Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Racism Is A White Male Issue Right?

Like most people I was appalled when I learned that the Valley Swim club threw out young Black children because they were afraid that it would “change the complexion of the pool”.  As a mother my heart broke and I thought of the parents that were going to have to speak to their children about racism and our hierarchy of bodies long before they should learn about such things.  Unlike White children, many kids of color have their time of innocence cut short as a direct result of racism.

As a womanist my support is not only for WOC and children but MOC as well.  Feminism has had a long standing beef with Black men because they were granted the vote (in name only) before white women achieved the same sort of social responsibility.  Reading the commentary of the early suffragists the barely masked racism is very revealing.  WOC have continually been asked to privilege our gender over race and stand in solidarity with the women’s movement.  We are expected to forget the ways in which white women quickly image turned their backs on their Black male allies.   When we have pointed out that white women wielded the whip just as white men did during slavery, we are reminded of their relative powerless in comparison to white men.  In fact I have been chastised repeatedly for holding white women accountable for their racist actions when they constitute an oppressed group as well.

When WOC  are asked to deny the men in our lives, it is because their value to us and the world is not respected.  The connections between WOC and MOC include, husband, uncle, brother, cousin, son and friend; the relationships are meaningful and in many cases lifelong.  No such sacrifice is asked of white women.  They may from a distance call out individual white men when they are sexist but the relationships that  are closest to them remain off limits.

When political wives stand next to their cheating husbands, do we demand that she leave him because he treated her terribly?  We don’t question their agency or even how their decisions will effect the young women watching.  A white woman is always allowed to stand by her man.

image The most recent example of this can be found in the incident at the Valley swim club. Not only did Bernice stand beside her racist lying sack of shit husband she publicly defended him.

Wife Bernice said they're not used to being in front of cameras or talking to reporters and her husband doesn't deserve what he's enduring for the wrong choice of words.

"Our home's been inundated with thousands of hateful emails, hundreds of horrible phone calls," said Bernice. "And we were just so thrilled to have the kids come here that it broke our heart that they couldn't come here."

"My husband, he's not one of the good guys, he's one of the great guys," Bernice said. "This does not represent what we stand for or how we raise our children."

Now pause and ask yourself why I am the only one speaking out about this obviously racist collusion.  What White women have continually failed to acknowledge is that they benefit from racism just like White men do.  She wanted to make it clear that her husbands comments did not represent what they teach their family but could not bring herself to denounce the racist place from whence his words sprung.  We are to be comforted because she, all knowing White woman has declared him a good man; such is the power of whiteness.  When Ida B. Wells was advocating to end lynching her life was so threatened that she had to leave the states.  Apparently her womanly status was not enough to testify for the worth of Black men.

image WOC have been repeatedly told that we should see White women as allies because we share the same gender and yet when the opportunity arises to prove that our connection is more than words, resounding silence comes from White women.  I have read many blog posts about this incident and they were filled with scathing indictments of John Duesler however; the words of his wife seem to have fallen on deaf ears.  To be an alley you need to call out racism even when it comes from someone that looks like you.

It is beyond privilege to demand that WOC turn our backs on the males in our lives that mean something to us when White women have made it clear that they are unwilling to make any such sacrifice.  Your men are no more dear to you than ours are to us.  Frankly, if it came down to a choice of  belonging to a group that advocates womens rights and protecting my son, I am sure you can guess who would lose every single time.  My little boys are just faceless Black males to the world at large but to me they are precious. They are like the beat of my heart and without doubt the love of my life.