these folks are the whitest of whites

White-led anti-racism groups have existed for hundreds of years, and they’ve often been problematic, counterproductive, and just fucking weird since their inception. Take, for instance, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society of 1833, which believed that slave owners were missing out on a business opportunity by not putting slaves on the payroll. They argued that paying slaves “would make them doubly valuable to [their] masters,” because paid laborers are more motivated than forced laborers. That’s the whitest thing I’ve ever heard, and I own two Hanson records. I can think of a thousand better reasons not to own a person aside from increased productivity. The Anti-Slavery Society was equally concerned with growing the free labor market in order to sustain capitalism as ending the gruesome practices of slavery — and these were among the most radical white folks of the day. Even Frederick Douglass used to chill with them. And while Frederick was no-doubt working with what he had at his disposal, we have to acknowledge that sometimes what we have at our disposal leaves much to be desired.

Today, we have a myriad of predominantly white-led racial justice groups to choose from, with memberships booming thanks to frantic constituents still in shock from the latest political regime change. That’s a recipe for disaster; and I’ve personally observed problematic behavior, lack of accountability, and outright anti-Blackness from predominantly white-led groups like Resource Generation (RG), White People Challenging Racism (WPCR), Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches and Association (UUA), Anti-Racism Collaborative (ARC), and Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI) — to name a few. But arguably the most visible (and potentially harmful) white-led anti-racism group in recent years is Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

SURJ, for those who don’t spend their weekends dodging pepper spray, is a chapter-based network intent on “organizing white people for racial justice.” It was founded, in 2009, by white folks brimming with enthusiasm following the presidential victory of Barack Obama. According to their website, SURJ believes “white people must partner across race and other differences to create social change.” They go on to say they are “here to provide resources and support for white people to make this happen.”

Setting aside how problematic it is to tackle white supremacy by “providing resources and support for white people,” SURJ has evidently been in crisis for quite some time. Last fall, the Charlotte chapter promptly disbanded and released a statement noting, “The end of white supremacy will not come from a room of white people talking to each other about racism. We need to take action, and now.” I’ve gone on record as being critical of SURJ’s strategy for dismantling racism, but this was the first time I stood in whole-hearted agreement with a chapter. It’s telling that this statement of disbandment, unlike other initiatives and calls-to-action from SURJ, was shared so widely among Black organizers. It seemed that one chapter finally got it right, and they did so by realizing they got it wrong. As more and more (and more, and more) troubling testimonies criticizing SURJ came to light, I became increasingly vocal in my opposition. This prompted pushback and defensiveness from SURJ members and affiliates.

Recently, I spoke with a member of Community Change Incorporated (CCI) — a predominantly white-led anti-racism organization providing oversight and guidance to SURJ Boston. The member expressed genuine concern that if I continued to publicly admonish the organization I would potentially alienate white allies, effectively discouraging them from doing anti-racism work. This is something Black organizers hear endlessly. It’s usually framed as friendly advice, but I recognize it for what it is: a thinly veiled threat. “If you’re not nice to us, we won’t help end your oppression!” Ironically, that sentiment is the main reason I believe it’s important to be critical of white racial justice groups. I’m exploiting their fragility. It helps weed out allies and accomplices who think “Black lives matter” is a conditional phrase. Black lives ALWAYS matter, even when they’re making white people uncomfortable. In fact, I’d argue that’s when they matter most.

And believe it or not, challenging white anti-racism groups is a matter of life and death.

I know cultural appropriation is a terrible thing, but before you go around policing people on their culture, make sure you damn well know the culture isn’t theirs. For instance, several of my cousins and I are white-passing; my cousins are probably the whitest looking people you could ever see. But we’re all mixed race kids who happen to look more like our respective white parents (edit: I’m aware that all biracial folks having a white parent is an untrue stereotype, but it happens to be the situation for my cousins and I). If I ever got anyone lecturing me on how I’m in non-white space or that I’m appropriating a culture one of the rare times I dress traditional, I’d probably give them a deer-in-headlights stare out of sheer confusion.

So yeah, check before you wreck.

We gotta stop using “lily white” to describe the whitest of white folk. How about styrofoam white? Styrofoam is cheap and fragile and bad for the environment

hugintheraven  asked:

Willis, you're usually so good about things. Was the Nazi joke really necessary?

Woo, someone asked!  (a genuine woo)

“Not really necessary” was part of the idea, honestly.  Becky, as we’ve seen in the past, sometimes says shitty things, whether they diminish Billie’s sexuality or they’re jerky to Dorothy for petty reasons, or they offhandedly refer to Roz as “the Mexican chick.”  

The problem with writing Becky as such is finding the right level of awful.  HA HA HA WHOOPS.

This is one of those super cultural things.  In midwestern Indiana, Nazi allusions are given out like Halloween candy.  Everyone’s a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and in the absence of knowledge and/or acknowledgement of Actual Basically Identical Things We’ve Done To People Over the Decades And Not Only In The Distant Past, invoking Nazis is the safe cartoonish way to be a friendly asshole to your fellow white person.  

Essentially, Becky is saying, hey, guess what, imperialists, I’m one of THEM, you scary bastards, but in the most fucked up way possible, partly because she’s scared out of her fucking mind, and so she buries that fear in the most foul thing she can think of so others can’t find it.  And since she assumes everyone around her is, as she puts it, Aryan, she hedges her bets on the hope that her snark is mostly a victimless crime.

Where that breaks down is that the strip isn’t only read by midwestern whites-only-town Hoosiers.  There are readers who are the kind of Jewish folks who don’t revel in black humor, there are Germans and other European folks who were closer to what happened, etc.  It’s not just a Round-The-Clock restaurant in whitest Indiana, there’s a whole world in there, thanks to the Internet.

And so you have to ask yourself, do you write that person true to their vantage point even if there are rough edges, or do you kind of soften it just to save everyone some grief.  That’s a question I occasionally think I have an answer to, but kind of waffle on back and forth.  Sometimes I keep characters away from each other on purpose because I don’t want them to be awful to each other in ways that make me or other people cringe.  Sometimes I barrel in full speed ahead.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s important to do it regardless, and sometimes maybe it wasn’t so important after all.  It’s not something I can write a 100% ironclad rulebook about.  I’m mercurial on it.  My answer will be different tomorrow.

But regardless, all that aside, I thought it was important that Becky be dialed to 11 here for narrative reasons.  If you think she was a shithead, well, you’re right.   And in tonight’s strip, we see Jocelyne defusing Becky’s obnoxiousness by making it obvious that she is welcome.  Becky will now be toned back down from Defcon 1 to Defcon 4 or whatever.  But learning not to weaponize her fear in such a way that she is liable to inadvertently hurt others is something she’s going to have to go through the motions with.   Sometimes you have to learn that offensive things are offensive, and Becky (and Joyce) have been living in a bubble.  Just telling them “don’t say offensive stuff” isn’t going to resolve everything suddenly.  

Unfortunately, this strip goes at a handful of panels a day, so that payoff isn’t immediate.

I have to admit, one reaction that did blindside me, because I also learn things because I am often stupid like Becky, is the response of a few blonde and blue-eyed Jewish folks.  Yeah, that’s gonna be pretty terrible!  Great fucking job, Becky and/or me!  But that’s pretty easy to address in the long run, if you are aware of the ethnic backgrounds of my main cast and some pre-existing character dynamics.  

itsnobbie  asked:

I'm really upset that they have different types of aliens in guardians of the galaxy but the only human is the whitest man to ever white like i adore chris pratt but goddamn it how does this represent the human race

I dunno folks, it’s probably like how the Green Lantern ring loves white American dudes and the Doctor has a strong preference for white British ladies.

but yall are we really that surprised at the Oscar nominations? r we really surprised the whitest of elite white award shows refuses to recognize Black and Brown talent year after year? Smh we gotta stop expecting rich white institutions that are highly invested in global white supremacy will magically begin celebrating Black and Brown folks. they r morally corrupt and have been for decades. let’s save ourselves the disappointment and just do our own thing