide if you are authentically Black or not.
    What does black unity look like?
    The Civil Rights/Black Power movements. The Haitian Revolution. Blood and Crips uniting against gang violence. The Black family in all its extended form.
    As so-called Americans? Are we truly Americans and do we want to be?
    We are Americans geograhically because A-Muur or Amexem existed before whites cooked meat. We should not be counted as ones participating in the co-opertive British business venture called the United States.
    What about our 40 acres and a mule?
    I want it now, because the European knew they took what was our land long before they understood the world was round.
    What should our relationship be to the Native American? Should we continue to ignore their plight and our connection with them?
    Our relationship should be one that overstands we are the AB-ORIGINALS on this land the parents of this land, that were hidden under the words Negro and Black. We must overstand that the NATIVE American are not originals on this land and are a government appointee nation set up by the Dawes Commission as a racial buffer, thus they oust those Black people that wanted to be acknowledged as “native” by the very same government that sanctioned their enslavement side by side with the African.
    What about the Latino/Latina? Immigration? Should we pit ourselve as adversaries? Or should we recognize our common enemy?
    We have to be careful with this law as it is pointed at the Guatamalan, Mexican and Honduran. But, how long will they turn the whip on Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Bajans (Barbadians) and Haitians? However, as Black people that have been in this land and our ancestors have already picked the cane and cotton, consturction. I think we should be aspiring for the positions the British and Australians are taking. Have you seen how many of them have television jobs? Aren’t these the jobs Black people should be aspiring to?

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