I really don’t know how to write what I’m feeling and thinking in ways that do not make assumptions about you. To me it seems writing something from my own point of view only after I filter it through what I think is important, helpful, clearest for, useful, supportive of you, means that I am no longer writing for me- I’m writing for you. I’d like to share space without hurting you, hurling shit, or you having to work to unpack the assumptions. When I look at what I write here, and then I look at dykewife’s (hi dykewife :o) last comment, I am not clear about what’s different besides the length and points of view. I honestly do not understand what is unpacked about her comment. It seems you able to take the words of others at face value, but think mine have several layers of hidden meaning. I’m bringing this up because I want to communicate more clearly in ways that are useful to myself and everyone else here. I don’t want to keep writing and moving “forward” assuming that I’m a contributing usefully... does anyone have any suggestions/insight? I’m going back to the last post I wrote to look at it more critically...Hi LP, thanks for commenting...even if it isn't specifically about the posts that might more closely have to do with our ongoing conversations...
I should let you know that I "met" dykewife through her husband/male partner Bran who I "met" on the dating site. I could describe her but she's got a blog that speaks more clearly to who she is than someone like me, who has only been in contact with her for a short while, ever could.
When she communicates with me via commenting about family, she does not come with collusion, making my peace with inevitabilities, kowtowing to hierarchies and grumbling about it when elders are not around, hoping that it will be over when they are dead so that no one has to openly challenge them...
By her own words she's an out survivor of sexual abuse. I don't get the impression from what she's written that she makes excuses for stuff that goes on in family or that she believes that outsiders, those who might say, read her blog, should not be privy to information about what has happened inside her family.
She writes a little and writes to the point. When I read her words there is not stuff I need to unpack...yet. There might end up being.
Also, I realize that there are definite places where we differ fairly radically. She writes from her perspective and I write from mine. The writing about blood and croning is a good example. On her blog she also defines as a proud canadian blogger. I...do not.
I have an agenda that I'm realizing as I type, though. In blogland because various groups of bloggers or communities of bloggers are white dominated when a blogger or a handful of bloggers emerges who are of colour or specifically Black, there is a way that white folks who have not actively dealt with their racism and white privilege will turn the words of this handful into gold. They will be the imperial standard for all who come after. Their words will be quoted and re-quoted. They will be blogging gods and goddesses.
I find this to be hugely irresponsible and downright idiotic. I'm coming from a place of having entered blogland and encountered a bunch of well educated, but fairly simple bloggers who had decided that a bunch of mostly academic conservative bloggers of colour, specifically Black bloggers would be the standard according to which I was and still am measured.
FUCKING HELL! God did I ever tantrum. In rad feminist circles there are a couple, in left socialist circles there are a few, in artsy blogging circles there are no doubt a handful, in queer blogging circles also a few...gods and goddesses...really gatekeepers, responsible for keeping the bar fairly low, making sure that discourse about anything under the sun doesn't move beyond a particular point where things can be easily discussed in a fairly surface way.
The white bloggers tend to really feel comfortable dropping their names in blogland conversations and these folks get a lot of hits. They're popular. They offer fast and easy rules through which a white blogger can combat racism and white domination. These bloggers only deal with racism and white domination. In feminist circles they incorporate a rudimentary critique of sexism and patriarchy...knee jerk stuff like sex work bad, porn bad, bdsm bad.
Rules of thumb are fairly easy to follow and swallow because really all that is expected is for folks to just do whatever those who are considered popular do. If they say boycott this company, then just do it. It's safer that way and the others will like you.
Asking questions or presenting alternate points of view that differ from the majority is just asking for trouble...critical thinking directed inside ranks=trouble. :)
I realize that the vast majority of Black bloggers who are well known or respected in different blogging circles are amerikkkan. I understand that they share a common culture in lots of ways. They have dealt with me in ways that show they understand their culture, their family structures, their relationship to Black history, their relationships to christianity, their relationship to amerikkkan settler occupier imperialism, their perceptions of The God King, their shame filled relationship to their bodies, to sex and sexuality, their relationship to crass consumerism and capitalism...that they understand all of this as universally Black.
When I came into blogland, I experienced quite a fair amount of oppressive behaviour from bloggers who understood their perceptions of their own Black identities and cultures as universal. They dealt with my blog in ways that spoke droves about their relationship to power and dominance. There were things that happened, things they did and wrote about me that they did not feel the need to unpack because it was clear that I would of course share the same views and understand why they were behaving in various fucked up ways.
But more importantly I watched white bloggers take their cues from the ways these bloggers of colour and Black bloggers dealt with me. If the popular ones, the ones who dominated were attempting to school me and nudge me and my blog more in line, then they must be "right" and I must be "wrong". They (the melanin pigmented blogland dominants) would deal with "their own". I was Black and was therefore theirs to deal with as they liked.
No one would critique their moves based on their obvious amerikkkan cultural imperialism, biases and limited understandings. No one felt comfortable entering a conversation between someone as clearly bad behaved as me and the law in melanin pigmented parts of blogland.
So the culturally biased and rooted ways of being demonstrated by the bloggers of colour and Black bloggers became the standard by which my words could be heard and engaged with...meaning, my words would not be engaged with and if they were, they would only be seen as "wrong".
LP, it has been clear to me for quite some time that you have come filled with a Black amerikkkan experience you do not critique or fully understand. To live inside it does not necessarily mean fully understanding it.
I remember one of the first few things you wrote to me about months and months back was that there are just some things "we" don't talk about in front of white folks. The assumption being that I held true to that rule. The assumption being that you would not have to understand how that rule, when imposed by some on others ends up meaning that way too much is hidden away from view, way too much is not dealt with. Why? Because without the incentive of onlooking others, many are content to just let sleeping dogs lie.
I am not.
One of the things I do habitually, which you are definitely experiencing, is to make sure that anyone who is looking understands that Blackness...the Black experience...the middle passage is not monolithic. I try to point out that the development of that ideal, the unified front is something that comes out of people being encouraged to follow rather than articulate and pursue their own agendas.
I saw some quote online that is ascribed to Patton. I don't know about hired, mind wiped, trained mass murderers who function as tools of imperialist state governments but...
Basically what they quote said was: if everyone believes the same thing, then some folks aren't thinking.
That's pretty much my standpoint. I am in here, LP. I am engaging critically with my identities, with my Blackness, with my Black history, with my (fairly nonexistent) relationship to community, with my relationship to potential friends and/or allies who are middle passage sibs...
If I was not capable of anything more than falling into line behind the elder wimmin in my family I would be so royally screwed. If I was forced to respond according to what makes them happy, I'd be very quietly, painfully angry. My hair would probably be falling out. I've noticed that among the good Black girls I've known and loved, the ones grounded in family, who work hard to always meet the expectations of their elders no matter how fucked these expectations are, the ones who smile even when they want to rage, the ones who always give care and stretch beyond their limits, the ones who turn away from themselves, allopecia is fairly common. I've known a few patchy balding hair thinning good Black girls.
So, here I am attempting to engage you in open conversation that is intelligent, that allows for difference, that allows space for you to fully articulate who you are in ways that do not assume I will understand or share your point of view.
I remember being told something about writing that has always served me well. When you write, write as if the people who will be reading you don't know you, don't understand a thing about you...write fully...don't assume they will understand your references.
Don't assume I understand your cultural references. Don't assume I understand your culture. Don't even assume I would make the same choices you do. Don't even assume that I will agree with your choices or want to support your choices. Because there are massive chasms of experience that separate your middle passage ways from mine it is fair to assume I'm not at all gonna get you or agree with you most days. :) I might grow to care for you. But that caring will always be grounded in full self disclosure and consciousness on both our parts.
If you feel a littl under my microscope I can see why. I am pouring over everything you write with rapt interest and a critical gaze designed to make our conversation into a messy, layered model of what engagement between two people who might seem similar on the surface but who are really quite distinct, can look like. I'm tired of living and loving and blogging and creating in communities of people where connection is predicated on sameness and on turning away from obvious differences.
Of course, if you were to ask your own self "why?" then I wouldn't have to. If you asked yourself questions about who you are presenting to me and how this differs say...from who you present on your blog, or to your family you might end up engaging with what you believe in ways that offers you more information about yourself.
What else is different about your comments and dykewife's comments, LP?
I've been having versions of this same conversation I am presently having with you for over a year now. My conversation with her is a few weeks old. I know more about you and the various difficult things you've done, participated in and allowed to take root in your life. I know what you've participated in here on this blog. I know what you have failed to challenge, too...Julian.
I engage with you from a layered place that honours and remembers and draws from all the places we've been. You seem to be insisting on dealing in the now, completely disconnected from important bits of consciousness grounded in history.
When you approach I am glad to see you. But I know that because compartmentalization seems to be one of the tools you might use to survive, I will end up being the writer of context. The onus will be on me to locate whatever conversation we are presently having in a broader context. I will be the one who tries to drag us out of the land of amnesia and into a place where full conversation can finally happen.
Of course, I do not succeed. :) It seems to me that you're more than comfortable with your compartments. sigh...but I try. Yep. I do try.
So, dykewife of course comes with several layers of meaning. These are layers I will learn over time. My perimeter alarms go off more easily with your layers unverbalized yet still so clearly there because as a good Black heterosexual young/er woman raised in family raised in a christian context raised to "succeed" raised to equate sexualness with failure, I've by this point encountered more than a few of your sisters...pain. I've had these exact same conversations before. I remember them and draw from them in the hopes that maybe I won't have to so often say goodbye as another one draws near.
At some point I'd like to not have to say goodbye. It would be nice to have a conscious politicized grounded open honest brave verbal sexual defiant Black sista friend. I haven't had one of those. I've met lots of wimmin who believed they were. The struggles, as I attempted to invite them to present as who they were and to move from there into understanding how they had been raised and what this had done to them and their possibilities for actually forging powerful alliances with me...were epic.
There are some wimmin who have fit me in different ways at different times. But even these wimmin I know keep at a distance. It's so painful to talk with them, even wimmin who had taught me at different points...so difficult to see their...shit...to see their eyes dart away and dart back...
I'm not sure why I try every now and then.
LP, I realize you may not understand what I'm after or what I'm on about. Even if we can't quite get a friendship off the ground this can also be a learning growing place for you. It has been one for me in some ways.