Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tune in Tuesday: Queen Latifah Ladies First

After reading Renting space in aunt Esther’s Head, this song came to mind.  As a Womanist blogger I often engage in conversations that make many people uncomfortable.  You see it is easier to live in a world of illusion, than face the fact that not only is the society we live in deeply flawed but its human inhabitants as well.  To some degree we all exist with a modicum of privilege, even as we are often faced with multiple sites of oppression.  It is far easier to recognize the ways in which we are oppressed because it effects us personally, than to realize the ways in which we maintain a hierarchy of bodies, which is the root of coercive power. 

Black women in particular face a unique set of challenges in this life because we are marginalized by both race and gender.  At times both isms may combine to create us as disposable, unrapeable, oversexualized, angry etc.,  When we respond to these stereotypes with justified rage, the desire to silence is quick.  Those that should be our natural allies are often well schooled in the discipline of betrayal.  These are simple basic truths for which much explanation should not be necessary.

In attempting to speak to our own humanity we must engage in battle.  This battle comes at a cost to us because even when we do prove our point, it is trying on the soul.  Whether it is hate e-mail or nasty inaccurate blog posts from others, the constant need to defend is part of how the master wears down hir opponent.  There are days when I simply have no desire to engage, or I have become weary of stating the same 101 facts REPEATEDLY.  It is far easier for an oppressor to live with assumptions based in an uneducated opinion than to take the effort to learn.  Why should I give you freely that which has come to me at a cost?

Ignorance is a choice and unfortunately it is a choice that far to many make on a daily basis.  Though most of the language that I use is fairly common, much of what I write comes from a theoretical position.  There is a difference between theory and opinion.  Theory is based in research and while I do not negate the importance of the personal narrative, theory certainly has its place in our discussions.  My issue is that the narrative that is often employed has it basis in othering thereby placing privileged bodies in positions of control.

Ayo, let me take it from here, Queen...
Excuse me but I think I'm about do
To get into precisely what I am about to do
I'm conversating to the folks that have no whatsoever clue
So listen very carefully as I break it down for you

It is a sign of privilege that you enter a space and expect to be taught.  It is a sign of privilege to assume that you have the right to demand answers as though we exist for your servitude.  It is a sign of privilege to deny the ways in which you benefit from a systemic ism even as you attempt to make the conversation about you.  It is a sign of privilege that you can deny the pain that your words and or actions inflict upon others and then claim that they angry, bitchy or oversensitive.  You cannot stand for social justice until you recognize that even as you hurt others hurt alongside you; as you are a victim so to are you a victimizer.  No hands remain free from of stain because we are all steeped in the politics of oppression from birth.