Friday, June 18, 2010

What Are You Doing To Elevate My Black Body?

The title of this most comes from a question asked by Plus Sized Womanist, on a Shakesville thread late last month. In truth, I have not been able to get this question out of my head, because of its sheer naked honesty.  One of things that often comes up when we speak about race, is the suggestion that POC should provide the solution for racism, thus placing all of the onus on us, as though Whiteness does not play an active role in its maintenance. This line of thought is very similar to asking marginalized bodies to explain the discrimination that we face, and how it effects us, because privileged bodies are too busy, or lazy to attempt to learn on their own. It is an all out request to be spoon fed.

CatieCat had posted a disturbing video regarding the lack of self-esteem of some Black women, and how colourism divides our community.  To some of the White readers of Shakesville, this may have been startling and new, but as Plus Sized Womanist pointed out, this has been going on for a very long time.  In her response she wrote the following:
And one thing I notice a LOT is that a LOT of white women, when confronted with this, DON'T. DO. SHIT. They don't do SHIT. They talk big game. They do the expected "appease the negro" song and dance, talking out the side of their mouths about how many beautiful black women there are out there, about how beauty comes in all colors, blah. Blah, BLAH. And in the end, what does it do? FUCK ALL. Because in the end, my black body is still seen as the mammy, jezebel, sapphire, nappy headed, dirt colored, ugly, uppity, loud, obnoxious, behemoth nigger bitch who doesn't deserve to be treated like a human being, doesn't deserve to be loved, doesn't deserve RESPECT OR DIGNITY.
So quite frankly, the comments on this page do absolutely NOTHING for me. Not at all. What are you doing to elevate my black body? What are you doing to make my problem go away? Talking about it? Well shit, black women have been talking since the day we got taken from the motherland. Don't talk about it. Be about it. Use that white privilege. Make the supremacy know that their shit DOES STINK and people are wising up. 
And do you know what I did?  I betrayed her justifiable anger and provided suggestions and solutions. Of course, the moment that I offered a suggestion, the commenters stopped engaging with PSW and instead sought to congratulate me on my suggestion.  This was a complete and utter derail on my part, and I know that I actively participated in silencing of another WOC.  I should have stood beside her, and I should not have taken on the role of magical negro -- because in so doing, I interrupted the process of accountability.
As social just bloggers or people who read social justice blogs, we feel that we are already doing the heavy lifting, because we are attempting the difficult process of decolonizing our minds; however while you are catching up with the learning curve, POC and other marginalized groups are suffering.  PSW was quite right when she pointed out that Black women have been talking about this "since the day we got taken from the motherland."

From the moment our freedom and dignity were taken from us, we have struggled towards physical and emotional emancipation; in return we have been lynched, raped, beaten, economically destroyed, silenced, and "othered".  We have had our children taken from us, and watched sadly as their childhood was robbed from them to elevate Whiteness.  In many of our communities there is a distinct lack of hope, and far too many have sought salvation in the needle.  This has left some of us lost and bereft of hope -- and yet through all of this, Whiteness can still demand that we provide a solution to salve its conscience. 

So many do not want to deal with our righteous anger.  Many find it terrifying because it charges Whiteness with crimes against humanity.  Walking through your day, living your life, paying your bills, you don't want to believe that this is something that you are complicit in. Whiteness does not want to believe that it benefits from the pain and suffering on such a mass scale, but it is true.  And as hard as it may be for you to hear it, it is even harder to live it.  

I was chatting with Gus last night, when she suggested that the theme song for Whiteness should be "Don't Stop Believing" from Journey.  I laughed at this, but this morning the truth of this statement struck me like lightning.
Working hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice just one more time

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Doesn't that just say it all?  Whiteness never stops believing in itself, and the end result is that POC are singing the blues.  No matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we dream, unless Whiteness decides to unleash the bands of marginalization, the situation will remain stagnate.  

PSW is right.  You can read blogs like mine and you can even decide to move out your comfort zone and interact with POC, but unless you are taking real and concrete action, you are perpetuating the racial divide. How is it that we who exist without power, are expected to wrestle with our adversities without the respite of aid and support, unless the sole purpose is to ensure that we tire of battle? This saps our strength, to support your complete and utter failure to accept responsibility. 

We have said repeatedly what we need, we have suffered under the yoke of your oppression -- and I more than believe that it is fair to suggest that Whiteness begin to do some of the heavy lifting. Accountability means action and you are not my brothers or sisters in arms until you are committed to uplifting my Black body and no amount of reading bell hooks, or quoting Audre Lorde is going to get you there. If making amends seems overwhelming, it is only because Whiteness is guilty of so much.

To PSW: I am sorry, I know that I let you down and that I did not act in good faith and with a sense of community.  I hope that you can accept my apology and trust that I have learned from this.