Author: has written 57 posts for this blog.

Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at clarissethorn.com; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
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106 Responses

  1. friday jones
    friday jones September 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    I’ve overturned my Transmogrifier, wrote “Time Masheen” on it, and am prepared to go back in time to ask the author of that piece “If slavery is so benevolent and the slaves so contented, then why don’t you sell your own children into slavery to ensure their contentment?”

  2. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm |

    I’m more fascinated by the fact that you find it so fascinating. There is nothing here in this excerpt that’s really shocking or eye-openning for me.

    Then again, I’m Black. It’s not showing me anything I already didn’t know about whiteness.

  3. Nancy Green
    Nancy Green September 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm |

    It shows that people are able not to see what they don’t want to see. There’s a lot of that going around today, too.

  4. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: Wow, Angel, you’re so right. I can’t imagine why I even thought posting it would be appropriate or interesting. Please accept my heartfelt apologies for the privilege inherent in doing such a thing./sarcasm

    Oh, FFS…

    All I’m saying is that is that for me, “Lessons in Whiteness” is better known as “Everyday Life”. And the things described in books like the one you quoted are stories that have been passed down from my parents, from their parents, and from their parents and grandparents. We take these stories and use them as tools to overcome our everyday experiences with racism. So yes, it’s fascinating to me that, for some people, this is something to be studied and learned about in history lessons, and something that isn’t part of the ordinary. And yes, that you get to learn about in this way is a sign of privilege.

    I didn’t post what I wrote to say that it shouldn’t have been posted or that it has no value. I simply meant what I said, that for a Black person stories like these aren’t anything new. If you got, “OH NOES! TEH PRIVILEGE!11!” from that, that’s your problem. Not mine.

  5. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    Sorry. I was typing before you edited your reply.

    Thank you for that.

  6. Djiril
    Djiril September 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Well, as a white woman who’s read a bit about the subject, I’d heard about this attitude before, but I haven’t seen many full quotes from someone defending it when slavery was still happening.
    I think it’s good for us to be reminded that these attitudes always exist to justify whatever is the current status quo, though I would suggest not using the word “cool” to describe things like this since it may feel more personal and real for others than it does for you.
    I do remember reading in Frederick Douglass’ autobiography that slaves were often “tested” by their masters by having someone come up to them and ask if they were treated well, sometimes with the offer to come and work for another master who would treat them better. If they expressed any discontentment they were punished, which may be the reason why this person felt safe in saying that slaves seemed to be so content when talked to about their lives.

  7. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage September 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm |

    The doublethink. It burns.

  8. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin September 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm |

    Much like the very concept of war, human beings will rationalize anything if it serves their ends. But before we rush to judgment, we need to acknowledge that we too might end up mired in the same inhumane thinking if the variables were arranged in a certain order.

    In Civil Rights Days, people were using the Bible as justification for segregation. And before then, in the immediate time before the Civil War, more than one historian has argued that the vitriol of certain radical abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison only made a bad situation worse. But this does not, of course, defend slavery as anything less than immoral and inhumane. The problem with humanity is that we are drawn to the inhumane, and in some ways, it is very human.

  9. karak
    karak September 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm |

    One of my college classes was a really good look at Pre-Civil War America and slavery. My professor gave us this incredibly horrific essay that argued slavery should be continued for the morality of the South to go uncorrupted. What did that mean? It meant the author said since men could rape slaves they didn’t have whores dirtying up the streets.

    It was… I just could barely make my way through the thing.

  10. Shakatany
    Shakatany September 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm |

    Very little surprises me these days after the cheering for the number of people executed under Perry and coming across this: Jezuzfreek777′s Animated Guide to Slavery at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygy0dxkQka8 What’s happening to our country?

  11. zyxek
    zyxek September 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm |

    We have conversed a great deal with the coloured people, feeling the deepest interest in learning their own views of their peculiar situation, and we have almost invariably been delighted and affected by their humble devotion to their master’s family, their child-like, affectionate reliance on their care and protection, and above all, with their genuine cheerfulness and contentment.

    Talk about paternalism. It’s important to remember that oppressors always have the capacity to delude themselves. But even here, there is a blatant disregard for the status of the “labor class” as fully adult human beings.

    Harriet Beecher Stowe was not completely devoid of some of these sentiments herself, of course. And let’s not forget Lincholn’s words from 1858:

    I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

    http://bit.ly/pMUx2z

  12. urbansapphic
    urbansapphic September 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm |

    As a woman of color (biracial) I m also troubled that you find this SSOOOO interesting. Why I wonder, if anything I am appalled that in the 21st Century I have to still read excerpts of propaganda that singles out a particular ethnic group like specimens in a laboratory.

    Seriously? Is your next article going to give a blow by blow description of news (and Caucasian) correspondent Lara Logan’s sexual assualt in Eqypt?

  13. urbansapphic
    urbansapphic September 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm |

    Angel H.:
    I’m more fascinated by the fact that you find it so fascinating. There is nothing here in this excerpt that’s really shocking or eye-openning for me.
    Then again, I’m Black. It’s not showing me anything I already didn’t know about whiteness.

    Tell me about it.

  14. GinnyC
    GinnyC September 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm |

    To me this propaganda seems typical. It hits many of the arguments that the Southern-plantation-owning class used to cloak reality. At a glance, it has the typical racist shit including the claim to superiority of Southern agrarian society to Northern industrial capitalism. So, nothing new, and I’ve dealt with white Southerners who still make the same damn arguments today. The real question is why many, especially white, progessive people haven’t seen or heard about this shit before.

  15. seisy
    seisy September 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm |

    Well, I think it’s interesting. *shrug*. There’s nothing wrong with looking from an earlier age and thinking, “holy shit, that is messed up,” and then thinking about modern blindspots and justifications and things that will one day seem as comprehensively bizarre as, “slaves! they love it, really.” (Which is definitely not to imply that everything is great or that racism isn’t still with us or anything ridiculous like that- just that we at least have come to a place where pretty much everyone can agree that slavery is bad.)

  16. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 23, 2011 at 12:17 am |

    Eh, I had a similar reaction as Angel H. and urbansapphic. Same old, same old.

    Then again, though I’m white, I’m also Jewish, so I’ve known about the existence of disgusting bigoted propoganda for about as long as I can remember.

    As to what we should take away from it as activists…well…that seems obvious to me, though that could just be because it’s been drilled into my head since childhood. This shit still exists. People still write this kind of crap, and I’m not just talking about neo-Nazis and folks who affiliate with the KKK. You find it and you make a fuss, as loud as you can, to as many people as you can. You campaign to get the people who write/support it out of office. You do everything within your power to show how ugly it is to people who don’t see it or just don’t care.

  17. ilyka
    ilyka September 23, 2011 at 12:49 am |

    seisy:
    Well, I think it’s interesting. *shrug*. There’s nothing wrong with looking from an earlier age and thinking, “holy shit, that is messed up,” and then thinking about modern blindspots and justifications and things that will one day seem as comprehensively bizarre as, “slaves! they love it, really.” (Which is definitely not to imply that everything is great or that racism isn’t still with us or anything ridiculous like that- just that we at least have come to a place where pretty much everyone can agree that slavery is bad.)

    I want to agree with you–I do agree with you, so far as it goes. On paper, or on blog, if you prefer, I agree with you.

    Except we so seldom get to the second part:

    thinking about modern blindspots and justifications and things that will one day seem as comprehensively bizarre as, “slaves! they love it, really.”

    Because if we were thinking about modern blindspots, Angel H. wouldn’t have received the response she got.

    You understand, Troy Davis was murdered yesterday, and none of the black people who wrote about that whom I read were surprised about it. Oh, they were grieving, heartbroken, and furious, but they were not surprised. Neither were they “fascinated” or “appalled” (because it went well beyond “appalled,” as it naturally would if you could look at your brother, your son, your husband, your father, and think, “There is no reason on earth why this couldn’t have as easily happened to them.”).

    It takes a staggering lack of empathy, in my opinion, to post a link to a collection of pro-slavery propaganda less than 24 hours after black people have been again, for the umpteenth time, reminded in no uncertain terms that their lives don’t count. That so-called “history” is still here, now. But that could be perhaps forgiven, or at least understood.

    It’s the part where then the OP snarks off and only grudgingly admits to having maybe been a little “over the top” to a black woman who is understandably (if one has an ounce of empathy) not impressed with this latest internet discovery, and still expects everyone to suggest answers for the 7th-grade civics Questions to Ponder that end this post, that demonstrates abject failure to do the second thing, to think “about modern blindspots.”

    That second part is critical. That second part is where white people eliminate their white supremacist behaviors in order to get crackin’ on a world in which neither slavery nor the execution of Troy Davis happen, ever. A world in which such concepts seem fantastical, inconceivable, impossible–to the people they’re currently, right now, this minute, “modern” style, happening to. I mean, I get that they already seem fantastical and inconceivable to white people, but that ain’t the point. As a white person myself, I will certainly vouch for how eagerly we want to believe things aren’t the way they are.

    That world starts here. Now. With you, with me, maybe even with Clarisse? but not so long as she’d rather show Angel who’s boss around these parts than actually get a fucking clue and start making a damn difference. I love how Feministe always wants people like Angel to “fill the fucking gap,” but then wholly reserves the right to complain about the manner in which it’s been filled.

    But yay! We agree slavery is bad! There’s a Malcolm X quote out there about how no, no points awarded for pulling a knife already in his back out halfway. And, yeah–in practice, white people too often show up going, “Look, it’s three inches less deep than it was.” Look! Look at how some of us used to be PRO-slavery! Wow, that’s so wild! Who could ever imagine? How fascinating! How appalling! We’ve come a long way, baby.

    And I’m just saying maybe today, particularly, was a real bad choice of day to pull that shit, and that maybe the people who’ll ultimately decide whether whites have come a long way or not are not themselves white.

  18. Iany
    Iany September 23, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    Angel H.:
    I’m more fascinated by the fact that you find it so fascinating. There is nothing here in this excerpt that’s really shocking or eye-openning for me.

    Then again, I’m Black. It’s not showing me anything I already didn’t know about whiteness.

    ilyka:
    As a white person myself, I will certainly vouch for how eagerly we want to believe things aren’t the way they are.

    A big thank you to Angel and Ilyka. These two comments hit the nail on the head when it comes to the questions in the original post, for me.

    I feel like it always boils down to “we gave you this much, get over it” when it comes to society and social justice. DADT just got repealed in the country I now live in, so the gratefulness must now begin.

    It’s kind of a christian value, in a way, you’re given something you had a right to as if it were a gift and you need to be thankful in return. Always thankful to the more privileged class for their charity (whatever form that charity takes).

  19. matlun
    matlun September 23, 2011 at 3:37 am |

    I think this is interesting, since I had not seen this type of argument specifically regarding US slavery before.

    I am not sure why it would be surprising, though. Just look at the old “White Man’s Burden” argument re colonialism as well as the explicitly racial ideologies leading up to the second world war for some more or less contemporary attitudes. In general, racism has historically been much more established and socially accepted than today.

    Today people at least mostly have to pretend to not be racist to be socially accepted.

  20. Natasha
    Natasha September 23, 2011 at 4:13 am |

    Hi there.

    I’m a white Jewish queer woman and not shocked either, because I too see it all around me, more and more so the more I decolonize my mind. I am part of the “modern” colonist-capitalist slavemaster class in that I work for a bank that funds exploitation & slavery projects around the world, calling them things like “investment opportunities” in “emerging markets”. I work alongside Black people in this hierarchical slavemaster environment, though VERY few because investment banking is a mostly white man game.

    My thoughts on the slavery propaganda excerpts are that we hear pretty much the same stuff everyday in “modern” day colonial-slavery language — “globalization” is the name of the slavery game today. We know the sentiment: how GREAT it is for People in so-called 3rd worlds to have industrialization inflicted on them by the euro-west, how these 3rd world People were sick and starving (those poor, simple savages!) before the benevolent “developed worlds” and their corporations showed them the ways of the future/so-called “civilization”, yada yada. This argument is made possible by forgetting/erasing/denying that it was mostly european colonization in the first place that caused the poverty and sicknesses of today in these ‘poor’ countries, with current eurowestern economic policies that make these ‘other’ countries even worse off with each minute the colonist-slavemaster class continues occupying land that is not theirs, including Turtle Island (aka north america). It’s not lost on me that I am part of the occupiers since I am not Aboriginal, something I don’t know how to reconcile…

    All land and its geopolitics and histories are different and I’m no expert on the details; I am only speaking of the macro picture of slave/slavemaster, colonizer/colonized, and I am saying that it’s not a thing of the past — to me, the underlying mentalities/philosophies have not changed one bit, only the words and outfits and technologies have changed….

    The argument of “that was then / this is now / we’ve learned our lessons and know better”, is kind of true in that the exploiters/slavemasters have indeed learned lessons from the past — lessons on how to be more cunning & manipulative & destructive in their work.

    A few years back I took an undergrad course called “Black Freedom”, taught by a white man (!) who didn’t think it was important to talk about the violence that was necessary to uphold slavery. My understanding of abolition is that it is the ownership of people that was outlawed (not the actual violence and cruelty and dehumanization that came with it), which I don’t think came from a place of compassion as much as from the idea that it would be more profitable for the slavemaster class to have slaves working (for slavemaster corporations) for money to buy stuff to line slavemasters’ pockets…

    Many of us are economically enslaved and owned/are “property” of corporations we work for. It’s obviously a different kind of slavery but slavery nonetheless. I wrote this reply at work and printed it out to bring home and am typing it out now because employees’ internet activity is monitored and I can’t afford to lose my job because I support myself and my disabled wife, a mixed Aboriginal 2-Spirit woman who is sick because OF the legacy of colonialism that continues today, and my health benefits enable us to buy the medicine she needs to live. So with one hand I am indirectly (or directly?) contributing to the continual genocide against Indigenous People @ my job, while with the other hand I am keeping my Indigenous wife alive with the medicine she needs. If that sounds martyr-like that is NOT my intent because I hate the judeo-christian-islamic concept of martyrdom, I am just trying to make a point about the paradoxical absurdity that is my life.

    To summarize, it’s a complicated rat-nesty clusterfuck.

  21. f.
    f. September 23, 2011 at 4:48 am |

    Angel and company: I get where you are coming from. But Whiteness has to be made explicit and obvious for us white people to figure out that it even really exists as anything but default normality. Observing that process over and over again has to be one of the most goddamned frustrating things a person could ever witness. Of course a full throated defense of chattel slavery is not going to merely be “fascinating” for a Black person to read, but deeply offensive. I agree that the timing was not good on Clarisse’s part. Lessons in Whiteness are always going to be aimed directly and exclusively at white people… but we need them, sadly enough.

    Clarisse, you’ve hit upon one of the most vital topics in American history. I never thought that being a feminist and anti-racist would lead me to become a Civil War buff, but truthfully, you will learn so much about our country by exploring that time period further. It is so vital not to let your exploration end here. David Blight’s Yale lectures are AMAZING and FREE, so check them out: http://oyc.yale.edu/history/civil-war-and-reconstruction/content/sessions.html

    Particularly, on this topic, the second and third lectures, in which he breaks down the various types of pro-slavery ideology and the relevance to today’s politics will amaze: http://oyc.yale.edu/history/civil-war-and-reconstruction/content/sessions/session-2-southern-society-slavery-king-cotton-and see also http://oyc.yale.edu/history/civil-war-and-reconstruction/content/sessions/lecture-3-a-southern-world-view-the-old-south-and

    Honestly, a proper understanding of slavery, its abolition, and the Reconstruction period – not just “it was bad and nasty, then there was a war, then, like, Jim Crow” but a REAL understanding – is so, so important. Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic Monthly blogs about this stuff regularly and I think you would appreciate his work, too.

  22. f.
    f. September 23, 2011 at 4:54 am |

    Also, if you want to dig into a justification of slavery that ends up arguing the entire global working class should be enslaved for its own good so that they can be happy, like Southern slaves are – seriously, this is the product of an extremely erudite and completely cynical, disturbed mind – there’s always George Fitzhugh: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35481/35481-h/35481-h.htm

    I warn you though, it will probably destroy some remaining part of your faith in humanity.

  23. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 23, 2011 at 7:06 am |

    I’m sorry if I offend anyone here but I think free speech is an important aspect of our culture; so that being said . . .

    For Christsake, stop pounding Clarrise for having been ignorant of a facet of history and then for being enlightened.

    You want people to KNOW the truth but then you gripe about people announcing their “Aha!” Moment. If knowledge is power then Clarisse is a fine example of gaining that power and then SHARING it.

    This stuff may be old school for some of you who didn’t have the random luck of being born white. I’m tired of all this “white privilege” stuff. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist but I AM saying that we all (no matter what our ethnic, societal, religious, and/or cultural background) have some sort of privilege as well as some sort of tribulation with which we each have to cope.

    I was raised on the West coast. We discussed the Civil War and slavery . . . we weren’t exposed to the type of information that Clarisse shared. So blame it on the system. Blame it on the schools. Don’t blame it on the ignorance. It takes a personal yearning for knowledge for people to become aware of information that may not be readily available to the general public. I myself didn’t learn about this aspect of slavery propaganda until I started college. So go ahead and judge me for my ignorance. I refuse to feel ashamed or guilty for it. I cannot help what I do not know if I don’t know I’m supposed to know it. What I can offer is that I am grateful to have gained the knowledge so that I may go on about my life a little more aware, a little more empowered, and a little better able to attempt to be the change I wish to see in the world.

    As for the Troy Davis issue: I think it IS a good thing that Clarisse made this post when she did; it brings into stark reality the fact that though these pro-slavery thoughts may be historical they thoroughly shed light on the fact that such ideals are still a real and present problem in our country. Troy Davis is a tragic victim and a symbol of the atrocities that still exist and need to be dealt with.

    And change doesn’t happen without awareness, knowledge, a desire and ability to SHARE knowledge, and the courage to step forward and take action.

    Now excuse me, I have another windmill to chase.

  24. piny
    piny September 23, 2011 at 8:32 am |

    And the so-called “7th grade Civics questions” that end this post were actually 100% and totally intended to encourage people to think about “modern blindspots and justifications and things that will one day seem as comprehensively bizarre as, ‘slaves! they love it, really.’ ”

    Not mutually exclusive, shallow and well-intentioned.

    It’s great that you’re honestly trying and learning about this stuff, I mean that sincerely, but privilege is not just this thing you acknowledge, like, oh, hi, Mr. Elephant, watch the parquet please.

    Troy Davis was executed two days ago because of the belief that black people are not people and need to be controlled for their good and ours. Oscar Grant was murdered two years ago because of the belief that black people are not entitled to the protection of the law. Current national presidential candidates endorsed in writing the argument that black people were better off under slavery, that slavery was beneficial for black children. The current Republican front-runner got wild cheers from his constituency for making the argument that execution is good enough for black people. The guy next to him got wild cheers for saying, really, that black people deserve to die of preventable diseases. That is all happening right now; that is the current state of discourse in our country. Right now, this year. The last time we had an election, the liberal half of our country wondered whether a black man could be the President and the conservative half of our country wondered whether he could be a citizen.

    These arguments are not bizarre, not any more than the argument that women must bear children in agony or poor people must live in shame or nations must wage wars of conquest. They’re not part of our history. They’re part of our reality. And although we have certainly progressed over the past century and a half, good for us, we haven’t gotten far enough to disown all of this. It’s a little bit like posting, I dunno, a century-old speech in Parliament about the right of the British Empire to control the Earth for the good of freedom and civilization and goggling at all the bizarre imperialist racism on display, like, wow, wouldja look at how we used to feel about people in the “Third World.” There are nearer precedents. They are us.

    So it’s great that you’re thinking about this, but you need to think about this.

  25. evie
    evie September 23, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    Me and my ancestors and my education were totally foreign to all of this, and even I recognise this as same-old same-old justification for US slavery.

    Clarisse Thorn:
    Holy shit, karak.Do you have a citation for that?

    Try bell hooks’ Ain’t I a woman? for a primer on the history of those kinds of ideas. Or generally an essential book to read on this topic.

    The only interesting thing I took from this quote was the “never beheld a chain or a manacle”. I’m so used to people arguing that trafficking isn’t slavery because unless you’re tied up or locked in a basement, you’re consenting to being there. That REAL slavery (back in the ancient ancient olden days, which everyone has known was wrong for forever) was where people were chained up. I didn’t realise that that particular argument was applied at the time, but it may well be my privilege not to know that already.

  26. GinnyC
    GinnyC September 23, 2011 at 10:29 am |

    I’ve got to second Shoshie here. This shit is not dead! Sure, people don’t defend slavery outright, but I have heard enough white Southerners defend individual slaveowners as great people who treated “their” slaves well to know that the racist propaganda is still internalized. This isn’t an accademic conversation!

  27. Jennifer
    Jennifer September 23, 2011 at 11:18 am |

    I don’t think this kind of sentiment is in the past at all–modern day conservatives will talk about how much better the black population was under slavery than now and how slavery brought people to much better conditions than they were experiencing in Africa. Henry Louis Gates wrote an op-ed in the NYT–his first big piece I noticed after his arrest for being black in his own home in Cambridge, MA–about “Ending the Slavery Blame Game” against reparations (because slaves were sold to white slave traders by Africans) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23gates.html What??? As if the question of how people became slaves is relevant to the question of reparations for holding people in slavery for generations?

    Check out the website of the Jefferson Davis museum & presidential library http://www.beauvoir.org/ — I went there a few years ago with a few Yankee friends in the area for a wedding and we were surprised/horrified at the prominent claims about how happy and well-treated his slaves were. I don’t think everyone has come to the conclusion that slavery was bad. And this is not some fringe white supremacist place–scroll down on that page and you’ll see that you can buy a commemorative Mississippi license plate featuring the plantation (only in 2011!).

    I do think there is a tendency for white liberals (like myself) to assume that stuff like this is in the past–that the civil rights laws somehow took care of all this. I’ve found several examples among my friends of people who would express horror at the passages above but who feel like affirmative action keeps them from getting ahead and who would dismiss the idea of reparations for slavery out of hand.

    Why is it that the idea of reparations for slavery is so “out there” if we all agree on how awful it was? Conyers has been introducing a bill every year since 1989 just to *study* the issue and it never passes http://www.johnconyers.com/issues/reparations ; http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h40/text

  28. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    Yess’m, Mizz Heyjudi. I’s powerful grateful y’all decided to learn up ’bout us poor Negras. I’s sho is ashamed if’n I’s hurts yo’ feelin’s. I’mo run off and get ya some nice warm cookies, I sho will!

  29. evie
    evie September 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    Then there was the Republican pledge thing which asserted that black children were more likely to be brought up by two parents under slavery than today (http://yourblackworld.com/2011/07/11/republican-sign-document-saying-that-black-families-were-better-off-under-slavery/)

    Yep, these views aren’t history.

  30. GinnyC
    GinnyC September 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    @ Angel H
    You just made my day!

    Angel H.:
    Yess’m, Mizz Heyjudi. I’s powerful grateful y’all decided to learn up ’bout us poor Negras. I’s sho is ashamed if’n I’s hurts yo’ feelin’s. I’mo run off and get ya some nice warm cookies, I sho will!

  31. matlun
    matlun September 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: Yes, the tone of my post could have been more sensitive. I’ve learned my lesson.

    Did you really just write this in a post where you likened antebellum slaves to animals?

  32. matlun
    matlun September 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm |

    matlun: Did you really just write this in a post where you likened antebellum slaves to animals?

    On closer consideration, I apologize for this post. That was a knee jerk response and rather unfair. (Note to self: Think before posting)

  33. victoria
    victoria September 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm |

    matlun, if you makes you feel any better you’re not the only person who had that reaction to the animal analogy.

  34. GinnyC
    GinnyC September 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    matlun: Did you really just write this in a post where you likened antebellum slaves to animals?

    I had the exact same reaction. I don’t think it is an unfair one.

  35. Valhallie
    Valhallie September 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm |

    As a black person, I have to admit that there is no delight in this world greater than when people use the struggles of myself and my people as object lessons. How else would the world know what is good and bad without the spectre of slavery and Jim Crow hanging overhead, offering us important life lessons and a sense of temporal superiority? We wouldn’t, that’s how else. Arguments for social justice would have to stand on their own, unsupported by dark(ie?) history. Weak. Unsound. Pathetic. Flaccid. Uncircumcised.

    And it is especially delighted when our condition is compared to that of animals. Especially. It’s just so special. The similarities are striking. Black people got treated bad, animals get treated bad. Amazing! Synchronicity at its most uncanny. It’s like looking into a fucking time mirror*. The parallels you can draw are so deep, so rich.

    *time mirrors are like regular mirrors but when you look at them it’s the past inside the mirror.

  36. JetGirl
    JetGirl September 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |

    “We loved them, and they loved us.”
    Oh, I’m so sorry. That was a quote from “The Help.”

  37. seisy
    seisy September 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm |

    matlun: Did you really just write this in a post where you likened antebellum slaves to animals?

    Yeah, that was my reaction, too. Damn.

  38. ilyka
    ilyka September 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn:
    Okay okay, I’ll explain that one.

    I wasn’t calling antebellum slaves animals, any more than I was claiming that antebellum slaves are women when I noted lessons for feminism.I wasn’t calling antebellum slaves animals, any more than I was claiming that antebellum slaves are Third World citizens when I noted lessons for NGOs.

    And yet, animals are considered so worthless, and it’s considered so reasonable to exploit them, that the mere fact that I dared to include the animal rights movement among these other more accepted movements, was immediately seen as an insult to those other more accepted movements.

    Clarisse, honestly, that isn’t the problem. History is the problem. The history of viewing black people as stand-ins for animals, and therefore unworthy of human decency, and the more recent, partially PETA-fueled history of viewing animals as stand-ins for black people, creatures we pity because they suffer, but still don’t acknowledge as human beings.

    I mean, yeah, I can see where you’d want to draw parallels, and I’m not myself against drawing parallels when you’re trying to deepen your understanding of something; that can be an integral part of the whole learning process, and of course it doesn’t have to be done simplistically, like, “these two things are exactly the same.” I know that’s not what you were doing here, and you may not be aware how offensive this parallel can be if it’s not handled very carefully. I think there are some vegans of color out there who have explored this in more depth, but I’m leery of posting too many links here and I’m not especially up on that myself.

    All that said, could you please step back a second and look at what you are doing here? What you are doing here is sniping at every black person on this thread who objects to what you are doing.

    And, damnit, that was my original point: If you want to learn from history, great, seriously, GREAT, but FFS please try to work in some practical applications, like, “When black people tell me I’ve goofed, I will listen and take their concerns seriously, even if initially I feel defensive.” God, okay, that sounds way too hokey, but you know? Without that it’s all just academic.

  39. mad the swine
    mad the swine September 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |

    So, Clarisse Thorn: it looks like everyone misunderstood your original post, and the point you wanted to make with it was even more ignorant and privileged and careless than the way we interpreted it.

    No, you do not get to compare Black people to animals. This is not about “including” the animal rights movement with other more accepted movements. This is about centuries of propaganda comparing Black people to animals in order to justify oppression, slavery, rape, and murder. You cannot use that comparison without being racist. You don’t get to appropriate that history for your own pet causes.

    This blog has a serious problem with white privilege. The post on intersectionality earlier this month should have demonstrated this. Perhaps the lesson didn’t take. But: if you and your co-bloggers cannot look at this thread, at the important and legitimate criticisms levied against the original post, you need to seriously consider shutting this site down until you understand your own privilege better. I say this in absolute seriousness. For you to be honestly shocked that white people tried (and still try) to justify slavery (and every other form of discrimination against Black people) is risible. It’s as if you claimed to be blogging as a feminist, but then put up a post expressing your shock that some people used to condemn women for having sex.

    (Oh, and don’t just say ‘if we invite more Black bloggers, that’ll fix the problem’. It is not Black people’s job to explain to your privileged white ass the world Black people live in, and, quite frankly, if I was a Black blogger, I would be extremely reluctant to put myself into such a hostile space. It is your responsibility to educate yourself.)

  40. Brennan
    Brennan September 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    Um . . . wow.

    Okay, I think there was a point buried under the giant stack of o_O that is Clarisse’s food animal comment. The point, as far as I could tell, was about willful ignorance–the way people can deny the suffering that takes place under their very nose, can reframe it as something else.

    Ironically, it takes a lot of willful ignorance to even think that a comment like that is appropriate given the history involved. You can snark and backpeddle and give the gotcha answer all you want, but the fact remains that the analogy hurt people. Not random humorless internet jerks, but people. Your intellectual exercise is someone else’s family history. You just co-opted someone’s reality to advance your argument and in the process you drew an analogy between slavery and farm animals. And, no, you did not “dare” to include it because it doesn’t take any “daring” to post a comment on a blog where you post and moderate. The big bad internet isn’t trying to oppress you or your opinions. Write about slavery and we’ll talk about slavery. Write about food animals and we’ll talk about food animals. Write an inflammatory comment comparing the two and it will be interpreted as a slap in the face by people who’ve already had the indignity of searching for their ancestors in auction records. You’ve made this blog a hostile space for those readers and that’s not okay, however well-intentioned you may have been.

    So, no, I will not be participating in your intellectual exercise. Go back, get some context, and check your privilege, including the privilege that lets you think you can make any discussion about you and your important ideas. And, for god’s sake, this is feminism 101: if you want to learn anything about oppression you have to actually listen to the oppressed.

  41. victoria
    victoria September 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    ilyka: “When black people tell me I’ve goofed, I will listen and take their concerns seriously, even if initially I feel defensive.”

    i don’t think that is hokey at all, i think it would be a good idea for any white person (or person with privilege, depending on the issue at hand) who is serious about doing anti-oppression work to memorize and keep in mind.

  42. GinnyC
    GinnyC September 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    @ ilyka- Thank You!!

    Also everyone, if you want a safe place to try to process what the state of Georgia and the US courts did to Troy Davis, Racialicious has a series of posts up now.

  43. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 12:06 am |

    Hi ilyka:

    “When black people tell me I’ve goofed, I will listen and take their concerns seriously, even if initially I feel defensive.” Is not always a practical application for me because I do not choose my teachers based on their skin color, I choose to learn from people who say things that make sense to me. I do not learn much from people — of color or otherwise — who have assimilated the predatory colonial-capitalist ways because these ways mine the mind and eat the Spirit. Those who resist and reject this disease – in whatever way to whatever degree – get my attention.

    Hi Valhallie:

    You say uncircumcised like it’s a bad thing.

    Black/slavery history is not the only stain on humanity, there are unfortunately other examples past and present that have lots of the same base ingredients. That’s why parallels are good to make, cuz the more we unite against the predatory energy that is behind these kind of atrocities the more Power we have.

    @ No one in particular:

    On the topic of comparing Black ppl with non-human animals — when leaving White or Red or Yellow people out of it — is a problem. We are ALL animals, there is no hierarchy of creature value — that is the colonist-slavemaster mentality (hierarchies), to think we are any more valuable than a buffalo or a bird or a spider or a pig. One of my life goals is to get back to being as god dam primitive as I can get, and I resent the disease of domestication (of humans and animals) that made me the “civilized” person I am today without my informed consent. As John Trudell says, if this thing we call civilization is said to be a good thing, then it’s one of the biggest lies of all. Earth/indigenous nations, while so diverse, seem to have one thing in common — RESPECT FOR ALL OF LIFE. Thie predatory-colonist-capitalist energy that mines minds and eats Spirits keeps ppl dividing and conquering, too busy bickering amongst eachother to notice how quickly its cancer keeps spreading.

    Hi Clarisse:

    I understand the shock & awe of learning these kind of histories for the first time, and I agree with heyjudi that you shouldn’t be slammed for being ignorant or reaching an “aha” moment; how are we supposed to learn if it’s not respected and we’re demeaned for reaching understanding? We’re all ignorant of something or another. When I first started to understand what white privilege and racism was, I walked around in a fog of white guilt for a while (thanks a lot judeo-islam-christianity for this lovely gem – guilt, that is) til I realized a) guilt (of any kind) is toxic and useless & paralyzing and b) members of my own not too distant family were slaughtered by the nazis for similar reasons as Blacks and Natives were/are feared/imprisoned/killed, and so many other groups anywhere who don’t comply with the predatory colonist mindset or who are in the way of its path of destruction.

    I went into the paradoxical absurdity of my life in my earlier post to connect how all of these things get mixed and messy and are my reality in everyday life — my Jewish roots and my wife’s Native roots, her health problems because of colonialism, my working in the belly of the colonial-capitalist beast (no I can’t just “get another job” — it’s all the same bullshit when you zoom out). How do we get out of/reconcile life paradoxes when we’re living them and ensnared in them? I’m interested in how all these things impact our everyday lives and I appreciate being able to talk about it within this elusive feminism that brings us all together in this space which I am appreciating sharing with you.

    So how does the predatory colonist-capitalist disease affect/effect your personal life and your realities? How do you contribute to the predatory colonist disease? How do you resist it? Are you living any paradoxes?

  44. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 12:20 am |

    I am more than deeply saddened by Troy Davis’ murder. He represents so much and so many…American Indian Leonard Peltier has a similar story (accused of killing a cop, no evidence, all white jury) and has been wrongfully imprisoned for the last 30+ years and is getting older and sicker.

  45. Natalia
    Natalia September 24, 2011 at 3:04 am |

    Earth/indigenous nations, while so diverse, seem to have one thing in common — RESPECT FOR ALL OF LIFE.

    I’m sorry, I realize you probably mean well – but noble savage much?

    Anyhoo. This thread is a mess.

  46. llama
    llama September 24, 2011 at 3:39 am |

    Valhallie: Weak. Unsound. Pathetic. Flaccid. Uncircumcised.

    How did uncircumcised end up in the negative sentiment basket?

    How is a word denoting a lack of genital mutilation one with negative meaning? and yes circumcision is genital mutilation (which ever sex it is applied to) and definitely not anywhere near as practiced in the rest of the western world as it is in the US.

  47. machina
    machina September 24, 2011 at 5:02 am |

    I found it similar to War and Peace, the nationalistic indignation at being righteously challenged by the North/French liberals that would lead back inexorably to New England/Paris.

  48. mad the swine
    mad the swine September 24, 2011 at 6:45 am |

    “When black people tell me I’ve goofed, I will listen and take their concerns seriously, even if initially I feel defensive.” Is not always a practical application for me because I do not choose my teachers based on their skin color, I choose to learn from people who say things that make sense to me. I do not learn much from people — of color or otherwise — who have assimilated the predatory colonial-capitalist ways because these ways mine the mind and eat the Spirit. Those who resist and reject this disease – in whatever way to whatever degree – get my attention.

    Okay, I’m not Ilyka, but I have to jump on this.

    In Western society – and you are, in fact, part of Western society – if you don’t deliberately seek out female voices, you participate in a discourse that is male by default. If you don’t deliberately seek out non-white voices, you participate in a discourse that is white by default. That’s simply how privilege works. For a white person to claim ‘color-blindness’ is to perpetuate it.

    ” I do not choose my teachers based on their skin color”? Start. There is nothing you can learn that only the oppressor can teach you, but there are things known only to the oppressed.

  49. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 24, 2011 at 8:59 am |

    Angel, you think you’re being witty with your sarcasm . . . but I call you out as a hypocrite. Oh so sensitive to the ignorance of the privileged white to the plight of your ancestors . . . and then using those same ancestors’ language (with a white history tainted slant) to try to mock me for your own amusement. I’m sure they (your ancestors) are rolling in their graves at your use of their history for your own humor . . . Which really isn’t funny at all.

    The basic message I’ve gotten from you and others who argue in your direction is this: you better fucking know this shit, but make sure you don’t talk about it, in fact, it had never ever be spoken of, but nonetheless you better damned well know it.

    I’m sorry I’m deficient in being able to learn by osmosis. Please don’t discriminate against me for my disability.

    Furthermore, I want to point to the Jewish culture. They have endured atrocities and horrors and discrimination in their own right. Unlike your argument, however, they espouse and encourage KNOWLEDGE and AWARENESS of their history in the hopes that such atrocities will someday cease on this planet. Elie Wiesel is a prime example of this. He didn’t enjoy writing “Night” but he did so out of a sense of duty to share knowledge and present a learning lesson for humanity. And, somehow, I don’t think he intends for us to read his book and then go on with our lives without discussing the issues presented in his writing. Especially for fear of offending someone. He wants the word spread, he wants the truth known. Because he understands how important it is to BE the change you wish to see in the world. And that can’t happen without open communication (that doesn’t include mocking your ancestors for a punch line).

  50. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    Natalia: I’m sorry, I realize you probably mean well – but noble savage much?

    Anyhoo. This thread is a mess.

    I do mean well, as I think you do too.

    To me, the “noble savage” concept, much like many other euro-western/christian-colonist concepts, is a projection of itself onto others than it is a description of actual others. “Savage” perfectly fits the description of christian/catholic-european colonialism more than those it tried to colonize, doesn’t it? And this predatory mentality(/culture?) sure thinks it’s colonization past & present is a noble venture, doesn’t it?

    Yep, very messy and twisted.

  51. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    mad the swine: Okay, I’m not Ilyka, but I have to jump on this.

    In Western society – and you are, in fact, part of Western society – if you don’t deliberately seek out female voices, you participate in a discourse that is male by default.If you don’t deliberately seek out non-white voices, you participate in a discourse that is white by default.That’s simply how privilege works.For a white person to claim ‘color-blindness’ is to perpetuate it.

    ” I do not choose my teachers based on their skin color”?Start.There is nothing you can learn that only the oppressor can teach you, but there are things known only to the oppressed.

    I never claimed color-blindness. I recognize, appreciate and respect diversity and I learn a lot from exploited/oppressed people, though less from those who encourage assimilation to colonialism and more from those who reject and resist it. I also learn lots from the colonizing predator, how it twists and turns shit to suit its agenda and how it morphs itself to the times and situations. I feel this is equally as helpful, to know how its diseased mind works. My thinking is that we can’t expect to change things if we don’t understand how they work. And I myself live in both worlds — oppressed/oppressor // exploiter/exploited. It’s not all neat and tidy and foldable into separate boxes as much as the dominant western culture wants to make the world so.

    I listen to lots of people, but I also have my own mind and heart and Spirit that help navigate me. I’ve had radical feminists tell me that all men should be destroyed cuz that is the only way we’ll have peace. Though I understood where they were coming from, I disagreed. I am interested in the experiences of PoC, Women, Disabled ppl, Trans ppl, and so on, but no one is immune to taking on the parasitic colonist exploiter’s mentality, and it’s those mentalities/ideas that I will disagree with, regardless of the body they are in. All that said, in my experience, those labelled into the lowest rungs of the colonist predator’s hierarchies are usually (but not always) the ones most awake and aware. This is not to say I am some enlightened awake and aware being cuz I have LOTS more waking up to do and awareness to gain.

  52. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm |

    friday jones:
    I’ve overturned my Transmogrifier, wrote “Time Masheen” on it, and am prepared to go back in time to ask the author of that piece “If slavery is so benevolent and the slaves so contented, then why don’t you sell your own children into slavery to ensure their contentment?”

    Awesome.

  53. f.
    f. September 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Uh, yeah, slavery and the oppression of Black people is its own thing. It really isn’t cool to use it to analogize to things like animal cruelty. Clarisse, ilu, but you have some reading to do… seriously.

    I really hope this post and the well intentioned but ill advised comments you’ve made in the thread are the start, not the end, of your examination of this part of our history.

  54. Arkady
    Arkady September 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    I’ve seen similar historical comments when I studied the transatlantic slave trade and the abolition movement at school as a child (in the UK). A few of them feature in the film Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce and the abolition movement. I guess the reason for such comments being better known here might be that without an equivalent of the US Civil War, the history of the abolitionists focuses more on the political arguments.

  55. Natasha
    Natasha September 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    mad the swine: Okay, I’m not Ilyka, but I have to jump on this.

    In Western society – and you are, in fact, part of Western society – if you don’t deliberately seek out female voices, you participate in a discourse that is male by default.If you don’t deliberately seek out non-white voices, you participate in a discourse that is white by default.That’s simply how privilege works.For a white person to claim ‘color-blindness’ is to perpetuate it.

    ” I do not choose my teachers based on their skin color”?Start.There is nothing you can learn that only the oppressor can teach you, but there are things known only to the oppressed.

    I need to add that most of my thinking and understanding has been informed by the most exploited & marginalized groups. Just because I live in western society doesn’t mean I have to give power to, or take on the dominant/dominating culture’s mentality, and resisting it is a daily exercise. Western society is made up of many different cultures, many of which have their own problems. I always keep in mind that this land first and foremost belongs to Indigenous People, so it is their voices that resonate the loudest with me since I am living on their land.

    I also wanted to add that the “noble savage” concept has become a bastardized buzzword. It is overly positive as its been used by euro-western discourse by excluding human hardship and struggle, while the “wild savage” concept is overly negative in the context of the “other” — both are inaccurate and leave no room to be human. For example, Native ppl of the Americas had wars before the europeans came, but as Joseph Marshall III of the Lakota Nation describes it, the Lakota concept of war is VERY different than the euro-western one in that the goal of battle for the Lakota is to display courage e.g. it’s more honorable & respectable to go up to your enemy and take one of his ribbons than the european goal of battle which is to kill and destroy as many ppl (and their cultures) as possible. In this way the eurowestern concept of bravery in war is also bastardized because shooting a gun or dropping a bomb is the ultimate form of cowardice. To me this shows who the real “wild savages” are.

    By the way this understanding comes from an analysis done by me an my wife who is a Native American political activist who has been fighting for the rights of all Indigenous beings of Turtle Island for the last 20 yrs.

  56. Kari
    Kari September 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    I started reading this post. But I had to stop when I got to “what’s really cool is…” because I’d read enough. So I jumped right to the comments fully expecting some defensive spectacle from the blogger when the BS got called. Sure enough, here it is. So, Angel H, thanks for saying your piece. I wanted to come out of lurking to add another voice in support of all your comments here.

  57. Brennan
    Brennan September 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm |

    Natasha: I do mean well, as I think you do too.To me, the “noble savage” concept, much like many other euro-western/christian-colonist concepts, is a projection of itself onto others than it is a description of actual others. “Savage” perfectly fits the description of christian/catholic-european colonialism more than those it tried to colonize, doesn’t it? And this predatory mentality(/culture?) sure thinks it’s colonization past & present is a noble venture, doesn’t it? Yep, very messy and twisted.

    It’s good that you’ve thought about those issues, but based on the passage she quoted, I think Natalia’s specific point was about the problematic aspects of you attaching a particular ethos (“respect for all life”) to every indigenous nation in existence. Unless you’ve studied literally every culture in the world, you can’t really speak for their cultural values. (Or were you using “indigenous nations” to refer to the indigenous of a particular geographic region?)

    Anyway, as you pointed out, the problem with the “noble savage” idea is that it promotes othering and in so doing denies the human complexity of the people involved. The idea has been pushed in a variety of ways, but one of the most common is to imply that the indigenous person who has never had contact with a westerner is “untouched by civilization” and leads a “simple, happy life.” In my admittedly limited experience, it seems to be tied in with religious concepts like Original Sin–the positioning of indigenous lands as “wilderness” and wilderness as “Eden.” It’s just another way of saying “those people over there are Not Like Us.”

    So, while it’s important to talk about the negative influence of western society on everybody else, be careful about making generalizations, particularly moral generalizations, about cultures that happen not to be western.

  58. Natasha
    Natasha September 25, 2011 at 2:18 am |

    Hi Brennan:

    Yeah I don’t look at this stuff through the christian-catholicism lens of original sin/eden or whatever, because that’s what seems to bastardize a lot of what we’re talking about in the first place. I’m not an anthropologist or other kind of euro-western defined “expert”, I’m just a human being who is pissed off at having been “civilized” without my informed consent, and I DO want a “simple, happy life” that to me is as far from being “civilized” as possible — techno-colonized civilization that is, that supposedly makes life better, makes people smarter, makes people live longer (yeah, *certain* ppl), and all the other propaganda that comes with it, including racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism, etc. that is necessary to uphold it. I don’t think life pre-colonization/civilization was “simpler” for Indigenous People because all cultures are so diverse and complex, but I bet my life that Life was a helluva lot happier and healthier before the colonist predatory cancer began to spread.

    As humans, I think we should talk A LOT about morals here (minus certain Spirit-eating religious morals such as those that say you’re born “evil”), including the blatant lack of morals that predatory colonist cultures have that spans time, from (but not beginning with) Black slavery that this discussion is about, to today’s enslaved reality. Though colonist-types would say they have hella morals, such as their pathological religious/cultural ‘manifest destiny’ concept….

    I said that Indigenous/Earth nations are diverse, and that a *common thread* is respect for all LIFE, versus the common thread of the predator colonists — while individually diverse — is a LACK of respect for MOST of Life, except their own.

    So instead of arguing over whether Indigenous Nations had a better life before colonization, which here in the Americas they’ve been resisting (colonization, that is) for the last 500+ yrs, let’s look at how we, the occupiers of land that isn’t ours (for us non-Indigenous ppl living in the Americas as I assume that’s where most of us are), whether we got here by force or choice or combo of the two or otherwise, personally contribute to the predatory colonist machine. I’ve said how it effects my life and how I am ensnared in and contribute to it, why aren’t others? How are we going to stop the predators if we get hung up on arguing over othered others othering eachother when the REAL ‘other’ is the beast in the room that is mining our minds and eating our Spirits? The same beast that recently murdered Troy Davis, the beast that has Leonard Peltier and thousands (millions?) more people wrongfully imprisoned, the beast that upholds slavery but calls it “freedom”, “democracy”, “capitalism”, “globalization”, “free markets”, etc. WHAT ABOUT THIS BEAST??? How are we individually feeding it? How do we starve it?? How do we save ourselves AND eachother??? If you’re doing just fine and don’t see a beast, then I take it you’re “upwardly mobile” on the beast’s hierarchy, but don’t forget that to move up this genocidal death machine, you have to step on the throats of those beneath you because that’s how hierarchies in the dominant predatory colonist beast culture work.

    I know it’s a complex clusterfuck of fuckery, but these are the kinds of things I am interested in talking about and figuring out.

  59. Natasha
    Natasha September 25, 2011 at 3:01 am |

    Hi again Brennan, just a quick little note that my use of “you” in my last few sentences wasn’t @ you in particular, it was to a general “you” @ anyone reading my comment.

  60. Way2Spirited
    Way2Spirited September 25, 2011 at 4:14 am |

    .

    Natalia: I’m sorry, I realize you probably mean well – but noble savage much?

    Anyhoo. This thread is a mess.

    Coming from an Indigenous (Anishinaabe/Tsalagi) Activist point of view:

    I would like to say Miigwech and Thank for allowing me to participate in this discussion.

    I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and feelings on the concept of “noble savage”, what it is and why it is bad.

    Natalia, insinuating that Natasha was “noble savaging” simply because she pointed out that: “Earth/Indigenous nations, while so diverse, seem to have one thing in common — RESPECT FOR ALL OF LIFE” -was inaccurate on your part.

    If Natasha had made an idealistic, untrue and uninformed statement then perhaps it could be called a “noble savage” concept.
    Also, pointing out common threads is different than making sweeping generalizations.

    Earth Nations e.g. Tribal, Indigenous, Earth and Nature oriented cultures that are relatively healthy do indeed have some common threads that weave the many unique cultures together and yes from my point of view, Earth Nations, Indigenous/Native/Aboriginal cultures, Etc. DO have a common thread of RESPECT- for pretty much everything- themselves, other beings and the world(s) in which they live in general.
    Just because many characteristics can be viewed in a positive light by many does not mean that it’s gone into “noble savage” territory. The whole problem with the “noble savage” concept is that it is inaccurate and doesn’t go to the source for it’s answers (getting to know and respectfully asking some Native people for example). We also see this a lot in non-natives that concern themselves with Native issues.(They don’t go to Native People to ask their Native questions)

    How I feel when I come across the “noble savage” concept:
    I feel just as misunderstood by those that have the “noble savage” view of me as I do by those that have a “dirty savage” view of me.
    The “noble savage” concept is both inaccurate as well as offensive because it is a clouded, extremely narrow view of Earth Nation People through a euro-western colonist lens.
    The same holds true for other similar concepts such as “wild indian” , “dirty savage”, etc. ALL of these terms and concepts are inaccurate and formed from a narrow view through a very distant and removed eurocentric lens and then of course comes the extremist judgment of the filtered information obtained, which is usually cast in a very “bad” light or less frequently (as in “Noble Savage”) cast in an equally extremist light however this time in “a pure, they can do no wrong light”. The problem with all of these concepts is that they are INACCURATE and completely removed from the people, the people that some claim they are trying to understand.

  61. T.L.
    T.L. September 25, 2011 at 4:46 am |

    Imagine all the people who look at the Troy Davis execution and think “but that has nothing to do with SLAVERY. It has nothing to do with race! We have a black president! Racism doesn’t really exist — at least not in an important way — anymore. Black people are equal and happy! Look at chirs rock! You just see racism everywhere you look because you want to see it.”

    Can you imagine how that argument might go? I can. Because I’ve had it. A million times.

    For those of you who don’t frequently argue with sheltered conservatives, perhaps this isn’t very useful. But posts like these are extremely helpful when you want to turn to your nearest ignorant racist and say “Take a gander at the this horrific pro-slavery propaganda and see if it reminds you of the argument you just made.”

    And even if you aren’t necessarily into using shameful associations to prove your point (perhaps not the best tactic, I’ll admit), this knowledge is helpful. It can help to clarify the way in which powerful classes think about oppression generally. These rationalizations are important to understand if we want to overcome them in any movement.

    And to anyone out there who might have additional –better– examples of white male rationalizations for oppression, please share them! We are all here to learn together and from each other.

  62. evie
    evie September 25, 2011 at 5:10 am |

    Yay, thanks everybody for weighing in, and thanks Clarisse for committing to going away to learn. Double-recommending bell hooks, her other stuff too. I can’t remember who it’s by, but Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege (or something like that) is pretty good.

    On the ‘drawing parallels between different injustices’ things, I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that any more, about anything. I found that I was usually using groups/injustices/movements that I wasn’t deeply involved in and didn’t know much about to bolster my arguments about fights that I took more seriously in my life. Essentially, I was exploiting group 1′s struggles for group 2′s gain. I think this is problematic not only because I wasn’t doing much or anything to be an ally to group 1, and because I didn’t know the context of the particular idea I was using, I was probably doing so in a problematic was, as here.

    Arguments around what is problematic in this way can also be oppressive (e.g. if the person in group 2 objecting doesn’t like the analogy because they’re bigoted against group 1) but just because they’re wrong for that reason doesn’t mean the analogy’s OK.

    A better reason for it not being ok: in doing this, I was usually relying on the group 1 example being universally recognised as a terrible injustice in order to make my point. I was therefore ignoring those who undermine that or otherwise continue to oppress group 1. In other words, I was usually assuming that that battle was largely won.

  63. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    heyjudi:
    Angel, you think you’re being witty with your sarcasm . . . but I call you out as a hypocrite. Oh so sensitive to the ignorance of the privileged white to the plight of your ancestors . . . and then using those same ancestors’ language (with a white history tainted slant) to try to mock me for your own amusement. I’m sure they (your ancestors) are rolling in their graves at your use of their history for your own humor . . . Which really isn’t funny at all.

    Heyjudi…

    Go fuck yourself.

    You come on here acting pissy because “How dare we not be grateful that you’ve taken time out from being White to explore the ways and wonders of Black history!”

    And then you have the fucking nerve to pull this shit:

    Furthermore, I want to point to the Jewish culture. They have endured atrocities and horrors and discrimination in their own right. Unlike your argument, however, they espouse and encourage KNOWLEDGE and AWARENESS of their history in the hopes that such atrocities will someday cease on this planet…

    Unlike you, I respect Jewish culture enough not to pull the old “Why can’t you people be like those people?” meme.

    You want to know why my ancestors are rolling in their graves? It’s because in this day and age, so-called “Progressive” Whites still have no fucking clue as to how racist they truly are. And yes, all that shit you’re spreading is racist. It’s racist to think that I’m supposed to be so fucking grateful to White people for giving a damn about us poor Negros. It’s racist to get angry that I’m not. And it’s fucking racist to try and dictate how I’m supposed to respond to that racism in ways that make you feel more comfortable.

    Seriously, heyjudi, GO FUCK YOURSELF.

  64. rae
    rae September 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    I completely understand why people are sensitive to comparisons between the anti-racist movement and the pro-animal movement, given the history of comparing black people to animals, in grotesque ways, to reinforce white supremacy and justify the oppression of African Americans. These sorts of comparisons have existed in relation to other ethnic groups – as several Jewish posters above note, Jews have been subject to similar propagandist imagery – but they have been particularly virulent in relation to African Americans (see: Sambo). It’s not just history, either; it continues today.*

    To me, this continuing historical legacy as well as the past and present exploitation of animals means a couple of things. First is obviously that we need to transform the culture so that the view that black people are “less evolved” versions of white people is erradicated. Second, though, is that we need to recognize that humans (all of us! especially including white people!) are animals. The idea that (our preferred, privileged class of) humans are distinct from and superior to animals has and continues to be used as a rationale for treating animals and our environment as objects owned by humanity, to be used (and abused) as we please. That needs to stop too.

    So, I do get where Clarisse is coming from; I do think there are some intertwined oppression that need to be unraveled in this comparison (whether used by racists or animal rights activists or racist animal rights activists). But we need to be much, much more careful how we go about it. PETA ads with black women in cages are NOT the sort of thinking we need at this intersection.

    With regards to the original post: I sympathize with the “holy shit” response to reading pre-Civil War literature. I have recently been reading the Dred Scott decision for a class, and it is the most fucked up piece of racist shit I have ever read (although I’m sure there is worse out there). But calling it “fascinating” is just the wrong way to put it. It is horrifying, disgusting, repulsive, shameful. It is interesting in the sense that it is important to educate ourselves on and probably divergent from the racism you have witnessed in millennial America as a white person. But it is not cool, it is not an eclectic personal interest, it is not a revelation intended to inspire white liberals about how far we’ve come. It is a marker of our country’s sobering past and present of white supremacy.

    The last time we had an election, the liberal half of our country wondered whether a black man could be the President and the conservative half of our country wondered whether he could be a citizen.

    Piny, that is a really insightful way of summarizing things. Thank you.

    *Note to those who can’t see the pictures or click the links: these are images of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Condoleeza Rice as monkeys. Most are photoshopped. One is a children’s toy. One is a cartoon of Condoleeza Rice pregnant with a monkey baby (to be fair, this may or may not be an American cartoon; the caption appears to be in Arabic)

  65. rae
    rae September 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    Ah, messed up my formatting. Sorry. This sentence: “The last time we had an election, the liberal half of our country wondered whether a black man could be the President and the conservative half of our country wondered whether he could be a citizen.” is the part I was trying to quote from Piny.

  66. Faith
    Faith September 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm |

    We can also ask how it is that seemingly educated people go through life not examining all aspects of oppression and are “surprised” because their privilege-based ignorance is revealed. That they would then proceed to exclaim such surprise with all the deference of getting candy from a pinata – still missing appropriate shame in their flippant reactionary, emotionalism begs the question: so now what? Is there a map of a definitive course of action being planned for today’s issues, or is this an example of a condescending back-slapping moment that won’t yield any change beyond superficial navel-gazing?

  67. Natalia
    Natalia September 26, 2011 at 2:47 am |

    Uh, yeah, what Brennan said.

  68. Natasha
    Natasha September 27, 2011 at 1:38 am |

    T.L.:
    Imagine all the people who look at the Troy Davis execution and think “but that has nothing to do with SLAVERY. It has nothing to do with race! We have a black president! Racism doesn’t really exist — at least not in an important way — anymore. Black people are equal and happy! Look at chirs rock! You just see racism everywhere you look because you want to see it.”

    Can you imagine how that argument might go? I can. Because I’ve had it. A million times.

    For those of you who don’t frequently argue with sheltered conservatives, perhaps this isn’t very useful. But posts like these are extremely helpful when you want to turn to your nearest ignorant racist and say “Take a gander at the this horrific pro-slavery propaganda and see if it reminds you of the argument you just made.”

    And even if you aren’t necessarily into using shameful associations to prove your point (perhaps not the best tactic, I’ll admit), this knowledge is helpful. It can help to clarify the way in which powerful classes think about oppression generally. These rationalizations are important to understand if we want to overcome them in any movement.

    And to anyone out there who might have additional –better– examples of white male rationalizations for oppression, please share them! We are all here to learn together and from each other.

    Great post, T.L., indeed we are all here to learn together and from eachother! Following your question, I’d like to share an example of a rationalization for oppression/exploitation:

    “It’s my job.”

    This is what many otherwise decent now-elderly former Nazis say today of their Holocaust participation. This is what Canadian and American soldiers (of whatever race or sexuality) say when they kill people in the Middle East in the name of patriotism or whatever. This is what social workers past and present say when removing Aboriginal children from their homes, perpetuating the cultural genocide of Indigenous People. I’ve already spoken of my personal struggle with my “job”. A good friend of mine is a Corrections Officer at a maximum security prison in the USA. If/when she is escorting the next Troy Davis to the death chamber, it’s not because she’s racist or thinks he should be killed, but because it’s her “job”. How do we think about, and what do we do, about these kinds of dilemmas, which differ for everyone depending on our own personal boundaries? How about this “modern” slavery which consists of “jobs” that exploit/oppress, murder, destroy, enslave — that feed our families, put roofs over our heads, provide medicine for our ill loved ones, and so on? Not everyone has the privilege or ability of getting a non-exploiting job — if such jobs even exist in the hierarchical system of slavery — not that we should necessarily get caught up in convos around figuring out how to make colonist-capitalism less exploitative if we agree that it is an exploitative venture by its nature and that trying to make it better is like trying to make rape gentler. We can think and talk about these things without throwing around or taking on shame or blame.

    Part of me remains mentally & economically enslaved, scared to jump off the hierarchy because I don’t see a safety net below, and though part of this fear is justified and real, I wonder how much of it is imagined… The predatory/colonist energy and its land and mind-mining projects shape these systems that force many (all?) of us — to varying degrees — into an over-dependency on it (its systems, its mentalities, its way of life), thereby keeping some of us from fully forming into bio-psycho-social-spiritually healthy, interdependent Beings.

  69. Matt
    Matt September 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    All societies are inherently oppressive… Its not colonialism/capitalism
    that is oppressing you. Its being around other people and interacting with them. Society is an organization of humans with a set of social rules and restrictions. There are things that are allowed and things that aren’t. As a child every single person is oppressed by their parents. Forced to exist in a system where they have no control over their own lives. And they have no where else to go. Not that they could escape even if they did have somewhere to run to.

    Name or design just a single social system where no one is massively oppressed, even ignoring the parent child oppression.
    Meanwhile, please get off the internet, seeing as its very existence is a product of capitalist oppression.

  70. groggette
    groggette September 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    Matt: Meanwhile, please get off the internet,

    Hilarious considering you can’t even find the right thread to post in.

  71. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    Matt: All societies are inherently oppressive… Its not colonialism/capitalismthat is oppressing you. Its being around other people and interacting with them. Society is an organization of humans with a set of social rules and restrictions. There are things that are allowed and things that aren’t. As a child every single person is oppressed by their parents. Forced to exist in a system where they have no control over their own lives. And they have no where else to go. Not that they could escape even if they did have somewhere to run to. Name or design just a single social system where no one is massively oppressed, even ignoring the parent child oppression.Meanwhile, please get off the internet, seeing as its very existence is a product of capitalist oppression.

    Way to (unintentionally) prove the OP’s point.

  72. Mztress
    Mztress September 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    First of all, this thread needs to be taken out back and given the Ole Yeller treatment, because goddamn, it has seriously gotten out of hand.

    Second of all, I’m going to fuck it up worse. I anticipate making plenty of enemies with this, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. As a black woman in America, I’m tired of hearing the inept analogy of the Holocaust to black slavery in America. Seriously, a few years of concentration camps and ethnic cleansing will never, in a million motherfucking years, compare to centuries’ worth of kidnapping, rape (there’s a feminist issue for you!), murder, lynching, forced labor, and torture. So I’m tired of (white) Jewish people acting as if the two things are on equal footing in terms of horror and devestation. So cut the bullshit. I cannot trace my family’s lineage (maternal or paternal) back more than a few generations; if I really wanted to persist in doing so, I’d have to resort to combing through slave ledgers (which is why I always want to find the stupid asshole on the ancestry.com commercial who says “My grandfather was born a slave, but died a businessman” so that I can punch him until my arms get tired). I have relatives under the age of 60 who can remember witnessing lynchings during their youth in a city as big and liberal as Chicago, IL. Due to the anti-black/black is ugly/black is inferior sentiment from slavery time, hair straightening and skin bleaching are multi-BILLION dollar industries…to this very day.

    And there’s another huge difference between the Holocaust and American slavery: white Jews got reparations, and black descendants of slaves got absolutely fucking nothing.

  73. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    heyjudi: Furthermore, I want to point to the Jewish culture. They have endured atrocities and horrors and discrimination in their own right. Unlike your argument, however, they espouse and encourage KNOWLEDGE and AWARENESS of their history in the hopes that such atrocities will someday cease on this planet. Elie Wiesel is a prime example of this. He didn’t enjoy writing “Night” but he did so out of a sense of duty to share knowledge and present a learning lesson for humanity. And, somehow, I don’t think he intends for us to read his book and then go on with our lives without discussing the issues presented in his writing. Especially for fear of offending someone. He wants the word spread, he wants the truth known. Because he understands how important it is to BE the change you wish to see in the world. And that can’t happen without open communication (that doesn’t include mocking your ancestors for a punch line).

    Just no. Fuck you. No. You don’t fucking speak for Eli Weisel.

    And it really really amuses me that you trot out the Jews as an example of a people that doesn’t mock ancestors. Ashkenazi humor is pretty much entirely constructed around self-deprecation.

  74. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

    Mztress:
    First of all, this thread needs to be taken out back and given the Ole Yeller treatment, because goddamn, it has seriously gotten out of hand.

    Second of all, I’m going to fuck it up worse. I anticipate making plenty of enemies with this, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. As a black woman in America, I’m tired of hearing the inept analogy of the Holocaust to black slavery in America. Seriously, a few years of concentration camps and ethnic cleansing will never, in a million motherfucking years, compare to centuries’ worth of kidnapping, rape (there’s a feminist issue for you!), murder, lynching, forced labor, and torture. So I’m tired of (white) Jewish people acting as if the two things are on equal footing in terms of horror and devestation. So cut the bullshit. I cannot trace my family’s lineage (maternal or paternal) back more than a few generations; if I really wanted to persist in doing so, I’d have to resort to combing through slave ledgers (which is why I always want to find the stupid asshole on the ancestry.com commercial who says “My grandfather was born a slave, but died a businessman” so that I can punch him until my arms get tired). I have relatives under the age of 60 who can remember witnessing lynchings during their youth in a city as big and liberal as Chicago, IL. Due to the anti-black/black is ugly/black is inferior sentiment from slavery time, hair straightening and skin bleaching are multi-BILLION dollar industries…to this very day.

    And there’s another huge difference between the Holocaust and American slavery: white Jews got reparations, and black descendants of slaves got absolutely fucking nothing.

    I hear you, I can’t trace my family’s lineage back past my maternal grandparents, and I can forget about my father’s side, no info. from that end. That ancestry.com commercial sounds so wrong on so many levels…

    Is a “gentle” rape less horrible and devastating than a more aggressive one? Maybe on a physical level, but what about on a psychological and Spiritual level, which are as equally important as the physical? I don’t know how you measure levels of horror and devastation, and I don’t see how such an exercise is useful.

    Reparations. Yes some Jews got money (which does what for broken families and genetic memory?), and then there’s the Israel problem, land stolen from one group and benevolently “gifted” to another, by the same predatory colonist mindset that went after your people and Native Americans. That is the common thread, the *mentalities* that drive their “civilizing” and “economic” projects that leave human wreckage behind for us to sift through and try to make sense of. I haven’t seen anyone here say the Jewish holocaust is the exact same thing as Black slavery or that what happened to Africans is the exact same thing as what happened/is still happening to Native Americans/Aboriginals. Each genocide & dehumanization project is uniquely different due to the innovation of the geographically-particular predatory colonist beast and the group of people it targets. By the way, Hitler had apparently said he was inspired by the european colonists’ treatment of the Native Americans and just tweaked a few things here and there to suit his particular interests.

    I hear you @ the anti-Black hair straightening and skin bleaching industries, it’s a sad thing. I’d love to see big shot Black ppl with money & their rich supporters do an advertising campaign to bring these industries down by supporting Black women’s natural beauty. I am of course biased in that I think all women look most beautiful completely natural, but hey, we’re all biased by nature of being human.

  75. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Matt:
    All societies are inherently oppressive… Its not colonialism/capitalism
    that is oppressing you. Its being around other people and interacting with them. Society is an organization of humans with a set of social rules and restrictions. There are things that are allowed and things that aren’t. As a child every single person is oppressed by their parents. Forced to exist in a system where they have no control over their own lives. And they have no where else to go. Not that they could escape even if they did have somewhere to run to.

    Name or design just a single social system where no one is massively oppressed, even ignoring the parent child oppression.
    Meanwhile, please get off the internet, seeing as its very existence is a product of capitalist oppression.

    We don’t have to design any new systems because answers already and always have existed. Not ALL human cultures have a concept of land ownership and all of the ill conceived notions that go along with it such as the notion that Earth/Nature is something to be battled or conquered which is very particular to colonist capitalist thinking. There are many cultures of humans that know how to Live WITH Earth in balance and respect, which means the absence of all types of oppression as we know the concept to be, in families, amongst eachother, other animals, etc.

    Decolonize your mind.

  76. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm |

    Mztress-

    For the record, I totally agree with you regarding stupid comparisons of various atrocities with the Holocaust. Every time someone compares something unrelated with the Holocaust/Jewish oppression, I really want to scream.

    But, also for the record, I can’t trace my family past my grandparents either. And my family received jack shit from Germany. Neither can my husband.

    I don’t know, I’m not trying to pull a tone argument, and, as a said, I get your anger and feel it myself towards the same situation. But really I don’t think much is gained from trying to pit various enslavements/genocides against each other. And it really worries me to hear fellow activists brush off the the extermination of half an ethnic group with, like, “Well, it was just a few years, and some of you got money! No big deal!” If that’s not what you were trying to do, then cool, whatever. But that was what I got from your comment and, as I said, it worries me.

    Anyways. This thread pretty much went to hell in a handbasket. Good times.

  77. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 29, 2011 at 10:10 am |

    Hey, Angel, I see I found your button.

    Seriously, people, get over yourselves.

    I never said that non-white ethnicities should be grateful to white people for having come to understand an important issue. I simply suggested that it is good to encourage such knowledge in an effort to make more people cognizant of the world around them. Knowledge begets change, and you yourself are complaining that you don’t like the way things are (as are most of us who have posted on this thread). So the only thing I can infer from your argument is that you don’t like the way things are but how dare anyone try to fix it.

    I did not mention the Holocaust in any attempt to ask you to be more like Jewish people. I used the Holocaust to present an example of how people are using knowledge to promote awareness.

    And I never asked you to make me comfortable, nor did I complain that you made me uncomfortable. I simply pointed out that your mockery of your ancestors didn’t do you any favors. Thus, based on your ill-tempered response to that comment, I can only assume that I hit a nerve of truth in you.

    From your knee-jerk responses I would recommend you take a good, hard look at yourself and try to understand how your fight against racism has, in fact, clouded your judgment and turned you into that which you despise. You are angry at people for having learned more about racism, you are angry when people point out other forms of racism (as if one is more or less important than another when, indeed, the problem of racism stems from its MINDSET rather than in the person or people to whom it’s committed (cause and effect)), and you persist in this strange notion that non-ethnic people require you to feel grateful to them for caring enough to try to make a difference.

    No one asked you for a thank-you, no one asked you for a pat on the back. Perhaps the original poster’s methods were misguided but her intentions were pure. So perhaps a more gentle approach by you would encourage more people to HEAR what you have to say (and learn from it), rather than bemusedly recognize that you are exactly what you state you loathe.

    So what will it be, Angel? Do you want to fix it or fight about it?

    Oh, and by the way, don’t you hate when people stereotype? I do. I hate when people accuse me of being white. First of all, it is like blaming a person for being left-handed. Secondly, you’ve never even seen my face. Before you accuse people you should at least have the courtesy to request a picture of them . . . or better yet, a little DNA evidence.

  78. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 29, 2011 at 10:57 am |

    Qualifying one type of racism over another via the amount of time and severity of suffering is unsound and sick logic. Suffering is suffering. Period. When someone tells you they have breast cancer it is always in bad form to respond with, “Oh yeah, well I have bone cancer, so suck it!”

    Jews have been discriminated against a LOT longer than “a few years”, so I suggest, Mztress, you do a little more research before you suck on your own foot. It is ignorant (on so many levels) to suggest that Jews don’t count because the Holocaust only happened for a “few years”. The idea of genocide against the Jews was not something that happened overnight. It was something that fomented over thousands of years.

    If one were to use that faulty course of reasoning it would then be right and just of me to counter back with: “Nazis wanted to commit genocide against the entire Jewish race. At least slave owners were invested in preserving the black race (even if it was just for slavery).” That would be an epic FAIL of an argument . . . and thusly, so is yours.

    Oh, and Shoshie, I didn’t speak “for” Elie WIESEL (i before e, please). I paraphrased him. And as for my point of Jews not making a mockery for themselves, I stand corrected. Not every Jew is free of that nastiness. But it still doesn’t make it right.

  79. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm |

    heyjudi: Hey, Angel, I see I found your button.

    Racism isn’t a “button”; it’s a reality. The fact that you don’t understand that, along with the fact that you had to learn about racism through a textbook, and that you continually try police a conversation about racism with a tired tone argument makes it pretty clear that, yes, you are White. You are the worst kind of White. The kind that believes that they are anti-racist while perpetuating the same racist attitudes that you claim to vilify. The kind who insists that discussions of racism be made on their terms and only their terms. I’ll say it again, and since it’s obvious you’re not really interested in any real discussion of racism, I’ll keep saying it if you bother to respond to me again.

    Go fuck yourself.

    MODS:

    Do we really have to go through this elementary-level shit with someone who clearly doesn’t know her mouth from her ass?

    Banhammer, please.

  80. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    Ah, damn. Blockquoting error. This part is from me:

    Racism isn’t a “button”; it’s a reality. The fact that you don’t understand that, along with the fact that you had to learn about racism through a textbook, and that you continually try police a conversation about racism with a tired tone argument makes it pretty clear that, yes, you are White. You are the worst kind of White. The kind that believes that they are anti-racist while perpetuating the same racist attitudes that you claim to vilify. The kind who insists that discussions of racism be made on their terms and only their terms. I’ll say it again, and since it’s obvious you’re not really interested in any real discussion of racism, I’ll keep saying it if you bother to respond to me again.

    Go fuck yourself.

    MODS:

    Do we really have to go through this elementary-level shit with someone who clearly doesn’t know her mouth from her ass?

    Banhammer, please.

  81. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    heyjudi: Perhaps the original poster’s methods were misguided but her intentions were pure.

    This sentence jumped out and smacked me in the forehead like a dildo. Let’s explore!

    Zooming out for a minute, taking the OP out of the equation, and trying really hard to suspend judgment, shaming, blaming, and any other such thought-stunting gifts from judeo-islamic-christianity, what would you say to people who say:

    Perhaps slavemasters’ methods were misguided but their intentions were pure.

    Perhaps the child molester’s methods were misguided but his intentions were pure.

    Perhaps Hitler’s methods were misguided but his intentions were pure.

    Perhaps Christopher Columbus’ methods were misguided but his intentions were pure.*

    Cuz I’m pretty sure, all of these people had/have “pure”/good intentions, at least in their minds…

    *Support the END of the celebration of Native American genocide known as American Thanksgiving, since celebrating this holiday is akin to celebrating Black Slavery or the Jewish Holocaust. Join Native Americans in this National Day of Mourning and spread the word!

  82. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Clarrisse’s intentions and slave owners/nazis/New World discoverer’s intentions are such a broad stroke as to be ludicrous.

    It’s really quite funny to me that I never once told anyone to go fuck themselves and strove for civil discourse while being cursed and name-called and yet Angel is screaming for the MODS to stop this. Stop what? One person trying to have a conversation while another screams and shouts and runs in circles? Oh, my bad, I opened my assumed white mouth. What’s next, are you going to accuse me of being a man, too? Because, based on your line of thought, Angel, they can’t be feminists either because they DON’T KNOOOOOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BORN WITH A VAGINA.

    I stick to my original argument: Clarrisse meant well and didn’t know she was going to step on toes. She sincerely apologized numerous times. Yet people kept screaming and yelling and bitching about “how dare she . . . ” So I raise a toast to those on this thread who, instead of getting their panties in a bunch, took the time to raise her awareness through courteous and respectful discourse. The rest of you don’t further your cause . . . you just add to your own problems.

  83. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm |

    Oh, and Natasha . . . I was told we’re not allowed to compare slavery/racism to the Holocaust so I think you broke one of Angel’s rules by equating Native American genocide with slavery/Holocaust. Be sure to apologize before she tells you to go fuck yourself.

  84. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm |

    heyjudi: Clarrisse’s intentions and slave owners/nazis/New World discoverer’s intentions are such a broad stroke as to be ludicrous.

    That’s why I said remove the OP out of the equation, zoom out, and let’s examine the sentiment of “good intentions”. Seriously, I was trying to have “civil” discourse with you (though as I’ve posted earlier up, I’m not a fan of the Great Lie that being “civilized” is a good thing.)

  85. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    heyjudi: Oh, and Natasha . . . I was told we’re not allowed to compare slavery/racism to the Holocaust so I think you broke one of Angel’s rules by equating Native American genocide with slavery/Holocaust. Be sure to apologize before she tells you to go fuck yourself.

    As Steve Biko said, “I write what I like.”

  86. trees
    trees September 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm |

    ignorance + arrogance = heyjudi’s commentary

  87. heyjudi
    heyjudi September 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm |

    Natasha, I simply meant that Clarrisse’s post was not a murderous act nor can it cause the deaths of thousands or millions of people.

    And I still stand by my original stance: dialogue promotes change. But I’m arrogant like that.

  88. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |

    LOL I agree, Clarisse’s post was not a murderous act, but your comment about good intentions got me thinking and I’m genuinely curious to hear yours (or anyone’s) thoughts on my #90 comment asking “what would you say to….”, cuz this is where I get stuck, cuz I think these mentalities DO mean well as far as **they’re** concerned, but since their “methods” create SUCH havoc and devastation, how do we talk to/with them? How do we make them stop? Is it impossible? Are they genetically defective? Obviously the colonist culture is defective, but how do we stop/change it when THESE types are the mental defectives in charge?! I don’t want to give science/biology that much power to think it all comes down to genetic defectiveness, plus it doesn’t leave much hope for change…but I dunno.

    I agree that dialogue promotes change, and we all dialogue SO differently! I wish there was HALF as much Spirit & LIFE in my online school forum as there is on this blog! ;)

  89. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 1:51 am |

    Natasha:
    *Support the END of the celebration of Native American genocide known as American Thanksgiving, since celebrating this holiday is akin to celebrating Black Slavery or the Jewish Holocaust.Join Native Americans in this National Day of Mourning and spread the word!

    OOPS I got my holidays wrong, that should read:

    Support the END of the celebration of Native American genocide known as Columbus Day , since celebrating this holiday is akin to celebrating Slavemaster Day or Hitler Day. Join Native Americans in this National Day of Mourning and spread the word!

    (American Thanksgiving is a whole different (and fictitious colonist story) holiday that AIMsters call Black Thursday).

  90. karak
    karak September 30, 2011 at 3:56 am |

    @Mztress

    Slave-descended black Americans and pre-WWII European Jews are about as alike as oranges and space debris. I feel your rage at people trying to “compare” them (and by compare, I mean talk black people into not being all *whiny* all the time, because that’s what it usually is).

    But, I mean the Holocaust was preceded by centuries of bigotry, segregation, rape, abuse, thievery, child-stealing… it was the Final Solution because all those other solutions just weren’t getting the extermination job done.

  91. FeministWhore
    FeministWhore September 30, 2011 at 5:32 am |

    heyjudi – you started your first comment on this thread with the following disclaimer:

    “I’m sorry if I offend anyone here but I think free speech is an important aspect of our culture; so that being said . . .”

    So don’t try to pull this bullshit about how you’re just ‘striving for civil discourse’. Strive harder and maybe you won’t need disclaimers anymore.

  92. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 6:14 am |

    @ karak:

    LOL@oranges & space debris!

    I think one of the reasons why the Holocaust gets more spotlight and collective support that it was bad, never again should it/will it happen, etc., is cuz for those living in the Americas, the Jewish Holocaust happened ‘Over There’, oh those horrible Germans, ‘WE’RE’ not like ‘THEM’/”OUR” leaders aren’t like Hitler, etc. Since the colonist culture lives and prospers on a bountiful buffet of judgment/shame/blame/guilt, it’s safe and easy to point fingers at “others”, monsters “over there”, and hella hard to look at itself & the uncomfortable monstrous Truths that it a) needs to FULLY acknowledge as far as Slavery and Native American genocide go (beyond the “sorry we kidnapped raped, enslaved and slaughtered so many of you, but let’s all get along now as long as you play by OUR rules, so be a ‘model minority’, and if you don’t like these terms, then don’t complain that your people are poor, imprisoned and dropping dead left right and center cuz that’s not our problem [YES it IS your problem]); and b) needs to respectfully and effectively deal with the huge and very real aftermath of these atrocities.

  93. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 30, 2011 at 10:23 am |

    heyjudi: Oh, my bad, I opened my assumed white mouth.

    No POC would ever complain about being called on their White privilege:

    heyjudi: I’m tired of all this “white privilege” stuff.

    So quit trying to pretend that you’re something you’re not.

    Because, based on your line of thought, Angel, they can’t be feminists either because they DON’T KNOOOOOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BORN WITH A VAGINA.

    I still can’t believe that you actually consider yourself an anti-racist when you don’t even know basic Racism 101: White people do not and will never know what it is to experience racism. Period. Done. The end. You said so yourself, you had to learn about it from a fucking book. I have to learn about it because it’s my life

    So I raise a toast to those on this thread who, instead of getting their panties in a bunch, took the time to raise her awareness through courteous and respectful discourse. The rest of you don’t further your cause . . . you just add to your own problems.

    White people do not get to define discussions of racism.

    I’ll repeat it and write it in big, bold letters this time so maybe it’ll sink in:

    WHITE PEOPLE

    DO NOT

    GET TO DEFINE

    DISCUSSIONS

    OF

    RACISM.

    The oppressed are the only one who get to define the oppression. We are the only ones who get to get to define the anti-oppression movement. We are the only ones who get to defines its success. As a matter of fact, in the anti-racist movement, White people are the help. And guess what? You’re not helping.

    1. Jill
      Jill September 30, 2011 at 10:28 am | *

      Oh dear god. I haven’t been following this thread (it was posted while I was out of town, I didn’t realize it was still active, etc etc) but now that I’m catching up… Judi, no. Bye bye.

  94. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 30, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    Stupid blockquotes.

  95. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    Jill: Oh dear god. I haven’t been following this thread (it was posted while I was out of town, I didn’t realize it was still active, etc etc) but now that I’m catching up… Judi, no. Bye bye.

    Standing ovation!!

  96. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    AWESOME post Angel H, standing ovation to your words, especially the all caps bolded ones (I think it does sink in better). And thanks for that article link on The Help, I heard of this book via 2 white women arguing about it, one refusing to read it cuz it was written by a white woman and the other woman arguing that it’s not so black and white, that it’s a good book, some Black ppl think so, etc., so I appreciated reading the perspective in this article.

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