Arguing with my white father always becomes a competition for assertion of power. He seems to comprehend his position as father as being my absolute ruler, and in turn, I understand this mentality to be an assertion of his perceived white power.
Like many white men, my father makes himself out to be the ultimate victim. He studies black people, he’ll say-- he’s “too intellectual” to be racist; but he jokes about his white privilege when people are nice to him. “Entre-Blancs,” he’ll say to explain being able to write a check at a gas station, or being given the keys to a house he’s about to buy, before any papers are signed.
When I first read Colonize This! I was very surprised by how many of the women writing had white fathers, and how they were more than happy to acknowledge this without it affecting their own identity as women of color. Obviously, I began thinking about my own white father, the effect that he’s had on my life, and his relationship with my black mother. Obviously, in a hetero-relationship where the male is white male and the woman is of color, the history of colonialism manifests itself within the confines of this one couple. Is it fair to say that the projection of white-supremecy and patriarchy are all the fault of the white male? If this is how he was raised, is it really completely fair to blame him for this?
I had a (white) boyfriend who got mad at me when I was loud around his white friends. It was the manifestation of the negative stereotype that black women are loud, he argued, and believed that, surely I, of all people, should be able to understand that. He also commented that I’m no where near as loud when I was around my friends of color. I tried to explain it to him. “Being loud is about more than just volume” I’d say, “It’s about making sure that I’m heard.” Of course, he didn’t hear that. He, being raised with his mother’s southern mentality, offered logically that if I “would just spend a day or two, and try to control [your] volume, you’d understand that you really don’t need to.” So I tried it, and I wasn’t heard. I wasn’t surprised.
Honestly, I didn’t understand the tensions between my parents relationship until things between Karl and I started to dissolve. My mother told me to stay away from him, because he was so much like my father. There are times that I wish I’d listened; others that I’m glad I didn’t.
The assertion of power over an individual by another individual should always be something to be examined thoroughly. Colonialism rears its ugly little head throughout all earthly existence. When one fully understands the complete ramifications of their own actions, living becomes difficult. The clothes on our backs, the ointments on our skin, everything we could possibly spend our money on, it seems, becomes politicized.
Should we be more concerned with the third-world women's' fingers bleeding from making our shoes, or the
californian cows' lives whose lives were taken to produce them? Which should take precedence?
"Mass assertion of power onto any group of beings is deplorable."
Blanket statements are difficult, indeed, to accept. However, looking back into human history, in incidences wherein humans felt entitled to project their power onto other peoples using mass force and violence, the general consensus is that, though deplorable, humans are merely "human," and that we ought to learn from history.
It seems to me, that is has only been recently that humans have been able to develop an international collective in which the categorization of "human" was enough to qualify as deserving of "human rights." Of course, not everybody feels this way, the genocide in Sudan alone is evidence against the potential universality of this idea.
However, in an increasing globalized existence, logic stands that in order for humankind to be able to "learn from history," we must all start the process by looking within. That is, if throughout history we have come to be able to acknowledge and understand that all humans have feelings, and are deserving of certain inalienable rights such as food, shelter, clothing, and the ability to care for their young, why is it not that we aren't willing to look past our basis for our collective.
There are living, sentient, loving, caring, feeling beings slaughtered on a daily basis without second thought. There are multibillion dollar industries in this country alone that profit on little other than the unwillingness of humans to expand their horizons and take a second look, and see the world beyond what they've been taught to believe.
Suffering doesn't stop with humankind, colonialism is a disease from which we all suffer, and as long as there are people capable of consciously deciding to cause harm to a sentient, loving, caring, feeling being, humankind can never be at peace.
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