Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hi, my name is Nut and I am a White Woman

Yet not entirely. I still don’t make a full $1.00, I can’t walk onto a car lot and be taken seriously and I still have rooms full of white men who don’t trust that I know what to do with my own body.

Concurrantly, I still have more privilege than women of color. I can walk into a bank and be expected to have money to put into an account. I can walk into a store and not be followed around by the store’s security officers, waiting for me to steal something. I am not expected to have multiple children each by a different man; I am not expected to live off welfare; I am not expected to be a single mom.

I find it disheartening when I hear a black woman say she’s beginning to hate white people or that a woman of Asian decent already does. Not necessarily because I am white, but because I know I’m not like those white folks who keep the racist, bigoted system of oppression going strong.

But there is something else to that, too. How does hating an entire group of people solve anything? Wouldn’t that just keep the cycle going?

I believe hating an entire group of people within a society to be too easy. It’s simple to say you hate someone and stop at that. Hating a faction of persons allows an individual to retreat back into their safe zone where they know life will stay the same, comfortable illusion it’s always been. I once heard a non-gendered person (I honestly couldn’t tell which pronoun I should use) say, “I always try to stay outside my comfort zone.” Imagine if a larger part of society choose to do just that. The world would be a much different place, yes?

Saying that I hate all men would also be equally erroneous. But I can say I’m weary of them, as I also believe hating them all is counter-productive. How will I ever solve the problem of sexism or classism and dismantle the patriarchal system they depend on if I don’t give it the raw energy needed to begin taking it down brick by brick, one class ceiling at a time? Anger can be used to motivate and provide the necessary determination, which can keep a person going for a long time. Granted, in order to keep up the fight, one must see results and I usually take it in the form of “Aha” moments myself.

I believe allowing yourself to hate all white people, all men, all heterosexuals, all Asian’s, all transgendered people, all homosexual people (I think you get the idea) - gives you an excuse to stop trying.

But here’s something I’ve been wondering for a while now: why is it ignorant or bigoted for a white person to say they hate all or any minority group(s), yet it’s considered understandable when a person of color announces they hate all white people (which, really, I can certainly understand if not empathize with)? Isn’t it all the same thing? Aren’t we holding an entire society accountable for the relative few that are the true assholes?

Why is it hate speech when a white person uses derogatory words to describe any marginalized group, yet not when it’s the other way around? Why is it okay for a black person to say something like, “That crazy cracker is at it again,” or for a Hispanic/Latino to say something like, “Stupid gringa, watch where you’re going.” Or when someone of Asian decent uses the term “gay” or “retarded” outside of its original meaning?

I’m not trying to accuse anyone of “reverse racism” or to imply in any way that, as a white woman, I am marginalized because I will tell you right now I am not. I only get shoved to the side because I’m a woman and I fully acknowledge that race, class, religion, differing abilities, sexual orientation and a myriad of other identities are not only parallel, but often intersect one another.

What I am saying is hate speech is hate speech is hate speech, regardless of who is saying it or advocating its position in our lives. And I think it’s time we all acknowledged that. (And, unlike so many fundamentalist’s, I do not believe this to be included under the Free Speech umbrella or consider myself to be the “PC Police.”)

I also think it’s important to remember that racism isn’t White on Black or vice versa. Hispanics don’t like Latino’s and Latino’s don’t like Asians and Asians don’t like Muslims and Muslims don’t like African and African’s don’t like Arabs and Arabs don’t like….we are all guilty of prejudice.

Having said all the above, I highly recommend everyone see the movie Something New. It shows another perspective of interracial dating: when a black woman dates a white man and all the prejudices that come along with it. It’s very, very good and thought provoking. I might just write an official review of it tomorrow. Or not.

Also, someone from the comments on reappropriate linked to this post from Ampersand. I highly recommend you have a look as it very much intersects my point (or perhaps says it better, you decide).