Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Black Folk

I came across the following video over  at Siddity. Black folk, we have to to do better. As I watched women in various states of undress fight each other in a Burger King parking lot, my throat choked with disgust.  Two of the women were pregnant and one of them was visibly pregnant,  yet that was not reason enough to show caution.  Not a single person thought about the damage to the baby as they attempted to kick each other in the stomach.  And just when I thought I could take no more, a man became involved when a woman hit his car.  I certainly do not believe that anyone has the right to willfully attempt to destroy the possessions of another, but that certainly did not give him cause to punch her with a closed fist twice to the head.  He didn't see a pregnant woman -- he thought about his male pride and attacked her.  There was a lot of screaming back and forth, but none of it was intelligible beyond the man filming the video, who kept yelling beat the bitch.  Remember the bitch in question was pregnant. Even more disturbing, if the video is accurate, not a single person thought about calling the police.  This was just too much free good entertainment to consider that a life was at risk.

I must admit that other than the shock and anger that the person filming thought that this was perfect for youtube, I felt an over riding sense of shame. I know that some racist is going to look at this video, and laugh because he is viewing jungle bunnies in the wild.  I know that this is going to confirm every single negative stereotype associated with Blackness and what more, it will be associated with me.  If I am truly honest, part of my rage is the fact that, though I would never engage in such a public display, or become that violent, because Blackness is viewed as a collective, rather a grouping of individuals, each and every single wrong doing is attached to my body.  I believe that if most people are honest, when they see something negative performed by a member of the marginalization that they are a part of, the rage is based in the confirmation of a mendacious social stigma. 

Watching this video, I had to constantly tell myself to let it go.  I am not the angry, violent Black woman that these women are in that particular moment.  I am not like any of the racist tropes that are continually aimed at Black women to devalue us.  I am not these women.  I will not take on the cloak of their actions because that is exactly what Whiteness would like me to do.  But the very fact that I had to say this to myself -- to create  a safe space-- speaks to the ways in which my mind has been colonized.  As a WOC, I am always on the defensive seeking some shelter from the overwhelming force of Whiteness.Even in my home, their ideas come unbidden to my mind because I have been saturated by Whiteness all the days of my life.  This is what I mean, when I say that Whiteness is omnipresent.  Even in a video that involved all Black people it was Whiteness that I thought of.  How would Whiteness perceive this? We are constantly reacting to Whiteness, because it is the dominant force and it is extremely difficult to remove it from the equation long enough to see that you are performing the masters work by disciplining yourself for actions that are not your own.

White people are viewed as individuals and POC are continually seen as representatives of our race.  Note, that when we talk about racial profiling, it is never about assuming standards of behavior for Whiteness, though it has a history of rape, murder and violence.  Whiteness is considered civilized, while POC remain the natural savage. This idea is so pervasive, that though we may not like to admit it,  the moment we see someone of colour -- we judge -- and this judgment is based on the little cues that society has taught us to value.  Even if we later realize that racism/prejudice has been a part of our original analysis, this does not remove the damage that our original thought process created.  Regardless of how liberal and anti-racist a White person is, they will eventually act on all the biases that they have been taught.  It may not be as damaging as a cop beating a Black suspect, but it certainly will hurt someone, somewhere-- and each time a video like the above is released, it allows the justification of racism.