reblogging again for more commentary.


[WARNINGS for white supremacy/appropriation/apologism/white-whine/tokenism]

Esoterica: What I learned from Tumblr today:


I’m to keep to my culture and ignore all others. I cannot incorporate things from other cultures into my daily life because I’m white.

When I was little, I was bouncing on the neighbors trampoline when one of the little boys from down the street told me that I was racist because my ancestors had slaves. I cried. When I was in middle school, a little boy spat in my face and when the principal asked him why he did it, he said it was because I’m white. It didn’t take too much growing up to realize that these boys didn’t know what they were doing or the implications of what they did. They were taught to think and treat white people a certain way. When I tell these stories, I’m sure plenty of people involved in this ongoing discussion will say “oh this white girl’s just complaining,” but in this, you would be assuming some complex things about me. First of all, you would be assuming I’m privileged, and therefore I have no right to complain. You’d be assuming I had money and therefore political power. Granted, the history of race in this country is complex and the issues individuals face due to race certainly spills over onto our generation, but the underlying issue is class. Because of the oppression minority people have faced in the past, they are cut off from many opportunities, pushed into the lower class with few ways out. But guess what all you Tumblr people don’t know, my personal story. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that even the connotation of the color of my skin gives me an advantage in certain situations. When I get pulled over by a cop in my hometown, I don’t have to worry as much as my big black male friends. But, when my friend seeks to point that I have a lot of Mexican friends, it is to show that I understand the culture. It is what I grew up in too! I grew up in a low income, lower class (my family included) area where I was immersed in cultures from anywhere imaginable, predominately Mexico. Just because my immediate family didn’t participate in Dia de los Muertos does not mean I was excluded from it. To assume that I don’t understand the significance of Dia de los Muertos because I am white is, and take a guess, racist!

She understands Mexicans because she grew up in a low income, lower class area with her big Black male friends. And she cried. She’s not racist though, we are. LOL Someone needs to get their cousin.

[image: animated GIF (link to GIF): Queen Latifah in the movie “Set It Off”, flipping the bird and looking disgusted.]

^ yeah, this too.  so, so much wrongness here.

(Source: axololol)


The face of fear is most definitely brown | openDemocracy

TW for racism, harassment. Racist policemen doing the harassment.



Amber Ansari:

Walking around Covent Garden last Tuesday, I found myself nearly knocked over by a speeding police car with no sirens or lights down a small street. I thought it was strange: such hurry and no warning system.

As I reached Tesco in Covent Garden, I saw six heavily armed police officers surrounding some-one. I walked past and saw a small, middle aged, Indian man. He was holding a white charity bucket in one hand. Two police officers were standing behind him telling him not to move and to spread his legs; they were going to search him. Another two officers were taking all his belongings out of his small beige rucksack and reading every piece of paper and asking him about its contents. At the same time another officer was asking him who he was, what his name was and why he was behaving suspiciously.  Someone else was going through his wallet. The man spoke broken English and he did not seem to quite understand what was going on. He kept saying he was collecting money for charity and you could see from his body language and the way he was looking at them that he was stunned and very scared.

These men were tall, heavily built, all Caucasian, talking loudly, moving him around physically, going through his things and saying he had been reported for suspicious behaviour. Someone, they said, had seen him collecting money for charity outside Covent Garden station and had called the police saying they had seen a terrorist. You could feel the adrenalin rising in these men as they went through his bag and I remembered the terrible outcome with Jean Charles de Menezes six years ago. 

If a Caucasian man or woman had been standing outside Covent Garden station with a charity bucket and a rucksack would someone have rung the police reporting a ‘possible terrorist’? Do people go around calling the police every time they see a Big Issue seller? Or one of those chuggers? They look more threatening half the time than this small framed middle-aged man. But then, Jean Charles had no padded jacket on and did not jump over any tube barriers, as was first alleged. He was not even carrying the dreaded rucksack. But he was the wrong colour. The colour of a terrorist.

They spotted me watching and I felt myself get worked up. I wanted to cause a scene.  To let people know what was going on here. I said ‘Racists’ out loud. They heard me and none of the armed men could look at me in the eye. But an Asian bobby who had turned up couldn’t stop eyeballing me. I stared right back. 

After reading all his personal papers, and telling him they thought he could be a terrorist, they had to admit they had found nothing. They formed a ring around him. They could see me watching, so they blocked my view. The biggest of them was laughing and asking where he should go next? ‘To the next brown man’, I suggested. He ignored me. People walked by but no one could see what was happening because they had ringed him in. It was clear now that he was not carrying a bomb- so now they formed a tighter ring around him- to hide what? The fact that they had been searching a man based on the colour of his skin, perhaps?

After half an hour the armed police officers left. Two plain clothes were left taking his details and the Asian bobby kept eye balling me. I had nothing to hide. I eyeballed him back. Eventually they walked away and the man was left crouching in the street putting his things away. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. Asked him if he was fine. I did not want to scare him. I told him I had seen what had happened. He seemed wary and said yes he was fine. I said I would have been scared, I was scared because of how many men there were. And his eyes started to fill with tears and he said yes he was scared but he was okay. He asked me my name and where I was from. He said he did not understand why he had been stopped. I told him it was because he was carrying a rucksack, he did not understand what that word meant, and because he was brown. He understood that with resignation.

Just as I was asking him if he needed anything the Asian bobby turned up again. They had been sitting in the police car watching me. He looked down at where I was crouched with the man and asked me if I was okay. I said ‘yes thank you fine’. He would not move. He looked at my brown paper bag from the teashop in Neal Street. There was a terracotta tea pot in there and some jasmine tea. I told him I did not have a bomb and would he like to arrest me for being brown too. He said nothing. I said I am having a private conversation please would you go away. He said I heard you called us ‘racists’ and I wanted to explain that we are not and I am Asian as well. Good for you, I said. You stopped this man because of the colour of his skin. He started to say no and get quite pushy. Provocative, I would call it. I was not going to be riled. I told him I was exercising my human right to have a private conversation, he was disturbing this, he had no legal right to stop me from speaking to someone and to go away. He would not go away. He said he wanted to explain to me why they had stopped this man. Perhaps he thought I was from the press. Perhaps he thought this would go further. I turned my back on the bobby and finished my conversation with the man. I wandered dazed and upset into Tesco to get away from the meddling bobby, who would not even let me extend some generosity to the man they had just harassed.

After aimlessly moving through chillier cabinets and food aisles, I went to leave and there he was, resilient, by the entrance, with his white charity bucket. He was not making any noise. Just silently standing there with his bucket collecting for charity.  We spoke some more. He seemed stunned but he thanked me for being kind to him.

This incident is a sharp reminder of what the so-called ‘war on terror’ has done to us. Take this incident and change a few variables. The man had a beard and was wearing Muslim dress. The man was younger, resented being stopped, and resisted the police.  The man had no papers to prove who he was. The man didn’t speak any English. The man had a Koran on him and anti-war literature. The man knew people who wanted to teach him a lesson for annoying his neighbours, and who reported on him. All these and you are one step closer, perhaps, to cases like those of Baber Ahmad and Shaker Aamer, who is still languishing in Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Wrong place, wrong time, and most definitely the wrong colour.

tearing up.

Really worthwhile read.

(via numol)

Harry Potter and the Complicated Identity Politics


J.K. Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism.

What are the politics of Harry Potter? The rift in the magical world described over the course of J.K. Rowling’s epic pits the young wizard and his companions against the terrorizing, fascistic Lord Voldemort, who seeks to “cleanse” the wizarding community of “mudbloods,” those witches and wizards born into non-magical families. Parallels to the Holocaust and other genocides and apartheid regimes are easy to draw.


But Rowling’s ideology cannot simply be described as anti-racist, for as strongly as she condemns racially-motivated violence, Harry Potter remains a classic work of fantasy. And fantasy is a literary genre intent, above almost all else, on the reassuring order of classification and categorization, of blood lines and inheritances.

Though we’re meant to abhor Voldemort’s obsession with “pure” blood lines, father-to-son inheritances are crucial to fulfilling Harry’s destiny as savior of the magical community. The “Deathly Hallows” referred to in the title of the seventh book are three medieval magical objects made by pureblood brothers and thought to allow their owners to avoid death. Toward the end of the book, Harry learns he is the rightful heir to one of the hallows and can access the two others as well. So the boy wizard tasked with fighting the pureblood ideology is himself a descendent of one of the most prestigious families in magical history. The plot device is too conventional to be ironic, and fits squarely within the fantasy tradition of ascribing high-born histories to even the most humble heroes. Think of Aragorn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Like Tolkien, Rowling depicts a variety of magical species in addition to human wizards. Tolkien unabashedly racialized his magical beings; Tall, pale Elves spoke a beautiful Latinate tongue; little Hobbits were simple, fun-loving, loyal folk; and dark-skinned “southern” human tribes sided in battle with orcs, savage creatures no better than animals.

Rowling’s world isn’t all that different. A magical species called Veelas are high-born, fairy-like creatures who seduce men and possess unnatural, silvery-white beauty. Over the course of the books, the young wizards do learn to respect house elves, a species in slavery to human masters. Yet even in freedom, the elves’ personalities are depicted as fundamentally servile. A rather pathetic elf named Kreacher feels his subordination so keenly that when he fails in tasks assigned to him by Harry, he beats himself to a pulp. We’re meant to feel sorry for Kreacher, but elves have no agency—they owe even their liberation movement to humans.

The position of women in the narrative fits this vision of prescribed social roles and hierarchies. Harry’s heroes—his school headmaster, godfather, and various magical sporting figures—are all men. His dead mother, the Muggle-born Lily, is portrayed as the source of love and sacrifice in his life, while his late father, James, was daring, brash, and heroic. The books do strike some blows against gender stereotypes, portraying brave female warriors, a number of uncommonly cruel and violent female characters, and, of course, Harry’s best friend Hermione, a heroine because of her ability to turn academic acumen into practical magical solutions. But on the whole, Rowling’s wizarding society conforms to boringly conventional gender roles. Dads, like the loveable Mr. Weasley (father of red-headed sidekick Ron), go off to work while steadfast moms stay home cooking, cleaning, and rearing large families. Magical education doesn’t begin until the age of 11, so witches are also tasked with full-time parenting and educational responsibilities over young children, Rowling clarified for a curious reader at her website.

The best window into how Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism is the acrimony between humans and goblins, an important plot device in book seven. Goblins in the series are humanoid beings (they can mate with people) skilled at forging metal and protecting valuables. Harry and Ron distrust goblins, but the naïve Hermione reminds them that wizards have been cruel to goblins throughout history, provoking bad behavior from the creatures. Against his better instincts, Harry cuts a deal with the goblin Griphook: In exchange for help in obtaining a magical object deep with a protected vault, Harry will give Griphook a valuable medieval sword he has inherited. But Harry soon learns goblin ideas of ownership are different than human ideas; while people believe they own an object once they pay for it and can pass it to whomever they like, goblins believe a valuable object must be returned to its creator—often a goblin—upon its purchaser’s death. Thus, Griphook steals the sword from Harry without fully upholding his end of the bargain. The ultimate judgment is that whole categories of creatures, even those whose blood is intermingled in the human race, cannot be trusted.

Of course, one could make the argument that Rowling is “color-blind;” her minor characters sport a variety of ethnic names—Anthony Goldstein, Parvati Patil, Cho Chang. But even as Rowling attempts to neutralize race by presenting a diverse cast of young wizards, she creates a world in which some beings are born into stereotypes they cannot overcome and that render them inherently inferior. This is, unfortunately, par for the course in the fantasy genre, in which pretend humanoid species have too often been used as a cover for our reactionary assumptions about different types of real people.

The hierarchical, patriarchal undertones of the fantasy genre will likely be lost on children caught up in Harry’s quest to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. The series is great fun, and I wouldn’t deny anyone the pleasure of reading these books. But the politics of Harry Potter, while broadly anti-authoritarian, are far more complicated at the level of individual identity, and cannot be described as progressive. Perhaps this is why science fiction is ultimately a more radical genre than fantasy. While fantasy looks backwards for its myths and mores, sci-fi looks forward. So here’s hoping the next J.K. Rowling washes her hands of Tolkien and, perhaps in her next series of books, popularizes Madeline L’Engle instead.

(Source: aliveforalittlewhile)