March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve changed my mind. I am for the moment, NOT OPEN TO CONVERSATION with friends who express crap racial politics, though this post is directed your way*. I have, for the moment, lost faith that shared humanity can open possibilities for real change. Perhaps in time you can prove otherwise, but you cannot have the benefit of the doubt that you deserve my trust. I have lost a faith that has sustained me in circumstances that I am now finding overwhelming. A faith that I thought was at my core, part of my motivation to create and be hopeful in the world. But perhaps it is faith I had to lose. Perhaps withdrawing from my broader range of friends is what I have to do to sustain myself now. The intent of my last post was to say TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES, not turn to me as a Spokesperson for People of Colour, which it seems from conversations I’ve had, many of my non-people-of-colour friends consider me in their lives. I do not want to hear that being my friend has made you think about racism, that it’s great that I’m being articulate about ‘these things’ and ‘putting myself out there’ which implies to me that if I wasn’t around then you wouldn’t be thinking about ‘these things’ at all. Are people of colour who you perceive to be not ‘putting themselves out there’, irresponsible for not being immediately present in your life to deconstruct your racism for you? I’m a pretty privileged brown person in this world, with personal perspectives and experiences of racism in Australia as well as personal attitudes towards dealing with it. If you perceive me as your go-to representative of people of colour, that’s a misperception I’m not willing, able, or responsible for taking on. If I now decide not to be open to conversation because I’m exhausted, frustrated, alienated and need to self-care does that mean I leave you to your own racist devices? I have to challenge myself not to feel guilty about that even though I believe it’s not any POC’s responsibility to teach you not to be racist. I have to focus my energy on friendships with people I can trust, and if most of those friendships are with people of colour, that’s not a bad thing for me. I’d rather be challenging and enlightening myself (including regarding the ways I may express racism and privilege to other people of colour) than spending energy on helping white people deconstruct their privilege. If you take it personally, you probably need to take it on politically too.
* I am making this blog post to create a safe space to express these thoughts. This might be hard to understand, but I am not creating it as invitation for direct dialogue with me beyond the internet.
February 23, 2011 § 4 Comments
In Australia, I have so many friends, awesome in many ways but I’d be without MOST of them if I distanced myself from those that had done just one of the following:
– exoticised the skin tone and background of myself / other people of colour to my face
– appropriated the styles and forms of expression and rebellion of ‘other’ cultures (of people of colour) for their own creative self-expression and/or radical credibility (without acknowledgment of the privilege they are enacting to do so)
– called me ‘paranoid’ when I’ve expressed my concerns of being treated suspiciously/differently because of my race/skin tone.
– never initiated an observation/conversation about racism nor called out peers for racism such as the above
– not acknowledged the above things as racism.
If I chose to only hang around with people with good racial politics, the friends I would have that weren’t people of colour themselves would fit around my small kitchen table.
I choose not to isolate from my broad range of friends because I want to believe that people share more humanity than our differences and that racist ignorance can change through conversation, self-education and experience with consciousness. The responsibility for change should not have to be in the hands of people of colour. The effort should be coming from all non-people-of -colour, non-Indigenous Australians to bring about an awareness of white privilege.
The focus of my energy has to be in constructing my own positive identity and presence in the world as a person of colour. I am open to conversation but meanwhile talk amongst yourselves please.