Anonymous asked: Do you think it's wrong/weird for white people to adopt POC babies? (and vice versa)
I think it’s fucked up to fetishize people of color, and I think it’s fucked up to strip a child of color from their culture or deny them community that they might need. I don’t know a whole lot (or any) white people who I’d put faith in raising a child of color in a white family in a way that doesn’t mess them up but who knows. I’ve known plenty of kids who are mixed and were raised by their white moms, but they’ve all still been in POC communities.
Vice-versa, I don’t know that I’ve even heard of people of color adopting white babies. First off, why the hell? And second, adoption agencies are pretty picky and white babies are the ones that always get snatched up first. You would have to be the richest, most amazing, most squeaky-clean person of color ever to get to adopt some white babies. Like maybe Beyonce could manage to get one. But again, why would she?
Anonymous asked: Why do you consider yourself black even though you're half white?
I’m not sure what else I would “consider” myself, let alone be. I have caramel tan skin, very dark curly hair, dark eyes. No one “considers” me white enough to treat me the way they would treat white people, no one could mistake me for being white.
People don’t always figure I’m black when they meet me; I get asked about my ethnicity a lot, and way too often in fucked up ways. The ethnicity people assume me to be depends on the demographics of where I am, but no one ever assumes I’m white.
I guess I don’t even get this question. I’m obviously not gonna try to pretend I’m mad dark-skinned when I’m not, or deny that I have ethnically ambiguous features (both sides of my family are ethnically mixed). If it’s relevant to the context, I’ll refer to myself as mixed race black or light-skinned black. But people don’t tend to ask a whole lot of questions before they treat you with some racist shit.
Anonymous asked: Hi! Wondering if it would be ok for me as a white queer to signal boost your awesome blog idea? Or would that be out of line? Totally understand if you're not cool with that. :)
Yeah, that’s fine but thanks for asking. I don’t even know I’ll get around to it, so maybe someone else will hear about it and make it happen, or push me to make it happen.
Anonymous asked: got into an argument with my parents about referring to black americans as a group called the 'black community' I was wondering if you know of resources about why or why not this would be a racist assignation. the context was in referring to voter demographics and I got fed up with them referring to black obama supporters as 'the black community.' in lieu of resources, maybe just an opinion?
Black people are mad complicated! We’re so diverse! Shit, we’re so diverse people hardly ever assume I’m black when they see me, cause we come in so many forms—and that’s just appearance. So of course we have all different backgrounds and opinions and agendas and goals.
My advice would be to try to figure out why they’re lumping Black people together like that. Is it that they assume Obama has won people over so much that all Black people love him? (false) Or do you think they would be doing that same lumping if it were about a different issue (e.g. all black people live in the projects, all black men are in gangs, all black women are welfare queens, etc.)? Pay attention and see if that’s happening with other issues. Then maybe find examples to highlight of how diverse black people are and the diversity of things we’ve done and created. Also the fact that white people don’t get lumped in as one monolithic community in the same way. Not sure I have resources on this conversation, but I think you can get a good sense just from what you can pick up on.
Anonymous asked: About Tupac (this is the same person from before)- I don't know what you're trying to insinuate with "uptight black bitches". But I don't see you that way. I just see you as being uptight. Period. Anyway, it's interesting as to who you use the "nobody's perfect" defense for and who you essentially demonize. I only wish you would use some of that acceptance and understanding towards other people, which might catalyze actual positive change, instead of making more-so negative, accusatory posts.
If I knew how to make gifs, there would be a gif here of my bitchy brown ass.
I love talking about racialized gender and hip-hop and the media and being complicated, but this is making all of that so boring. If there’s one thing I can’t stand (oh besides white people who I need to be more accepting of, right) it’s being bored.
Anonymous asked: Also, I'm curious about what your "Dead Men Don't Rape" flyer post thing is supposed to mean. I get the feeling it's insinuating killing men to prevent rape, which I could see as meaning to be a joke (if my understanding of the post is correct, but I could be wrong, so I'm open to hearing your explanation). But that still seems like a pretty fucked post for someone like you to make, since I'm sure you would get up in arms about a post that said "Dead Women Don't Request Equal Rights".
I just said I don’t settle for rights. I definitely don’t settle for asking. I don’t know what you’re reading.
Anonymous asked: In reference to your Tupac post- I'm a bit surprised to hear support for a rapper who has used and tried to justify the use of the word "bitch" coming from someone who posts in favor of feminism/women's rights so much. Now, I'm not a huge enemy (nor supporter) of Tupac, but since you seem so uptight all the time about women's rights (and often rightfully so, from what I've seen from your posts), I'm curious as to how that doesn't bother you.
Sometimes us uptight black bitches are really complicated. To the point where we contradict ourselves, or indulge in things that to outsiders might seem self-damaging, or support some aspects of a person’s work while being critical of others. It’s cause we’re human, too—crazy, right?
I believe in neither hero worship nor ideological purity. I’ve written about that from time to time (specifically here). My high school hero was Stokely Carmichael, who I found out later said things publicly that were really misogynist. Most of the really important things I’ve learned in life I got from hip-hop records; that’s also where I learned critique. It’s how I learned to take what I need from media or ideas or work. If there’s one main thing I’ve learned from working with teenagers, it’s that you can’t expect anyone to be perfect, or even to always be logical or follow what they say is their ideology, let alone an ideology you approve of.
I also feel like I’ve been unclear if people think I’m getting uptight for women’s rights. I don’t settle for rights, and I don’t settle for alliances that aren’t being forged in all directions. I do decolonization and liberation. I could easily just write off Tupac’s work as being about money and bitches, or I could take and use the portions of his work that are about decolonization and black liberation, which is far more meaningful than just rights.
Anonymous asked: hey, I know you work at a school with students of color & i saw you write something about how grace lee boggs advocates "creating rather than only responding to other forces" & i don't see that about her at all. she has said multiple times that the reason blacks are represented in jails in astronomical numbers is because of our behavior. she has an anti-black mindset and advocates taming the beast that is black children in schools. which is why I think she's so popular among the left.
I believe you, but this isn’t something I’ve seen from her. I will admit, though, most of what I’ve read and heard of hers is more recent; maybe this is something she’s outgrown (not that that excuses it) and so it’s more common in her earlier work that I’m less familiar with? Do you have any examples you want give? I did a little google research and found this essay from 1972, “Crime Among Our People,” that from a pretty cursory look seems like it’s going in that anti-black direction.
So, that’s def super disappointing. However, one thing that I am practicing—and this has mostly become necessary from working with youth—is being okay with people being complicated and contradictory and sometimes total assholes. Sometimes people who I care about say really shitty deplorable things, and I might still care about them. Working with young people makes this necessary because they are still figuring out how things around them work and changing their minds all the time and fucking up—and I’m doing all those things, too, and probably always will.
That’s a longer conversation on why I stopped believing in heroes (finding out about sexist shit Stokely Carmichael said killed parts of my childhood, srsly). Instead I would rather take ideas that I want to work with from people, not assuming that everything a person says or does is something I can get behind. bell hooks had an essay in Teaching to Transform that I read around the same time as I was realizing this was how I needed to form critique and relationships, about basing her life as a professor largely on Paolo Freire’s work but also recognizing sexism within it.
So that is a long answer for, I didn’t know this about Grace Lee Boggs, I haven’t seen this in her work but totally believe it’s possible, it’s beyond disappointing and hopefully something she’s grown beyond and rescinded, but I still really appreciate a lot of what I have read from her. Again, I mostly know her recent work and totally believe in people growing from their previous fuck-ups. In the work of hers that I know, there is generally a theme of making the community you need, building coalition, creating instead of only reacting, and that is all stuff that I like working with. Her fucking up is totally plausible, but these ideas about building positive community are still ones that are important to me and that I want to work with. If people have examples of this anti-black rhetoric of hers, I will pass them on, and I’ll be looking more into that myself.
Anonymous asked: why do you and your ilk obfuscate anti-blackness? continually distorting reality by talking about poc&white supremacy when you should be talking about anti-Blackness. you lot contribute to the distortion of an understanding of the structural position of blacks. this distortion is what zimmerman's latino defense is built on. dont cry about whites washing their hands of z now when you've been ideologically supporting it. refusing to focus on the singularity of anti-black racism is the death threat
Huh?? Usually I’m criticized for focusing on racism against black people before all else. Maybe you should start by asking me about what I work on, all of which focuses on black people. Or even just count through what I post here: 10 of the 15 posts on the first page of this blog are about violence against black people specifically. So I don’t really get this complaint.
So, what, I said “white supremacy” when I should have said “anti-blackness”? These are not mutually exclusive. I believe really strongly in solidarity amongst people of color, and I may overemphasize that by using blanket terms like POC when I should also specify the strain of white supremacy that’s going on. I also believe really strongly in self-critique, and am not interested in solidarity that doesn’t require understanding that different people of color are treated in the same ways—such as anti-blackness is different from but related to orientalism. I like using broad terms like POC because some situations can happen to different POC in related ways; this isn’t always appropriate.
I’m also trying since I moved to my current city to not talk about race and nationality in terms of stark divisions (e.g. black or white, immigrant or nonimmigrant, etc.), because this is the first time I’ve lived somewhere with large communities of people of mixed heritage. So I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get that equating racism with specifically anti-black racism isn’t always accurate. In this case, yeah, that would be accurate, but it is because of complicating how I talk about race that I often say “people of color” instead of specifically “black people.”
I haven’t had a chance to write pretty much anything about this deal of people claiming Zimmerman is latino and therefore not racist (cause that’s really hypocritical of how white people usually talk about who can be racist) because I’ve been working overtime. And guess what I’ve been doing at work? Giving my students books by black authors that don’t do any bullshitting (like I got a 17 year old reading The Fire Next Time), reading articles with them about how black youth are criminalized in schools, and doing some media literacy about how youth of color are treated in the media. So I didn’t have a chance to say things I wanted to say on tumblr because I was doing those same things in other realms of my life with young people. Forgive me, jeez.
So I don’t really think it’s false when I said that white supremacy is a death threat. It is a death threat hurled at non-white people. Anti-blackness is a death threat hurled at black people and any other POC bystanders. I’m generally known to rock my Huey Newton complex pretty hard, so it’s kinda goofy that I’m being accused of not being pro-black enough or ideologically supporting anti-blackness just because I didn’t use that word the one time I mentioned that I don’t give a shit if George Zimmerman receives death threats.
Interesting reading on the different arms of white supremacy is Andrea Smith’s essay “The Three Pillars of White Supremacy.” Or instead I guess we could just not read things and ask questions, and instead just toss accusations and run our mouths off, cause that goes pretty far too..
Anonymous asked: I'd like to chip in to the niceness discussion real quick. As a white person, whenever I talk to poc I'm very, very aware of my own whiteness, and I feel as though I'm being scrutinized (or maybe I’m scrutinizing myself?) as to whether or not I'm acting 'racist' every time I open my mouth. It's nerve-wracking, to be honest, and I don't know if other white people have experienced the same feeling - but it's weird, to feel as though everything you say is going to be counted against your race as
(pt. 2) a whole. And yes, poc live through the exact same thing, and that it IS worse because that prejudice IS institutionalized, but judging from the political blogs I follow the one-on-one inter-action is more or less the same – tension-fraught. It’s the weirdest thing, because when I go to parties (and drink and smoke, yadayada) I’m not concerned with race at all, and I can talk to eve-rybody and anyone without worrying what they think
I’m not really sure how to respond to this. First off, if you are aware of your whiteness, that seems to be pretty rare, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction.
And yes, people of color have to constantly know that we are being judged based on stereotypes of our races, and that our actions will potentially then be used against our races. In our case it’s institutional; in the case of white people, it is not. That difference is huge. For us, it is beyond weird or uncomfortable—for example, racial profiling by police, or DCF policies that disproportionately vilify mothers of color. Those are not instances of discomfort, which wears off eventually; those are people’s actual lives. So no, not the exact same thing, but sure, we both experience discomfort. For some people that uncomfortable situation of being judged will end quickly (relative to, say, the steep prison sentences that men of color often get), and for others there isn’t even an expectation that this society will let you off as easily as that mere discomfort.
About the last part: that is why I don’t often go to parties. That is why I avoid places where white people are drinking. Because of this strange way that suddenly white people will say what they actually want to say, rather than being guarded by politeness. I know I’m not the only person of color who avoids such parties for exactly this reason. We don’t get that escape.
Anonymous asked: What's wrong with having standard English?
Nothing, until it is hegemonic. Why should one method of speaking english be “standard” or correct? Why are all students judged on their ability to communicate within that method, when it is natural to some students but not many others?
Anonymous asked: What do you have against Natalie Portman?
Well, I would forgive hopelessly flat acting if she didn’t say stupid shit like this: http://zuky.tumblr.com/post/2420738931
There are a lot of other ones here: http://stfucelebrities.tumblr.com/post/2624305637/privatesnafu-porpoisespit-this-is-my But I’m not doing all the fact-checking right now to necessarily trust all those.
Anonymous asked: I want to take a moment to say thank you - thank you for keeping this blog, and thank you so much for bringing a different angle to feminism. I've been struggling with it for the longest time. I'm a person of Chinese heritage - which is nowhere near being a POC, but I've found that only three pages into your blog, many of the issues you've highlighted and talked about are so much more relevant to my own views that I'm just grateful to have had found your blog. Thank you.
Thank you for thanking me! That makes me really happy. But also, I would totally say Chinese heritage makes you a person of color! It’s really problematic that sometimes East Asian-descent people aren’t welcomed into POC spaces—model minority myth and so on. There’s so much diversity among people of color, and it’s really exciting, but sometimes people feel threatened by it.
Anonymous asked: i totally understand your indignation that privileged white people only care about the violation of constitutional rights now that they feel like theirs are being violated (and in such a profoundly less egregious way than the constitutional rights of people of color and the poor have been violated for decades), but what i don't quite get is what you THINK their reaction should be - should they just quietly accept it? what do you think?
I’ll put it this way: I am generally really patient, like really really absurdly patient, because the bulk of my socializing is now done with 15 year old boys who get in trouble a lot at school so that patience has carried over into the rest of my life. But at some point, it runs out. My freshmen have a far better sense of what that point is than most of the white liberals/progressives/anarchists I encounter.
I feel for people who are being attacked by the police; I expect it. The main focus of my organizing for the past year has been around local police brutality cases. So, yeah, it makes me furious that the cops would respond that way, but it doesn’t surprise me.
I can’t tell anyone how to respond to something like that. Being faced with violence is fucked, regardless of who you are, and I will be patient with people who maybe respond to violence in ways that aren’t the best, because that is stressful and your emotions will be raw at that point.
But where my patience has run out is this: people of color have been saying as long as this movement has been going on that this sort of shit is nothing new. I have put way more energy than I should into trying to educate white people, only to be ignored, belittled, and to drop off what little work I was willing to put into what they’re doing. Plenty of other POC, also, have put way way more energy into educating white people right now than they really deserve, and way more than is being appreciated. Our work and knowledge are being taken totally for granted. It is at that point that I no longer want to hear people upset about the sorts of things that happen daily in a lot of our communities. (Gratuitous use of SWAT-gear cops? Happens in drug raids near my house.)
I can’t tell anyone how to respond to something emotional. Respond with empathy and with listening. Respond by seeing if the people who have been trying to teach you about this all along will still support you as you deal—and at this point, not a lot of us will. We only get shit on for so long by people claiming to be our allies, before we go back to actually fixing shit that’s going on for ourselves.
Anonymous asked: Hopefully there was meant to be some humor in there because it's not okay to say anyone's journey is LESS IMPORTANT. Plenty of people with "good hair" still didn't know how to care for it and were forced into having their hair relaxed before they could understand what that meant. Anyone whose learning that straight hair isn't their only option and is transitioning into their natural state is on an important journey. The "bad hair" journey is different, probably tougher, but not more important.
Well. I am not totally sure how to respond to this, and honestly I’ve given it a lot of thought this past week since this ask came in. But if we are talking about the experiences of black women with their hair, I do think that the experiences of curly-haired women are less important. There are, and should be, plenty of conversations about curly hair; be as vocal as you want there. But in a conversation about black women’s hair, I really do not need to step in and complain about how my curls are treated, while kinky hair is obviously far more vilified.
Black women are, generally, seen as ugly, unfeminine, dangerous, and either sexless or hypersexual. Our hair is a part of those constructions of our images. White supremacy definitely mistreats curly-haired black women and women of color generally, but we do not get the treatment that kinky-haired women get. Curly hair, especially on mixed-race women, is exoticized and seen as wild—and these are treatments that are fucked up and we should challenge them!—but it is not treated as ugly and unfeminine and primitive in the same way, and in a way that black women overall are treated as ugly and unfeminine and primitive.
I think deciding what’s more or less important in a conversation depends ultimately on your goals. My goal in any conversation about black women’s hair is to affirm how awesome it is. And I do want to celebrate the diversity of black women’s hair, definitely, and that is where I can and should chime in, because I too have been mistreated based on my hair. But, when we are centering the experiences of some people, we are really saying, “This group of people’s experiences are most important in this conversation.” And that conversation really should not go on without those experiences, and derailing is one way that those experiences can be left out.
So, yes, in a conversation amongst black women about their hair, my experiences are less important than those of women with kinky hair.
Let’s understand it this way: that conversation can go on without me and still be productive. But a conversation about black women’s hair should not be happening without kinky-haired women. So their voices are more important; mine adds to it, but is not vital. Theirs are vital.
Similarly, if I’m in a conversation with people who have all grown up non-rich, talking about class, my experiences are less important than those of people in that group who grew up poor. I didn’t grow up rich, but I definitely grew up middle-class and fairly comfortable. In that situation, I can participate (if I’ve been invited to do so; I have no place butting in to a conversation about growing up poor), but my experiences absolutely are less important. And I’m okay with that!
I have honestly long resisted making space for mixed-race people to talk about our experiences, opting instead for space with black people and people of color in general, but I totally support people having conversations about being mixed-race. Or just about being black women with “good” hair (ugh to that word).
The original post in question, for anyone interested, is here. Liquor & Spice posted a really solid follow-up here (hers is the post I was reblogging and agreeing with in the first place).