MAY 23, 2018
When you write down your feelings, they become concrete. You are therefore forced to confront those feelings, which go on to become your thoughts and knowledge base. This literal confrontation causes deep self-reflection; this can scare those who otherwise superficially float on without the ensuing realization: of the world and their position within it and to other people. This fear of confrontation with the self is the root of complacency — or inaction — in the presence of continued violence and institutional marginalization in the lives of oneself and others, in the face of domination at the hands of the oppressor.
This complacency enables a self-imposed ignorance. They feed each other, creating a mound upon which people of similar likeness rest, privileged and isolated away from the every-day violence and institutional marginalization faced by those situated at a disadvantage in the matrix of power relations. These privileged groups are sheltered: despite being in an isolated position of privilege, they disregard social science knowledge and the voiced worldviews of those socio-economically different from them. Complacency and self-imposed ignorance also feed and justify entitlement, which is the life force of domination. Bell Hooks provides an answer to why this self-imposed ignorance is ideologically present and enabled to exist: “We are simply afraid the desire to know too much about love will lead us closer and closer to the abyss of lovelessness” (Hooks 2001, xxvi).
You ought to write down your feelings, and thus perspective, if you are to act in the spirit of love. The written word fuels one to define in the communal exchange that is language, to acknowledge that which is silent or lurks in the shadows of our individual sub-conscious as well as the socially interconnected private sphere and the mundane, or the habitus. Enlightened acts of loving can be used to combat complacency and self-imposed ignorance. Hooks writes: “To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients – care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication” (Hooks 2001, 5). Hooks furthermore connects this praxis of loving to grander capitalist structures of power, writing: “The rugged individual who relies on no one else is a figure who can exist in a culture of domination where a privileged few use more of the world’s resources than the many who must daily do without” (Hooks 2001, 214). Hooks also makes an important point: “Love and abuse cannot coexist” (Hooks 2001, 6). Social movement action in the spirit of true love should therefore be used against capitalist processes of domination.
There is a battle going on between the notion of patriarchal white supremacy and womanhood. I do not use the term “sisterhood,” because this term, in the literature, entails black women, whereas “womanhood” entails mostly white women (Lorde 1984, 116). This battle is an ideological one, where people are trying to figure out the delineations of oppression and where solidarity can be had to fight the oppressor. However, white women need to educate themselves for this battle; they need to stand in solidarity with other oppressed people. More importantly, they need to do so with those that face different oppression than they do. White women need to awaken and choose to ally themselves with other oppressed people.
There needs to be more awareness about, and a delineation of, the similarities and differences between oppressed people, so that they can be better utilized against the oppressor that is the notion of patriarchal white supremacyand its socio-economic dominance.
It is profoundly disheartening when I see white women choose the side of the oppressor, because they think it is more peaceful, or easier, or enough just to maintain this subservient position to men, and particularly white men, when it is not; it is actually more violent, because the day-to-day lives of especially black people, and other people of color, are riddled with violence going to the supermarket, or making a U-turn in a mostly white housing complex, and in other daily scenarios. In the video, a white woman calls the cops on a black driver who is merely making a U-turn in the housing complex where she lives. She is yelling “gun” to get him killed by police when he was unarmed and indeed innocent, simply trying to make his way back to work.
As a white-passing, half middle-eastern woman myself, I am made aware that white women can be so evil (e.g., white women using the ‘culture of hostility’ enabling policy brutality against people of color, as it suits them). This evil cannot be overlooked and underestimated. We must look to Black feminist writers, including Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, etc. to learn about why complacency and self-imposed ignorance among white women are able to exist, for these writers have “self-defined” their worlds and have, therefore, already established some of these delineations of the similarities and differences between oppressed groups (Lorde 1984, 45-46). We need to unearth, and come to terms with, the fears that enable this complacency and self-imposed ignorance, and how to combat them with a deeper understanding of the weapon and shield that is love and proper loving. I want solidarity between, and in celebration, of our differences, but it is discouraging to see evil as such in the video; it makes me think as if this is not possible. However, I know that it is, because I feel it in myself, this drive to make things right and to have proper ally-ship and solidarity — an intersectional feminism.
I know that there needs to be hope, but it needs to be informed hope, which requires intellectual labor and practice. I encourage you all to search for and find the right venue to write, to face that confrontation with the self, to discover what it is that you feel, and to locate how you are situated in this world. Then, I encourage you all to read, to gain knowledge of how people different from you are situated. Change of this world, for the better, can occur in an enlightened way, but it needs to be done inclusively. No liberation can be had if anyone is left out.
Hooks, Bell. 2001. All About Love: New Visions. Harper Collins Publishers: New York, NY.
Lorde, Audre. 1984. Sister Outsider. Crossing Press: New York, NY.