Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fight or Flight

Odd dilemma. I'm trying to convince some guy on a forum that it's not cool to blame POC when they get--disproportionately, to a white person--angry about being marginalized. Saying, "I would have more sympathy if the guy weren't so angry/hostile/etc." has never really done wonders for civilized discourse.

My problem is that I want to vent about this, and the most socially-conscious people I know (the people who will intuitively know what I'm getting at without me having to explain all over again why victim-blaming is shitty) are POC. And, quite frankly, I don't want them to feel like they have to deal with this guy. A couple of them stepped in on their own to say, "wtf no," but the last thing I want them to feel I'm doing to them is saying "HEY COME HELP ME FIGHT RACISM! *bounce bounce* =D IT'LL BE FUN AND THEN YOU CAN GIVE ME A COOKIE AND I'LL BE ONE OF THE GOOD WHITE PEOPLE." This is a stupid thing to do.

So I'm ranting here. What the fuck, humanity. The fact that it still needs to be explained that, "No, you shouldn't punish a child of color for punching a kid who threw racist insults at him and who hit him first," in any social setting at all... it's just sad. When a relatively-privileged white girl can look at what you're saying and tell you, "Please stop placing further barriers to POC defending the legitimacy of their personhood," then you know it's glaringly obvious.

I'm not an expert at this shit. Quite frankly, as a white person, I think the best that I can do is say that the experience of being that marginalized is so huge and so comprehensively awful that I'm just not gonna get it. And as a result, the fact that I or this other guy or whoever else wouldn't have been upset enough to give a violent racist who attacked him a bloody nose? Doesn't mean shit. We don't know enough to be upset to a realistic degree. The best we can do is know we don't know, and try to have a little fucking empathy if we can.

Again. If a white person is calling you out on the implications of what you're saying, you've probably already gone so far over the line that people who've experienced real discrimination noticed loooong ago, and long ago wrote you off entirely as beyond redemption--at least redemption by them.

I don't want a cookie. Not wanting victims to be shit on for defending themselves doesn't make me awesome. It means I have half a damn conscience. I want people to stop failing so hard that it takes a member of the privileged race to tell them they're out of line. But that's not going to happen. So now I want a nap and a vacation from other people.

What pisses me off most, I think, is knowing that I can walk away from this whenever I want because I'm white. I can choose not to engage in this, and whether I'll even pay attention to it is completely optional. So I don't feel like I deserve to walk away just because I'm tired of it and getting angrier than I want to be right now. What gives me the right?

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