Sunday, April 5, 2009

Too Hard On The White Folk

Once again I am going to address the issue presented by a commenter that I participate in “reverse racism”.  The following commentary is from Sam.

Sometimes womanist musings I feel you are portraying reverse racism towards white women and I am not even white. Do you honestly think white women are in a position or are more responsible for the racism and sexism that WOC face than white and even MOC.

image Let’s begin with the term reverse racist for those who continue to fail to do their due diligence and get their 101 on.  The term reverse racism necessarily implies that racism is something that should only be geared towards people of color.  Another 101 fact, racism equals privilege and power therefore, it is not possible for a person of color to be racist.  We may have individual prejudices but racism is an impossibility.  I would furthermore point out to you that calling someone a “reverse racist” is nothing more than a silencing technique.

WOC must not only deal with sexism that is aimed at them from men of color  and white men, we must deal with racism from white men and women.  It is not a matter which group participates in the most oppression, simply because the smallest amount of oppression is unacceptable.   White women cannot be given a pass on their racism  because we share a gender.  They have proven more than adept in the past of using our shared gender as an excuse to perpetuate a racist agenda.  Like wolves in sheep's clothing, they have extended hands in friendship and then accused us of focusing on race too much, or defending black men to often, as though these issues have no relevance to the state of the world and our lives.

image Simply because white women exist with less social power than white men, does not mean that are unable to wield white privilege to their advantage.  Why is it  that NOW has never had an African American woman leader? With more and more WOC achieving higher education, do you really believe it is because there were no qualified candidates?  Look at the blogosphere, why are there no major feminist blogs written or maintained by WOC?   Daily we provide excellent critiques on everything from sexuality, race, class, politics, and gender, yet the majority of the traffic ends up at blogs written and maintained by white women.  It is purposeful to choose not to read or engage with women of color on the internet.

image By not dealing critically with race and focusing solely on gender as the center of oppression, white women are able to present their issues as monolithic thereby guaranteeing that women of color fail to make substantial progress.  Though affirmative action was mainly created to help people of color, white women have managed to make the greatest gains.   In every social area in which white women and black women compete, you will find that white women are better off.  Of course this is a function of our racist society.  When white women fail to own their undeserved privileges they are just as culpable as white men of maintaining our dissonance in worth and value. They shall not be receiving a free pass on my watch.

image Men of color have also played a very distinct role in oppressing WOC.  They come to us citing our shared issues of race and yet continually fail to acknowledge that they are able to use gender to oppress us.   We are not blind to this and WOC have been very vocal about calling MOC to task for their sexist behaviour.   It is particularly harmful in that MOC are our husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.  We have stood by your side when the KKK came marching in the night, we have given our very lives in your name and to this day we still have not received the respect that we are due. 

The history with white men is obvious.  They continue to be the most over privileged group of people of all time.   Though they complain about reverse racism citing a perceived loss of privilege, it is clear that they still run the world. Like marionettes we dance to their tune, while they sell the lie that they have the moral right and superiority to lead.

image There has never been a day that WOC have not had to fight for recognition of our worth and our humanity.  When we speak out against the exploitation, marginalization, and oppression that we face, we are called angry and summarily silenced.  No matter how many polemic blog posts I author regarding the systemic inequality in which we live, the hierarchy of beings will not change unless those who exist with undeserved privilege make a commitment to change.  To be silent is to accept that I deserve to be understood as a second class citizen.  My value shall not be determined by others so that they can benefit from my debasement based in race and gender; it shall be decided by me because I am an autonomous being who is worthy of being counted.  If you cannot accept a WOC who speaks her truth, then this blog is not for you.  I shall not be silenced in the space that I have constructed.

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