I saw the movie Pocahontas with my auntie when I was seven and my mum asked me what I thought about it. I told her I LOVED IT and she asked me if I wanted to know the story of the real Pocahontas. she told me all about how the real John Smith was much older than Pocahontas, how Pocahonatas was only a few years older than me, how she was kidnapped and died young, far from everything she knew. Did I think she would have been happy? Did I think that was romantic? She conferred with my dad and they gave me a 500-page biography of Pocahontas to read. I didn’t make it very far. (sometimes when I was little my parents would forget how little I was, I think because my siblings were already older teenagers. Sometimes my mum says things that I think are racist and we argue about it. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that she’s post-racial or anything.)
Posts tagged race
Hands up if large groups of aggressively loud white boys in your vicinity freak you out
Large groups of any men freak me out
idk what courtneylovedcobain’s race is but I feel like the “white” here is important actually
where I live and in a lot of other places, men of colour are routinely harassed by police under the grounds of “public safety”, young black men especially, especially when in groups
for super double irony, there’s a known predator in my area targeting young black men, attempting to murder them, who is suspected of responsibility for at least one death — this was brought up with the local police, who did nothing
so groups of young black men are not only not necessarily a threat, they might be in groups for their safety
in any case
it’s super racist to stereotype all men as dangerous to all women in all circumstances, given that fears for the safety of [white] women have so often been used as a justification for racist harassment and murder
All 27 of the strikers in detention at Broadmeadows have been assessed as genuine refugees. That means that the Immigration Department acknowledges that they faced persecution in Sri Lanka. But they can’t be allowed into the community because they have received adverse assessments from ASIO.
What do these assessments say? The refugees don’t know. They are not permitted to see the accusations against them, nor can they appeal. Though they have been charged with no crime, they now face detention without end. “Australia’s Guantanamo isn’t offshore: it’s in Melbourne”, Jeff Sparrow
remember when the Associated Press determined that Ann Arbor was the least segregated city in Michigan because its population was 7% black instead of 50% black or 80% black or 20 % black in a state that’s 15% black
by “segregation is a problem” we know everyone means “oh god there are a lot of black people in detroit” not “ann arbor is a majority white city just outside of the blackest city in the country and has been pretty strongly responsible for uneven distribution of resources in the region for a very long time now”
I think the context around the use of the term “segregation” when referring specifically to Black people in the USA, in a specific city, is really important. Having said that, I think it’s relevant that last year I read a lot of policy from Australia, North America and Europe that was concerned with “segregation” or “ghettoisation” or similar concepts in the urban environment. Without exception, an area was considered segregated and in need of a policy response if it had a large population of people of colour or otherwise ethnically marginalised people; without exception, disproportionately white areas were not considered “segregated”. This was also true of poverty: poor people living together are ghettoised and need to be broken out of that with gentrification, rich people living together is just the way of the world. Discourses of “integration” in urban policy are almost all progressive-sounding ways to talk about large groups of marginalised people as a problem. Basically you’re right and this is a huge issue in other places as well.
what white people should do
When white people are confronted with racism, the most common question is “but what are we supposed to do?”
I get it, it’s hard. You’re trying to think about all these things but it seems like you’re always wrong. Like if you’re a white academic and you only write about white Western culture, you’re being Eurocentric and contributing to the invisibility and erasure of marginalised peoples and cultures, but if you write about people of colour and their cultures, you come up against appropriation, exoticisation, issues of self-representation and self-determination.
I’m not being sarcastic! It’s hard even if it’s harder for someone else. I appreciate when people are genuinely trying to address racism. And I know what I’m like when I try to think about something that is outside my sphere of experience, that has maybe honestly only just occurred to me: I’m bewildered and overwhelmed and anxious, I have no idea what to do, I want someone to give me all the answers.
But hey, if you’re a white academic, you probably have cultural power over anyone you research. Or any academic really - and even when you’re writing about marginalised communities you’re part of, you get to choose which representations are prioritised. By virtue of your position, regardless of your own background and identities and ideology, you have hierarchical power over people. There are definitely better and worse ways to approach that power. But to some extent you can’t “get it right”. There is no perfect, ethically pure use of unethical power. Sometimes you don’t get to be good.
I’m not saying that white people are inevitably racist all the time and there’s nothing you can do so don’t bother trying. But I think the way we’re implicated in systems of oppression puts us in a position where there’s no right act. Trying to break down a system is dirty, messy work. We’re going some place we can’t see yet. We don’t get to be good. We don’t get to be right. That’s not the point.
I was brought up to believe in being correct. And that smarts will get you anywhere. I don’t think that’s true though. I’m trying to unlearn that. Trying to learn to be humble and kind, to be gentle. All the kindness I can afford, always. I know I’ve been saying this for a while now. It’s hard but it’s harder for someone else.