Comtemplating "White Intrusion into POC Safe Spaces"

From Stuff White People Do:
There are no rules, there are no books- laws or regulations to govern situations such as these but know this. Your presence, your color… your willingness to invade another’s space because you can, has a negative effect on those Poc at the event. Hipster signifies to me, that whites are trying desperately to be anything other than the whites they are. And they’re looking to non-whites as a means of bolstering that image; particularly by patronizing events most whites would avoid altogether.

Until recently certain country clubs and neighborhoods were off-limits to non-whites. Minorities were purposely steered away from districts set aside for whites by banks and real-estate agents. In your hubris not only do you claim the right to exclude non-whites from your spaces, but you extend your privilege to non-white venues as well. You have been conditioned by privilege to have your cake and eat it too.

There are no safe places for minorities to just be themselves without whites initiating formal proceedings to include themselves in the affair. You must be the center of attention and you must be integrated into everything because your interests are paramount. You can’t even conceive of an occasion where you’re not wanted- it’s beyond your scope to even consider such an idea.

Let me break it down for you.

People of Color have been enduring racial oppression at the hands of White People (YOUR people) for centuries. About 400 years worth. Because of this long and STILL ACTIVE history of oppression, White people (YOUR people) still to this day wield an extroardinary amount of power to intimidate and coerce People of Color just by walking into a room filled with POC's.

Individually you may feel you are just another person showing up to "jam" with other persons, but your white skin and your white culture and the white privilege you bring with you acts like a huge frequency jammer to people of color's ability to relax and drop their guard in the presence of your whiteness.

YOUR whiteness.

Is that fair? No. It's not at all fair. It's RACISM. That is what Racism makes people do and that is how Racism makes POC's feel.

Some WP (probably most) may believe this is POC's problem not theirs, that they aren't about to be blamed for whatever bad thing somebody ELSE has been up to for the last 400 years (it's never THEM you see, always somebody else). And other WP are not about to let somebody else's silly fears about whitefolks breaking into their space just to shame and gawk stop them from enjoying a good block party! But these are the WP who don't give a fuck how POC's feel and don't claim to.

The WP who claim to CARE about not causing POC's further racial humiliation must take an entirely different attitude.

You have to understand what you are walking into when you walk into a non-white space as a White Person. You are walking into a community that has endured a centuries long global campaign of color-coded disenfranchisment and exploitation. One which confers POWER and DOMINION of white bodies over brown ones. White bodies like YOURS. Over brown bodies like THEIRS.

You will be walking into a safe space for the POC's present. And by safe I mean Safe-from-WhitePeople's-Sneering-Importuning-Harassing-Bullshit.

Until you understand and ACCEPT that THAT legacy is what you carry around with you everywhere you go, and that THAT legacy is what POC who don't know you must respond to and negotiate with you thru...then and only then can you begin to conceive of the mindfulness required for YOU to enter into non-white spaces as a white person.
Now, for white folks reading this and feeling concerned with those last three or four paragraphs, remember something about POC life in America.  White people - in the past and for now - are everywhere.  On every channel, in damn near every film, on the top shelves of most the of government and most corporations.  We are constantly being told white people are ubiquitous and perfect, even though they're neither and never have been.  But we have their presence and their perfection propaganda drilled into us daily.  Again...for now.

So, for now, POC need times and places where there are no white people desperately trying to convince us of their complete and utter necessity.  We need times and places where we don't really have to deal with any of you at all.  It's what keeps some of us sane sometimes.

Comments

  1. This is not an easy concept to understand for white people, because at least 99.8% of them would say- "Hey! And you said segregating people was wrong! If we can't have all-white spaces without being called racist, how come you can??? You are the one who are racist! blah blah blah".

    The problem is, it's not the same. The power is not the same, the privilege is not the same. Of course, it sucks on a personal level, and no, I don't think it's a good thing, but the sooner people learn to face reality the sooner they will be ready to, perhaps, change something.

    But I am not trying to pretend I am happy to see a post like this one, because of at least 2 reasons. First, I don't think it's a good idea to exclude certain group of people per se, for any reason, even if they belong to a dominant, oppressing group.

    And second, it is sad to know these safe places are needed for POC to feel safe, relaxed and sane.

    PS-On a personal level, I'd be disappointed to learn I am not allowed to go on a concert or an event I am interested about just because I'm white. But if you're not wanted somewhere you are not wanted there and it's not like you can do anything about it. It's not like you *must* be welcomed everywhere or that people *must* love you. Oh wait, it's not "you", it's your skin colour. You don't feel you should be discriminated on the spot just because of it. Now where did I hear this before?

    PPS-I still believe segregation is a bad no matter what, but I won't pretend I don't understand this one better than "all white clubs".

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  2. Amen, Amen and A-Men! I don't know that these 2 could have expressed my feelings any better. It's about my sanity sometimes. Prolonged exposure to them makes me cranky and unpleasant.

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  3. @ Mira

    On a personal level, I'd be disappointed to learn I am not allowed to go on a concert or an event I am interested about just because I'm white. But if you're not wanted somewhere you are not wanted there and it's not like you can do anything about it. It's not like you *must* be welcomed everywhere or that people *must* love you. Oh wait, it's not "you", it's your skin colour. You don't feel you should be discriminated on the spot just because of it. Now where did I hear this before?

    If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying white people have no problem playing the exclusive card towards people of color, but the moment POC engage in what I call "Colorful Flight", they get upset and start singing the discrimination song, and make it sound like racism is all POC's fault, and that they're the ones being oppressed by us.

    First, I don't think it's a good idea to exclude certain group of people per se, for any reason, even if they belong to a dominant, oppressing group.

    And second, it is sad to know these safe places are needed for POC to feel safe, relaxed and sane.


    We didn't build the system; we just deal with the side effects. As you said, if you're not wanted somewhere, you're not wanted and there's nothing you can do about it. POC have dealt with that for centuries. WP may not like this particular side effect, but they can go to hell.

    And yes, it is sad, but also an unfortunate necessity.

    PPS-I still believe segregation is a bad no matter what, but I won't pretend I don't understand this one better than "all white clubs".

    You don't live in America, and that's something you should be grateful for. As an Eastern European, you'd be bombarded with idiot questions about vampires, why you're so mean to the gypsies, and if your country looks like that hellhole they saw in Hostel.

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  4. If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying white people have no problem playing the exclusive card towards people of color, but the moment POC engage in what I call "Colorful Flight", they get upset and start singing the discrimination song, and make it sound like racism is all POC's fault, and that they're the ones being oppressed by us.

    Exactly. I saw this happening a lot. Whenever a situation like this occurs, there will always be many insulted/hurt/offended white people who complain about "why can't we (insert here)? It's not fair!" Some of them do that spontaneously, when they feel it's not fair to be excluded just because of your skin colour (nobody likes that after all). Some of them do that because they did their PC homework and they did read a bit about equality so they know "white only (insert here)" are racist and bad- so they assume "black only" have the same connotation so they are confused why blacks can do something but they can't.

    Now, most of the times they are right: it's not fair. But that IS the whole point, isn't it? IT IS NOT FAIR. Why can't they realize POC feel the same way when they treat them like this- over and over again- with even more power and control and consequences? Isn't that unfair too?

    You don't live in America, and that's something you should be grateful for. As an Eastern European, you'd be bombarded with idiot questions about vampires, why you're so mean to the gypsies, and if your country looks like that hellhole they saw in Hostel.

    Tell me about it. Now, my country is even more specific, since we were on the news in the worst possible light just a decade or decade and a half ago, so trust me, vampires are good comparing to other stereotypes.

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  5. I've been taking a vacation from SWPD and focusing on my online happy safe space. That post has a tone of comments, I might try to read some if it doesn't get to Faily.

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  6. I'll be totally honest and admit after reading this I felt a flash of what only could be described as powerful white privilege (or left over cultural conditioning to accommodate/compensate white folk) at play here in my subconscious mind. For a split second there I felt bad for white people, almost as if they shouldn't be allowed to feel this, like white pain is somehow (more painful, better pain?) than coloured folks. Because from personal experience as a WOC I know being discriminated against on the basis of skin colour sucks. But because I've been engaged in this bull, I can check that feeling/influence at the gate, and put egalitarian leanings aside for a moment. I would be lying if I said when I walked into a bastion of white culture (for instance when I go play tennis, I've even felt it at my dance studio of 12 years) that I would feel wanted. It just doesn't happen. I feel all the eyes gravitate towards me, especially if I'm the only PoC in a space where one (nonPoC) would not expect to find a POC. So, I totally get safe places.

    What they don't understand is that almost every space is for white people, it's groomed to be for white people and bounce back white images so granted it does suck on a individual basis, but I suppose white folk just found one downside to the system for them.

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