sinidentidades:

One of my coworkers is texting with me talking about how she’s still mindblown from the idea that desegregating schools may have been motivated by the fact that the state not overseeing people of color’s education led to them learning about their histories and revolutionary politics, so they wanted to put a stop to that by declaring they saw the wrong in their racist ways when really they just wanted to make sure that people of color had the most whitewashed education possible because who wants to see shit like this: 

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The thing most feared was poc solidarity of course: image

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tranqualizer:

[photo: black and white image of an urbanize area. there is graffiti on a concrete wall that reads, “black power” and “brown power.”]

tranqualizer:

[photo: black and white image of an urbanize area. there is graffiti on a concrete wall that reads, “black power” and “brown power.”]

norwegianfeminism:

Tommie Smith & John Carlos - Black Power.

[photo: black and white image of an urbanize area. there is graffiti on a concrete wall that reads, “black power” and “brown power.”]

[photo: black and white image of an urbanize area. there is graffiti on a concrete wall that reads, “black power” and “brown power.”]

the obvious double standard of “greatness”

navigatethestream:

{so as part of my assignment for my queer writers class, i was supposed to write a manifesto based off reading adrienne rich’s “compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence and something else as well. instead i decided to write this. i will write about how the chips fell once i read this aloud in class today. stay tuned} 

i keep thinking about adrienne rich. i keep thinking about my teacher’s forum comment in my attempt to go into class today with a desire to talk about the holistic reality of adrienne rich as a writer and a poet. 

most importantly, i keep thinking about who is allowed access to unadulterated greatness. who is allowed to die and go to heaven, to not have their named soiled after they have finally pushed the last daisy, who will jump up in defence of whom, and what specific logic people will utilize to overlook a “great” person’s problematic behaviours. 

i feel as though it doesn’t have to be said, but i’m going to say it anyway: the white supremacist power structure which exists as the underlying framework for american society sets up guidelines by which greatness is conceived of in the popular imagination, a methodology for which that label can be potentially tapped into, and strict unwritten checks and balances for determining what kind of people can be considered “great” and under what circumstances. So essentially: what is greatness, what does it look like, how can it be achieved, who can achieve it, and who can’t achieve it. 

When i think about the way in which the white supremacist power structure has helped to construct and shape ideas of greatness, i think about some of my favourite leaders in the black power movement: Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X to name a few. I think about how if i wanted to have a conversation about how “great” they were in academia I’d be looked at as if i need to take a bounce around a room with four padded walls by many, and i understand why that has to happen.

I understand that the majority of society will never be able to see these two men as “great” people because its very hard to whitewash their contributions to the struggle of black liberation and completely remove them from that context into a larger narrative of “a different place and time that is no longer there”. its very different to work them into the fabric of a post racial society America is currently aiming for. For Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael were no stranger to not only calling out white supremacy on its shit, but doing it without a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts. Because it was Stokely Carmichael who said, in his critique of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement “In order for non-violence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” And it was Malcolm X, on one of his many commentaries on racism in America who said “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t even begun to pull the knife out. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” They didn’t hold the hands of their proverbial enemies, whether in speech or in practice, and for the fact that any black person could look to these men and think of them as “great” leaders is threatening. Its threatening to think about how these men are still influential beyond the grave. Its threatening to be alerted to the fact that somebody like me doesn’t believe in colour-blindness, post-racialism, the new racism, or anything which sugar coats the brutal reality people of colour who live at the hands of an unchanging racial dynamic. Its threatening because i use it as the praxis for why i tend to align myself with radical organizing efforts done by people of color and our racially conscious allies. it serves as part the praxis for why i call myself a womanist instead of a feminist, and plays a huge roll in why i won’t indulge people in their desire to take social issues as they specifically relate to people of color and make them more universal. i want exclusion at the same time i want to dismantle an exclusive societal framework. i want the right to be amongst my own, and when i walk out of that hive into the larger world not have my humanity put into question based on my skin color and radical politics. 

it means white people can’t turn to me and ask me whether progress is being made, because not only do i not believe that in the slightest but i have forefathers who were equally strong in their conviction about the need for white supremacy to end as i am in the present. i can’t and wont be the balance to the check that many white people need to keep being complacent about the state of things. i won’t be the token brown person whose beliefs and actions signal a desire to aspire to a certain level of “whiteness”, to appease post-racialism in all its forms, while to me such things would signal internalized oppression on a high level. knowing those things, being blatantly confronted with those things, are not easy to swallow, especially in a classroom setting.

It also means things like black history month and Martin Luther King’s birthday have little sway with me, the times in which i’m theoretically supposed to “be happy to be black and alive” for the shortest month of the year, yet instead i take those 29 days to watch how a man like Martin Luther King has the bleaching cream applied to his historical contributions to the civil rights movement. how he is removed from the black historical context and put into the “universal freedom fighter” context. how he is misquoted, quoted out of context, and even not quoted past a certain time in his life to maintain this extremely historically false notion of a monolithic non-violent, non-religious activist. Gay civil rights leader Larry Kramer paraphrased king’s i have a dream speech in reference to gay liberation, forgetting that King was a black baptist reverend in the 1960s and sexual politics are a totally different ballgame in the black southern communities of the 60s then they are to gay white Americans in the 90s. Martin Luther King is taught to young children as the acceptable change making negro, the person who fought for things like integration, voting rights, access to integrated education, and the thing which both white and black people “benefit” from today. He is not taught as the person who toward the end of his career started to see where Stokely Carmichael may have very well had a point, that hand holding and singing negro spirituals cannot change a nation that has no conscious and will not levy the playing field when “civil rights” are a matter of vote and not white people realizing they are entitled to something they have not worked for, i.e privilege. He is not taught or celebrated with any kind of actual complexity, and for that he serves as the perfect example of how within a white supremacist framework people of colour can aspire to a level of “greatness” if in death they are willing to forfeit the complexity of their human condition and serve as a puppet in the universal, we are the world, post-post narrative. 

American society needs to move past this desire to label people at “great” so long as conceptions of greatness operate within a white supremacist framework, the same white supremacist framework which influences how we understand not only race but gender, ability, class, and sexuality in relation to greatness. With the dismantling of white supremacy comes the babel tower of greatness also needs to fall. this same tower people struggle to climb as part of the half-shack “American dream”. we need to stop relating ideas, people, movements, and many other things as “great” in relation to the existing “acceptable” examples society automatically defaults to as part of our comfort zone. 

and with dismantling white supremacy and greatness, we also need to change overarching ideas of what we think of as “great” when we look at the everyday as well as those who have risen to acclaim. 

So when we talk about race, we need to stop white washing, stop playing revisionist history with white out, stop defaulting to the people of colour who uphold our white supremacist power structure instead of forcing the majority complacent to do the critical anti-racist work within themselves to be worthy of time and energy. 

So when we talk about gender egalitarianism, or feminism, we need to accept the fact the the suffragettes, the second wave, and even aspects of the third wave are not representative let alone role models for everyone. We need to take what we can, but also realize they left and continue to leave a lot of people out in the name of advancing middle class white woman’s feminism. Saviours are not saviours if you purposefully leave people to drown. 

So when we talk about queer people, the mainstream LG movement needs to brutally fall off its high horse. stop saying “gay is the new black”. stop dismissing the brown queers, the trans folk, and the bisexual people you claim to represent but actually don’t. understand there are more ways to queer liberation than just getting in bed with the enemy and upper class commercial capitalist activism. everyone is entitled to their own path to revolution, and we don’t have to ask politely to revolt. 

So when we talk about people with disabilities, we need to drop the pre-requisite of only discussing those whose actions reinforce an ableist notion of people needing to be “cured” or “prove their normality” as opposed to an able bodied majority sitting down, shutting up, and not dictating how others live their lives and instead providing the means for diverse ways of existence. So instead of AutismSpeaks, how about Autism is/what it is/for whoever is austic/and how they choose to deal with it/ is not contingent on society’s comfort level with autistic people/but how one chooses to live their own life given full unadulterated agency. 

When we talk about trans people, non-binary people, gender bending people, we need to drop the pre-requisite of forcing people to be “either/or, man/woman” that is inherent in our binarist society, stop making costly surgeries/therapies/treatments the finite requirement for a person to “legally” live their lives, and instead accept the fact that the privilege of being able to fall within pre-existing categories established by the government identification card should not make you any more of a “citizen” than somebody who would prefer not to play it hard and fast with gender identity and its subsequent expression. 

And when we talk about class, the working class, the lower income class, we need to talk about why stories like “the pursuit of happiness” are “great” feel good narratives about the poor black man pulling himself up by his bootstraps, but after those 90 minutes of tear jerking are over we still live in a society which treats poor people like the continually growing hump on America’s back. Why can movies like that gross millions of dollars but yet we are not forced to dramatically change our state of living so that “standard of living” isn’t at the absolute bottom of the rung where wealthy and even upper middle class people can feel “comfortable that folks are surviving” even if that may not be the case. 

If people on the margins are capable of finding success within this framework, it should be noted, their accomplishments should be celebrated. but none of this should be done without carefully examining the methods they utilized and the rhetoric they espoused in order to get there. they should also not be made part of the standard by which people aspire to nor are expected to aspire to in order to be thought of as “worthy” or “notable”.

So in case of Adrienne Rich, the driving impetus behind this piece, we can honor the poet while critiquing the transphobic feminist. and we can also be reminded of the obvious double standard of “greatness” at play, which allow for people to think of adrienne rich as “great” without fault instead of accomplished to a fault.

those who find grief in her loss can mourn while understanding and creating space for those who do not feel the same way, who do not feel that great pang upon their heartstrings. those who find comfort in her poetry, or even her feminist writings, can do so without alienating those that don’t find comfort in her through those venues. grief space, mourning space, accomplishment space at its best is holistic, where individuals can come as they are but where they mentally are, and are not asked to forget themselves in order to seek comfort amongst the living. 

yet as i write this, as i re-read and edit my words, i am continually grounded and regrounded in my own positionality as a queer black radical woman. i know i will never be able to walk into a classroom, an academic space, or a predominately white space and talk about how i see Malcolm or Stokely as great, how i will never be able to express my love for black liberation as not only a political movement which sought and espoused truth, but gives me hope in a world which continually seeks to spiral on an axis bent too far in either direction. i know i will never be celebrate them, and acknowledge them as both influential and problematic at the same time. i could never have those rose colored glasses white feminists are given for Adrienne Rich. At the same time, even if i could i wouldn’t put them on anyways. because as somebody who is willing to pick up where Kwame and Malik Shabazz left of, i seek to learn from their accomplishments as well as their mistakes. because to me greatness {far removed} isn’t to deify a person, or put them on pedestals in which they then become inaccessible, but instead to find ways of relating to them on a human level, where they are mentors and friends, where they are imperfect lumps of clay not aspiring to be perfect, but allowing you to sit close enough where you can see the bumps and cracks, know that in revolution making you don’t have to have the exact same flaws, but you’re bound to have flaws. and instead of leaving them for conversations after death, you can cultivate self awareness in production and action, study the landscape of cause and effect, and challenge all that seeks to let you live unchanged. resist the trend of stagnancy, and allow yourself to evolve. 

[photo: the backgorund of the image is an animated fist raised up in the air. the left side is black. the right side is brown. there is white text in the foreground that reads, “rise up against the shackles of oppression and injustice now. black and brown united”]
maxddiaz:

black and brown power 

Yellow too.

[photo: the backgorund of the image is an animated fist raised up in the air. the left side is black. the right side is brown. there is white text in the foreground that reads, “rise up against the shackles of oppression and injustice now. black and brown united”]

maxddiaz:

black and brown power 

Yellow too.