About our early messages ….

I have a neat little book, The Anti-Racist Cookbook, by Robin Parker and Pamela Smith Chambers, that’s tempting me with a plan for how to start a (real life) discussion group for confronting white privilege and racism.

I’ll throw a few questions out to see if anyone would like to start talking …. anyone reading here should feel free to answer anonymously, and as little, or as much, as they feel like …..

1. Share some of your early messages about the groups listed below. As you discuss those messages, also talk about where your messages came from:

Aboriginal people
Chinese people
Japanese people
Jews
Arabs
Mexicans
Black people
White people
South Asian people

2. How does your current thinking differ from the early messages you received? Can you recall specific experiences that shaped your thinking?

3. What early messages that you wouuld like to set aside still influence you? What efforts are you making to set those negative messages aside?

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8 Responses

  1. Hey secondwaver–

    I’ve been discussing the events in the blogosphere lately with members of my IRL antiracism group, and they helped me articulate my discomfort about doing this sort of thing so publically. I don’t think we should take any risk that people of color will come across these discussions unprepared, or that white supremacist racist people will come across our words and use them for their own purposes.

    I’d like to suggest that we open up the e-list for these discussions; all radical feminists are welcome to join, but it seems to me in a more private forum there is much less of a chance of us giving offense inadvertently or having our words used against people we care about.

    What do others think?

  2. Thanks, Amy. Let’s discuss this.
    I would definitely encourge anonymity, so that women wouldn’t be quoted out of context. But I am not convinced that WOC would, if they came by to read, see anything they had not encountered many times before, these are stereotypes, after all.
    Insofar as white supremacists using our words, yes, that is a possibility. But I don’t imagine anyone will be engaging in hate speech, only talking about what we got from our families, and how we have been able (or trying to) to grow beyond it.

    Whatcha think?? I respect your opinion.

  3. For me most of the messages were unspecified, just in the water really – nothing directly hateful most times.

    Stereotypes, which are just as dehumanising, tended to focus more on the supposed positive attributes of a group or groups of people, by emphasisng, say, athletic skill or business prowess – those sorts of things.

    On a note related to Amy’s points (with which I’m inclined to agree), I’ve already seen how one thing I’ve said in a thread here seems to directly contradict something I’d said elsewhere, and the more I try to clarify my intent in my own mind, the less sure I am of being able to make a finer distinction… so, I’ve no reason to believe I have what it takes to do what’s intended in this space with any skill, nevermind without causing harm.

  4. All right, thanks, Starfish and Amy. I see your point that racism and racist ideas shouldn’t be given public air time, even if our work is to show how we left/are leaving them behind.

  5. Yeah, I think that’s it, secondwaver. I know that, no matter how many times I hear fat-hating shit, it STILL hurts me, every time. I wouldn’t like to read a thread where women I liked or respected were recounting the specific fat-hating things that they used to, or still do, think. That would damage my relationship to them in a way that knowing they PROBABLY think or have thought those things but realize that they would hurt me so they don’t say them, does not. I think you might have some similar feelings about lesbian-hating stuff–even though you’ve heard it all before, you wouldn’t necessarily want a straight friend to say to you, yeah, I used to think lesbians wanted to rape me, or whatever. Right?

  6. Right!! OK, I’ll set up a yahoo group and we’ll see where it goes. Will you tell us about your antiracist group IRL, at least in very general terms?

  7. It’s called “Women Kicking Racism” and it’s pretty small–it is open to all women because white-only groups are white supremacist, even if they are for the purpose of confronting white people’s racism. People of color always have to be free to come in and kick our asses if they feel like it that day. 🙂

    The founders based the group on the ideas and theories of re-evaluation counseling (aka co-counseling) which I personally find quite suspect. There is a pretty good article here and more links here about RC if you want to know more. I’m very skeptical about the theoretical base, not to mention the abuses perpetrated by those in power in that movement. So, I’ve been trying to work on changing the format from a straight co-counseling style–one person talks at a time, no cross talk, no discussion–to a more discussion-based format where we have read articles and discussed them, brought in information about actions we’ve taken in our daily lives, etc. But, anyway, it’s the best group I’ve ever been in in terms of the level of political analysis of the participants, awareness of the ways oppression is linked and multifaceted, and also a general level of kindness. I’ve learned a lot.

  8. Oh yeah, come visit!

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