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Pre-2008 Posts

What is a Race Traitor?

viola.jpg

Viola Gregg Liuzzo (April 11, 1925 – March 25, 1965) was a race traitor.  A white civil rights activist from the U.S. state of Michigan and mother of five, she was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama. One of the Klansmen in the car from which the shots were fired was an FBI informant, and the FBI carried out a smear campaign against Liuzzo after her death.  Liuzzo’s name is one of those inscribed on a civil rights memorial in the state capital.

It looks to me as though quite a few progressive, anti-racist people have never heard the term “race traitor” (other than possibly as it is used by racists).  I believe the term as I used it was actually coined by Marilyn Frye in the 80s and can be found in these articles from Amy’s site:

White Woman Feminist by Marilyn Frye, from Willful Virgin: essays in feminism (Crossing Press, 1992).

On Being White: Thinking Toward a Feminist Understanding of Race and Race Supremacy by Marilyn Frye, from The Politics of Reality: essays in feminist theory (Crossing Press, 1983).

More widely known (because Marilyn Frye, being a lesbian feminist/radical feminist, would not be as widely known as, for example, white male authors) is the race traitor movement as conceived by two white guys.  Their views can be found on their website , “Race Traitor:  Journal of the New Abolitionism,” and in their print journal, Race Traitor.   Race Traitor’s motto is, “Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity.”

The white race is a historically constructed social formation – historically constructed because (like royalty) it is a product of some people’s responses to historical circumstances; a social formation because it is a fact of society corresponding to no classification recognized by natural science.

The white race cuts across ethnic and class lines. It is not coextensive with that portion of the population of European descent, since many of those classified as “colored” can trace some of their ancestry to Europe, while African, Asian, or American Indian blood flows through the veins of many considered white. Nor does membership in the white race imply wealth, since there are plenty of poor whites, as well as some people of wealth and comfort who are not white.

The white race consists of those who partake of the privileges of the white skin in this society. Its most wretched members share a status higher, in certain respects, than that of the most exalted persons excluded from it, in return for which they give their support to the system that degrades them.

The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race. Until that task is accomplished, even partial reform will prove elusive, because white influence permeates every issue in U.S. society, whether domestic or foreign.

Advocating the abolition of the white race is distinct from what is called “anti-racism.” The term “racism” has come to be applied to a variety of attitudes, some of which are mutually incompatible, and has been devalued to mean little more than a tendency to dislike some people for the color of their skin. Moreover, anti-racism admits the natural existence of “races” even while opposing social distinctions among them. The abolitionists maintain, on the contrary, that people were not favored socially because they were white; rather they were defined as “white” because they were favored. Race itself is a product of social discrimination; so long as the white race exists, all movements against racism are doomed to fail.The existence of the white race depends on the willingness of those assigned to it to place their racial interests above class, gender or any other interests they hold. The defection of enough of its members to make it unreliable as a determinant of behavior will set off tremors that will lead to its collapse.RACE TRAITOR aims to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race. It will encourage dissent from the conformity that maintains it and popularize examples of defection from its ranks, analyze the forces that hold it together and those which promise to tear it apart. Part of its task will be to promote debate among abolitionists. When possible, it will support practical measures, guided by the principle, Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity. Dissolve the clubThe white race is a club, which enrolls certain people at birth, without their consent, and brings them up according to its rules. For the most part the members go through life accepting the benefits of membership, without thinking about the costs. When individuals question the rules, the officers are quick to remind them of all they owe to the club, and warn them of the dangers they will face if they leave it.

RACE TRAITOR aims to dissolve the club, to break it apart, to explode it. …

RACE TRAITOR exists, not to make converts, but to reach out to those who are dissatisfied with the terms of membership in the white club. Its primary intended audience will be those people commonly called whites who, in one way or another, understand whiteness to be a problem that perpetuates injustice and prevents even the well-disposed among them from joining unequivocally in the struggle for human freedom. By engaging these dissidents in a journey of discovery into whiteness and its discontents, we hope to take part, together with others, in the process of defining a new human community. We wish neither to minimize the complicity of even the most downtrodden of whites with the system of white supremacy nor to exaggerate the significance of momentary departures from white rules.

….In the original film version of ROBIN HOOD (starring Errol Flynn), the Sheriff of Nottingham says to Robin, “You speak treason.” Robin replies, “Fluently.” We hope to do the same.

From a 1993 issue of Race Traitor.

There are many more articles on the Race Traitor site.  It’s also been written up on Z Net, Salon, and some other places.

 There’s a book which was recently published which I intend to read, Memoir of a Race Traitor, by Mab Segrest, which is a coming together, in some ways, of Frye’s work and the work of the Race Traitor guys: 

“I had become a woman haunted by the dead….” Against a backdrop of nine generations of her family’s history, Mab Segrest explores her experience as a white lesbian organizing against a virulant Far Right movement in North Carolina. Juxtoposing childhood memories with contemporary events, Segrest describes her journey into the heart of her culture, finally veering from its trajectory of violence towards hope and renewal.

“Courageous and daring, this work testifies/documents the reality that political solidarity, forged in struggle, can exist across differences.” —bell hooks

“None of this book is predictable. Mab Segrest’s book gives human faces to political behavior, and some fresh meanings to the term ‘family values.’ It’s a unique document and thoroughly fascinating.” —Adrienne Rich

“Mab Segrest’s book is extraordinary. It has enormous political power even while it tells the intimate, poignant story of a white southern girl as she discovers her lesbianism, becomes a radical activist against the murderous Klan and deals with her family’s deep conservatism in ways that instruct all of us. It is a ‘political memoir’ but its language is poetic and its tone passionate. I started it with caution and finished it with awe and pleasure.” —Howard Zinn

There is a big difference between doing anti-racism work and being a race traitor.  I’m the latter.  I think chaskingmoksha might be, too.  I think the different approaches and perspectives around anti-racists and race traitors might be a partial reason for some (by far not all) of the acrimony around these issues.

Link to review

Heart

Discussion

29 thoughts on “What is a Race Traitor?

  1. The abolitionists maintain, on the contrary, that people were not favored socially because they were white; rather they were defined as “white” because they were favored. Race itself is a product of social discrimination; so long as the white race exists, all movements against racism are doomed to fail

    See, this is what aggravates. This is pure radical feminism here, but there is no attribution. It’s CAM’s “Difference and Dominance,” and the work of many other radical feminists before CAM.

    Try this:

    The radical feminists maintain, on the contrary, that men were not favored socially because they were men; rather they were defined as “men” because they were favored. Gender itself is a product of social discrimination; so long as the men (as a gendered class) continue to exist, all movements against sexism are doomed to fail.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 12:25 am
  2. “People were not favored socially because they were white; rather they were defined as “white” because they were favored.”

    This does, however, explain a lot about how ‘race’ works and how and why it becomes possible to move among groups.

    I think some race traitors (as opposed to antiracist advocates) lose some of their white privilege, at least during those times in which they are seen to be race traitors by other white people. Like Viola Liuzzo. I’ve seen men lose some male privilege too when they become gender traitors in some way, even by as mild an action as doing too much childcare. Just musing here but it seems that one way that one way these categories are maintained is that (mainstream) society insists you act, and do not just look the part.

    Posted by profacero | March 6, 2007, 2:10 am
  3. On this topic, I have been very influenced by “How the Irish Became White” by Noel Ignatiev (editor of Race Traitor, 1996) focusing on how the Irish changed from a despised underclass to assimilated whiteness. It happened, tragically, at the expense of American Blacks. By distancing themselves from Blacks, and keeping them at the bottom of the well, the Irish triumphed over nativism and became All-American. (I see a lot of parallels with the Latino experience and wonder where all that will lead.)

    My Latino and Black students see all whites as monolithic and have no idea what bitter battles occurred in this country (especially here in Chicago!) over religion and nationality *among* European immigrants. My Scotch-Irish mother was rejected by a Jewish boyfriend’s family, for example, and her own father wouldn’t let “Dago garlic” in the house. People are hopeless, I sometimes think.

    Posted by roamaround | March 6, 2007, 5:02 am
  4. On another note, a very thought-provoking post but I am going to be provocative here myself (maybe) and say that I have an aversion to seeing women try to bridge cultural conflict with their bodies. Another book I remember vaguely was “Gringa” about a white woman who tried to right the wrongs of racism with her physical love for a Mexican man and of course it didn’t work. It can’t. I think our sexuality is for our pleasure and procreation as we choose, not for making statements. Sorry, I’m sure you’ve made that point, but I had to add my 2 cents here.

    Posted by roamaround | March 6, 2007, 5:26 am
  5. Heart, after everything you’ve written about the terrible way women race traitors are treated, I shouldn’t have used the word “aversion” without explaining. It’s that I myself have tried to right racism by being good and listening and giving my body as a kind of penance for wrongs I never committed. That’s where my aversion to some of the “race traitor” idea comes from because sex isn’t the solution, and for the men of color who demand that kind of penance the motives are totally fucked up. I don’t have any aversion to mixed raced couples I encounter, whose various motives for choosing each other are none of my business. I hope you understand what I mean. Sorry, it’s late here and I’m rambly.

    Posted by roamaround | March 6, 2007, 5:49 am
  6. Of course I understand, roamaround! No need to explain at all. I never had the sense that I was sacrificing myself when I married my exes– I loved them and wanted to be with them. The sacrifice happened after we were married and I was getting the shit beat out of me (first ex) or otherwise abused (second ex), and particularly in that I didn’t want to tell anyone or call the cops or ask for help (in part because I feared racist responses) and in that I didn’t want to admit it hadn’t worked, and it wasn’t going to work, and I needed to leave. That kept me in my second marriage for 19 years, when I should have left after two years, or at most three. When you marry out of your race, you want to prove all the racist assholes wrong, you know?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 6:54 am
  7. Interesting, I didn’t realize “How the Irish Became White” was written by the Race Traitor guy. And yeah, profacero, I think abandoning privilege, whether male, white, has to do with acts, like you describe, taking on tasks that are stereotypically female, if you’re male, rejecting the white club in material ways, if you are white.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 6:56 am
  8. I will need to put your reading suggestions on my list so I can have a full understanding of this “movement.” Would you call it a movement?

    There are acts that are very statement driven. For instance, in the military community a big truck and/or SUV are necessary in order to look like one is not white trash. It is as if the ownership of one erases all traces of white trash. However, I personally find the act of having one to be white trashy. I have not seen anything recently on what I thought was called the “mobile theory/effect.” I sort of remember it from a 1993 Sociology class. The theory basically stereotyped blacks as being more likely to buy a car that was not affordable, hence the “mobility effect” in order to “look” like he or she is someone. However, and here is the hook, it is based on whites stereotyping blacks yet most all the people that I see today in the big SUV/truck in the military is white. I know military pay like the back of my hand, there is not enough money to maintain the expense of one of those monsters, not in a proportion that would be reasonable. Living in housing (in other words no home ownership) and wasting all one’s money on the support of a SUV/big truck payment, insurance and gas is the epitome of the “mobility effect.” But no one bats an eye and the black person, now “Mexican” arriving at the welfare office in a Cadillac is still alive and kicking.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | March 6, 2007, 7:15 am
  9. cm, I don’t know that the idea of being a traitor to whiteness is a “movement,” but I know that now there are “whiteness studies” courses which I think — based on very brief and cursory readings of various things here and there about them — are along the same lines.

    I don’t agree with everything the Race Traitor guys say, or that anybody says, for that matter (except that as to Marilyn Frye, I agree with everything she says about race; I think you’d like her articles, and you can read them on Amy’s site.) There is some stuff on their site (the Race Traitors) and in their writings that I take issue with. But I do believe that whiteness as, basically, a social category denoting dominance, has to be deconstructed. I think there are people who have been race traitors in that sense, in the sense of deconstructing whiteness intentionally, via their decisions, the way they live their lives, voluntarily iow, always, but they didn’t call it being a “race traitor,” they used other language. The race traitor guys have just made theory out of what some number of white people were already engaged in.

    There are sometimes postmodern vibes in discussions of the idea of being a race traitor that I specifically take issue with. I don’t think being a race traitor is in any way, shape or form a matter of declaring oneself to be, say, not white, or not priveleged. I don’t think being a race traitor has to do with how someone “identifies” in other words. And some of of what the race traitor guys say, IIRC — because it’s been a while since I’ve spent any time on these materials — kind of smacks of that. I don’t think white people can say we aren’t white, or can decide to not be white or can “identify” as “not white,” just as I can’t get behind the queer/pomo/trans project of males asserting they aren’t males, aren’t men, and don’t have privilege because they say so or they “identify” as ___________. So to the degree that this kind of thing is part of these guys’ (or anyone’s) race traitor ideas, I would have to reject it.

    And yeah, re the truck/car thing. That’s true with so many racist stereotypes, i.e., re misogynist rap, where the primary consumers, promoters, etc. of it, are in fact, white men.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 7:34 am
  10. “…her own father wouldn’t let “Dago garlic” in the house.”

    My grandmother would not let any strong-tasting food in the house, it might be Jewish, Eastern European, or Mediterranean, i.e. not WASP. She blocked my uncle’s marriage to an Italian-American (too dark) and was very suspicious of my father (brown eyes). My mother was always very concerned that I dress in such a way as to look 100% white. She believed preppy clothes would help and was scandalized that I did not like them. “People might think you are Latin.”

    Roamaround – I do not think you have to ‘give your body’ to be a ‘race traitor’ (or whatever one wishes to call it). Heart – yes, this ‘identification’ issue is key.

    Posted by profacero | March 6, 2007, 12:49 pm
  11. Thanks for this entry, Heart. I’d only ever heard “race traitor” in the context used by racists, and only first came across the term in Kathleen Blee’s book “Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement” (2003).

    Posted by Delany | March 6, 2007, 12:58 pm
  12. profacero: “…her own father wouldn’t let “Dago garlic” in the house.”

    My grandmother would not let any strong-tasting food in the house, it might be Jewish, Eastern European, or Mediterranean, i.e. not WASP. She blocked my uncle’s marriage to an Italian-American (too dark) and was very suspicious of my father (brown eyes). My mother was always very concerned that I dress in such a way as to look 100% white.

    Yeah, in my (Norwegian/Finnish/German Swiss) family there is a family story that has been told and retold forever, from my earliest memories, about my grandmother’s sister who “ran off with an Italian” and nobody ever heard from her again. 😦

    When I was coming up I was surrounded by Norwegian immigrants, including my best friend and her family. Although her mom and dad had only been in the U.S. for maybe a decade and her mom rarely (and barely) spoke English, was a stay-at-home-mom and spent all of her time with other Norwegian immigrant moms, I have a vivid recollection of her mom taking my friend to task for getting too tan and wearing white lipstick (the style then, this was something like 1966 or so) because it made her “look like a n*****.” It was interesting, too– my friend and her mom were both quite dark, as many Norwegians are (the blonde, Nordic stereotype is a stereotype) and it always seemed to me that was the real concern, that as immigrants, they be as “white” as possible.

    You’re welcome, Delany, always good to read you. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 5:02 pm
  13. Note: the baby in the painting up there is not intended to be biracial. Viola Liuzzo was married to a white man and mom of five white children.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 6:21 pm
  14. ***It was interesting, too– my friend and her mom were both quite dark, as many Norwegians are (the blonde, Nordic stereotype is a stereotype)***

    Aha, that explains it! I knew a Swedish boy once who was very dark, way darker than me and I am one-fourth Italian.

    Posted by Branjor | March 6, 2007, 6:27 pm
  15. More on the Viola Liuzzo painting, it is part of a collection done by Erin Currier (a new shero of mine, thanks Jeyoani!) entitled, “Mothers and Martyrs of the Americas.” She’s pictured with her child for that reason. Patriarchy doesn’t like to admit how often it murders and martyrs mothers when we get in its way.

    Yeah, Branjor, some Norwegians are quite dark. My friend had the (common for Norwegians) dark circles kind of under her eyes, olive complexion. My mom is dark, too, dark hair, and she is all Norwegian/Finnish. The oral tradition is that Spanish and Italian merchants and seamen settled along Norway’s comparatively long coastline and intermarried with Norwegian women, and also, there has long been intermarriage between the indigenous “Sami” people in Norway (also Sweden and Finland) and white people. My maternal grandmother looks as though she could be part Sami based on photographs; I never saw her because she died just after I was born. Anyway, the Latin/Italian merchants and seamen theory fits because why else do Scandinavian countries celebrate “Santa Lucia” day?

    The fair-skinned, blonde stereotype is more true of Denmark and Sweden.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 6:46 pm
  16. Another note about Viola Liuzzo– recall she was murdered by white men for riding in a car with a young black man during a Civil Rights march. White men killed her for violating the rules of the White Men’s club, in other words. The FBI then engaged in a smear campaign, calling her a drug addict and a criminal. Although her children sued, they lost and ended up socked with something like $80K in attorneys fees for the other side.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 6:47 pm
  17. Your article has forced me to ask the question: if a mixed race person (0f black and white parentage) calls a black person n*****/wog/etc, does this make the mixed race person racist? can a mixed race person be racist? Thanks

    Posted by plaintain1 | March 6, 2007, 8:44 pm
  18. I think the use of the word “n*****” and similar epithets can be used as a racial slur by all people, including people of color, including mixed race persons. I think that people of color, including mixed race persons, can definitely be both racist and colorist, with one (important) qualification, I don’t think persons of color can be “racist” against white people, just because of the way racism “works.” (Which is not to say persons of color can’t be hateful to white people, or whatever, but it isn’t “racism” when they are.) I think, too, that mixed race persons can use the words which pertain to them and which white people have made to be epithets with one another, for example, to “reclaim” the words. Whether the words are a slur or a reclamation depends on the context and the relationship between the people of color who are using the words.

    I don’t think it’s ever acceptable for white people to use any of those words, period, for any reason, other than in political analyses, for example, to condemn their use. To me, those words are off limits for those of us who are white.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 8:52 pm
  19. I think talking about the reality of prejudice and discrimination between various groups of Europeans is so important and part of deconstructing whiteness. My mother’s father was very anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic (which in our part of the world had overtones of prejudice against Canadians of French descent) and anti-poor people. Of course, anti-African-American and overall misogynist as well! Funny how all that goes together sometimes. 🙂

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | March 6, 2007, 9:26 pm
  20. The ‘n’ word is particular, as ‘queer’ is particular. There is no appropriate or universal ‘mixed race’ stance on such questionable words – it depends entirely on the person.

    For example, some Black people are discriminated against according to their respective lightness or darkness – so, perhaps a mixed race girl raised in a white, elitist environment, someone associating her fairer skin with racial purity, could call a Black guy a dirty n******, and to me, that would be racist, yes.

    Anyway, as I think I’ve mentioned my partner and I are a bi-racial couple. I am white, although I think that ‘white’ is a kind of a ridiculous term – I prefer ‘transclucent’ since I’m so pale (LOL) and also because I don’t feel like an embodiment of whiteness and colonialism. It is a weird, imaginary concept to me. However, she has expressed to me that certain friends of her (Black and Hispanic) would poke fun at her dating ‘white chicks’, as if she is a traitor of some kind, for leaving the fold or dating the enemy, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

    I hadn’t dated any Black girls previous to my partner, but had Black friends and Black enemies throughout my life. However, for me to say “it wasn’t an issue, I didn’t even think about” would be, in my opinion, dismissive of a hugely important part of her identity. Of course it’s an issue, because she is Black and I do see that and acknowledge that and love that about her, because it’s such an important part. Not because it makes her different in some particular way but because this is her history, this is her culture, and I am fascinated by that – because it’s hers.

    I don’t claim to know everything about her culture, her ‘colour’, but I am more than willing to learn. I don’t consider myself a race traitor because no part of my identity concerns my ‘being white’. It simply does not exist – only in comparison to my partner. I personally think bi-racial love is beautiful, but I may be somewhat biased.

    Regards, Morgan
    A Transparent
    (We are the invisible minority, and we are not proud).

    Posted by morgan | March 6, 2007, 11:07 pm
  21. I think that looking at Viola Liuzzo’s murder as white men punishing an infraction of their elitist Thug-Scouts ‘rules and regs’ is only the surface part of the picture. The underlayment of everything from rape to war to ‘pay-backs’ and ‘chastisements’ is that there is a big chunk of human maledom that actually deeply enjoys the acts of killing and the inflicting of pain. All the us-them, black-white, up-down scenarios floated are mental-construct excuses so that 1) murder, rape and torture can be steadily indulged in, and 2) there will be a steady stream of ‘subjects’ for their experimental delight. It has to be clearly understood that for men with this bent (and I use the word in the sense of a serious misalignment/defect), the act of injuring someone and the elicited cries of distress/pleading/begging/what-have-you, are extremely pleasurable. (Torture also gets ‘bound’ to sexuality quite often because attacking the sexually sensitive spots on the human body is a great way to cause a lot of pain- and the various physical expressions of agony- quickly.) It needs to be understood that the main ‘driver’ for this behavior is a sensual one. All the talk about feelings of ‘power’ and so on, are more ‘secondary rationalization’.

    There is a quote from Chinggis (Genghis) Khan that, while being utterly chilling, expresses the root sensual-focus of all who like to cause injury. He basically says that the absolute greatest pleasure that life affords is ‘to gallop far and wide on horseback, shooting the enemy over and over, to watch their blood spurt and listen to them scream as they die, then to burn their possessions and drive their women and children on foot before you and make slaves of them, and to bite the red berries of the breasts of their women, and to bite the red lips of their women.’ For Chinggis Khan it really did not matter who he fought, or for what reason, so long as he could continue to get his pleasure-jolt of inflicting pain on others.

    The same twisted sensuality underlies rape/porn/war/SM/honor-killing/etc., today. It is outright psychiatric insanity, pure and simple, tricked out in excuses of race prerogatives, sexual superiority, religious superiority, cultural superiority, and so on, so that the perps can continue to indulge themselves unabated.

    While I am not sure of the absolute best way to approach this situation to effect change, I do think that a good start would be all-female raising of children of both sexes with no male ‘authority input’ at all while children are still in their formative years. One of the things that patrist ‘advancement’ did early on was to take the actual teaching/acculturation of (especially male) children out of the control of Women at as early an age as possible, so that warping violence-pressures could be brought to bear on said children before they were old/strong enough to resist. As a result of this, we are now in an ‘inmates running the asylum’ situation with regard to the ‘cultural inheritance’ of routine violence against women and children.

    The bottom line is, ‘boys will be boys’ is nothing but an excuse for male pathology, and it is also why I personally will NEVER ‘bend the knee’ to male preachers, prophets, avatars, deities, gurus, and so on. I can’t in good conscience afford to give my support to anything that hints of male domination, no matter what skin-color the men operating the system have. While this doesn’t mean that I ‘hate all men’, it *does* mean that I do not accept male ‘authority’ as part of the innate structure of the Universe.

    If the way things are now in the world defines what it means to be human, then I am a Human Traitor, because I want something else entirely. At the very least, I am a Patriarchical Heretic, and proud of it.

    Posted by akkarri | March 6, 2007, 11:28 pm
  22. Dang. That was amazing akkari. I’m so glad you’re here, home with the rest of us proud patriarchal heretics.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 11:40 pm
  23. “can a mixed race person be racist?”

    It depends on whether you think individuals can be ‘racist’ or whether that term only applies systemically. Mixed race people can definitely be prejudiced, and I mean *very* prejudiced. Try listening to some old Jelly Roll Morton (a Creole) recordings in which he describes the ‘uncultured’ African Americans. That was a hundred years ago. Then listen to some of your mixed race friends describe your darker ones in the same terms, this very week.

    Posted by profacero | March 7, 2007, 12:04 am
  24. Thanks, Heart, I’m glad to be here. It’s so much more vital than most places; the things that are being discussed here need to be talked about– hopefully, the talking will spark ideas in us all for things that we can do, and so on. I am also just deep-down body-tired of male Religious Authority Drivel in all its many forms, and your blog is a delightful antidote to that. The more Women sound off and make a good case for the Wrongness of what is going on, the easier we make it for more of our Sisters to defect/escape from POWasp internment.

    I’ve also been working my way through some earlier postings on the blog, and after reading all the Full Quiver stuff (and I bow to your courage in posting it all!), I think I feel a spontaneous Chainsaw-Wielding-Dakini manifestation coming on…

    Posted by akkarri | March 7, 2007, 1:06 am
  25. “It depends on whether you think individuals can be ‘racist’ or whether that term only applies systemically.”

    Excactly. The current mainstream belief is, you can only oppress if you are part of the sect that has been traditionally the oppressor. No room for that conditioning to spill over. There is a magic bubble that protects the oppressed from mimicking the oppressors.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | March 7, 2007, 1:07 am
  26. I have to say that my experience with mixed race people is usually: I have to know first if it’s okay for me to talk about race/racism in their presence. I have made the mistake of assuming, that they is a connon ground of understanding when it comes to racism, or at least to agree with me when I speak of racism against Black people. Only to be told they dont see themselves as black. And I am finding more and more with my ‘darker skinned’ friends, that this is also their experience. When I lived in South Africa, the ‘coloureds’ did not see themselves as Aficans, and in Nigeria, they tend to keep to themselves, and marry amongst themselves. So, yes, a race traitor they may not be, they simply see themselves as a separte group with experiences that are peculiar to them.

    Posted by plaintain1 | March 7, 2007, 1:27 am
  27. Hey, Akkari, thanks for apprecicating my courage in posting the Full Quiver stuff. It did take a lot of courage to post that and it feels good when someone notices. 🙂 Your caps make me think you read Mary Daly or Jane Caputi– do you?

    Yeah, chasingmoksha, the oppressed can be complete and total assholes, no doubt about that, and can (attempt to) hurt us and can (attempt to) silence us and it sucks. I always try to focus on why living under male supremacy gets people doing what they do to one another, making sure I focus from a far, far distance away, of course. :/

    Really very interesting perspective, plaintain1, thanks for your comment. How, in your experience, did the “coloureds” identify, since they don’t identify as Africans or as black? To me what you are describing does sound like racism against dark-skinned or black people, but I am speaking as an American and could definitely be missing out on something. For mixed race people to distance themselves from black people in this way seems racist to me. Some of my own children are more black-identified than others are, in the sense that they choose intimate relationships with black people over white people, their preferences in art, music, literature, are for what black people have created as opposed to what white people have created. But even my kids who are more “white identified,” in the presence of black people, identify with black people, i.e., they wouldn’t say to black persons that they don’t “identify” as black in the way you’re describing.

    I do think that mixed race people often view themselves as not really fitting in anywhere, but that is not so much a matter of identification as of just a sense of being an outsider because their lived experiences have been different from both the experiences of people raised in white families and the experiences of people raised in black families. Sometimes they express frustration and ask why they should have to “identify” in any way at all. They are black AND they are white. And sometimes they are rejected by black people because they are biracial, just as they are sometimes rejected by white people for being biracial.

    What you’re describing though sounds to me like an effort of biracial people to forge an “identity” completely separate from blackness.

    Amy, I agree re analyzing the way our own “whiteness” was constructed in our families as we were coming up. I, too, remember a lot of prejudice and bigotry against Roman Catholics when I was young; this pretty much began to end with the election of John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president. Then it became kind of fashionable to be Roman Catholic and from that time forward, the anti-Catholic bigotry diminished (at least in my experience, and my own family wasn’t anti-Catholic, I just picked it up that many people were). I definitely recall bigotry and prejudice against “gypsies” (Roma people) coming up, hearing from people that “gypsies” were dishonest and thieves and would kidnap people’s babies and sell them. This kind of talk circulated every year during the state fair which took place every year near where I grew up, because of the presence of gypsies who worked there.

    Heart

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 7, 2007, 4:13 am
  28. On and re the category ‘coloured’ in SA, an old but classic text:
    http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/misc/laguma12.html

    Here’s an entire book:
    http://www.anc.org.za/books/ccsa.html

    Wiki is pretty good on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloured

    Here’s a novel on it I would love to read:
    http://www.intermix.org.uk/features/FEA_13_zoe_wicomb.asp
    I read Wicomb’s earlier _David’s Story_ and it is brilliant.

    [Sorry to dump all these sources like a pedant – I’m giving a class on this (mestizaje, hybridity, metissage, mixing in general) in the fall and have to figure out which books to order, so I have it on the brain.]

    Posted by profacero | March 7, 2007, 5:07 am
  29. Only to be told they dont see themselves as black. And I am finding more and more with my ‘darker skinned’ friends, that this is also their experience.

    There is this woman at my job who does just the same but she jumps back and forth from being a “white girl” to being “black” (her words.) On the one hand she celebrates that her family used to own slaves and had plantations and she wears her (not quite so light I have aunts who are lighter lol) light skin as a badge of purity and elitism. BUT when she wants to drop “n” bombs or seem “down” she is black. She will not say that her people are decendents of Africans though lol. When I questioned her about her blackness she claimed that the black people in her family were creole when I asked her where the creole people were from she said the bahams… LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly someone who does not know that people from the west indies were first tiano peoples and then they were actually African slaves who became “mixed” through RAPE of slave women, much like black people here in the sates. This whole elite mentality stems from that type of “mix.”

    If you read “Dimensions of Black Conservatism in the United States” by Gail T. Tate & Lewis A. Randolph, you will learn a lot about this. Its pretty interesting actually. This class of people started on the plantations and it is still present today…

    Anyway, as I think I’ve mentioned my partner and I are a bi-racial couple. I am white, although I think that ‘white’ is a kind of a ridiculous term – I prefer ‘transclucent’ since I’m so pale (LOL) and also because I don’t feel like an embodiment of whiteness and colonialism. It is a weird, imaginary concept to me. However, she has expressed to me that certain friends of her (Black and Hispanic) would poke fun at her dating ‘white chicks’, as if she is a traitor of some kind, for leaving the fold or dating the enemy, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

    hmmm… I find this in my experience though there are obvious differences. I do identify with being ‘black’ my fiance identifies with being human lol. He doesn’t claim ‘white’ for the same reason you have outlined, he would rather be called urban american than white american. I am having trouble with my family on this. It is funny because my aunts and mother are accepting. It’s the generation after them that is using this “you think you’re white” speech. My grand mother was mixed, polish jew/portugese and my grand father was born in Barbados. My aunts/uncle are very fair skinned like their mom with the exception of one who is her father’s twin and they’ve all taught us that it is not what is outside that matters but what is within so I dont know where their children got this whole idea of wanting to be educated and rise above the stigma of ‘blackness’ equates to being white… I am researching this though and trying to better understand. Anyone who wishes to contribute or explain or offer their experiences, please do it would help.

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 12, 2007, 12:02 am

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