#NotAllWhitePeople Have a Conscience


Ok.

I’m starting to question at which point in life white people lose their conscience and what we can do to stop that process. I believe we’re all born with a sense of human concern, some form of conscience and somewhere along the line, white people (and potentially people of color aspiring to whiteness as well) lose it.

White supremacy is a racial project taught from a young age, and all of us learn it. Some of us learn other negative racial projects as well, like colorblind racism. Some of us learn positive racial projects that work to fight the hegemonic narrative of white supremacy, like pro-Black thought.

This means that white people are indoctrinated into a system of hate that centers their whiteness and says it is superior to anything else, but particularly in the U.S. context: Blackness.

In other words, white people are taught to hate Black people; hate for an entire group of people is learned. Even if white people have “progressive” parents, the world around them still preaches a white supremacist gospel. In the process of learning this gospel, I think white people lose their conscience in order to be able to dehumanize and erase people of color.

White people then have to fight to unlearn this racism, similar to how men have to unlearn our sexism and misogyny that is so embedded in our heteropatriarchal society.

This means that #NotAllWhitePeople is a misnomer. Or rather, we need to think about it in another way.

#NotAllWhitePeople hate Black people…because they unlearn the hate they were raised with.
#NotAllWhitePeople are practicing racists…because they are racists who have been taught to recognize their racism and are therefore working against their racist tendencies to stop it and are therefore inactive, recovering racists.
#NotAllWhitePeople are ignorant of their privilege…because they have been taught to unlearn the privilege they were bestowed when they were born into this world white.

You see what I’m saying? So there are some white people who’ve acknowledged this and are working toward stopping it…I think? But it doesn’t stop the millions of white people from terrorizing people who aren’t “white.” Even the white people who are fighting the good fight still do not often call out their friends or their family on their oppressive, racist attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Why? Because it’s a risk they’re not willing to take. I get it, they don’t want to lose theirs jobs, their parents or their cousins but until we all take some risks this ain’t gonna stop. As dramatic as it may sound, the truth is that being Black in America means that you risk your life every time you leave your house, regardless of if you’re in the hood or the Hamptons. The levels of risk differs, but the risk is ever present.

Basically: what happened with this Geris Hilton character, or Emmett Till, or any of the thousands of Black people turned hashtags is NOT a fluke, but the way the system was designed. These are not isolated incidents, but a pattern. I need white people to stop allowing white supremacy to snatch their consciences, because I truly don’t have the time for any more white bullshit in my life, whether it be the word “nigger” or the death of a “non-White” person at the hands of a white person (BASED ON THEIR GENETIC PHENOTYPE).

In closing: there is more genetic variation between two members of the same race than variation between two members of different races. This means that white people must have a conscience because we’re all actually so genetically similar. But the white devil is real, and even when I avoid him, he comes to me and the people I love. This shit has got to stop. It doesn’t just hurt us, it hurts you too.

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#MasculinitySoFragile

Can I ask a favor from my men friends/readers?

Please search #MasculinitySoFragile on twitter or just click here.


Backstory (about abuse of women by men):

So I’m clearly a feminist
/womanist
/ I care about women.
Earlier today I read about some horrible shit that has happened to different women in the last month in intimate relationships. FeministaJones had posted it on her website’s Facebook. It messed me up, I shared it and then I went about my day. But it came back around to me and it pissed me off so much. All I could think about was how at its core, my silence as a man is complicity in the abuse of women. Yeah I talk about my love for women, but not enough. Yeah I do #SayHerName but that’s not enough.
Men literally kill women for nothing, because of to assert dominance, patriarchy, and embody male entitlement. Men feel like they own women. Period. Even when they don’t realize it. Our male privilege blind us to the ways that we dehumanize woman, reducing them to mere body parts.
But this isn’t just physical and these behaviors are not limited to straight men. As queer men we often rely on women for emotional labor but do not compensate them for that time. Whether it be our mothers, our girlfriends, or our friends, we rely on women every damn day, often without reciprocation. We rely on women, and often women of color to give us support without actually offering that support back. So I went on a long series of tweets about domestic violence, abuse, rape, and other forms of violence under the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile. I’m not the first to use the hashtag, but I continued a conversation tonight that women–and Black women in particular–have been having for centuries. This ain’t new, but people love to listen to men talk about it while ignoring the women who taught men about it (like my mom, Feminista Jones,  Trudy at Gradient Lair, or the countless friends I have had).
I wanted to expose the ways in which we, as men, protect other men by not speaking up about the abuse. I’ve written a lot about white entitlement, but male entitlement is a disgusting thing as well because of the particularly toxic form of masculinity it breeds. We protect hegemonic (or dominant and mainstream) masculinities that are rooted in misogyny. There are multiple forms of masculinity, and we cannot subscribe to any notions that lead to the death of women because they didn’t say “hi” back to a man or because they called the name of the wrong lover in bed. We need to put our egos to the side to build with women without them having to be our relative or spouse. Our silence is figurative blood on our hands, and I won’t have it. I want us to work toward a world where hashtags like #YouOkSis–where women discuss daily harassment from men–are no longer necessary.

“This is why I don’t talk to white people about race”

A few days ago I posted on my Facebook that I don’t plan on engaging with white people on the topics of race, police brutality, or even class. There are exceptions, but for the most part, I’m good. A friend messaged me today and asked why. If I am a self-proclaimed scholar-activist intent on dismantling white supremacy, isn’t direct engagement with white folk a great way to conscientize them?  This blog post is inspired by that question.

After 26 years of being all-consumed by whiteness and spending my years conscientizing white folk, I’m just not going to actively do it. I grew up in historically and primarily white neighborhoods, work/ed in white spaces, and attend a top research institution that contains a lot of white logic. Combine this with the historical legacy of Black dehumanization in the United States and you should understand why I’m tired.

So if a debate that naturally occurs in person? Maybe.

Online debate? Nah. Almost never worth it.

Questions from white folk? Especially respectful clarifying questions?Definitely; although I, like anyone, reserve the right to not answer them.

Devil’s advocate or “why did #BlackLivesMatter do this?” when I’m not a formal part of BLM? Nah. Not here for it.

I have literally had knots in my stomach and elevated blood pressure from debating this life-or-death shit, so I’m not here for semantic arguments or for you to practice your debate skills on me. I’m not here to be hyperconsumed like I’m google when my knowledge comes from 26 years of Black queer life, lots of self-reading, conversations with friends/elders/mentors/& more and of course the formal education I’ve received over the years. And here’s the thing: I’ve thought about some of these debates for days afterwards, feeling like it was my job to do this mess. Feeling like if I wasn’t doing this I was failing my goal of working with “allies” to help the mission of Black Liberation.

But if you notice, I have over 1,200 contacts on FB and around 2,000 followers on twitter. Many of them are white. So when it comes to white consumption from white people at a certain level of consciousness already: y’all are hopefully hearing it, listening quietly, and processing solutions. What I post is a form of conscientization, but what I’m saying is that I won’t take it a step further and discuss it in detail with white folk. I mean, y’all see how much content I produce on social media. Y’all see how much I read, and you wanna bank on my knowledge, my familiarity, and my perspective. I ain’t mad at it, but hopefully you’re also going home to your white families to check them on their potentially racist, classist, misogynistic and transphobic rhetoric. If you’re so inclined, you can talk to your friends about it, online or offline. But it’s too much intellectual and emotional labor for me to talk to white folk about this all the time. It’s not my job. I’m not being paid and in fact it takes time away from me and I’m suffering negative health effects as a result of your requests and my choice to engage with them. So then I hope that white people, half-white people, white passing people, and PoC with more patience are doing the work that I’ve done for most of my [short] life.

In other words: it’s on those who benefit from the interlocking systems (white people, men, straight people, able-bodied people, etc.) to help dismantle them. This means self-education and that sometimes means asking for help. But too often y’all aren’t asking for help or creating solutions, but demanding unpaid labor from me. And…nah.

If you’re white and this post makes you uncomfortable, read this piece by Joel Leon to give you a sense of the things I do, have done, and may have to continue to do for white people in my life, including this blog post.

5 Tips to Get More Than Clicks: Consciousness Raising on Facebook

If you know me personally, follow this blog and/or my twitter, you know that I post a lot of potentially divisive, contentious and depressing topics (politics, death, war). The goal for me in postings these is twofold: (1) sharing content I have read in the hopes that someone in my social network finds them interesting and (2) consciousness raising. Consciousness raising, popularized by feminist scholars, basically means making other more aware of a certain issue or conditions, I.E. #BlackLivesMatter.

Using my Facebook as a template, I’ve created this guide to share some tips on how to get people to actually pay attention to those things that matter to you, the reader. I based these tips on anecdotal evidence and articles I have read along the way. Obviously this won’t work for everyone–you have to tailor it to your personal networks–and I don’t always follow these rules myself, but I think this may help more than it will hurt. Additionally, people have to some opinion on your opinion. Whether they agree or disagree, they need to feel like your content is worth engaging with.

When posting an article/content on Facebook

1. Busy, bored, and disengaged; “I didn’t logon to get an education”

Simply put: a lot of people won’t like or notice a lot of what you post, so make it interesting. Keep in mind that outside of your personal relationships with those in your networks, social media is also affected by how much you interact with other people and how much they interact with you. Practically that looks like liking their photos, commenting on statuses, etc. So if you’re not very active, even with these tips you won’t be popping up in people’s feeds as often.

2. Choose a reliable source; ain’t nobody got time for false information.

Can the content be found on another [verifiable] source? If it’s a not a news source, like a blog, does it have a history of great content (like Black Girl Dangerous) ? Does it contain references for the information it cites? This may seem obvious, but it’s important because if you are known for posting from unreliable sources, people are less likely to engage with your content. Examples of sources I often cite include Al Jazeera News and The New York Times, but keep in mind they all have bias.

3. Framing is important; context is key.

Think about your own use on Facebook. What would make you as likely to click on a Buzzfeed article as an NPR article? Outside of the thumbnail used, interest level in the content is a huge factor for many people. Considering #1–people often avoid talking about socially conscious issues–expect that people will only read the headlines of what you post, at best.In order to properly frame an article, see below.

4. Include a comment or quote; make the reader’s job easier.

People will scroll past links, even when you do caption the articles but these people know you through familial, business, or school connections, giving you an in. But chances are, they may not click the link but may skim your comment. For this reason I usually will usually include 2-4 sentences (if it’s too long, people will often scroll past) of a mix of:

  • My thoughts/reaction (taking into account my bias or the bias of the author)
  • Thesis statement from the article
  • A short quote that spoke to me

5. Monitor posting frequency; be strategic

There are better resources than I to tell you when to post (to maximize peak times for traffic), but I can tell you that Facebook has algorithms and people have limits. Posting too often will mean that your posts won’t show up. Additionally, think of how you “reserve” your likes for a post on instagram. If a friend posts six amazing photos within one minute, many people will not “like” all six. But if she spread them out throughout the day or the course of a few days, she gets the most exposure and higher number of “likes.” The best bet–particularly to make sure people don’t tune you out–is to post less frequently but of a higher quality.

rest in power, Bryson Young.

Life is so precious, y’all. I was just ranting to my play brother about how life is a hamster wheel. What are we doing and why are we doing it?

But then tonight I saw that same play brother in a one minute play festival. Two years ago after that year’s one minute play festival, a fellow company member emailed me to get feedback on her play “Black Man Walking.” We exhanged emails and discussed the complexity of her writing this, as a white womxn. And of reaching out to me, a Black man. I recently thought about that conversation after a white womxn gasped at the sight of me around a blind corner. I also remembered that this womxn, the playwright, who I had only talked to less than four times had been moved by my acting and my comments on her script. And I remember being touched by her tenacity.

And then I come home to find three of my housemates in various states of exhaustion. A friend of my housemates passed tonight. I had seen him on campus many times but hadn’t spoken to him until earlier this week when he stopped by. I was busy doing my bibliography and didn’t spend much time with him. But I still observed that he laughed at everything, his spirit was infectious, he was a polyglot, and he planned on becoming a doctor.

I don’t even know how to feel except hurt. Hurt for him, hurt for the fact that another human is gone and that he was so long. Hurt for my housemates who are hurting.

And not that everything is connected to the movement, but it is. We’re out here dying of natural causes already. We’re out here hurting and mourning. And yet we have five Black church arsons in six days? And some of you are too afraid to call out white supremacy for fear of losing a racist cousin?

I get it, precisely because life is precious. But I’m just so tired.

Go hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Give a friend a compliment. Call your mom. Think about how you can give love, receive love, and appreciate those people who are still alive. This includes men, too. Don’t let the fragile construction of masculinity stop you from expressing your feelings, thoughts, or emotions with those who are important in your life.

Rest in power, fam.

(reposted from my FB so that it doesn’t get lost in the feed. Bryson’s spirit is too live to let die).

#MoreThanMarriage – Why same-sex marriage legalization represents privilege

Fact #1: The supreme court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. states.

Fact #2: Less than 50% of our 50 states have employer non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Fact #3: At least 80% of Black gay men have experiences with racism in the gay community.

The Human Rights Campaign and other advocates fighting for marriage equality needs to realize that “equal rights” are about #MoreThanMarriage. We should celebrate the wins when and where we can, but, as a 25-year-old cisgender* Black gay man living in the Bay Area, marriage “equality” is not my top priority. My queerness comes second in both my eyes and the eyes of society. Sure, who I sleep with can get me into trouble, but this beautiful, Black skin of mine presents a higher and more visible risk, and therefore a higher priority.

Marriage benefits include as tax breaks, hospital visitation, and child custody laws, but let’s not forget that people can still be fired for their non-hetero sexuality(ies). There are currently 28 states without laws to protect LGBT folks from employment discrimination based on their gender and/or sexual identity. These states give employers the authority to legally fire a person on the basis of their sexual orientation alone. This does not automatically affect some men because we have the privilege of “passing.” We can pass as heterosexual because we present in traditionally “masculine” ways through our speech patterns, mannerisms, and overall appearance. This a privilege that many–like men with “effeminate” traits–do not have. Passing is also a choice, the alternative is to disclose their sexual orientation despite the fact that it is nobody’s business.

The conversation shifts when the circle of human concern is expanded to consider the lived experiences of trans folks. More so than discrimination on sexual orientation, trans folks are even more heavily discriminated against at work, home, and even within the supposedly inclusive gay community. Keep in mind that a person can be both trans and non-heterosexual, and therefore the marginalization intersects and the risk multiplies.

Take, for example,  the recent “White House heckler” whose comments didn’t make it to many mainstream media narratives. This transgender activist, Jennicet Gutiérrez, spoke up at an LGBTQ event at the White House and received criticism about her methods. Her message was obscured, but let’s be clear: immigrants who identify as trans are misgendered in detention centers and face physical and sexual abuse as a result. As a man marginalized for my Blackness and my queerness, I personally stand with Jennicet in saying #Not1More.

The case of trans detainees highlight the fact that same-sex marriage does not destroy homophobia, transphobia, racism, or racism within the gay community. The notion of marriage itself resides in a very privileged space. While there are many queer people of color who are patiently waiting to marry, this Supreme Court ruling benefits middle-class white gay men in ways that it may never benefit someone like me. I dislike comparing struggles, but I have never heard of anyone dying from not having the right to marry who they wish.

On the other hand we, as Black people, are being systematically targeted and killed daily for merely being Black. This racial targeting is nothing new, because Black people have never been seen as human to the institution of whiteness (read: by many / most white people). But since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, mobilization took a new form through the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The movement–started by three womxn, two of them queer–is maintained by those same womxn and a Black queer man.

Don’t let silence hide the queer people who led movements for Black freedom. Don’t forget that the fight is not about Black liberation before LGBTQ liberation, but instead liberation for all people of African descent, including those who do not identify in the same ways as ourselves. Think about much further would we be in these intersectional struggles if we abandoned our collective tunnel vision earlier in the battle for liberation?

When the police are killing more of us–primarily Black folks–in a few days than other countries kill in an entire year, it is hard for me to focus on the potential bragging rights of marriage. In fact, this wave of state-sanctioned police brutality keeps me up at night and has many Black people too angry, scared and questioning to even consider marriage. So while I am happy to see colorful Facebook flags, my most pressing question boils down to:

What are you doing to get them to stop fucking killing us?
*meaning that my gender identity matches my biological sex and the gender I was assigned at birth. In practice this means I was assigned male based on my male genitalia and I identify as a man.

note: this article was written by me for the Afrikan Black Coalition and is crossposted here on my personal blog. Photo source: https://twitter.com/ykhong/status/614959735654232064

#YouOkSis – SummerUp Festival

Do you know what these are? The result of Summer Up Festival leaving 1,000 lifesize Nicki cutups on the stairs of a Finnish Cathedral.image image image image image image image

What does that mean? That means that you can now “own” a Nicki by “stealing her.” And then taking photos with her and posting it under the hashtag #MyNicki on Instagram.  Do you know what that’s called? When something can be bought/sold/traded/stolen like a product? Commodification. Her Black body, her “assests” are not just a commodity online, but are manifest through 1,000  cardboard copies. Using Nicki Minaj as a prop is also called symbolic violence.

Did you know that at one point in U.S. history you could own your own Black woman? They were called slaves. At another point you could see “real live Africans” in zoos. Over in Europe you could view the labia and “large buttocks” of Saartjie Baartman after she passed away. And in 2015 a white officer can grab a Black 15-year-old by her hair and sit on her [in her bathing suit] in #McKinney, Texas.

This is the plight of the Black womxn in the U.S. and I will not be silent about it.