My conclusion is basically that you are not fighting oppression by humiliating the (or one particular) oppressor. You call them out. You embarrass them.
Where do you go from there? Aside from alleviating your temporary rage and resentment, nothing much is accomplished except further animosity. I don’t really believe in peace, in the stupid liberal utopian sense. I believe in conquering racism through education.
We should critically examine what anti-racist education look like. Beyond the usual sloganeering, and the run-of-the-mill anti-racism 101 crap. The work begins with critical reflection. For me, anyway, the answer is always theory, theory, and more theory. :D
But no, okay, to throw around another stupid cliche so people could understand where (the general direction) that I’m going: Work. Labour. Discipline. The road to truth, to revolution, to ANYTHING worthwhile at all is through work. Hard work. If everything simply falls on your lap, you’ll never learn anything.
I was at this space for at-risk youth. It became very evident who the service-providers were versus the service-users. The former mostly white, the latter mostly racialized.
ANYWAYZ… I went to a spoken word workshop. One of the people there was this really privileged white woman who was also very unaware of her privilege. Okay. So she pissed me off. Everything she said, I just responded in a very snarky way. LOL. It wasn’t accusatory, i.e. attacking her but it’s an indirect form of attack. I’m basically saying— fuck you! Look at your privilege!
Upon further self-reflection, I’m beginning to understand why this isn’t the right approach to take towards anti-oppression.
(1) She’s just another ignorant but privileged white person. The privilege itself is granted by the deeper systemic structures of white supremacy and not located in her as an individual. As an individual, she merely embodies the dominant oppressive structure. This form of “anti-oppression” is actually pretty shallow and doesn’t get at the root cause of the oppression. Why? Because you (meaning I) couldn’t possibly have time/energy to attack every single friggin’ white person who is too privileged to understand their own privilege. This is the form of resistance of a cynic— employing satire and irony but not doing any serious damage to the very *structure* of white supremacy.
(2) I think it’s important to get everyone to examine their own privilege(s) which begins with education. Now, it’s very true that it shouldn’t depend on the person of colour to constantly educate the white person on their privilege and racism, as the poc may not know EVERYTHING there is to know about racism or can answer all the questions, and also, it’s not their responsibility to educate the white person. There’s a bunch of weird problematic things going on, like once the “education” is complete, the poc merely becomes a vessel that allows the white person (the protagonist) to congratulate him/herself for being a good ally. The poc is a merely a means for the self-realization or self-actualization of the white protagonist. The Other, once their use-value is depleted (i.e. once they’re no longer useful), is thrown away, discarded like a piece of garbage. This is a very violent metaphor— one that stuck in my mind for many many years after feeling like this is the role I play in other people’s lives. (This is also a HUGE problem I see with all new age religions. OThers, all Others, are simply means for our own self-realization/self-actualization. It’s narcissism par excellence. Getting derailed.)
Okay. I believe the cure to racism at least on the individual level is indeed education. But education takes many, many forms. There is the typical top-down model. A professor/teacher lectures to the student. There is a binary between educator and educatee. One holds the power whilst the Other merely receives the knowledge, without questioning the authority of the former. Anyway, that shouldn’t be how education works. I think good education looks something like this: the teacher/guide gives the learner just enough knowledge so that the learner can take that knowledge and continue exploring and learning on their own, coming to their own conclusions and answers. Authoritarian education is nothing but indoctrination.
Well, I guess the solution is simple. I just think about all the people I don’t want in my life and all the ones I’m grateful for having in my life. Then concentrate on the latter. And everything will be good, again. :)
Life is so frustrating. Communicating with normative people. Even if they are queer and disabled but without any understanding of queer or disability politics and how to deal with triggers. Everyone has their triggers. Trying to talk honestly to the other person about how we trigger each other is super difficult because the other person is just like— “you have issues!” basically because I told them about my labels (mental health blah). Seriously???? Ughghgh… people piss me off sometimes.
I met one person who seems to understand me, which makes me very happy. But what is understanding anyway? Obviously, they haven’t had the same experiences as me in many ways, but they understand— something fundamental about myself, that others don’t. The importance of theory. How theory is NOT a futile and facetious academic exercise. Theory is more fluid and ironic and evocative of the playfulness as well as seriousness— of life, of lived experience, of theory itself. Theory is beautiful. Theory is what sets truth in motion (and yes, truth is always in motion!)
It’s people’s misunderstandings of theory where they project their own preconceptions onto it that makes it unappealing. The usual one being that theory is totalizing, i.e. tries to explain everything, tries to appropriate experience, etc. etc.
No. Well, people will always misunderstand you if they don’t make any genuine attempts at understanding you. It’s really not your fault, dear theory.
Anyway, this person understands the importance of theory.
Every word in the English language has a potential to be problematic. “Curiosity” is one of my therapist’s favourite words when it comes to facing experiences he is not familiar with. When facing the Other. (which in this concrete situation means me— I am Other to him.)
ANYHOO… connotation of curiosity: European colonialism— the curious gaze of the colonzier which appropriates the Other and erases their Otherness…
Weh… where am I going with this? I should just tell my therapist to stop using that word, but is that enough??
Then again, there are words that my therapist wants me to stop using since *he* finds them problematic but I don’t. Words that in the modern world has a medicalized meaning/connotation. Except I’ve read (somewhere sometime ago) that a different meaning or use of this word, which is reclaimed from its original etymology, meaning something like “facing the Other”— which is totally different than the medical model use of this word. So yeah, words can be reclaimed. Uhh… whatevs…. I don’t know why i got into this.
There is something beautiful in every piece of suffering, every piece of human vulnerability, every supplication of the oppressed and defenseless. The seduction of that beauty leads to attachment. To personal emotional investment. We may call it compassion or any number of words for sharing/embracing our sufferings, facing the suffering of the Others in their Otherness.
We get pulled by this attraction. And we lose sight of the truth. Truth is always positional. There is no universal truth. As Salman Rushdie wrote, “the only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step out of the frame.”
Anyway, I don’t really feel like elaborating anymore. I get sick of coming up with these good original ideas on my own, only to have them appropriated and stolen, soiled by the curious gaze of the mistrustful. Fuck off!
"The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly." -Nietzsche
Well, I guess there is a reason I *chose* Christianity but the real reason is the politics. The potential for radical emancipatory politics therein. It’s an interpretation of Christianity— the political interpretation that I’m interested. Yet, it is not *just* an interpretation. I really do believe it. It is very different from the view that God loves everyone equally. Everyone is equally worthy before God; again the basis of liberalism and liberal ideology.
Liberation theology, as far as I’m able to grasp, claims that God takes sides. God is political. God is on the side of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the abject. God fights for the poor. In short, if Jesus Christ was alive today, he would be a Marxist revolutionary.
I have no idea why that view attracts me. It’s the real reason I’m into Christianity, but uh… no one else seems to understand.
"burn all the photographs" — I could’ve sworn that was a line from a song by Adele but I can’t find it anywhere… oh well…
I didn’t burn anything (except in my mind) but threw some things away. I had one last look before throwing them out. You smiled a few times but you looked extremely unhappy in every one. The seldom occasions where you did smile, it looked really forced. It’s a message to me— I’m making you unhappy. I don’t want that. Thus I threw them away. Throw away your unhappiness; I don’t wish to be the source of that.
For me, it’s a radical act to begin everyday by wearing socks. Protecting the skin on my feet from the harmful chemicals and toxins that randomly make contact with them as I walk about / enter into the world.
Anyway, this is a metaphor. It’s okay if nobody gets it but me.
Elaboration: There is nothing inherently good or evil about those chemicals or toxins out there. They just are. The harmful effects arise when they interact with my skin, my body. Something happens in that act of making contact and I get hurt. My feet currently have accumulated a myriad extra layers of bruises, blisters, fungal infections, deep cracks on my heel, etc. (Okay. This part is NOT a metaphor.) Anyway, it’s time to protect and take care of my feet, that part of my body which grounds me in the earth, in the world I’m dwelling in.
Came really close to full-blown psychosis the other day— hearing voices, hallucinating, but I mostly hallucinate smells. Just by luck, I had an appointment with my therapist that day and I went. He did everything in his power to calm me down. I felt like some significant healing took place then.
I was able to reintegrate many parts of myself that were disowned and dissociated. He interpreted my hearing voices as a violent form of dissociation and separation— I’m pushing away that part of myself I’m threatened by so it literally becomes externalized as a voice. This is obviously not a medical analysis. He works from an anti-oppressive, anti-psychiatry framework. Anyway, it actually worked! Yay! :)
At least for now… but I’m glad I’m stable for now.
“The revolutionary wants to change the world; he transcends it and moves toward the future, towards an order of values which he himself invents. The rebel is careful to preserve the abuses from which he suffers so that he can go on rebelling against them. He always shows signs of a bad conscience and of something resembling a feeling of guilt. He does not want to destroy or transcend the existing order; he simply wants to rise up against it. The more he attacks it, the more he secretly respects it. In the depths of his heart he preserves the rights which he challenges in public. If they disappeared, his own raison d’être would disappear with them. He would suddenly find himself plunged into a gratuitousness which frightens him.”—
someone from OPIRG gave me this quote. Awesome! :)
Due to a pretty bad case of insomnia, I was awake since like 4:30am and some random time during the morning decided to wander driftlessly around the streets. After getting a booster juice, which is my breakfast, I walked aimlessly around and around, roaming the hallowed and hollowed avenues near my current place of residence.
Anyhoo… I became lost in my thoughts again. The streetlight was red, since I already have a habit of jaywalking from living downtown, I started walking thoughtlessly towards the other end of the street. A ginormous white van started honking as it came to a screeching deceleration on my right. Alarmed by the loud honking, I stepped back. Another car was coming towards me.
Anyway, I narrowly escaped and continued along without much ado. A few more steps onto the safe sidewalk, I realized— “Holy shit! I could’ve been killed right there!”
It’s funny how close I came to death and didn’t have any near death experience or any sudden ephiphantic realization. Just “oh!— don’t get distracted when walking!”
So I guess not all brushes with death leads to some sudden spiritual development. Some are just accidents.
(CONTEXT: I was having a disagreement with A— about whether academia could provide a site for radical, political resistance to dominant structures of oppression, e.g. transphobia, etc. I said yes; she said no— the entire system is wrong and has to be eradicated, academia is part of the system.)
I’m sorry you have suffered so much trauma and so much violence. In prison. In sex work. In academia. In normative society. I am sincerely and profoundly sorry and I try my best to sympathize.
I know I — my whole presence, my being — represents academia to you, which means I symbolize violence to you. You are afraid of me. I can sense your fear, aversion and mistrust.
I am truly sorry for what you have gone through.
Yet, as a human being, I have limited capacities. Unfortunately, I can’t sit before you for endless hours discussing politics, philosophy, history, logic, computer science, everything else.
But not only is there a physical limit in terms of time and how much mental energy I could spend talking to you, there is a limit in you as well.
I feel like this is how our discussions always end— we have a disagreement. I try to pinpoint the nature of our disagreement and elaborate the reasons why I disagree. You disagree with me but instead of providing a good reason why I should believe you, you appeal to your past, your trauma, your sufferings. Basically, it boils down to this for you: if I disagree with you, it means I don’t understand you. I haven’t had your experiences of oppression and trauma and violence.
It’s true that I’ve never been to prison or engaged in sex work or even placed myself in physical danger at a protest. I do agree you are more marginalized, more oppressed than me. However, it can’t be that whenever there is a disagreement between me and you, between someone with relatively more privileges versus a marginalized person, it just automatically means that the marginalized person is right. Period. End of story.
This means that someone who experienced more oppression and marginalization could never be wrong. It just can’t be that simple.
If I am to be brutally honest, which I believe is the only way to respect you, not patronize you by just letting you be right and feel good about yourself because of your marginalized past— the truest form of respect means I be honest with you about why I see your behaviour itself as problematic even if you are indeed more marginalized.
Ultimately, your actions boil down to an oppression olympics. I can elaborate as to why that is wrong, etc. etc. but the basic, simple point is— just because you identify as queer, trans, disabled, racialized, etc. etc. doesn’t give you a free pass to being anti-oppressive. You can still be oppressive and say/do problematic things even if you hold certain marginalized identities. If you want to be not tokenized but really respected, then don’t expect me to just agree with you because you belong to XYZ marginalized identity. True anti-oppression (again, this is only according to me) means for example, having an anti-racist analysis, not just being a poc. A poc can still be racist in various ways. And developing a critical anti-racist analysis begins with self-reflection, begins with critical self-examination.
There is much much more to say on this but I will stop here. I feel you didn’t examine your experiences/traumas with enough of a critical lens. You have every right to be suspicious of academia. But a critical analysis is not the same as an academic analysis. Does not require academic credentials, etc. etc. In some ways, in many areas, I find that you already have a really good analysis of certain issues. However, sometimes, I feel your fear and aversion/anxiety gets in the way of furthering your analysis.
I know my presence annoys you and causes much animosity. But it is sad that you are simply reacting to that animosity and from that source of negativity instead of truly engaging in the politics. I feel you have so much more to offer in terms of critical analysis but you refuse and choose to act out of fear.
I decided to delete my other blogs since I feel it’s not necessary to have like 20 different blogs. LOL.
But yeah, I avidly believe that developing an anti-oppressive politics is indeed a spiritual journey, as my former TA for equity studies used to say. I feel like it is a sacred activity and I don’t want to discuss it in a space where I feel unsafe. Hence, I left the Centre briefly to converse about politics.
I still foster a deep conviction to reshape the politics and problematic structures that are present and strongly entrenched in the space of the Centre. It will be arduous work, probably slow and painful, but I feel that this is both a political and spiritual necessity. Hence, I have to do it because no one else will.
The effort itself is worth it even if the end result I want is not fully realized.
Even if your happiness is bought by and built upon the capital and foundations of my pains, my sorrows, and my lacerations, I feel eternally honoured that I contributed to your happiness. To your happiness only— nothing else matters.
After an evening of silent tears whilst staring blankly into space at the 24hr McDonald’s, I woke up this morning heading towards a familiar place. It was closed. I arrived 15min too early. Now I sit amongst the empty tables and chairs at another campus building nearby. Too early, before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.
I reflect upon the vicissitudes of life, of death, of longing, of loss. I reflect upon my imperfections and limitations. I reflect on TBK (this is a book I read a long time ago but don’t feel like disclosing the title so I’ll just use an abbreviation).
I hum a few solitary notes to myself. Origin unknown. Perhaps it’s a long-forgotten tune from my childhood or from another life. Perhaps it is the grace of a diety, granting me solace through the mysterious music. I know not whence it comes nor whither it goes. I know only that I am here.
It’s raining outside right now. Finally, a weather evocative of my present mood. I often wonder if rain was the heavens crying? Not tears of sorrow, or of regret, but tears of releasement, compassion, and understanding. My soul aligns with the internal movement of the universe. In restfulness. In solidarity.
It seems that something greater than myself is finally smiling at me. And I smile back in appreciation. :)
I imagine one day in our old age, we meet again. You, in venerable grey-hair, as beautiful as the last time I saw you, a laughing youth with dancing, radiant eyes. Smiling. That endearing, mysterious smile. Me, taken aback by your presence. We embrace in loving silence. Our hearts meet again. My soul awash in wholeness. Finally, I am home.
Even if I “fell in love” with you initially, I choose to love you forevermore. I choose to wait. I choose the patience of hope.
but what is beautiful about a bouquet of roses? the true and raw beauty of it comes from the roses and not the bouquet roses that were once a blossoming, flourishing life-force in the bouquet, however, they are nothing but dead plants, corpses remnants of a formerly burgeoning vitality so the beauty of each rose comes from its life
when we kill the flowers for human consumption for a commercially prepackaged formulaic expression of beauty they actually lose their beauty