I think to start, I should be very clear that no matter how introspective and aware I am becoming of privilege, in the context of race and gender, I am still prone to latent racism and misogyny. I can proudly say that I am working on it and that I am far more aware of these tendencies in myself, than a lot of people. But I am a Midwestern U.S. American - the folks who pretty much invented passive aggressive bigotry. Spending one's formative years in this environment is not terribly conducive to having a profound awareness race and privilege - it is likely to be a lifetime of effort to root all of that out.
But I am aware of this and working hard to change it. I think that most of the bloggers I regularly interact with are aware of my attitudes and where I am with all this - it certainly comes up regularly and I am not particularly shy about discussing it. I know that Greg Laden is aware of where I am with this topic, which is why I was rather dismayed about the assumptions he made during a discussion on his blog about a paper that tentatively concluded that carrying a gun in urban settings may make one less safe. My problem with the study, was that the authors evidence was collected in high poverty, high drug trafficking areas of Philly, areas that are pretty much overrun by gangs.
I should note; while this post is aimed rather directly at Greg, I decided to post it here because it is something that a lot of us are guilty of and need to consider. It is our responsibility to very seriously consider exactly what we are responding to and what it actually is, before we bring up racism or other bigotry.
All criticism of the paper itself aside, Greg then decided that I must be expressing racist attitudes. Didn't think to ask me about it - didn't think to consider my motivations or reasoning. Nope, the first thing that Greg Laden thought, was that I must be a fucking racist asshole, because I didn't think that data that by necessity would include a lot of career criminals, can be reasonably extrapolated to the general population - that DuWayne thinks he's "a different species from these inner city ghetto-troglodytes..."
I didn't say this on that post, because I was planning on writing this post. Fuck you Greg. Seriously, Fuck you. How Dare you make that kind of a vile accusation of someone you fucking well know isn't inclined to that kind of vile attitude? How fucking dare you say something that vile about a friend, without even considering asking them about what they actually think first?
I am very consistent in my absolute and utter derision for anyone who engages in the sort of vile behavior that gangbangers engage in. I have repeatedly held that any form of terrorism is reprehensible and utterly inexcusable - whether it be the Taliban, Hamas, the now defunct IRA, the ELF or fucking gangsters and many others. There isn't a single group on that list who's underlying cause I do not have a great deal of sympathy for - I sympathize with every one. I also say the same about ALF terrorists and many others, though I do not sympathize with their causes.
My absolute and utter disdain has absolutely nothing to do with race. It is all about their behaviors - behaviors that I find morally and practically reprehensible. There is no excuse for it - none. I am not and never have singled anyone out based on race or the cause they purport to support - no matter how very strongly I may feel about that cause or reasoning. And to be absolutely fucking clear, I do feel very strongly about race and poverty issues in the U.S. I am horrified by the cycle of poverty and a great many concurrent issues that the neighbors I have had most of my adult life face. But I will not - cannot countenance gang activity. Not because I hate or feel superior to brown, olive or poor people (I fit that last), but because I hate fucking terrorism.
I like you Greg, but this is absolutely disgusting behavior - and not just because it was a defamatory statement about me. Indeed I really don't care about the me in this - my attitudes about race, gender and bigotry in general speak for themselves - ultimately you sully yourself with statements like that, far more than you can sully me. So to be perfectly clear, beyond feeling somewhat betrayed (and yes, a little hurt) by someone I have generally considered my friend, this is not about me. This is about a rather ugly tendency that some people of privilege have, this tendency to use the race card as a chip in rhetorical gameplay - whether it is remotely appropriate or not.
Toaster pointed out something important, that I thought about and more or less ignored as I was writing this. When I am describing the experience of some POC and members of other outgroups, I am not speaking for ALL of them. I know many people who have absolutely NOT had the experience I am describing and sincerely apologize for implying they did. What I am describing is the experience of several people I know or aspects of their experiences, as none of them are the same.
Toaster is absolutely correct, this was inexcusable. But like I mentioned - I'm not perfect, I'm just trying...
Just think about this for a moment Greg. Consider being a person of color (or member of another outgroup). Consider growing up with the problems that implies - having to be better than everyone else, to be considered equal, having to smile and nod when people engage in passive aggressive racism - so as not to make anyone uncomfortable - your own comfort be damned, having to not only consider how your actions reflect on you, but how they reflect on everyone who has the same skin color or other out trait, having to put up with people making assumptions about you, based on their experiences with people who have the same color skin or other out trait. Consider this; This isn't a motherfucking game and the race card is not a motherfucking rhetorical device!
This is the life experience of real human beings that you are throwing out on the table, as a way to garner some self righteous, false sense of superiority. This is the shame they have endured, the anger they have endured, the pain they have endured. This is their life! It is not something that your privileged white ass has a right to bandy about as a cheap talking point and nonstarter.
Why don't you rethink that?