Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Mystical Negro and Self Flagellation

Who or what is the Mystical Negro?  She or he is the one who has been granted permission by whiteness to speak on behalf of blacks.  As a mystical negro it is your job to inform whiteness when they are being prejudicial as long as it doesn't challenge the current power structure.  It is also your job to issue the equivalent of hall pass by declaring that certain people and or behavior is not racist.  Ever wonder how people like Dog the Bounty Hunter can find a black person to come to their defence when they have been so obviously racist - meet the Mystical Negro.

The Mystical Negro is almost a superhero to whites.  Able to ignore white sheets with a single glance, while still marshaling out just enough guilt and pseudo Yoda like wisdom to appear relevant, the Mystical Negro is a wonder to behold. He or she does not hold any real power but their inflated egos allows them to believe that the false accolades and Cheshire like cat grins of their white patrons means that somehow they are a person of value when every other POC is being ignored.

The Mystical Negro is also essential to the necessary self  flagellation that every good white liberal must perform to keep their left leaning credentials in good working order.   It's the one that allows them to say I am white but....It's the one that allows whiteness to engage superficially without demanding any sort of commitment.

You ever wonder why so much of feminism is academic today? It is because such line of thought does not require investment on a real and personal level.  White feminists can wax on with detachment about the importance of intersectionality without embracing its tenets.  There is no rage in their writings, or speeches, only the appropriate amount of indignation.  With check list in hand they mark off marginalized bodies; blacks, lesbians, disabled peoples, Latn@, Asians, poor,  Muslims, third world bodies, everybody into the pot it's soup for dinner.  We are the consumable, the overly problematized, the often theorized, but the never heard.

Tell me, can you theorize hunger?  Sitting with lecture notes in hand can you problematize the essential situation, thus deconstructing the word nigger to the point where you truly feel the meaning of that word.  Say it over and over again, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, don't shy away from it.  It's not some sort of abstraction, something you can sit there and consciousness raise about.  It either pisses you the fuck off or it doesn't. 

Oh I know that you are all to careful to insure that when you do an anthology you include a certain number of each marginalized category, but did you ever think to give us, the women you seek to lead the chance to walk on our own.  I remember hearing in womens studies about the fact that so much feminist work had either been destroyed or not printed in the first place.  I remember learning about the feminist drive to create herstory. 

Who is her?  Who is included in the herstory because I sure as hell know who is not.  Are you over forty?  Are you of color? Are you a lesbian, or a transwoman?  Are you disabled? Are you poor? Are you undereducated?  Are you fat? If you have said yes to anyone of these, herstory is not your story.  Herstory is what sells, white, educated, middle to upper class, and "conventionally beautiful".  Her story is the woman on the pedestal and no marginalizsed woman has ever stood on one. 

The mystical Negro and its compatriots (read: Mystical Others) would love to believe that there is a place on the pedestal for them as well.   They are after all invited to be the token representative in the room, published  by the small firms, even given the occasional speaking engagement.  How powerful is it though to rehash a story that is not your own, but the tall tale of the victors song?  Am I making you uncomfortable yet? 

When you hide behind your mystical Negro friends and pretend to self flagellate to prove how just how "down" you are for the cause, you stink of falsehood worse than a used car salesman at a midnight madness sale.  It is obvious to all but you and your cronies. Cackling like hyenas, you snack on your cookies proud that your sheet is off white.  Hey, I am only stop on your multiples sites of oppression tour. Perhaps the next mystical Negro will be more accommodating than I.  You see, I have the nasty habit of truth telling, and that is not necessarily conducive to maintaining the lie of inclusivity and detachment.

Hello Feminists, you are not a doctor.  There is no requirement for detachment.  You are not going to loose yourself by becoming involved with us, rather than studying us like diseases in petri dishes.  Understanding the "isms" takes more than reading a few works and penning a good paper.  It means more than holding up a placard at a rally, and it certainly means more than writing the obligatory you rock, or go girl commentary on a blog.

Step away from your "mystical others" and your self flagellation routine.  Touching my arm in friendship will not hurt you.  Daring to engage with me and other marginalized bodes will not hurt you.  Saying I need to STFU & L only buys you so many passes.  Real feminism happens in the trenches.  It is a lived experience and not something you pick up in first year womens studies.  Is reading about sex the same as fucking?  Is hearing about orgasms, the same as having your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure as you loose all connection with space and time? Live your fucking feminism ladies.  Let go of all of the bullshit that comes with practicing theory and just fucking live it.  My feminism and anti-racism is real, is yours?


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