Monday, January 29, 2007

Where We're Going Wrong

I disagree, morally, ethically, and otherwise with the whole post-modernist construction that C*UUYAN through 25 Beacon Street calls anti-racism/anti-oppression.

Let's talk about anti-racism on this post specifically.

Yes, I know that as a person NOT of color I benefit more in certain circumstances than someone OF color.

I hasten to even use these terms because, as Rich Mackin points out, person of color as well as African-American are white guilt terms. In my humble opinion, it ought to be all one way or all another. I don't wish to be called a Caucasian, because it's technically not correct. A Caucasian is someone from the Caucus Mountain range in Europe--a place which likely I have not relatives or kin. I could be an English-American if I wish, as could probably half of the white population. I could be an Irish-American, as could probably more than half of the white population of the USA. I could be a Scotch/Irish-Irish-English-American, which is technically what I am--but that is quite a mouthful isn't it?

"White". "Black". Though technically incorrect, they do identify quite keenly. And in one syllable.

I tend to use black when I am referring to someone who is of African descent. And in all honesty, except for the black middle class, I see few uses of these white guilt terms amongst other Black folk. I often hear much ruder phrases instead that I will not repeat because I perceive of them, as do several in the community, as epithets rather than reclaimed terms of endearment.

Let me pose the question: why rip the scab off of the racism that each of us holds inside ourselves? We are human, thus we are racist. We are human, thus we are homophobic. I know openly LGBT people who are homophobic. But does knowing the ways in which we are subconsciously lying to ourselves help us or hurt us in the long run?

I mean, anti-racism work, while well-intentioned, is kind of like this to me: it's like saying to every human being--you're flawed inherently, and here's why. We all have flaws because we are all human beings, but I think every person should come to his/her own conclusions.

I'm beginning to believe that every person must come to his/her own realization of whatever prejudices he/she may hold and that nothing I or anyone else says makes any difference at all. At best, all it does it foster guilt. At worst, it makes a person defensive and hold fast to conviction.

In my opinion, anti-racism work runs counter to what we think as Unitarians, which is thusly: a person has a right to his/her own way of belief. Anti-racism work is dogmatic in its own way: it says we're right and you're wrong. Whether we admit it or not, there is a dogmatic quality to Unitarianism. And I shy far away from anything dogmatic.

It was why I became a Unitarian in the first place. Dogmatic religions say: we think, so you don't have to.

I'd prefer thinking for myself, thank you.

3 comments:

Bart said...

Your LGBT friends are not homophobic but more likely heterosexist. They don't fear themselves or other LGBT people (I'm assuming from the way you used to term), rather they subtlely or not so subtlely give more power to heterosexuals. That's call internalization. We all internalize aspects of our identity based on society. I suggest looking into other non-UU resources to get a better understanding. "Uprooting Racism" is a good one, as is "Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society".

jim said...

I agree with you that the UUA's anti-racism efforts are not on the right track, but I don't know all the answers myself. Racism, or maybe more accurately ethnocentrism, is a big issue to me, as I am part of a mixed ethicity family. I have an adopted daughter who is latina. In Georgia, it can be dangerous to be latino and there is a great deal of prejudice.

Because of my concerns and my interest in the latino community, I tried getting involved with the Racial and Ethic Concerns group at UUCA, but just found it frustrating. The meetings were always highjacked by one person and it was really about white and black relations, and I seemed to be the only person with an interest in the latino community. So, after trying to take part in the "Learning to Be White" book study for a few meetings, I dropped out and have not found any other UU outlet for my need to get involved.

Comrade Kevin said...

Jim,

And none of us have.

That's what we're trying to work on, but it will take a larger effort to circumvent the ideas of C*UUYAN and 25 Beacon Street.

It can be done, but it will take a lot of people and a lot of time.