Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When White People Go Crazy

Before I get into this post let me state unequivocally that I have complete sympathy for the those that are dealing with mental health issue; however two incidents in the news have caused it to be necessary to point out the ways in which mental illness can effectively be used to hide the racist agenda behind criminal activity.

Ashley Todd, claimed to have been attacked by a unidentified black maleimage assailant.  Her choice of a black male was not accidental.  When she finally admitted to falsifying the whole ordeal, Todd apparently revealed that she was dealing with mental health issues.  Of course no "rational" person could have conceived of such a ridiculous bid for public attention.  While her actions did not cause physical harm to any individual other than herself, it was damaging to blacks.  It reaffirmed in the social psyche that  in the case of criminal activity, a black person is always the first suspect.  I will always wonder if a black female had decided to carve the an M for McCain into her cheek, would it have gained the same media attention? Would she later  able to claim mental deficiency for a light sentence?  As we know sentencing in the judicial system already favours whites over blacks and somehow I doubt she would have been given the same free pass.

image In the case of Nekedia Cato, a 25 year old black woman who was run over by Thomas Cosby, the defence of mental incapacity means that she will not see justice.  Apparently even though being divorced 25 years ago, the fact that his wife left him for a black man left Cosby with so much rage he decided, "all Black people should die" Those were the words that he screamed as he aimed his car at the defenceless Nekedia, who was riding a bike at the time. 

So here we have the case of a black woman that will have to deal with an injury for the rest of her life, and yet her name does not have the same household recognition as Ashley Todd.  Imagine if a black man had mowed down an innocent white woman, screaming whitey must die. The calls for blood, and retribution would be resounding.  When a white man nearly kills a black woman of course he is mentally ill, no need to consider the social implications of white male brutality against black women; the poor man is sick. 

According to Eastjournalonline.com "His attorney, Michael Lambert, hasimage said he is perplexed by the hate crime because Cosby is not a racist".  Cosby screamed,"These Black people need to die. Help me kill them. I saw her on the bike and went to take her out. Yes I believe he is being railroaded how could such commentary ever be construed as racist?  What is the world coming to when a white man cannot safely issue death threats against black people?

In both cases whites were able to negotiate mental illness in their best interest, and it was the black community that paid the price.  What we can conclude from this, is that crimes committed against blacks by whites are considered non issues. The burden of proof on behalf of the alleged defendants seems remarkably low; leading one to conclude once again that only certain bodies matter.

How many Nekedia's are out there, wounded at the hands of a white male awaiting justice?  Seeing her lying their prone I cannot help but think of how much blood has been drawn from black women at the hands of white males.  I cannot help but think of the numerous black women that have gone to early graves because our lives have been deemed meaningless by society. There seems to always be some reason why black women cannot get justice. Whether she is an accomplished woman like Anita Hill, or an everyday woman like Nekedia, the fact that our bodies are constructed as always available for violation allows this kind of behaviour to go unpunished. 

To those that deny white privilege is in existence and site Obama as proof of change these two incidents alone shine light on that fallacy. Whiteness is still entitled, whiteness still equals the default good ,and whiteness is never culpable. In the words of Sam Cooke a change is gonna come, but that day is not today.

H/T Electronic Village.


55 comments:

GallingGalla said...

As someone who has psychiatric disabilities, I have to admit that I do feel a bit uncomfortable with this post.

I think we need to separate out the *fact* of mental illness from using mental illness as a means to excuse acts of violence. I do agree that there is a racialized aspect here, in that it does seem that only white people are able to get away with that excuse (not to mention that white guy carrying a grudge against all black people because his wife left him for someone who happened to be black? Methinks his racism preceded his alleged mental illness by a long time).

But my mental illness is no less distressful to me because I am white.

(GallingGalla)

Renee said...

@GallingGalla,

That is just the point. I believe that the use of mental illness which is very very serious being used in this way is disrespectful and wrong. I don't buy for one second that those two were ill and that makes what they did, that much worse in my mind.
I was worried about posting this because I did not want anyone to see this as an attack on those that are daily dealing with a mental illness. It certainly was not my intent, and I hope that I have not othered anyone. If I have engaged in privilege, please call me out and explain. I am still trying to work on issues I know that I have with ableism.

Anonymous said...

Renee,

I was just reading a response of your a few months back to lujlp where he posted of a few incidents of women abusing boys. In your response, you told him it was wrong to take the examples of a few woman and project it to all womankind.

When you take examples of a few racist nutcases and project it to all "whites" as proof of "white privilege", you're just being yet another disgusting racist, no different from Todd or Cosby.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

You are very interesting. I have never seen anyone who is so pro black yet somehow managed to "marry" white. Seriously how the hell did that happen?

Renee said...

@Anon
Since I am sure that a few people have thought about this and not asked I will answer your question.

As an anti-racist I don't believe that all white people are evil but I do firmly believe in white privilege. This does not mean that I look at every white person I see and think that they are evil or out to hurt me. Part of dealing with racism is being able to look beyond what divides us and seeing a person for what they truly are. It means understanding how socialization has shaped their being.

Honestly race is the least of what separates the unhusband and I. We have different interests, different class backgrounds, different cultures and yet we are extremely united as a couple and a family. When I look at the family that we have created I know that it is possible for whites and blacks to live together in love because we do it everyday. He is my best friend and I cannot imagine my life without him. The key is we need to be honest with each other about race and what it really means. The unhusband is very good at acknowledging his white privilege and if you think I am pro black you really should speak to him. Since having the boys he is downright militant LOL. Seriously though, my life experience is why I believe that honest conversation about the difficult subjects in life can be healing. When we converse and listen to the story of there's we rise above race and truly arrive at an equal value for all humanity.

SarahMC said...

Racist lunatics suffer from mental illness too; that is the important point in all of this. Whether these people are mentally ill or not, they ARE racist and people should not let their sympathy for the ill erase the racism displayed by their acts.

Renee said...

@Anon 3
When you take examples of a few racist nutcases and project it to all "whites" as proof of "white privilege", you're just being yet another disgusting racist, no different from Todd or Cosby.

Are you even serious? You WPD kill me. Look I gave two examples of white people using racial privilege to their benefit but if you need more:
-the over representation of blacks in the prison population.
-the high rates of rapes of Native American women by white men
-look at the list of presidents how many poc have there been?
-the disparity between in number between poc as CEO's and whites
-the representation in the media of POC as drug addicted, murderers, thieves, rapists, pimps, prostitutes etc
-the disparity in education
-the disparity in health care
-how about the fact that more POC have tasered by the police than whites, even though there are more white people in prision
How many isolated incidents do you need to add up to systemic racism? As for the example that you give the same thing applies. Women do not have the same kind of institutional power that men have and therefore cannot act systemically on any gender bias we may or may not have as individuals.
Better read some Peggy McIntosh, you clearly need a lesson in how white privilege works.

Anonymous said...

When you take examples of a few racist nutcases and project it to all "whites" as proof of "white privilege", you're just being yet another disgusting racist, no different from Todd or Cosby.


Those racist nutcases got away with it in a way a black racist nutcase would not. When the situation is reversed, the outcome is different, in favor of the white defendant. That IS white privilege.

Pointing out privilege does not mean Renee is a racist. I am WHITE and I say I have white privilege. Does that make me racist against white people? Ah, no, because my white privilege allows to me critique whiteness in a way black Renee is never allowed to.

Your privilege is showing. No cookie for you today.

SarahMC said...

I think the problem with some of you oversensitive whites is that you lack logic and reasoning skills.
Todd and Cosby are white people. They went crazy. Therefore, it is perfectly accurate to observe that they are white people who went crazy, and that bad shit happens to innocent POC "when white people go crazy." Sheesh. Sometimes I really am embarassed to be white.

victoria said...

Renee, I live with chronic mental illness and I appreciate your past two posts. I think you're right on the mark.

I recently read "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk" and it's interesting to me that Dan White, the killer of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, received a lot of this same sympathetic treatment in the press and in the trial. His blatant homophobia was never at issue, and in the trial the case was presented as if he just happened to come mentally unhinged one day after getting fired, just happened to strap on his police-issue gun, just happened to bypass the city hall metal detectors by climbing through a window, and after killing Moscone (who just happened to be a queer ally), just happened to head in the direction of openly gay supervisor Milk's office and just happened to unload multiple bullets into his skull. Nothing to do with homophobia, no, no, he was stressed over losing his job and was up all night eating twinkies and diet coke. It just happened.

Anyway, sorry if this digression swings too far away from the issue, I just wanted to try to affirm the points you made with another example of how some people's lives matter than others and how mental illness is manipulated to defend acts of hatred.

Anonymous said...

Renee,

I didn't say there was no white privilege (though I disagree with you on it's import and uniqueness.)

I said when you take a few isolated cases of racist nutjobs and project them onto all white people THAT is a racist act on your part.

It's not statistically valid. It's not scientifically valid. It doesn't fit common sense.

It's just fits your need to "other" and dehumanize and blame other people.

If you want to talk about all the proof you have amassed, go for it, but that's not what you did here. What you did here was a pernicious act of illogic and racism.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Love your blog Renee! kaching! Its bookmarked. I would say something in this thread ... but you've already said what I was gonna say.

- Nik.E.Poo

So, whats the proper acronym for White Pearl Clutching? WPC? WRA?

T.Allen-Mercado said...

I debated on another fora regarding the Todd case. I questioned someone defending her actions based on being mentally incapacitated whether they would have given the same sympathies to the black male had it actually happened. Surely, attacking anyone unprovoked at the mere sighting of a bumper sticker supporting a political party that you don't support would be indicative of some mental disconnect, yes? She said I was pulling the race card. Ridiculous.

truth said...

Racist.

Renee said...

@truth calling me a racist is not adding to the conversation. Add to the conversation or face deletion. I don't care if you disagree but taunting like that is not allowed.

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

Renee, despite this woman's actions many of my fellow Yanks have risen above bigotry and have elected a man-of-color to the White House. There is hope for America and as a proud WOC unfortunately words fail to describe my pride and joy-- my generation who aided Mr. Obama in his quest to make history. Look at us world...50+ Million weren't so stupid this time! And Mrs. Obama will be an excellent First-Lady!

Renee said...

@Pseudo-Adrienne

Look it is great that Obama was elected. I cried myself when I heard the news however electing one black man does not undo institutionalized racism and that needs to be acknowledged. All of the problems that existed before the announcement will still exist in the grey mist of the morning. Yes have hope but be a realist about it.

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

@Renee,

Absolutely. We have a lot of work to do down here in the States and around the world. Racism and other institutionalized bigotries--thriving on the petulance of those with unearned privileges, thanks to willful ignorance and hatred-- is still a blight on the world, and is hindering true progress for the human condition. Obama's victory is just a tiny crack on the great wall of bigotry that must be demolished.

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

Whoops. "Are still," not "is still."

Anonymous said...

I am not one to say white people are privileged because the majority of white people have never been privileged.

But I do acknowledge the way the media portrays Blacks. And I do acknowledge how fear of Blacks is built into our system unfairly and prejudicially. I wonder if this fear in societies is pushed by gun owners sometimes.

I can remember entering cities and towns as a white woman and dark coloured men asking me, "What are you doing here? Don't you know the reputation we have?"

"No", I answered truthfully. (sports people would understand this more, I think... because your effort and ability is measured not your skin colour)

They showered me with gratefulness. So spoilt I was for treating them as equal.

That's pretty sad. But I did enjoy myself.
Julie

Renee said...

Julie;

Every singe white person walking the planet exists with racial privilege and I don't care if they were born in a hut to a crack addicted one toothed mother. It is a simple fact of a society that promotes social stratification. This is a global phenomenon.It's not even a debatable fact. The WPD stuff does not wash with me very well.

Anonymous said...

Renee what does WPD stand for?

Julie

Renee said...

WPD= White Privilege Denial

Anonymous said...

Never mind, I saw WPD stands for "white pearl clutching".

Sorry, I don't live in America nor China or Japan.

But of course white privilege is debatable. Yet as most debates both sides have points yet it is not us we are concerned for but the generations to come. Aren't we???

That is why, I think, we are working towards unity.

Renee, I really enjoy sharing our differences and similarities but my family tree is from Gypsies. Believe me when I say we hard a hard time being gassed by Hitler. And don't forget that blacks had whites as slaves in history too. And don't forget that the East had us all as slaves. And don't forget what blacks have done to blacks and are still doing. Whites are not that kind ot whites either.

BTW, slavery was the in thing in history. Funny how it has not really changed even though we think we a free. lol But freedom we must try to achieve as we evolve.
Julie

Anonymous said...

Ah, you got me Renee before I posted.

Oh come now. You ignore the last 40 years of hard work from our parents and peers and grandparents and peers. They wanted better for us.

Julie

Renee said...

Julie I ignore nothing, and it is privilege on your part to try and tell me a WOC about racism. If your body was understood as white, and I put it that way because the definition of whiteness has shifted throughout time, then your body exists with privilege. No it is not debatable. Look around you and see the difference in the ways in which bodies of color are treated. Look around you at the way power is stratified. We have neither equality in deed or word. Making strives towards equality does not mean that equality exists. Whiteness owes a debt to bodies of color that it has yet to repay.

Anonymous said...

Renee, I like you. I think you are an awesome person. I especially like the names you call your children because I can relate to you. And I like you and your partner as a couple. You seem always to be sensible and sensitive even though I would never expect perfection. And I like very much that you allow me to comment on your site with my difference.

But I don't owe anything to people who have a different colour to me. Yet I am more than happy to work as a team member for a better future.
Julie

Renee said...

Really the land that your home is built on does it belong to you, or did your ancestor steal it from a poc of color? Right there Julie without even digging into the specifics of your life, I know that you owe a debt.

Anonymous said...

Renee, think about it this way. Aren't you asking too much from me? Why am I born owing? I would not do that to you!

Isn't that the same as what black people went through with slavery? They were born into it.

Why do you ask white people to be born also into some form of slavery?
Julie

Renee said...

Julie you continue to benefit from slavery, every single white Western person that resides in a country where slavery was legal does.

Renee, think about it this way. Aren't you asking too much from me? Why am I born owing? I would not do that to you!

But that is just it Julie you do. When you deny white privilege and speak about this imaginary equal world, you ask me to bear an unfair weight so that you may benefit. I ask for nothing more than equality and for that to happen white people need to start to own the their unearned privileges.

Why do you ask white people to be born also into some form of slavery?

See for you to be equal to a POC of color is to be reduced to a form of slavery. What I ask is that you admit that you continue to benefit and do acts to mitigate said privilege. You cannot give it away but you can negotiate it differently than you do. I know racism first hand because I live it. Everyday of my life when I leave the sanctuary of my home, I leave behind me those who truly view me as their equal. In the world I know what people see and until you can feel the sting of racism Julie you will never know the real pain of it.


Honestly do you think that the global poverty of blacks is accidental? Do you enjoy those cheap products that you use on an everyday basis that are built by impoverished bodies of color? When you buy someting made in Bangladesh are you thinking about the women that are brushing their teeth with ash because they are too poor to afford toothpaste? This is privilege Julie, to be able to act and not reflect on how it effects others, to be able to live freely and know that the color of your skin will neither be used as a weapon against you or a weight around your neck to stop you from succeeding in this life.

A. said...

Renee,
I read your blog often and I enjoy your perspective most of the time. I learned a lot of things about racism from you.
However, your american/western priviledge often makes you ignorant about some things.
If you think Roma people (PC term for Gypsies) are considered white, you are wrong. Roma in Europe are considered to be dirty, thieves, non-human, drug dealers and addicts. The world is not only USA and Canada. There are also East European countries that are invisible to western feminists who think all European women are liberated and not-opressed. We are not.

A.

ripley said...

for pete's sake, julie, and anonymous

Privilege is not some universal and totalizing thing. White privilege is the privilege one has relative to people who aren't perceived as white. It doesn't mean you might not be disadvantaged in other ways (i.e. being a member of a religious or ethnic or linguistic minority, being female, etc etc). but having a disadvantage or facing prejudice in one way doesn't cancel out the privilege you have with respect to race.

and Julie, it is the essence of privilege to expect that you will never have to account for what benefits you have been given without your choice, which are taken from others. the best thing to do is just sack up (ovary up) and face that you have certain advantages, try not to be a jerk about them, and work to fight the systems that put you in a position of privilege.

that might mean that you have a harder time than you do now, in some ways. That's not slavery, that's just the reality of living in a world where we affect each other and inherit certain things (especially our positions in social institutions) whether we like it or not. It's only privilege that allows you to deny that you have benefited, and which lets you think you oughtta complain about giving it up.

If I was given stilts and walked around on them all day while nobody else had them, and then was asked to take them off - what point is there in complaining that now I am down among all the little people?

Anonymous said...

Renee, I am coming back. Just have some things to do right now.

Julie

Anonymous said...

@Ripley. I bet you were just dying to jump in. Oh, I can't believe Renee needs rescuing. lol
Julie

Renee said...

@A clearly you did not see that I said. If you are understood as white you will benefit from white privilege. I further acknowledged that the definition of whiteness has shifted over time. There was a time when the Irish and Italians were not considered white.

I am well aware of the Roma people and in fact specifically remember the story of a young girl that was left to drown this summer.

I responded to Julie as white because she has repeatedly represented herself as such. Even if her descent is Roma but she presents as white she will benefit from white privilege while still physically being outside of the racial characterization, just as a black person who looks white will benefit from white privilege while indeed still existing as a body of color.

A. said...

I wasn't trying to imply that white privilege doesn't exist. But it's the first time I heard that Roma are understood as white or might benefit from that.

A.

Anonymous said...

Renee and ripley, I definitely agree with you. You articulate yourselves very well on such a difficult subject.

Julie - consider that maybe your reluctuance to accept that you may owe something to your society, is based on feeling attacked and therefore being defensive.
You are not being attacked (as far as I can read) because you are white, you are being critiqued because you are not living up to your responsibility in society (because you deny that YOU have an inherent position in the society). The society strived for here is an ideal society were all people are treated equal. That may not ever be possible, there may even be modes of bigotry we haven't experienced yet. But, the point is that in order to move towards (instead of away from) such a society, EVERYONE has to take responsibility for themselves. It means that you have to be sensitive and critical of your own social position and of others' and then DO whatever is in your power to equalize these positions.
Personally, I am a white female and i believe in this fight (with ourselves and each other). It is very easy for me to get confused about my priviledge and to ignore it because of fear - for doing something different than the people around me, for being unsure what the TRUTH is about our positions. BUT I want to do as much as I can, and I do. Sometimes I am at a loss for what to DO.

As a woman, I know that the world would be a better place if men (in my experience of men with all kinds of different opinions along the gender issue spectrum) listened and respected to a greater extent the perceptions that women have of society. Perhaps even to value it above their own perspective in the gender struggle.
That is not to say that you should not look through your own eyes. But obviously a black person can tell you more about racial inequality than a white person can.

Dea.

Arum said...

"I don't buy for a second that those two were ill"

Why, can't racists be ill? Isn't this a little like the Tourettes thing? I find it difficult to marry your position on the child with Tourettes (which I agree with) with your position on these people (which I don't). Is it because Tourettes is a physical illness, with lots of visible signs, so you are able to acknowledge her?

I'm bi-polar, and people like me struggle every day with the whole "you're not really ill" crap. There is a terrible, horrible stereotype of what "mental illness" looks like, and unless we conform to it, then we're somehow big fakes making excuses.

I have a full time job, two well adjusted, happy kids, a long term relationship, my own home - Mrs. Average White Woman from the outside. However, I daily walk a tightrope for my sanity, taking my meds, constantly checking my mood for signs that I'm wobbly, readjusting my behaviour to try and stay in one piece. One of the meds I take will almost certainly give me Parkinson's when I'm older, but I have to take them now or I'd be bouncing in and out of hospital 3 or 4 times a year, my kids would be in care, my partner long gone, and I'd be living in some grotty bedsit somewhere, on the dole. However, many people choose to live unmedicated, because they prefer to live with the symptoms than with the side effects of the drugs that would suppress them. Why should people live drugged up if they don't want to, on the basis that a small minority of us MIGHT one day do something awful? Far more of you normals commit horrible crimes than we do. No-one suggests forcibly drugging you or locking you up.

In the UK, 50% of people with mental health problems have no type of paid employment - this is far higher than any other social group. I have a 1 in 5 chance of killing myself - I'd have better odds playing Russian Roulette. We are far more likely to be subjected to physical and sexual assault than other groups - much of it in the very hospitals that are supposed to care for us. We have to put up with a constant assault on our civil rights, because people are afraid of us. Yet, when one of us who doesn't fit the 19th Century steroetype of the shambling lunatic does something you don't like or can't understand, then they're faking it, and must be subject to the full weight of the law.

Black people, particularly black men, are statistically far more likely to be diagnosed as mentally ill than white people, so yes, if a black person had committed these crimes against a white person, they'd go straight to Broadmoor, do not pass the courts, do not get a trial or a release date. If you are unfit to stand trial, then you can be committed 'indefinitely' - ie, you may never get out. There is no benefit to crying 'mental illness' when it isn't there. The system is a labrynth, and once you're in it, there's no way out. Even if they let you out of hospital, you will be subject to constant intervention in your life until you die.

And just to weigh in on the Julie thing - she may be white, but if she's European, she doesn't benefit from it. No-one else sees her as white - in fact many people see her as barely human. Europe's history of internal slavery (as opposed to shipping people to the colonies) is mainly white on white. We have our own seething hatreds that are barely below the surface, and they have nothing to do with actual skin colour. Last Thursday, I saw a (black) man get out of his car and punch in the face a Roma woman who was trying to wash his windscreen at some traffic lights. People started APPLAUDING him! I got out of the car to try and help her, but she ran away. I think she thought I was going to attack her too. It was awful. I can see why Julie is confused when she's accused of not acknowledging her white priveledge.

Ebony Intuition said...

"I have never seen anyone who is so pro black yet somehow managed to "marry" white"

I see this all the time, people who claim to be for there own people but spend way more time interatcing and building families and relations with others and not thier own.

anywho, obama being elected will never cure or heal all the damage that whites have done to blacks, 2nd obama is bi-racial im tired of people constructing him to be black when he was cleary born to a white women. and dont try to use the one drop crap, that was only created so that mixed children will not be able to inherit land or wealth, because whites did not want anyone who is black(african) to have land or wealth.(do your homework people).

Renee said...

@Arum

It is not because I do not feel that someone who is mentally ill is capable of criminal activity. It is because of the circumstances under which they claimed to be mentally ill. Both just happened to be ill after it was clear that they had legal issues to deal with and I don't buy that for one second. Had either had a history of mental illness I would be more inclined to believe their defense.

Renee said...

@ebony intuition
I see this all the time, people who claim to be for there own people but spend way more time interacting and building families and relations with others and not their own.

Are you saying because someone chooses to marry inter racially that somehow they don't have a vested interest in the affairs of POC? What does my white spouse have to do with my commitment as a black woman to seeing good things happen for blacks? What does my white partner have to do with me wanting good things for my children, who the world will see as black? My choice of partner has no bearing on my blackness or my desire to see good things for black people. I further find the whole black sell-out argument offensive.

GallingGalla said...

I don't buy for one second that those two were ill and that makes what they did, that much worse in my mind.

Neither do I. These two people were most fundamentally, racists. Ashley Todd was caught and called out. She tried to discredit people of color in what I thought was a pathetic and childish manner. And Cosby -- he's no different than millions of Angry White Men who bear lifelong grudges. And you're right - their easy reaching for a false "mental illness" excuse does a disservice to those who struggle with mental illness / psychiatric disability. And so the actions of Todd and Cosby and their lawyers were racist and at the same time ableist.

BTW, I don't feel that your post was ableist. It's more like this -- that I'm pretty new at confronting my own ignorance / privilege / racism, etc and I'm still confused or conflicted on a number of issues.

Anon@3 -- Take it from a white girl: Claiming "mental illness" as a way of getting away with racist acts is a Thing White People Do. I've seen it too much to believe that it is isolated to a few bad eggs. See - i'm trans, and a dyke, and I follow the information regarding how trans women and dykes (trans and cis) of color are treated, and "mental illness" is used again and again - it's the basis of the "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses.

Yeah. From an ableism viewpoint, what pisses me the most is that racist (sexist, transphobic, etc, ad nauseam) people are very quick to reach for that "mental illness" tag to excuse their actions, while they treat mentally ill people like crap.

julie said...

This is to all women here.

The colour of my skin is white. I may have a bit of olive (the sun helps, lol) but when filling out papers I tick white. The colour of your skin may be different.

But as women who most likely will have at least one child, do you want to pass this racism on? Do you want to enslave or have your children enslave others from the day they are born?

We are the lucky ones for we have been born into a better world than our family trees have. And we don't owe each other but owe our own past family generations to build a better world.

I don't want any babies to be born in a world that is unfair. And I don't think any of you do either.

We don't have to pass on the negative if we don't want to. We have choices because women before us fought for our choices.

Let's please, please make good and healthy choices for the next generation and pass on the goodness that we have to offer.
Julie

julie said...

OK, damn. My comment didn't express myself well. I made a boo boo in the 2nd paragraph.

Look, I don't get all this racism stuff. But I do know that the world is unfair and that we raise our children in it.

Some of the restrictions and safety precautions are really wrong too but we are trying to make a better world. Well, I think the majority of people are.

Let's try at least to honour the women before us.

I can't relate the women on the ground to the women in positions cashing in on feminism. The women cashing in would never have gained without the hard work from the women who put their whole body mind and soul into this.

Arum said...

@ Renee and GallingGalla

What you don't seem to realise is how common mental health problems are. In the UK, an estimated 1 in 4 people will be suffering from mental ill health at any one time (don't know what the figures are for other countries). This leaves an awful lot of people struggling along with neither a diagnosis nor help.

The problem is that no-one cares if your life is shit. As long as you don't rock the boat, you can rot. Try getting an emergency admission to a psychiatric hospital 'just' because you want to kill yourself. You'll get told to piss off and ring your CPN in the morning. The only way many people get help is to become some sort of 'social problem' - scare the normals in some way.

Just because these two people weren't shambling around howling at the moon before the incidents doesn't mean they weren't mentally ill. You can live a life of quiet desperation for many years. Depending on circumstances, even really bizarre behaviour can go ignored. I had several full-blown psychotic episodes when I was a student, but no-one did anything. Hey, students do crazy stuff, right? I set fire to my curtains in my halls of residence, and was quite open with people that I had done so to scare off the nasty demon sitting on the curtain rail. Anyone call an ambulance? Nope. If I had gone out and done something terrible during those times, all those people who knew me would have sworn blind I was perfectly 'normal' before my action.

Unless you are one of the psychiatrists involved in these cases, then you have no right to pronounce on these people's sanity. For what it's worth, I don't know about the bloke. However, that girl is fucked. Women, particularly white women, very, very rarely mutilate their faces. Even in suicide, women tend to use methods that will leave their face intact. The fact that this girl took a knife to her own face is indication enough that she has some pretty serious problems. This was a very public cry for help, and I hope she gets it.

None of this is to say that what either of them did is okay - it's not. However, the normal's idea that a diagnosis of mental illness is some sort of one way ticket to happyland, a get out of jail free card, really irks me.

Arum said...

Julie, are you a non-North American? If so, it would probably help if you stated your continent. Due to it's unique history, North Americans tend to have a very black/white view of ethnicity. Talk to them about the Balkans, or even Rwanda, or about the madness of saying an Albanian peasant has 'white priveledge', and they'll look at you stupid - they don't have the nuanced view of ethnicity that Europeans, Asians and Africans have. Renee asked you if your land had been stolen from POC, well if you're European, the answer is "No, what the hell are you talking about?" and if you're African, the answer is "Yes, but they stole it from someone else, how far back do you want to go?"

That said, I disagree with your idea that you can just slam the door on the past. Unless you acknowledge people's anger, and their right to it, you won't get anywhere. Look at Rwanda. Everyone skulking off home to their villages and mouthing stuff about "all living in peace" has just led to a flip-around of oppressor and oppressed, and a moving of the actual violence over to the DRC. And God knows, those poor bastards have had enough.

Accepting that the world is flawed, and we all owe each other something, is the best place to start building something we can all be proud of. Ireland is a pretty good example of how an oppressed and occupied people can build a successful country for themselves, but it's taken a lot of forgiveness on all sides, and that's still on on-going process. Protestants in the North still strongly resist the idea of ever being under Irish rule. Acknowledging their fears and anger at their lost power is still an ongoing issue. Compassion will win the day, but it will take a long time.

GallingGalla said...

Arum, I am mentally ill. Please do not assume that I am neurotypical nor that I am ignorant of the prevalence of mental illness in the US (at least). What I am reacting to is two people appropriating an identity of mentally ill when it suits their purposes to avoid the consequences of their actions.

Arum said...

You're still assuming that a diagnosis of mental illness allows people to avoid the consequences of their actions. It doesn't.

You also don't have any information about these people other than their crimes. How can you state with such certainty that they are appropriating an 'identity' (although I would strongly dispute that "mentally ill" is an identity) when you know so little about them? Can people look at you and tell you're a mentalist? I'm not saying these two aren't racists. I'm saying racists can get sick too.

Renee said...

@Arum

I must admit that your last two responses were highly compelling arguments. I have difficulty reconciling the "sudden" appearance of mental illness when it was clear that they were going to face criminal prosecution for their behavior.

julie said...

Arum, I am Pacific.

ripley said...

it is true that US and North American racial discussions have a particular take on race due to (especially in the US) a history of people of vastly different skin colors living in close quarters with a racial hierarchy working partly to keep them divided against the powerful (& all-white) exploiters on top.

But rest assured that many minorities in europe have come to the US and "attained whiteness" in the US, and then used that to justify looking down on people of color for never making it as far. Or, at the least, to ignore the structural realities of white privilege in the US..

But the discussion was in response to Julie who did explicitly identify herself as a white woman, and whose rejoinders about being able to choose to ignore racial issues sound a lot like many white people in North America.

Julie, I don't think we have met, so I don't know why I'm a source of lols for you since I'm not the only person who is interested in this discussion. But anyway, my points are the same: white privilege exists, and if you are somewhere where there is a racial hierarchy, and are identified by it as white, you will benefit from it. Again, it doesn't cancel out other hierarchies. But it only leads to problems if you ignore the hierarchies that exist, because then you can personalize everyone's social position -as if everyone is moving on a level playing field.

julie said...

Ripley, I hope an lol is taken as an expression of a smile on my part. I know it means lots of laughs but I doubt very much that people are having lots of laughs while adding it to a sentence. (smile)

I think that if you are doing something you enjoy you are doing it well. There is nothing worse that doing something while you dislike doing it.

I am not going to wear a badge because it suits some people saying, "I am white so I am privileged". This is not degrading anyone.

I will raise my children alongside Renee as a mother and I will fight for her children equally as mine. I will work in the community alongside any feminist but I am more of a suffragette.

I do not believe in putting anyone on high but treating all as I would expect to be treated.

Arum said...

Hi Renee,

I'm only labouring this point because I was so shocked at your response to these incidents, particularly after your post on the child with Tourette's.

The issue of 'visibility' is a hot topic in the disability community, and always has been. The response of 'normal' people to visible disability has traditionally been to contol, hide and reject people. The response to invisible disability has traditionally been to demonise - literally, in a lot of cases. Demonic posession was often the 'diagnosis' in cases of epilepsy and mental ill health, and still is in a lot of places. The prevalence of mental illness means that many people live for years without a diagnosis, and only receive one when they do something that draws attention to themselves - they make themselves visible.

Nowadays disability rights are more recognised, but still physical disability is more acceptable than psychological disability. What would your reaction have been if that man had undiagnosed epilepsy, and had a fit at the wheel? Would it have been to dismiss his claim to epilepsy as fake, and just accuse him of racism? It's very difficult explain what it feels like to have a psychotic episode to someone who has never had one, but I can assure you it is terrifying. That man may have mowed down that poor young woman for the same reason I set fire to my curtains - he was absolutely bloody terrified. For one horrible moment, she appeared to embody everything that was attacking him. He won't 'get away with it', but he needs a secure hospital, not prison. He may well end up spending far longer inside than if he gets sentenced by a court. As for that kid who cut her face, my heart bleeds for her, even if she actually is a racist. Almost all women with mental health problems cut at one time or another, but I don't know a single woman who would ever even have thought of cutting her face. That poor kid has a long way to go - once she's stable, she'll be so mortified by what she's done that she'll be a significant suicide risk.

Arum said...

Hiya Ripley,

I just felt from some of her comments that Julie was not North American, which is why she had a different perspective to you. For what it's worth, I think that 'white priveledge' is a very North-American specific term. I think 'Ethnic priveledge' is a more accurate term for the rest of the world. You point out how Europeans who come to the States feel about black Americans - but Africans feel exactly the same way. There's many a British father of African descent who would have a blue fit at the idea of his daughter marrying an man of Afro-Carribean descent. The issue is much more complicated than actual skin colour.

Renee said...

@Arum...again I am trying to be open, the problem for me still rests with the timing of the claim of disability. I cannot shake the fact that it seems so convenient.
You make excellent points about the cutting, yet I am feeling some resistance. The thing that bothers me is the fact that I am able bodied and knowing that this is probably effecting my view of these two cases. I am trying to open myself up to the possibility that it is my own privilege and bias that are giving me problems here. Please be patient, it is a work in progress for me, but I am thinking it through.