I finally got around to asking a question that I have been meaning to ask non-black people when the discussion of race comes up. It does not matter whether it is a topic that speaks of the horrors Native Americans have suffered, or any other oppressed racial/ethnic group, or even if the discussion is centered around black people’s history in America, the discussion always ends up with the same ‘ol, same ‘ol derailment.
Over on Rachel’s blog there was a heated discussion about a comment a white feminist (Heart) stated that angered many people because of her trivializing the major impact black women had in the three waves of the feminist movement, as well as her appropriating the sufferings of black women in this country to make a point.
Here is the link:
Later on during the discussion, another commentor (Ken) raised my wrath and took the discussion of “internecine feminism” as Belledame222 described it, off the topic, and the thread began to completely unravel from there.
Later on, I asked him the question I have meant to ask on my blog concerning when black people speak of their history in America. Anytime black people speak of their trials in America, it inevitably comes around to the deflection and denial of black people’s history by someone asking the usual question:
“But, what about the __________________(fill in the blank)?”
Translation: anytime a subject of Black American’s sufferings in America is brought up, commentors run from the discussion and derail it with “What about so-and-so’s race?” And my favourite of them all: “Well, the Jews…….”
Yes, the Holocaust is used more by non-Black Americans because unlike the sadistic hells Black Americans suffered, the Jewish Holocaust happened over there (Nazi Germany), and did not happen over here. Therefore, it is easy to care about someone across the seas who suffered under a different country’s hate, rather than acknowledge the vicious cruelties of America’s race hatred against her Black citizens. So easy to show understanding and compassion towards someone whose hells happened thousands of miles way. So much easier to denigrate and defile what Black Americans went through under psychotic American race-based monstrocities.
This insulting and degrading trivialization of Black American’s travils in this country disregards and marginalizes what Black Americans have endured in America. Often when I am in a group discussing Native Americans, Jews of the Holocaust, etc., are discussed, never have I ever heard anyone ask the following question: “Well, what about the sufferings of Black Americans?” No. It is always the other way around, (when Back American’s experiences are brought into the discussion), as if what Black Americans experienced (and still do) in this country does not rate a damn with millions of people.
I asked my question of Ken on Rachel’s post. Here is an excerpt of my comment:
Ann on October 27th 9:32pm:
A question for you. And please, do answer it without going off on another wild tangent about first world nations and taxes.
Tell me, Ken, when you are sitting in on a discussion about, say, Native Americans and white America’s atrocities towards them, or the Jews of the Holocaust (yes, it happened over in Europe, but, humor me, okay?), or the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW II, do you stand up and ask the other people present:
“But, what about the black people? What about what they have suffered in America?”
Do you ever ask that question, Ken?”
I have not received my answer from him yet, but, I did get a response from Sailorman, a frequent commentor on Rachel’s site:
Sailorman on October 28th, 2007 5:45 pm:
(Sailorman): “Do you consider those groups you listed to have different �ranks� of oppression? Do you feel that there are other people who are more oppressed than you?”
I do not think of oppressed groups of people as having different “ranks” of oppression. An oppressed person/group is an oppressed person/group. Wrongs done against any racial, ethnic, religious, gender group, etc., are wrongs done period. At least that is the way I look at it. As an American I feel that the country I live in has done many monstrous acts (global domination/corruption/jingoistic imperialism), all across the third world/non-white world, in my name, thereby creating the hated image of “The Ugly American”, which was in the image of white American males who went to foreign countries and showed the worst of American atrocities towards non-white people they encountered. Now, as far as I am concerned, anyone can be an Ugly American, whether within America, or without.
As an American I can’t control what others do in their actions, but, I can control what I do in mine.
(Sailorman): “I never get up in a knot about any of the above groups claiming that they are oppressed. Because, duh, they are/were.”
Duh, neither do I.
I am not into Victim/Oppression Olympics.
Your sufferring (Native American, Asian-American, Black American, etc.)is not to be treated as insignificant, nor trivialized. Your suffering/history of oppression is to be validated, understood, and respected.
(Sailorman): “Great question. My own answer: sometimes. (more often a statement than a question, but still.)”
No offense, but, I am shocked that anyone was able to answer my question in the affirmative.
The reason I ask this question is because I never hear that stated by any non-black person when the discussions of race occur (that is when the history of oppressed people is discussed about non-black groups). The one thing that ires me the most is when the discussion is centered on black people, it then veers off into the proverbial, “But, what about the ____________fill in the blank?” derail. The trivialization and disrespect of black people’s history in America is why I asked that question.
Then, even though the discussion was specifically about black people’s history (which America runs from like a guinea fowl with its neck twisted around 360 degrees), someone will blurt out the old, “Shut up. Get over it”, garbage.
It is the height of utter disregard towards any oppressed group of people for someone to tell them to STFU when they are discussing their history. Their discussing their history in no way disregards nor minimizies the history other oppressed people in the world have suffered.
It would be nice if many people would realize that.
(Sailorman): “But I would speak up (and have) if they claim that they are the ONLY ones who are/were oppressed, or the ones who are the MOST oppressed.”
Same here. But, I have never had that happen with me. Usually I include the history of other oppressed peoples in when discussing my own, i.e.: Jews (they have the same 400 year history of slavery as do Black Americans); Native Americans (genocide); India (the partitioning of that sub-continent into Pakistan and India), etc.
(Sailorman): “And to reverse the fascinating question: If someone ELSE was making that same statement and left off one of those groups you mentioned, what would/did you do?”
I would speak up as I often have, both on my blog, and in every day life:
-Black people of Brazil
-Chukchi of the polar Arctic North
-Latino day laborers cheated out of wages in America
-Afro-Mexican people of Mexico
-Aboriginals of Australia
-Native people of Fiji
Everyone has a right to be heard and not dismissed as if their history is invalid.
Everyone has the right to be listened to, and respected.
So, there are two questions that I am asking of all non-black people, whether you are sitting at home with your relatives, standing around the company water cooler, or where ever you may be.
1. When those of you are sitting around discussing the race issue in America, and the groups of oppressed people being discussed do not include black people…………………….
………………do any of you ever state/ask:
“But, what about the black people? What about what they have suffered in America?”
I ask this question because I have yet to hear anyone say to a Native American, Latino, Japanese-American, etc., when speaking of their history in America to STFU. The STFU comment is always directed towards black Americans. Stating this comment to black people trivializes and makes insignificant the history and contributions of black Americans to America. I have yet to hear of anyone telling Jewish-Americans to STFU and “Get over it!” I have yet to hear anyone tell a Native American to, “Get over it! This is past history!”
It is only with black people (to my knowledge) that we are told to shut up and not to add our perspective to America’s racist past of inhuman atrocities.
We are told to stop speaking so that the conversation can be shut down because our painful history has yet to be acknowledge in its fullness the way it has never been. Yes, America knows she has done some sadistic and savage wrongs to us, but, turning around and facing up to her legacy will be a major step in according her black citizens humanity and recognition as fellow citizens, and fellow human beings.
Have any of you ever asked anyone that question?
“But, what about the black people? What about what they have suffered in America?”
2. If you are discussing your people’s history in America, do you get told to shut the fuck up, we do not want ot hear about your (Asian, Native American, Athabascan, Barbadian, Latino……) people’s history in the good ‘ol USA?
Two questions I ask since “Shut the fuck up! is often the normal cop-out excuse to run from America’s racist history.
10 responses to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
2. “I ask this question because I have yet to hear anyone say to a Native American, Latino, Japanese-American, etc., when speaking of their history in America to STFU.”
That’s bizarre, because I hear and see it happening incredibly frequently to pretty much all racial minorities.
In fact, just two days ago, I blogged about someone saying that Asians need to STFU, because they stuttered, and got made fun of in school, and since they didn’t complain about being bullied as a stutterer, then Asians shouldn’t complain about being made fun for being Asian.
I mean, there’s an entire right-wing industry built on justifications for the Japanese-American internment and claims that there was never any genocide against Native Americans. See this book for an example. That’s a pretty steady stream of STFU.
Atlasien, thanks so much for your comment.
I went over to amazon and read the commentor’s and the publisher’s description of that book and right-wingers……well, “re-write” history is an understatement.
“That’s bizarre, because I hear and see it happening incredibly frequently to pretty much all racial minorities.”
Where I work, I am the only person who discusses/brings up the issues of race/religion (Muslims, immigration, Native Americans and casinos [people think all Native Americans are raking in the monetary gains from casinos, but, not true, since not all Native Americans have casinos]. Many people at my job shy away from discussing anything that contains the words “race”, no matter what the racial/ethnic group is being discussed.
I have only a few people at my job whom I can truly discuss race in America with, and they are mostly female: some black co-workers, one white woman, one Latina woman.
If it was not for them, I would have to rely on blogs to get other people’s perspectives on issues of race, gender, classism, etc.
Nothing against blogs.
They serve a great purpose.
It just helps to have a real live person in front of you to talk to and get a view from someone else’s perspective on the shape this country is in.
Thanks again for stopping by.
i hear it all the time in regards to mexicans/indigenous peoples who point out that the lower part of southern u.s. (texas, arizona, new mexico etc) were illegally annexed by the u.s. in 1848.–it all basically boils down to, “it happened, it’s over, you’re never going to get it back, stfu!!!!”
I also hear it all the *time* in regards to indigenous peoples in michigan who demand that treaties be upheld and honored–in that case it boils down to–those treaties were made hundreds of years ago, stop playing indian, and join the rest of the world!!!
and anyway–having gone over that thread now–wow. i missed a lot of fun, i guess. whew, what a mess.
Brownfemipower thanks for your comments.
Yes, it was a super-dooper mess on that post. To say that I was angry was an understatement.
I cannot fathom how people in this country can be so quick to absolve white women of their racist history in this country against WOC. That so many people do not know the true history of the origins of feminism in America galls me to no end.
Thanks for your comments on the STFU treatment that many minorities endure in the land of the free and brave.
White-run America is afraid of the retribution it faces from the future that holds a more non-white numerical majority against them.
White-run America will start to throw down more and more in the old divide-and-conquer as the vise of non-white numbers rise.
More rage and fear from so-called “mainstream” America is coming down the pipe.
White supremacy is fighting tooth and claw against its death.
Unfortunately, it is going to take so many down with it.
“stop playing indian, and join the rest of the world!!!”
They would love to join the “rest” of the world, when the world (white-run America) faces up to its racist history and treats them as fellow human beings.
“it happened, it’s over, you’re never going to get it back, stfu!!!!”
Never, say, “Never”. 🙂
I sometimes get that treatment from hateful people who want to deny the atrocities meted out against women, children, and men of Color around the world every single day, past and present. Years ago, one white man had the audacity to write to the Y forum asking black women to get over it when it comes to bm/ww ir. Here’s the quote from the bonehead:
“Here’s a statement from a guy who tells black women to get over it when it comes to IRs. Here’s his view:
“The subject of black men choosing to date white women is an often-recurring subject at Y?
Forum. The reasons black men go there, according to black women, are numerous,
complicated and usually demeaning to white women: they take s*** from black men,
they’re pushovers, they’re easy, just to list a few. What if the real reason some black men
date white women? What if some simply find white women more appealing? Is that too
painful to consider?” by William, Columbia, SC, United States, 38, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight,
Sales, 4 Years of College, Middle class.
Too often, we black women are being told by whites not to get angry when some black men date ouside of their race. We are said to be too angry, difficult to deal with by clueless white folks. They even see our preference for black men as a form of reverse racism. What do you think about the phenomenon of whites berating us for being concerned about IR dating? Have you been a victim of such berating?”
What do you think of this type of hatred directed at us?
Hey, Stephanie, thanks for your comments.
So easy for that white man to say to black women, “Get over it!” when black men marry out of the race.
The shoe would be on the other foot when that same white man’s daughter, sister or other female relative decides to marry that same black man.
Then let’s see him say, “Get over it” to one more black woman.
Let’s see how he handles being told to “STFU!” when it’s one of his female relatives who is waltzing down that matrimonial aisle, arm-in-arm, with a black man.
Let’s see if he can take as good as he can dish out.
And as for those lies/myths/stereotypes about white women:
they take s*** from black men,
White women are no more “easy”, “pushovers” or “shit-takers” than the next woman.
Some can be just as dominant as can be.
Just as so many black women can be as feminine, as alluring, as desireable, as gentle as any other woman of any other race in the world.
Thanks. Also, I’ve read so much hate mail from Essence.com regarding Black author Audrey Chapman’s 2002 article, “Bring Me Home A Black Girl.” Many came from white women who want to believe that we live in a colorblind society and don’t want to be reminded of the inequality and racism that still persist in America today. I’ll send you the article later. Right now, I’m in a hurry.
I love this! The reason they say STFU and “Get over it” is because of guilt. Don’t get it twisted – it’s not that present day whites are guilty, but they do have certain privileges being decendents of slave masters and they know that. They also don’t know what to say so the easiest answer is STFU and get over it. One woman on a blog I was on somewhere, made the comment to a post I made on slavery and my own history, “Get over it. You were never a slave.” I had to check her and check her quick! My GG Grandfather was the white slave owner. My last name is Du’Gas – duh!!!!
Unfortunately, I don’t believe you’ll ever get a straight answer to that question Ann. What we have to understand as African American people is that they never intended for us to be free. I have slave bill of sale records for my ancestors that read…..forever a slave. If the slave owner dies provisions were made as to who would inherit the slave. It was ugly. There’s nothing that can excuse it. It’s much easier to sweep it under the rug as if it never happened than to deal with it.
And that my dear is why you will never get an answer to your question. The bottom line is: They may have been forced to free the slaves, but they never intended for us to be their equals.
I hope my question isn’t totally a red herring.
I would like to ask you to explain how you conceive of the complexities behind interracial marriage. Especially the kind you mention above: Black men marrying out of the race.
My question, I might add, stems from the ignorance of someone who grew up in an ethnically homogenous (of course it’s a lie; the homogeneity was not ‘natural’ but enforced and thus not good for anyone) environment. I once read an article which described my home country as “the unbearable whiteness of being.” Not that it’s not a fact, but it suggested that people chose it and, furthermore, took pride in it. While there is always a bunch of idiots who enjoy being artificially closed off from the rest of the world, the main point is that the Polish society didn’t choose it AND ALL were harmed by that situation. In its most brutal sense, Polish isolation under communism meant that the women who married African students (I don’t know if “many” but some Africans came to study in Poland then — I admire them and am thankful that they wanted to learn the language!), usually decided to leave for Africa. There they found perhaps more difficult life conditions but, above all, tolerance. You cannot deal with constant ostracism and that’s what they had to put up with in Poland. So that’s the kind of interracial marriage I know from… hmm… my childhood, since 1989 technically changed everything.
Sorry for the long detour right in the middle, but I wanted to explain where I’m coming from with my question.
I do realize and it does make me angry too, when I learn that even today so many people believe that racial equality is “about” Blacks being able to marry Whites. As if that was some amazing privilege. It’s ludicrous, condescending, and just blatantly stupid. So are all the ridiculous attempts to placate Black women’s discontents with interracial marriage.
Yet I do not know what it means for a Black woman, what it looks like from her perspective. I know there are still many old, unfounded, and unjust stereotypes out there concerning Black and White womanhood. But how does that tie in together? What are the real issues/problems with interracial marriage from a Black woman’s POV?
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