Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who's "we"?



I made a comment under this post over at Mr. Smooth's blog, so I hope it eventually appears. Until then, my sentiment is this: who needs to take responsibility for what? Last time I checked, I wasn't making any videos that involved one gender exploiting another. I'm not contributing to the history of misogyny in the United States and around the world. I'm not using racial slurs to refer to my peers, nor am I stating that any and all women I come across are prostitutes and/or female dogs.

This is the same way I feel when I hear people talk about how far the United States has come, and that racism, sexism and homophobia don't exist anymore, because this country was built on democracy and freedom, and it's the greatest country in the world. Most of the people who make those glib, propogandist statements have never left the country. They act like because they supposedly don't know any wife beaters, gay bashers or white hood enthusiasts, everything is fine, and therefore our country is so progressive. Except here's the problem I've often come across: it's not like there has been a large group of nonwhite people perpetrating this institutional bigotry. Meaning, there weren't a bunch of Asian people running the Middle Passage; there weren't a bunch of Native Americans rounding up Japanese American in internment camps; and there aren't a bunch of black people hiring Mexicans and Central Americans for cheap labor while simultaneously enacting discriminatory legislation to keep foreigners from "crossing the border" and "taking our jobs."

I'm not responsible for the bigotry perpetrated on certain non-white, non-male, or non-straight American citizens. I'm not oppressing myself. I'm not one of the people in this country who has "come a long way." I never had anywhere to get to. I've always been here. What needs to be said is the following:

  • Certain (white) people in power, and even those not in power, need to stop being racist. I acknowledge that nonwhite racist people exist, but that is another discussion for another time.

  • Straight people (and some queer people, too) need to stop hating the LGBT community.

  • Men (and certain self-hating women) need to stop oppressing women and end the cycle of misogyny.

We all need to stop acting like the oppressed and the oppressors have, or should have, a equal say in the direction of our country and our society. We don't ask serial killers what we should do to decrease the murder rate. We don't ask rapists how to stop sexual assaults. Mr. Smooth, I agree that there is a discussion to be had about the history and future of hip hop, and the effects hip hop continues to have on our communities. But let's not pretend that every person's opinion is valid and equal, especially the opinions of those "artists" who still choose to making their millions by treating women like worthless whores.

(I'm not saying that sex workers in general are worthless. I'm saying that's how certain recording artists treat the women in their songs and videos.)

We need to tell people, "this behavior is wrong, and you need to stop."

14 comments:

Irwin Handleman said...

I don't get it. How does a bunch of black guys saying the "n" word and calling girls bitches and hos make white people racist?

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Hear, hear.

And yet again, you've impressed me with your honesty:

...let's not pretend that every person's opinion is valid and equal...

Huh. Yeah. True.

Also, my buddy last night told me only 18% of Americans have passports. I haven't looked this up yet to see if it's true, but I believe it. 82% of us haven't left the country, unless we went to Canada or Mexico before summer '07. Which is certainly better than nothing.

Too bad passports are rather prohibitively expensive. As is overseas travel. But still. It does say a lot about us...if it's true.

Guess I'm going to go Google that stat now. I'll report back if it's false.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Ah. If you Google the Americans-owning-passports issue, you get stats varying from 10% to 34%. Looks like most hover around 20 - 23%. But all seem to agree that far fewer Americans, proportionally, have passports than Canadians and Europeans, which means we do way less traveling to other countries, contributing to our stoopidity and insularity.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

irwin h., are you serious? I can't quite tell. Where in her post did Bianca say that?

Irwin Handleman said...

How about here:

What needs to be said is the following:

"Certain (white) people in power, and even those not in power, need to stop being racist. I acknowledge that nonwhite racist people exist, but that is another discussion for another time."

I don't get how that was brought into the discussion, when I thought it was about hip hop.

I think it's very unfair to compare Americans and Europeans travels abroad. We have to go much farther and spend a lot more money to go out of the country. If you're in Europe, going abroad is the same as us going to a different state.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

If you're in Europe, going abroad is the same as us going to a different state.

Distance-wise, yes. Completely different, however, in terms of culture and language. Wherever we live in the US, we still speak the same language as most of the residents of other US states, and we're all American, with American values and concerns. When a French person travels over to England, though, or a Spanish person to France, or a Frenchie to Germany, or..., they have to speak a different language and deal with totally different values, governmental structures, cultural norms, etc. Obviously, it's different. Sure, Americans have to go farther to get to other countries (except Mexico and Canada, of course). As I pointed out, passports and travel are both prohibitively expensive for many people. Still, none of that changes the fact that Americans' failure or inability to travel out of the country contributes to our insularity. I wish our government would send us all abroad at age 22, like they do in Australia.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

And since when did Bianca's or anyone's blog posts have to stick to one linear subject without touching on any other subjects, even very closely related ones?

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Sorry, Bianca, for my multiple posts on here today. But I just need to post one more followup for irwin h.'s benefit, which is the clear segue in your post from hip hop to white folks' racism:

...who needs to take responsibility for what? ...

This is the same way I feel when I hear people talk about how far the United States has come, and that racism, sexism and homophobia don't exist anymore...


There. irwin said, "I don't get how that was brought into the discussion, when I thought it was about hip hop." So there you go: That's how. It was pretty straightforward.

Irwin Handleman said...

First of all, I don't really agree with that whole language/culture/customs thing being a big barrier in Europe. I lived in Italy and didn't speak a word of Italian when I got there.

If France was next to Nebraska, I guarantee Americans would travel to a different country as much as Europeans do.

Secondly, of course posts can wander off topic, except:

"I acknowledge that nonwhite racist people exist, but that is another discussion for another time."

Actually, I thought that was the discussion for this time. But nope, take the easy route and throw big bad whitey under the bus.

Bianca Reagan said...

Lots of activity. How exciting!

Welcome back, mr. handleman. As catherine graciously pointed out (Thank you catherine!), there is a transition between the related themes of sexism, racism and homophobia in my post. One ism doesn't cause another, nor did I imply that. Your inference is incorrect.

I was not throwing "whitey" or anyone under a bus. I was examining the history of oppression in America. It just happens that many of the oppressors of the past, present and future happen to be white and/or straight and/or male. This is a statement of fact that is well documented. I don't recall any bisexual Korean women keeping masses of people down. If they have, then I need to have a talk with Margaret Cho.

Furthermore, many of these same bigoted people in power are also oppressing white people. This was something that was made clear to me immediately after Hurricane Katrina, when I saw Ellen Degeneres and Lance Bass on the television talking about how their families were affected and no one was there to help them. And as I listen to clips of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, etal, I realize their daily messages of ignorance aren't targeted to an audience of brown people; they are addressing a majority white audience and purposefully keeping them misinformed about the state of our nation.

The nonwhite racists don't apply here because they aren't keeping down big groups of people. What industries are owned and operated by a majority of nonwhite people? It's not like the entertainment industry is run by black women who are trying to keep white men out.

catherine, there is never a need to apologize for your multiple posts. I always enjoy them thoroughly.

I see a discussion to be had about if and why Canadians and Mexicans travel more inside and outside of their respective countries more than United States citizens do. I didn't know the problem was so bad until my first year of college when I met people who had never left California. How is that even possible? It wasn't because they couldn't afford it; they and their families just chose not to.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

The nonwhite racists don't apply here because they aren't keeping down big groups of people.

Yeah. That's why some people don't believe non-white people can be racist -- their definition of the word racism includes the power of oppression of large groups of people, which, at least in America as well as in many European and African and other countries, non-whites don't have.

Me, I define racism as the belief that different races are inherently different and therefore superior or inferior to each other -- prejudice toward the Other based on race, regardless of which race the racist might be.

But the above is similar, too, to how there's no equivalent word to misogyny for men (that I know of, anyway) -- one that would mean widespread, systematic hatred and oppression of men. Because it just doesn't happen. (White) men are the ones in power, so any hatred directed toward them basically rolls off their backs like chicken fat off Teflon.

Irwin Handleman said...

Well, this whole thing started because your buddy there was discussing how BLACK MEN are hurting black people. He wasn't talking about white people at all.

I'm still waiting for the examples of how you've been oppressed. I genuinely would like to know.

Bianca Reagan said...

irwin, don't yell. It's rude.

I don't need to prove my oppression to you, especially since you refuse read any of the books or (re)watch any of the movies I have suggested so that you can clearly see my points. You seem agitated about my suggesting that I'm discriminated against. I'm not sure why. You need to calm down, figure out why you are upset, and then state your argument politely, with facts to back it up.

Irwin Handleman said...

Well, that's a dodge if I've ever seen one.

I'm perfectly calm, and I have seen the movies you suggested even if you don't want to believe me.

Plus, every time I refute your arguments with facts, you don't respond. This is the second time I've asked you this, and I really just want an example or two to understand what you're talking about since it's 90 percent of what you talk about. I'm not agitated about it at all. I'm just curious. I've given you an example of how I've been discriminated against, why can't you?

And to evade it by claiming I'm somehow angry or not using facts, well, that's wrong...and rude.