Monday, May 14, 2007

To Malakim

I saw this comment on Kaya's post:

"Riot?
You're angry and that's understandable and perfectly legitimate. Be angry.
But be angry to yourself and to your friends, not to the people you're trying to convince that Harvard is a racist school and that racism is still a reality.
Anger begets anger, do we really need a reminder of that? All of the elements of this blog post--rage, swearing, flippant comments--well, let's just say I hope none of your "racist" friends in Cabot see this. This is not a resolution-oriented post, but will only fuel the flames and convince people that you really are exaggerating things and psychotic and playing the victim. Which I know are not true.
Here's to hoping your next post has more logic and less rage. Because everything you said is right on, but you sure don't give whites much reason to believe you."
..and wanted to take a little time to respond, not only to this Malakim person, but to those who share his line of thought..

Oh Malakim, if you had read both Kaya's post and my own and looked at it, a big part is the fact that yes, we are angry about what has happened and that, surprisingly enough, we have a right to be. The only injustice is not what has happened, but the fact that we, as black Harvard students, are expected to sit idly and politely by while the feelings of hurt, violation and discrimination that we have just continue to fester inside of us.

Sorry if this sort of show of emotions will not convince people that we are "right." Unfortunately the "right"ness in many situations like this is not very clear- I shouldn't have to create a post filled with some (probably western) idea of logic in order to convince those who I feel are in some way oppressing me that they are, in fact, oppressive. Because guess what? I would have to use logic that makes sense to them, logic that is steeped in Western (often imperialist) thought, riddled with ideas about how and why society is structured.

You say that our anger is perfectly justifiable and legitimate, but that we should keep it to ourselves and our friends, and hide it from the sight of those we should be soothingly convincing to stop their racist behaviors. Well sorry, Malakim, that is just not acceptable. This line of thinking perpetuates the silence that stifles social movements and supports discrimination. There all sorts of forms of social protest, and anger (and showing real human emotion and vulnerability, because after all, I am a person, a human with real feelings and I should not have to hide that in a mechanical show of academic logic) is a perfectly reasonable one.

I, for one, prefer to keep my anger public.

6 comments:

kaya said...

brittany, this is why we are blogging partners. you read my mind. i was going to ask you to respond, but you are one step ahead!!! i don't even think i have anything to add. except maybe that i don't think our job is to convince people who disagree with us. maybe our role is to convince people who DO agree that they don't have to be silent.

Gayatri said...

yea, i mean.. racist people are always being as un-silent as they damn want already, so i dont think politely and "logically" expressing our thoughts would actually be productive. in fact it hasn't been, no one listens unless they're provoked. to a large extent, we need to fight fire with fire. this anger is a retaliation, not an attack.

Deborah said...

ok not exactly directly related, but i wish people would realize that not meaning to be offensive or not meaning to be racist doesn't make you not offensive or not racist. slash... i heart brittany and kaya.

Malakim said...

Look, I’m angry too. I’m angry that as a white person you can’t see this from my perspective. I’m angry because I don’t think you have the slightest clue of what 95% of white people think when they read your blog post.

Did you stop and think that maybe whites and so-called “model minorities” will look upon your words and go, “Oh god, another angry black person"? Did you stop and think that the vast majority of whites will look upon the content of your blog and use it to reinforce all the damaging and subjugating stereotypes that they have internalized about black people—that many of them are angry, loud, prone to violence and have a stick up their ass?

I’m angry that as a white person, I can’t bring up the topic of race in a group of whites (unless they are very well educated) and NOT have somebody spout some ridiculous stereotype about underrepresented minorities or affirmative action or Al Sharpton. And I’m angry that every time I try to convince my woefully ignorant white friends that they’re being irrational, insensitive, and just plain dumb, they allude to blogs like this one to affirm why they are right and I am wrong.

It’s time for you two to get over yourselves and really confront this topic, instead of merely continuing to validate your own feelings. I am on your side here, dammit, and this is NOT the way to make headway on this issue.

kaya said...

malakim, we get where you're coming from, believe me. and we're completely and totally aware of all of the various implications of the language we use, of the way we frame each debate, of the metaphors we use in our speech, etc. etc. etc. that being said, this is not about us "needing to get over ourselves" and i would encourage you to keep reading the blog if you're curious to find out what it's really about, because lets face it, this just started like, yesterday. we still have a lot more to say.

but what i will say in answer to your disapproval is simply that we have different goals, and i think each of those goals has its place in society. there are already plenty of people out there in the world using so-called "reasonable" and "fair and balanced" language to discuss these issues. with so far mixed results, i'd have to say. we're here to expand the range of allowable discourse a little bit. anger may not always be productive, but it is certainly useful in certain situations, and there is currently very little space for it in political dialogue. we want that to change.

kelly lee said...

also, Mal is not bringing much positivity. I don't like the negativity Mal, not at all. Maybe you should be a little less ragefull and a little more logical?? ahem... I hate everything.