Thursday, September 17, 2009

White Rage/ White Fright: White Lies (white racial resentment & anti-Obama protest)

***Let's be clear about our starting point.
Here is what Tim Wise meant when he used the phrase "white racial resentment" to describe the motivation for opposition to Obama's health care reform plan***

***I appreciate it when folks ditch the elusive metaphors, and say how they really feel***

***Obama: another reiteration of the trope of the traditional black male threat to white children;
BEWARE GOOD WHITE FOLK!! The black man will raid the white man's home,
and strip him of authority over his white family!***


***Less subtle***

***Invoking the concept of white slavery, eh... which mobilizes the rhetoric of Revolutionary War Era whites, who were quite comfortable with the literal enslavement of black people, but violently rejected their "tax enslavement" to British imperialists. White folks were too good to be, even, discursively enslaved!! (And Revolutionary Era white folks concept of their enslavement obscenely distorted the reality of blacks' enslavement in the Americas ):

Monday, September 14, 2009

Of Mice and White Men: Racism & Political Speech in the Age of Obama

Check out this 6 minute CNN interview of white anti-racist activist Tim Wise. Wise discusses the role of "white racial resentment" in the opposition to Obama's health care reform plan.


I would love to know what folks think of what Wise has to say here. If you're interested in this topic -- white politicians' use of "hidden racism" (or racially coded language) to gain support for their agendas and win white voters , I recommend
Dan Carters' From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counter-Revolution. Carters book is short, well researched and very interesting (I think:). He discusses the evolution of politicians' racist rhetoric from the time pro-racial segregationist George Wallace ran for office in the 1960s and Newt Gingrich's opposition to welfare and affirmative action in the 1990s. 

Carter demonstrates how the U.S. conservative white politicians -- like Wallace -- shifted from explicitly racist appeals (in one his public speeches, Wallace shouted, "Segregation Now! Segregation Forever!) to coded racist appeals (or "hidden" racist speech -- like that deployed by Richard Nixon, who, while campaigning for the presidency, vowed to restore "law and order," which white voters understood to refer to a particularly racialized criminal element -- i.e., poor urban blacks and Latinos. When Nixon talked about crime he invoked a specific racial image/racial stereotype -- that of the immoral, lazy, unwilling to do "legitimate" wage work, ignorant, welfare receiving "inner city" (another racially coded term) African American and Latino -- who were, let's not forget, sexually threatening to white women and white girls (after all, the black man was believed to have a particular predilection for white women's sex -- a predatory desire that could only be cured by police batons and guns and prisons -- lots of them).

Nixon's successful presidential campaign laid the groundwork for George Bush, Sr's exploitation of one black man's brutal crimes -- that man was Willie Horton. Under Dukakis' tenure as governor, a Massachusetts state law permitted inmates, like Horton, to be released on a 48 hour weekend furlough from prison. Horton never returned from furlough, and after having escaped from prison, he brutally attacked a white couple -- stabbing the white man and raping the white woman.

Here's one example of the way in which the Horton situation was used to discredit Dukakis as a worthy presidential candidate.

Bush, Sr.'s gained extreme mileage from Horton's crime. In fact, chaunceydevega's blog post tells us that the Bush campaign's Willie Horton ad permitted him "to make a comeback against Dukakis and take the White House." Bush Sr's campaign staff cast Dukakis as, not just an irresponsible leader -- but an irresponsible white man -- an irresponsible white male leader -- that supported the "right" of savage (read: black) criminals to rehabilitative "vacation" from incarceration rather than the rights of upright, hardworking and innocent citizens (read: white) to be free of and protected from the sexual savagery of escaped convicts (read: black men).

Dukakis didn't stand a chance.

Before Bush, Sr.'s victorious run for presidential office, presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan railed against "welfare queens" abuse of government help and the sin of affirmative action (which was perceived as yet another attack on the "rights" of "qualified" white men to the fruits of their hard labor). Bush's use of Horton's crimes and Reagan's purposeful reference to "welfare queens" held salience for millions of white voters, in particular, who had been taught from birth -- via cultural and social institutions like the media, schools, and family -- that black and brown people were to be feared; they did not work hard like the "salt of the earth" white folks who "made" this country "what it is today" (which is free dontcha know!); they posed a threat to Western civilization, which is best led and protected by white men -- white patriarchs. And it is white men's dependents -- white women and white girls -- that need protecting.

What today's conservatives -- like Pat Buchanan, who said that Obama's presidency is doing to white's what Jim Crow did to blacks, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, who agree with Buchanan that Obama is a new millennium Hitler for the "West" (see an all too vivid example of this racist anti-Obama propaganda here)-- it is Beck that tells us that Obama "hates white culture" -- is definitely nothing new under the son. In fact, there is a long, rich history of white male politicians exploiting white people's racist/race-based anxieties about people of color.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Transmen & Masculine Females: a Radical alternative to patriarchal masculinity

Erica, a presenter at this years ButchVoices conference, uses bell hooks' theories on white male supremacy and black patriarchy to analyze, re-position and re-conceptualize female masculinity and transmanhood, in general, black female masculinity and black transmanhood, in particular. She states: "...personally, as a black lesbian I...have...felt a need to construct a radical alternative to patriarchy and to patriarchal masculinity...transgender men, doms, studs, I think all of us...have a powerful..position in terms of reframing this discussion around what is black masculinity."

My comment: While I have thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman -- in explicit terms -- as a tool to subvert patriarchy, in particular, white male supremacy -- I hadn't thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman as a "radical alternative to patriarchy" -- as Erica brilliantly and eloquently states.

Right on, brother! Optimism inspiring stuff:)

Erica's suggestions on how to accomplish the goal of resisting complicity in and subverting patriarchal norms, and thus, constructing a radical alternative to patriarchy:

1) Fully embrace one's masculinity and femininity

2) Context helps define masculinity and femininity -- and the degree to which one's gender expression is masculine and feminine.

My comment: With statements 1 & 2 Erica was saying (I think) that there is no one way to be butch, stud, dom, a masculine female, a masculine person (etc.,) -- therefore, the spectrum, variations and differences in queer expressions of masculinity need be embraced, affirmed, validated and respected (as long as these expressions are not tied to the abuse of another person -- like misogyny and sexual violence directed at femmes, non-"masculine" people, and masculine people, for example.)

3) Interrogate one's emotions (in defiance of masculine gender norms). Engage in self-analysis or introspection -- in so doing, I believe we honor and respect our emotional experiences. Patriarchy teaches men to repress emotions that render a man vulnerable -- like sadness, for example (I think patriarchy encourages, validates and awards male expressions of anger). Erica encourages masculine females and transmen *not*

4) "Develop a healthy relationship to our own power and authority and our own power in the world." -- which means *not* abusing one's power as a stud, dom, transman or masculine person

Thanks, Erica!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

internalized oppression/ irrepressible idealism (Dear Janine)


I feel so lonely.

and so scared.

I don't know: what to do.

where to run.

where to hide.

the Rage does not satisfy.

Sometimes. I choke. on it.

scared&lonely even though things always end up okay -- even as they do not go as hoped for
or as planned.

Would you believe... it's the idealistic hoping that makes it so?

I can't help but hope -- can't help but fight for it -- can't help but pursue that revolutionary ideal... as I imagine it... in the context of myLife.

And it is that very thing -- that very thing -- that scares me the most.

that leaves me feeling isolated.