Today’s lesson: Anti-Oppression Don’t just talk about it be about it!

I’ve been noticing lately that everyone and their parent/guardian are doing anti-oppression training. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Shu, what the shit bleep is wrong with that, isn’t that what we want?”

Well yes, I would agree that recognizing one’s privilege is important, knowing forms of oppression we often do not think about is amazing, and those who take what they’ve learned and are doing the work in order to actually change the world around them is the point, but when we think, one or 10 workshops on anti-oppression make us the experts on the oppressions others face, it’s what some of us call, problematique. I see the raising of your eyebrows,  and the change in your body language– arms crossing, and closed body language–and I’d like to congratulate you on your discomfort with these words.

When you can name every oppression in the book it gets you mac-tivist points (who doesn’t want that?), even gets you  accolades that span beyond bedroom frolicking, but when you then constantly use such knowledge to then make light of the fact you are perpetuating such oppressions, it is, dare I say it again, problematique. It also makes it difficult to call you on your shit, because who wants to call out the funny mac-tivist? Nobody likes a party pooper right? Well guess what, I’m about to lay down some shit.

Stop making racist/sexist/ableist/transphobic/homophobic/xenophobic (i am using words you’ll understand…but you get what I’m saying) jokes when you know that’s what you’re doing….”oh my god i’m being such a racist/ableist/blah-phobic” is really not funny. A few rules on how to accomplish such:

Rule 1: if you know it’s offensive, try to unlearn it;
Rule 2: if you are fully aware that people most definitely will look at you with cocked heads, and venomous eyes, but because of the environment you’ve now created know you can get away with it, don’t bleeping FUCKING say it.
End of rules.

When someone calls you on your -phobic/-ist language or action, don’t, i mean, DO NOT, make light of it/deny it/look at them like they grew three heads all of a sudden, because most likely they’ll then feel: 1) too embarrassed; 2) too put on the spot; 3)too defensive (just like you’re about do) to continue with their train of thought. This will then put a halt to the healing process or the unlearning process that you were presumably trying to gain by taking those anti-oppression workshops in the first place.

Hear them out, and if you feel like there is something more to add do so. In the words of a friend who’s trying to help me curb my habit of over-apologizing , “Sorry doesn’t mean anything unless you follow through with actions to show me you’re actually changing the reason why you are apologizing for in the first place”–in other words, until you change the way you address people, or are conscious of your ‘obliviousness’ to how your actions effect others then sorry means nothing…soo..don’t um say sorry, unless you mean it!

Now that you’re sitting at the edge of your seat for the next step…..
Learn and move on, don’t dwell on how much of an asshole you were or have white/straight/cis/able-bodied guilt, move the fuck on. Chances are you are awesome, and will change your -ist/-phobic ways, and obviously it will take a while to do such—one or 10 anti-O workshops and my blog post, are not going to change you over night (don’t think that it will!) because to be about anti-o means you will have to constantly learn and re-learn, and un-learn). And as with everything else once you’ve addressed it in an honest and open hearted way, you will find out it isn’t really a big deal to be called out, it’s a big learning moment, and your friend/companion won’t hate you forever because you said sometime stupid, we all do from time to time. But by ignoring it, disregarding it, making light of it, means you are perpetuating what you supposedly are fighting.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am no expert on any/all oppession like previously stated, I’m merely an expert on my own experiences with the oppressions dealt to me. As such, I also welcome you to challenge me when I say something stupid, my queer, black ass could use a kick too, I know I am not exempt from this, you should know that too.

Another note about anti-oppression training, once you’ve finished the training or have read a really awesome article on anti-(enter oppression) stuff, please don’t present yourself as an expert, it’s not sexy. Quoting the presenter without any critical analysis, also not sexy, because that person is only speaking their truth, thus, you quoting them means you are taking their truth to be your own, without doing the work they did to come to their conclusions. My usual, “read a fucking book” retort won’t really apply here (though reading a book or two when/if you are able to is helpful) , as being an academic isn’t the answer, I say find your own truths in whatever way you can, just don’t steal someone else’s.

In love and respect,

Shu A.

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First order of business

A list of things one must think through before asking a PoC (Person of Colour).

* Never, ever think it’s cool to play with someone’s hair or hijab because it looks “different” without asking, or knowing the person in that interpersonal kinda way (how do you gauge this you say, if you have never spoken to, hugged, or otherwise made friendly, keep your paws to yourself). That is an invasion of their space, and you wouldn’t like it if someone came and started rubbing on your junk to see if it’s real, or what it feels like. Also, you would never think of doing it to your white friends now would you?

* Please refrain from telling every PoC in sight that you’ve been to: Africa, Asia, South America as if this wins you some street cred with the PoCs in question, chances are we’re probably not from the places of which you speak.

* Don’t ask me to speak in my language, and when I say no, don’t pressure me by saying “oh c’mon, just say hi!”, seriously I am not your performing clown monkey.

* Don’t assume I know everything about my culture, the history of my ‘region’ or that I know how to translate every word from ‘your language’ to ‘my language’. And if I fail to meet your unreasonable expectations, don’t say ‘But aren’t you from (insert country)?’*

*Don’t pity me because you think I’m not ‘out’ because I have no choice or that if I am ‘out’ my parents have rejected me and chased me down the street with rocks.* Don’t assume I am oppressed by my religion, my ‘culture’, my parents or that I have internalized homophobia, and especially don’t attribute it to me being a QPOC.*

*Don’t ask me if it was ‘hard growing up poor’ because I am a POC. And if I am poor, don’t assume that my parents or me don’t have an education. And if they or I don’t, don’t assume it’s because we are lazy and ‘taking advantage of the system.’*

* Even if you do have one person of colour you are “tight with”, it does not entitle you to a “get out of jail free” card, when you make racist comments.

* Just because I’m black does not mean, I have a high propensity for finger snapping and neck bobbing and weaving. Think before you assume that every black person is the same. Not every black person, fist pumps, or uses words like, “yo”, “homie”, “dawg”. I understand the words, “hello”, “hi” or phrases like, “how’s it going?”, you know the ones you USUALLY use when greeting your none black friends.  Please think before you do that.

* I am not an expert on “my people”, just an expert on my own experiences, do not rely on my knowledge to understand an entire group of people, as each person has different experiences, and  would be an awesome resource to their own experiences within the bodies they hold. This includes asking me to do anti-oppression workshops (when you haven’t asked  anyone else–make a list of awesome people that could help all of us be a little less oppressive), asking me about the traditions of another country because my country shares a continent,  or –concrete example time–watching Good Hair, and thinking you know every black woman’s hair woes.

* Clutching your purse, or remembering to lock your car as i walk by, or better yet, crossing the street so we don’t share the same side walk, is kinda racist, just sayin’.

* What the fuck is “ethnic hair care” or “ethnic food”?  What makes it Ethnic? The fact that it isn’t Eurocentric? Don’t you have an ethnicity? Isn’t Anglo-Saxon an ethnic group?

* Let’s say you do know where I’m from or you’ve watched the discovery channel version of my place of origin, or you have a friend from said place, this doesn’t mean you can’t still learn more about my culture, as each person experiences culture differently, so please refrain from saying, “yea, yea, I know all about it/ my friend, ______ is from there or I watched a two hour documentary on it (probably made by other white folks who are doing an anthropological study)”… this shit is disrespectful.

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Introduction:

Hello internet world and especially white people,

This blog was created as a way to unlearn some common assumptions of what it means to be a person of colour. This blog is an effort by many of us “coloured people”, to unteach you some of the things you’ve learned from your token person of colour, world vision, and other forms of media that depict people of colour as this one homologous group worthy of many an anthropological study. Just a warning you will be required to feel uncomfortable, do some work, and if you are able to, read some fucking books, if not we can totally recommend other learning tools.

This blog is in no way meant to humiliate you or disrespect your beliefs, its just here to shake things up a little, to the point of discomfort, because in comfort we’re complacent, and won’t do any work to unlearn some of our shit.

if you have any problems, questions, comments, suggestions, hate mail, love mail, etc, please direct them to dearwhitepeople@gmail.com

 

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