On Tumblr, and seriously on Tumblr and nowhere else, a Black person or other person of colour or member of any group often marginalized, is called a “social justice warrior” for discussing our very own lives and sociopolitical issues which directly impacts us, people we care about or the human condition itself. I’ve…not experienced this on Facebook (when I had one), Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress etc.
And, let’s be very clear here; there IS a different cultural ethos amidst Tumblr where many people are sharing fascinating writing—essays, stories, rants and incredibly important images, graphs, art and more that often speaks to a greater passion and/or intellect than connected use on other platforms. Twitter somewhat captures this, but content size constraints means that certain depths aren’t always reached. For this reason, I avidly use Twitter AND Tumblr, as their purposes overlap but aren’t identical. This differing cultural ethos on Tumblr means that a different type of cyber bully is born.
How racist Whites (and people of colour with internalized White supremacist thought) on Tumblr use the phrases “social justice” and “social justice warrior” mimics how sexist men (and women with internalized sexist thought) on Tumblr use the word “feminist.” They are uncomfortable with any challenge to the status quo (living our lives and writing about them in the way we do IS challenging the status quo; we’re supposed to co-sign bigotry that destroys us and many Black people [and others] refuse to do so) and are attempting to use what power they think they have to re-brand very normal labels into slurs. (Remember, racist, capitalism-obsessed Whites turned the words “communist” and “socialist” into slurs.)
In such instances, I am reminded of the words of James Baldwin:You have not described me when you call me a nigger or when you call me a Negro leader. You have only described yourself.
When Whites and men go about the business of trying to negatively re-brand normal labels, they think they are reclaiming power from those who dared to…LIVE. (As if us daring to LIVE means that the White supremacist capitalist patriarchy that we live in has evaporated. They equate having hurt feelings over us rejecting bigotry as their “oppression.”) However, what they say about me is solely about themselves. It really is. It’s their issues…their problems with the realization of the full experiences that are outside of the status quo, and the pain they have at the reality that there’s no going back. (Notice how often Whites and men speak of “the good ol’ days,” which usually means fantasy over a time where fewer rights for people of colour and women were the norm.) And as for Tumblr, these types can’t stop people from writing and living; they can’t stop people from fighting for what’s important, by whatever means people feel is most prudent. They can’t even truly alter the climate of Tumblr. They’ve failed. So…what else to do but bully? What else to do but attempt to redefine terms so that people will run far away from them? That’s a “win” for some of them.
If a racist White person thinks calling me a “social justice warrior” is the friendly way of saying “nigger” or a man thinks calling me a “feminist” is the friendly way of saying “bitch,” again, that’s their problem. I’m not interested in dodging labels to make insecure people feel secure again. (Also, anyone who chooses not to use such labels for themselves have the right to said choice.) At the same time, I know that descriptors such as “passionate about social justice” (which is a bare bones inclusive term, and I clarifiy further when speaking of particular issues) and “Womanist” only scratch the surface of describing who I am, as they provide the ideological framework, but do not in detail describe who I am. They don’t know who I am because they don’t know who they are; at all. Many Whites and men cannot say who they are outside of what White privilege and male privilege has afforded them to believe. Who are they? They don’t know.
I know that speaking about racism, sexism and more that directly impacts my life, and writing essays about my life, the way White bloggers and male bloggers do all of the time—write about their lives—doesn’t make said story an abstract “social justice issue” and even me choosing to use such a tag to sort the post doesn’t invalidate the true, lived and real experiences of my life.
The ignorant, the inept, the reactionary, the status quo-loving, afraid to figure out just WHO they are types of people interested in using “social justice warrior” as a slur should find better hobbies. Their attempt to derail a train that’s been moving forward long before Tumblr existed, or before we young writers existed, is flawed and would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.
This. This. This. My fellow white people, read this shit. STOP reasserting your privilege by declaring anyone that is challenging it a social justice warrior.
The word “cracker” doesn’t usually pour out of me until I am too angry and have lost all patience. It especially doesn’t often come out of me in front of other people, except on my political blogs.
What white people, white-passing folks, and non-white people need to know about this term is that there are exceptions to many rules. And when a Black persyn, such as myself calls a racist white person/white passing person/anti-Black person a cracker, me talking about my experiences and expressing myself is not about you.
A cracker is
- a white person, one who is racist and unapologetic about it usually
- a white person who is bitter or agitated when Black people/other PoC/non-white people talk about their experiences, denounce white privilege, and institutional power, and stand up against oppression
- someone plain and uninspired like a mild saltine, usually a racist white person
Exquisite. This is a part of her open letter to Cynthia Mort, the director of the Nina Simone film. This is EXACTLY the sentiment I feel when I wrote my post White Women and White Privilege: Telling Them NO. Until things like this change (which cannot even occur since so many White women are actively engaged in these attacks [yet ironically see them as flattery or kindness] on Black women, from their smallest fashion blogs, fashion editorials, and artwork to major motion pictures) the concept of inclusive, intersectional feminism or sisterhood are academic and theoretical exercises at best, not reality.(via gradientlair)
I love how I am supposed to pretend that racism is only facilitated through the speech and actions of White men, that only White men have White privilege, and that only White men benefit from White supremacy in our society.
When I used to blog on Wordpress a couple of years ago, there was a White woman who got really angry about one of my posts. I mentioned that I don’t like when people create an entire blog post just to say why they have been gone from their blog (especially when nothing eventful happened in the hiatus). Nobody cares. Just come back with a great post or photo. Then we care again. When a popular White male business blogger named Chris Brogan mentioned the same thing (which I found out after my post), everyone cheered of course. Yet I did, and this woman came to snatch my wig!
She blogged layers of insults (and used my name in the post) and got other mediocre (and I say this based on the content I saw on their blogs, not just to be mean) bloggers to cosign with her. What’s interesting is a few White male bloggers started following my blog or commented/emailed me to tell me that they agreed with my point (probably because they saw the same point mentioned on Brogan’s blog back then). However, other White women cyber high-fived her; called me “spoiled” and “privileged.” What?
All of this over a post that I really didn’t think was even remotely controversial, especially compared to what I blog now?
She included a photo of a monkey on a keyboard as the photo to accompany the article. I reported this to WordPress, and in Tumblr’s style, of course they ignored this. Now, if a White male had done this, it would be deemed racist and outrageous by some, though of course WordPress would’ve still done nothing.
I’ve said this over and over but ultimately, my day to day problems are with White women and their microaggressions and lack of recognition of White privilege and Black men with their street harassment. This is the Monday through Sunday type of stuff. And again, this does not mean that ideologies, systems and institutions in a White supremacist capitalist patriarchal society that primarily benefit wealthy, heterosexual, able-bodied White men do not also hurt me. These aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m simply talking about daily social interactions. Daily. DAILY.
I keep thinking about the negative racialized statements from the likes of Tina Fey, Lina Dunham and Ashley Judd that I am supposed to ignore because these women make White women feel empowered. Please.Black Feminists and Womanists are Black and Female at all times 24/7 we do not choose to be Black in the day time and women at night.
When I encounter White women who truly understand racism, White privilege, and microagressions, who are consistently trying to unpack, deconstruct, challenge and change these, it’s somewhat relieving. However, even some who identify as feminists aren’t embracing feminism intersectionally.
I won’t even mention the current headache of Abigail Fisher and white privilege. So many other bloggers have got this one covered, and have written about it so well.
So Mary Wollstonecraft tweeted me on Twitter just now, because of my response to this. Or rather some bitch pretending to be Mary Wollstonecraft.
Don’t get me wrong Frankenstein (her daughter probably being a product of her own feminism) was great and everything, but this woman is not revolutionary, especially not in this day and age. Get off the pedestal.
“that’s your privilege”…. OH MY GODLY FUCK what??
And I certainly don’t need a dead white woman, or someone posing as her, telling me about privilege.
Is this a Vindication of the Rights of Woman or a vindication of white women to continue to think they’re the center of and default expression of feminism?
heh. I don’t think I have ever seen someone tweet to someone who is dead.. though I’m wondering if it is a bot that responds to her name.
I wrote a post about White women and white privilege a few days ago—about how dealing with microaggressions and racism from them is often something I’m expected to ignore, and process racism as something that can only come from White men. From college days to corporate America to daily interactions in places of business to social media, I’m bombarded by experiences with White women that are shaped in everything from microaggressions to casual racism to institutionalized and overt racism. It is not comfortable. It hurts and angers. I find myself saying NO to them (sometimes outright, sometimes just in my mind) often…often like this…
No, I don’t work at this store that we’re both shopping at. You’ll notice that I’m not wearing a name tag and/or uniform for this store. No, I won’t be using my shopping time to help you find something that you are too lazy to find since you won’t ask a clerk that actually works at this store for help.
No, I don’t work at the library that you see me using my phone, iPod, computer or checking out books at, like the other patrons. The six to seven White librarians and clerks in the clerk area of the library do work here. While I’m the only Black face in the library at the moment, it doesn’t then place me in your servant status. No I can’t help you upload photos, make a Facebook page, check email or even figure out how to scan your library card.
No, I don’t think you’re exempt from possibly saying/doing racist things just because you have friends that are people of colour or think celebs who adopt Black children are cool.
No, I don’t know any single Black men as I am not a dating service or finder of Black penis for White women. Besides, if a Black man wants you, he’ll find you/you’ll find him and he’ll be certainly sure to inform me of how he thinks I’m inferior to you.
No, I don’t care or am angry if you “only” date Black men, but I will discuss how White supremacy, Eurocentric beauty myths, white privilege, and racism often impacts said relationships. I probably won’t want to be your friend though as I prefer to avoid headaches as these in my interpersonal relationships. Again, I don’t want to be used as a dating service. I’ve…already had this experience. Many times.
No, I don’t want the Black guy you are with. I’d bet money he doesn’t want me. Thus, there’s no reason to grab him and practically give him a lap dance when I walk by. I am no threat to you. I’m just trying to get to Starbucks, yo.
No, I am not interested in being your makeshift mammy therapist or sidekick. “You is not kind. You is not smart. You is not important.” Well…not any more than anyone else is.
No, I don’t have to talk to you (or anyone else, for that matter) in public spaces, and I am not rude just because I don’t laugh at your “jokes” in elevators, that are often in fact thinly veiled insults against me. No I don’t think the insults and monkey photo you used in a blog post about me are funny.
No, I don’t want to club or party with you. I don’t think being drunk is funny and I don’t want to go to happy hour after work to insult other White women who work at this job, and then have you all insult me when I leave, by asserting that I only got my job because of race.
No, I am not applying to a particular job just to secretly steal your job if I have more education. Either way, you will be paid more, even if we are both paid less than White men, overall. No, it wasn’t my attempt to trick you with my résumé. I can’t account for the fact that you screen for “Black names,” HBCUs, or Facebook photos, and I have none of that for you to have determined that I am Black before the interview.
No, I wasn’t hired as the new receptionist and I’m not from the corporate office cleaning company. I’m actually a project manager like…you know…the White men also hired for this job (who earn at least 10K more than me to double my salary for doing the same work).
No, I won’t pat you on the back when you blatantly appropriate Black culture, especially things specific to Black women and high five you as you use these things as “something cool” without regard to my feelings. I don’t think you appropriating our culture makes you a “fashionista” while it makes me “ghetto.” I don’t care if your particular appropriation makes Black men happy. Further, I won’t let you off the hook just because you cry hot white tears over your worry about being seen as a racist, (despite me not calling you one) instead of actually examining your White privilege.
No, I don’t want to discuss Occupy. I don’t view the 99% as a monolithic group and I know how unreasonable it is to substitute class for race, instead of viewing the multiple intersections of the 99%. I can’t pretend that a homeless person, one making 25K and one making 250K have the same experiences since they are all members of the 99%. I also can’t pretend that race doesn’t impact socioeconomics. While I too want the 1% and the corrosive false meritocracy held accountable and income inequality addressed, I can’t ignore the gaping holes and blind spots in Occupy.
No, I won’t join you on the SlutWalk. Plenty of Black women have written about why this is problematic for us. Further, if you can’t even slightly see how this would be problematic for us, I’m guessing your feminism isn’t one with intersectionality. While I too completely support stigma-free sexual freedom, I know that my perceived sexuality, experiences and rights are born out of a very different story from yours.
No, I don’t think every sociopolitical accomplishment for White women will “magically trickle down” to women of colour, especially poor ones. I don’t think placing White women in every sphere where White men are always means real change and success for women of colour.
No, I don’t think the experiences of all women are always the same and I can’t ignore race, class or sexuality just because we are all women. It all matters. It is not “oppression olympics” just because I speak of my experiences and they’re different from yours.
No, I don’t want to discuss feminism unless it is intersectional. Otherwise it is pointless.
Yes, I know that feminism is a continuum that many aren’t even on at all yet. Conversely, yes, I know that some White women actually are daily unpacking, deconstructing and challenging White supremacy and White privilege (while simultaneously benefiting from them…as privilege works this way) and these behaviors above probably don’t apply to them. (I should know. I talk to several like this on Twitter.) Yes, I know that class, sexuality, ability, and weight affects your experiences, despite White supremacy and having White privilege. I don’t minimize this.
Yes, I know the urge to say “well…all White women don’t do this” is at a virtual itch for you right now…on the tip of your tongue. However, not a single experience above is pulled from anywhere but my life in the last decade. Nothing I write is theory. This is my life.
Oh and finally, no, you can’t touch my hair.
But the Euro-American feminists, being part of the dominant culture, deal with Hispanic women - and other racial/ethnic women - differently from the way they deal with each other. They take for granted that feminism in the USA is THEIR garden, and therefore they will decide what manner of work racial/ethnic women will do there.
By the time I began to experience all this, I had learned much about the dynamics of oppression and prejudice and I could understand what was going on. However, what took me totally by surprise was the inability or unwillingness of the Euro-American feminists to acknowledge their prejudice.
Most feminists ‘believe that because they are feminists, they cannot be racists.’ Euro-American feminists, like all liberals, sooner or later, have come to the point at which they are willing to ‘acknowledge that racism exists, reluctantly of course, but nobody admits to being a racist.’
While whitewashing - pun intended - their personal sins of racism/ethnic prejudice in the restful waters of guilt, they continue to control access to power within the movement. Euro-American feminists need to understand that as long as they refuse to recognize that oppressive power-over is an intrinsic element of their racism/ethnic prejudice, they will continue to do violence to feminism.
- Deal with all the hateful oppressive shit the patriarchy throws @ them based on their gender aka sexism
- Deal with all the hatefull oppressive shit the patriarchy AND racist society throws @ us based on both our gender and race aka racism and sexism
There are also a bunch of other things not accounted for in this very basic ass explanation, such as sexual orientation, ability (mental and physical) class, gender identity etc. which greatly influence this very real struggle
alll oppression is connected but not all oppression is the same, so although we may fight similar struggles we have to respect that some of the oppressions we face are very different from others and give those room to voice our struggle without derailing bullshit
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”- Audre Lorde