Another guest post by Renee of Womanist Musings addressing tokenism.
It’s something the WWBT’s have tried to deploy when I’ve called their vanillacentric behinds out.
They’ve attempted to use Ashley Love as a human shield in a pathetic attempt to deflect criticism from moi over their bull feces.
Take it away, Renee
Okay, so I am still pissed off and want to address a few more things
before moving on. It’s no secret that over the years I have had a few
online altercations, with different people over various issues. Over the
years, White feminist women have engaged in a common rebuttal that I
would like to address. Whenever there is a disagreement, the stock
phrase has become even WOC don’t agree, and you don’t speak for all
WOC. Sometimes, it’s a case of there are WOC in our group and you are
erasing them with your charges of racism, or there are WOC in our group,
and you are not acknowledging their existence.
Here’s the deal, if you have to run behind the skirts of a WOC to base
your defense, you have effectively turned them into your token darky.
Just because you can find one or even many WOC to take your side, does
not mean that what you did, or said is not racist. It’s like declaring
something isn’t racist because your best Black friend said so. Having
WOC in your group, does not necessarily make it a safe space for all WOC
to engage, or give you some kind of inclusive street cred for you to
I am going to let you in on a little secret. I know it’s shocking, but
it’s time that someone told you. All WOC, though we share the
oppression of race and gender, do not think a like. We are individuals
and this means that we are capable of disagreeing with one another and
frequently do. Having WOC in your group does not mean that it is not a
hostile place or harmful. Did Condoleezza Rice make George Bush’s
administration Black friendly? Should I agree with everything that she
did in her term in office because she is a Black woman? Finally, does
Condoleezza represent all Black women because of her race?
I am not going to go through the name calling, because I know that the
guilty parties are well aware of who they are. I bring this up because I
am sick to death of seeing it as a defense, and the racist nature of it
disgusts me. Turning the POC in your group into a defense mechanism, is
tokenism and it shows that you have no real respect for who they are as
people. Your argument either has merit, or it doesn’t.
The second most frequent response I get is the charge that I hate White
women. I often chuckle when this happens, because nothing could be
further from the truth. Throughout history, White women have been given a
pass on their racist actions. It’s quite true that because of
patriarchy their ability to make systemic changes has been limited, but
that should not stand as a reason to ignore the various ways in which
White women work to maintain their White privilege. I am in the business
of talking about systemic isms and that means no one gets a pass.
Pointing out that a White woman has done or said something racist, or
discussing the ways in which they can be racist, eg., White women’s
tears, or purse clutching, is not a declaration of hatred, but a
statement of truth. I see no reason to ignore something that actively
oppresses me, simply because the action came from a White woman.
To blog one needs a very thick skin, and I think this is especially true
in the social justice blogosphere, with the mob like mentality of many
of its participants. There seems to be this pervasive belief that group
think is necessary for participation. This is absolutely counter to who
I am and what I believe in. Mistakes require one to prostrate oneself
and at any moment. A mistake you made years ago will be thrown into your
face, as though your worst day is representative of who you are as a
person. None of you are Jesus for me to beg eternal salvation from. The
level of perfection demanded is ridiculous. This is especially true
because decolonizing one’s mind is a lifetime journey. In many ways, it
reminds of the way we treated convicted criminals. We stigmatize them,
refuse to hire them, and then have the nerve to complain about the
recidivism rate. I’m not saying that we as marginalized people are
required to accept an apology, or that we are responsible for own
oppression, but what I am saying is that living in glasses houses, as
though each of us not guilty of oppressing someone, in some way, is
I am not the same person as I was when I was 12, I changed again in my
20’s, and again in my 30’s, and I highly suspect that each decade of
life that I am granted will bring new lessons and a better understanding
of the world around me. One of the things that bothers me about the
blogosphere is that there is very little room for redemption. If we
don’t believe in the possibility of change, why are we even talking and
fighting to raise awareness?
It seems to me that many have tried to define this space for me. Some
believe that it a feminist blog, in spite of the fact that it is called
Womanist Musings, and still others believe that it is a woman’s space.
The moment I decided to open my space to guest bloggers, it ceased to be
solely a woman’s space. When I think of this blog, I think of it as a
space for marginalized people. That means it is open to anyone who
faces some form of ism to speak about how said ism harms them. There
have been several male identified people who have been regular guest
posters here, and that is something you don’t see on a space that is
designed specifically for women. Yes, these male identified people do
have male privilege, but that does not negate the fact that they do
exist as marginalized people. I am not one who buys into the notion
that gender is the primary oppression.
Finally, I would like to address the fact that some believe that this
space is unsafe because I swear. I actually find this laughable. Years
ago, every second word on Feministing was fuck this, fuck you, and fuck
off and this was considered transgressive, because good little White
girls aren’t supposed to swear. When I swear, I become the angry
aggressive Black woman who threatens the safety of others. I have had
email after email exhorting me not to swear, because apparently my point
is made so much more clear without expletives and it offends people’s
delicate fee fees. If I happen to swear at someone, they feel
threatened. What is this but another racist tone exercise? When I
believe something forcefully, I am going to speak my mind, and this is
especially true if it is happening in my own space. I know damn well
that the reason my speech is as highly disciplined as it is, is because
of my race. I am well aware that many would reject this because in their
color blind world, they believe that they are beyond such
characterizations, but the truth of the matter is that race is always
omnipresent in any interaction that involves a person of colour. I don’t
have to disagree with you nicely and I am entitled to my rage just like
anyone else. If I want to run around screaming, I wish a mother fucker
would, that’s my damn business. Swearing doesn’t make my point any less
valid and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. To say that you feel
unsafe because I swore, or even swore at you is laughable. Do you leave
the house wrapped in bubble wrap as well? How the fuck do you function
in the real world, if the word Fuck totally throws you off your groove?
The issues raised in this post have been brewing in my mind for quite
sometime. I know damn well the blogosphere is filled with personal
grudges, backstabbing and anger. The ironic thing about all of this, is
that each time a blow up happens, the oppressors gather in their
corners and clap their hands with glee, because they recognize that us
tearing each other apart means that we are not focused on them. It’s
great entertainment for them. When someone fucks up, call them the hell
out, shit call me out, but if your reason for doing so is because you
have an axe to grind, then you are not serving your issue at all.
Showing up out of the blue when you never read this space to chastise me
and then appearing again only when I fuck up is about disciplining me,
not engaging me.
Okay, rant done, and thanks for your patience.
The title of this post came from Danny, of Danny’s Corner, in our five hour convo last night.
TransGriot Note: Photo gracing this post is of conservasellout Angela McGlowan