Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Points Of Friction—A Peek Behind The Scenes At This Blog

I’m going to do something slightly different for this (long) blog post. When writing blog posts, I normally write in a way that’s similar to what I did as a trial lawyer: I tried to avoid saying very much about my personal emotional reactions to various issues. This time, I’ll do something different, and specifically mention how I feel about several issues.

I’m Not A Controlling Parent Who’s Trying To Keep Rebellious Teenagers In Check—You’ve Always Been Perfectly Free To Do Whatever You Want To Do—Even When It’s Self-Defeating

When I was actively engaged in BWE blogging, I recognized several unpleasant and time-wasting dynamics with many of the AA women readers that increased as the BWE social justice movement became successful.

The safer and freer many of the readers felt (due to the work done by the early BWE bloggers), the more they started playing the role of Rebellious Teenager while casting the early BWE bloggers in the role of Controlling Parent Who’s Ruining Their Fun By Pointing Out The [Rape-Related] Dangers of Getting Sloppy Drunk.
One reason why I stopped blogging is that it was too much of a time sacrifice. I’ve got plenty of other things to do. Another major reason why I stopped blogging is that I dislike the traditional dynamics of how AAs treat other Black folks who try to be helpful. When it comes to dealing with each other, most AAs take kindness for weakness and an invitation to mistreat the kind AA person. This Taking Kindness For Weakness garbage, combined with the Oppositional/Defiant Teenager behaviors many AAs get into with other AAs who try to be helpful, adds up to an extremely unpleasant dynamic.

Why be bothered interacting with that kind of garbage? That’s why I turned the comments off after retiring from active blogging. I got tired of having “gaslight” types of online conversations with AA women who were pretending to be dimwitted. All I had wanted to do was “pay it forward” for how the BWE pioneers’ work enhanced my life. I was never interested into falling into the trickbags that happened to previous generations of AA activists. I had mentioned these traps in a comment on another blog:
Non-AAs and nonblacks tend to put their time, energy and other resources where their mouths are. Nonblacks generally don't use up, bleed dry, and sometimes ultimately destroy the people from their collectives who try to serve them.

By contrast, this is what AAs usually do with/to the sincere workers among us. AAs have an established pattern of using and then discarding and then totally forgetting about the other Black folks who act in service to them. We use up the Black folks who are idealistic (perhaps naive?) enough to try to serve our collective interests.
Let's just recall how many AA activists from the 1960s that we collectively and completely forgot about. We allowed many of them to languish in prison for their activism while we totally forgot about their sacrifices on our behalf.

Let me mention an incident from law school that made a deep impression on me. I decided to attend a National Lawyers Guild meeting about political prisoners in the US. Needless to say, most of the activist-prisoners from the 1960s were Black. And from what I could tell, the only people who had bothered to remember them and organize support on their behalf were White leftists!

White leftists appeared to be the only ones writing letters to Amnesty International on their behalf, etc. Meanwhile, they had been totally forgotten by the masses of AAs and by AA/Black activist organizations. AAs were more interested in following the exploits of rappers.

AAs didn't just forget about the now-obscure AA political prisoners from the 1960s, we forgot about and ignored “big names” like Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer in their later years. Aside from AAs invoking their names during Black History Month, Rosa and Fannie Lou (and many others) were for the most part (if not totally) on their own in their elder years.

AAs forgot about and left Dr. King's widow and children (and Malcolm X's widow and children) to fend for themselves.

I learned from all of that. I learned that AA/Black activists have to VERY careful to not let Black folks use them up. And bleed them dry. And leave them flapping in the wind as an empty husk. And to be very careful of folks who might be following the AA/Black tradition of leaving Black activists hanging after making a lot of suggestions about what extra things these activists should do (in addition to whatever they're already doing).

Speaking for myself, after seeing how Blacks used and then discarded previous generations of Black activists, I'm very skittish of folks who want to give me what feels like additional homework assignments while they're doing nothing themselves. If the historical context was different, and if AAs didn't have the established pattern of using up our activists, then my reactions would be different (and less skittish).

To my way of thinking, some of the activist reactions to suggestions (from nonparticipants) [another commenter described] aren't about defensiveness or hostility. It's about self-protection, self-care, and self-love.

In response to this Oppositional/Defiant Teenager dynamic:
I’m not your mother. There’s no need for you to “defy” me because I’m not your mother; and I’ve never sought to have any control over what you do.
I’m not trying to ruin your fun.
You’ve always been free to accept or reject whatever people (including me) have been saying.
You’re totally free to get sloppy drunk [and other fill in the blank behaviors that I believe are self-defeating] if that’s what you want to do.
I point out certain things because I’d rather not see you get hurt or suffer.
I find it curious that you save your resentment for the people who care enough about you to look out for your interests. Somehow, you never feel the need to “rebel against” and “defy” the people who are looking to take advantage of you. Like the many people who encourage you to do things that are the equivalent of getting sloppy drunk around guys.
I never tried to control what you do. That’s why I put “rebel” and “defy” in quotes. There was never any need for you to “rebel against” what I’m saying because I’m not trying to control you.
Meanwhile, there are some other people who DID control your actions by pressuring you into acting against your own interests. You know, like the Black males who pressured you to make excuses for toxic BM, lower behavior standards for all BM, and enable BM dysfunction. Before the BWE pioneers, you were too scared to tell those Black males “No.” Much less publicly disagree with anything they were saying.
You know, like the gangs of AA Sista Soldier “mean girls” who shrieked at you and told you that you better get in line and “support BM” with whatever these men are doing, whether it’s right or wrong. Before the early BWE bloggers, you were too scared to publicly say “No” to those Sista Soldier “mean girls.” Before the early BWE bloggers, you were also too scared to publicly say that you found certain nonblack men (especially WM) attractive.
I notice that many of the AA women commenters who are talking the loudest now, and complaining about how they feel as if some of the BWE bloggers are trying to dictate their actions didn’t have any voices at all back in 2007-2008 when the BWE movement began.
The bulk of these women didn’t say a single word “in defiance” or “rebellion” against the online gangs of  BM and Sista Soldier “mean girls” who shrieked at them and other AA women. Not. A. Single. Mumbling. Word . . .
A lot of you were too scared to even comment anonymously at the early BWE blogs. And you had rational reasons to be scared, because back then the Internet Ike Turners were out in full force cyber-stalking and harassing early AA women bloggers. Especially cyber-stalking and harassing the early BWE bloggers.
On the one hand it’s a victory that now a lot of y’all previously silent and intimidated AA women have found your voices. I’m happy that you’ve found your voices. Even when you use your new-found voices to rag on me and other BWE bloggers. Because I remember how silent and scared the vast majority of y’all were just a few years ago.
More than a few of today’s loudest voices were too scared to leave comments at the early BWE blogs. Instead, some of them would privately email the early BWE bloggers in hopes that we would write blog posts saying the things these readers were too scared to say themselves. Too scared to say even as an anonymous commenter. But they did reap the benefits of the work that early BWE bloggers did. Which was the point. BWE bloggers want AA women to be free to live life to the fullest.
I’m happy that you feel free enough to speak now, but when I see some of you griping about the BWE bloggers now, I do wonder:
Where were you back in 2008 when vicious and menacing Internet Ike Turners ran more than one BW blogger off her own blog?
Where were you back in 2008 and 2009 when I had to invest in IP-address tracking software so that I’d have documentation to give the FBI about some particularly nasty and menacing Internet Ike Turners?
Where were you back in 2008 and 2009 when some other BWE bloggers and I had to exchange IP-address information about several nasty and menacing Internet Ike Turners?
The early BWE bloggers took the heat from the Internet Ike Turners, pushed back against them (sometimes with the assistance of law enforcement), and made it safe for a lot of other AA women to start talking online.
Because of the self-defense actions taken by the early BWE bloggers, many Internet Ike Turners learned the hard way that it can be unwise to cyber-stalk and harass BW.
The early BWE bloggers made it safe for you to talk publicly about how you plan on being an ultra-feminine woman who’s a stay at home wife and mother. Most of you weren’t talking like that online before BWE. You were too scared to talk like that within earshot of other AAs. Because you knew if you said anything like that in most AA online spaces, you’d have to deal with a hurricane of hatred and harassment from cyber-gangs of Good BM™ and Sista Soldier “mean girls.”
The early BWE bloggers made it safe you to get online and talk and blog about how some of you have always been attracted to WM. Most of you weren’t talking like that online before BWE. You were too scared to talk like that within earshot of other AAs. Because you knew if you said anything like that in most AA online spaces, you’d have to deal with a hurricane of hatred and harassment from cyber-gangs of Good BM™ and Sista Soldier “mean girls.”
Another reason why a lot of the current bold voices were quiet back then is because they literally were still children in 2008 and 2009.
Most of the young’uns don’t realize that BWE was started largely in response to two things: (1) The ever-growing number of dead AA women. And (2) the typically BW victim-blaming discourse among AAs about BW who are beaten, raped, and killed.
They don’t know about the news stories from that time. Such as the stories about the Dunbar Village Atrocity, or the multiple BW who were shot by BM because they refused a BM’s advances. A DBRBM shot Mildred Beaubrun in May, 2008, for refusing his advances. Ms. Beaubrun, who was 18 years old at the time of the shooting, died the next month.
In August, 2008, a DBRBM shot Vernice Morris twice after she refused to give out her phone number. Ms. Morris survived. A DBRBM shot two women who refused his advances in May, 2009. He shot one woman in the face and the other in the chest. They survived. (Rejected man shot two women, police say,‛ The Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 21, 2009).
The young’uns don’t know that even Good BM™ engaged in blaming the Hovey Street Murder victims and other BW victims for their own murders. It wasn’t just the overt Internet Ike Turners that created the pre-BWE pervasive online atmosphere of fear-based conformity among AA women. Good BM™ online . . . including politically aware, so-called “conscious” Good BM™ also contributed to that atmosphere of fear on mainstream AA blogs.
These atrocities were happening non-stop to BW in what’s now referred to as “Blackistan.” And nobody was saying anything except a handful of BW bloggers. Pre-BWE, if anybody made the common sense recommendation that BW run for their lives out of such areas, cyber-gangs of Good BM™ and Sista Soldier “mean girls” would rush in to scream at the top of their lungs that anybody making that suggestion was a “sell-out.” Some of y’all have forgotten about what the AA online atmosphere was like pre-BWE. Others of y’all are too young to know what it was like pre-BWE.
On one level, it’s a good sign when I hear comfy, privileged AA women clucking about how “extreme” and “paranoid” some of the terminology associated with BWE sounds to them. Like DBR (“damaged beyond repair”). It’s good that there are AA women who are free enough, safe enough, and comfy enough to be oblivious to the very real atrocities and oppression that created that “extreme,” and “paranoid”-sounding BWE terminology.
On the other hand, I’m annoyed at how callous and dismissive these BW Special Snowflakes (many of whom live in glass houses and are one bad experience away from becoming future Debra Dickersons, but don’t know it) are of other BW’s suffering. Lord have mercy on Debra Dickerson. I didn't care for her or what I felt was the “stank,” Special Snowflake attitude that emanated from her essays when she was living high in what turned out to be a glass house. But, my God, I hate to see a BW suffering like this.
Anyhoo, all of the above is the typical pattern when social justice movements are successful. The people coming behind the pioneers quickly forget what things were like before the movement succeeded. They forget how un-free and afraid they were before the victory was won. If they came on the scene after the major battles were fought by somebody else, they take the benefits of that victory for granted. This is human nature; and it’s to be expected. It’s an offensive behavior pattern, but it’s to be expected.

It’s Not About Dogma, It’s About Keeping Track Of The North Star & Not Getting Off Course

I wrote the recent Follow The Money Trail post regarding the 12 Years A Slave flick because I was worried by some of the behaviors of more than a few AA women real-life acquaintances. Just like the knee-jerk crusade AA women launched in support of a movie that erased them from their own history (Red Tails), these women were launching a crusade in support of a movie that brings them no benefit (as far as I can tell). Just like the knee-jerk crusades some of these same women did for various TV shows (in which the writers later on messed over the BW character and BWs’ image on the show).
These women launch these knee-jerk, UNRECIPROCATED crusades without thinking through a single common sense question before working as unpaid shills for these media projects.
This deeply entrenched behavior pattern is a large part of why AA women as a collective are in the condition that they’re in. AA women love to pour money and other resources into other people who don’t give much of anything back in return for their support. We keep doing this, and then wonder why so many of us are so poor and totally lacking in safety nets. As if it’s a mystery.
It worries me to see that so many AA women have serious problems with “staying neutral” (as another BW blogger describes it) when it comes to anybody who’s not an AA woman. We’re so quick to jump onto other people’s bandwagons. And we jump on hard with both feet.
We don’t say, “Oh, you might want to see Movie With Black Faces X.” AA women on these crusades say, “You’ve GOT TO go support Movie With Black Faces X.
If you don’t support Movie With Black Faces X, then [fill in the blank dire consequence to the future of movies featuring Black faces].” The crusaders act as if other AA women are somehow obligated to join the crusade.
For those who doubt this, just try telling your AA female relatives that you refuse to support Tyler Perry movies and see what happens. If you’re really bold, try telling your AA female relatives that you don’t support Policy X (pick one, any one) that Pres. Obama is doing. Don’t tell them that you generally don’t support Pres. Obama. That can get you verbally lynched among most AA women (who are rabid Obama-bots).
The only time many AA woman are truly comfortable with “staying neutral” is when it’s about supporting other AA women. THAT’S when AA women ask the zillion and one questions about evidence, proof, and benefits for them that they should ask–but somehow never ask–before making knee-jerk decisions to support various BM’s projects, nonblack women’s projects, and so on.
I’ll repeat some of the responses I gave during in-person discussions with crusading AA women about this 12 Years A Slave flick.
Just because Director X (in this case Foreign BM Director Married To A WW Steve McQueen) did one movie that lifted up one AA actress*, doesn’t mean that I’m obligated to be in his hip pocket for life. Or that it’s somehow inappropriate to raise questions about whether or not one of his future projects is worthy of my financial support. I’m free to support or not support things. Just like everybody else.
[*I'm not so sure of that. “Beharie” looks like it might be a Haitian-origin surname; and the actress was apparently born in Florida.]
To me, it makes more sense to evaluate these projects on a case-by-case basis. What’s that old saying about having permanent interests, not permanent allies?
It’s probably not a good idea to decide that one will launch crusades on Director/Celebrity X’s behalf now and forevermore because he did one helpful thing one time. Or two helpful things twice. Or whatever number of helpful things whatever number of times. What if Director/Celebrity X’s future project is something absolutely toxic?
It’s not about being dogmatic, it’s about evaluating each thing on a case-by-case basis. If Foreign BM Director Married To A WW Steve McQueen does a future project that I feel serves AA women’s collective interests by normalizing our image (the way other women’s images are normalized), then I’d be willing to financially support it. Because there would be some sort of benefit coming toward me and other AA women.
When there are commercials or print ads that feature BW in a wholesome-looking IRR, then I go out of my way to financially support the company that placed that ad. And I write the company to let them know why I’m supporting them. For all I know, it could be a BM executive who’s married to a WW who was responsible for the ad. When it’s something that brings benefit to me and other AA women like me, then I’m willing to support it. Because the benefit is mutual. Instead of my resources flying out to somebody else without any return benefit for me or other AA women.
Reciprocity isn’t a hard concept to understand.
Or, in the alternative, if this slave movie wasn’t “biting off of” AA history, then I’d feel differently about it. If he wants to sell his own people’s history and then give the proceeds of that sale to his White wife, I wouldn’t care. That would be his West Indian folks’ business and not mine. I’m annoyed with this flick because it feels like yet another episode of non-AA outsiders ripping off AA history and cultural artifacts to make a buck. With very little of that money and career-boosting “pub” ever flowing back into AAs’ hands. Just like the long list of nonblack artists who made their fortunes off of AA musical styles.
So, for any AA woman who wants to support the 12 Years A Slave flick:
I’m not your mother. There’s no need for you to “defy” me because I’m not your mother; and I’ve never sought to have any control over what you do.
I’m not trying to ruin your enjoyment of the movie (not sure if “enjoyment” is the right word to describe that type of movie, but you know what I mean).
You’ve always been free to accept or reject whatever people (including me) have been saying.
You’re free to support this (and any other movie). You’re free to launch campaigns in support of this movie or anything else, if that’s what you want to do.
I pointed out certain things to explain why I’m not supporting it. You’ve always been perfectly free to do whatever you want to do.
I never questioned any AA woman’s honor or integrity regarding this flick. How many times do I have to repeat the phrase “reasonable minds can differ about this” to get that message across? It annoys me when folks twist repeated statements about how reasonable minds can differ into some sort of effort to control others. That lets me know that those individuals aren’t really reacting to what was actually said or written. They’re reacting to some other internal stimuli.
I point out certain things–the things that serve as core BWE values for me, such as reciprocity issues–because I’ve watched the AA collective get totally off track.
The saddest “movement” photo I've seen is one I recently ran across online. It's a good example of what happens when AAs stop following their chosen North Star (sticking to some core values) and follow anything. The photo shows how far off course the NOI has gotten since Min. Farrakhan sold his deluded followers to the $cientology racket. All because they didn't keep track of their original “North Star” (which was Elijah Muhammad's ideology).

The Perils Of Presuming To Do Cross-Cultural Preaching

It’s always dangerous for a doctor to prescribe medication when he or she does not know much of anything about the patient’s history. What works as medicine for patients with one type of medical history is often deadly poison for patients with another type of personal medical history.
This “mismatched medication that poisons the patient”- type of situation is what often happens when non-African-American Blacks wade into conversations among African-Americans (AAs) that are specifically about AA issues. Let me give an example. Non-AA Blacks  are often mystified by many AAs’ current knee-jerk response of supporting Black criminals.
Non-AA Blacks are often mystified by these dysfunctional behaviors because they and theirs did not live through the historical experiences that created these dysfunctional responses. Things like the Scottsboro boys, Emmett Till, other lynchings, and Rosa Parks. These things are just stories in history books for non-AA Blacks. By contrast, these sorts of events are part of the living memory of my oldest relatives.
These things are also stories in history books for younger, new school AAs. But younger, new school AAs tend to still carry the overall collective world view that was formed by their elders living through these experiences.  For the most part, AAs haven’t taken a step back to see whether those old, hand-me-down world views are still accurate in today’s world. And so the Arrested BM Automatically = Emmett Till assumptions are still carried forward into the 21st century. Which is dumb; but this view didn’t just drop out of the sky.
I would never presume to lecture West Indians, Africans (or anybody else) about the dysfunction that exists among their own cultures and in their own home countries. Or about what they need to do to make their home countries the sorts of places that large numbers of other people from around the planet will literally risk their lives to get into. [The way large numbers of people risk their lives to bust up into the United States in order to enjoy an apparently better quality of life.]
I can see certain types of cultural dysfunctions among various other (Black and nonblack) ethnic groups. But I just don’t know anybody else’s culture well enough—or intimately enough—to feel comfortable lecturing them about what I think they need to do. Not only would that be arrogant, but the historical pattern is that lasting solutions to embedded toxic cultural practices only come from within.
When I discuss these sorts of inter-ethnic issues, non-AA Blacks often assume that I dislike them as a category, or some other such. That’s not what’s happening when I talk about inter-ethnic issues among different Black ethnic groups.
What’s happening is that I’m simply doing what every other ethnic group does; which is looking out for my own group’s collective interests. For me, these inter-ethnic Black issues aren’t really about immigrant-origin Black folks. It’s about my own ethnic group’s consistent and idiotic failure to set healthy boundaries with other people. That’s our problem. Not anybody else’s.

Another note about the widespread experiences that created and reinforce that “extreme,” and “paranoid”-sounding BWE terminology: A negro male panelist attacked a BW panelist at a Brecht Forum public discussion about allies that was recently held in Brooklyn. In addition to being doused with water by this negro male panelist; this negro male lunged at her and was eventually removed from the room.

THIS POST and the many crazy comments in response to this incident is a good example of what AA women can expect the reaction to be from many self-described Good BM™ when BW are threatened and attacked by other Good BM™. HERE'S a video of the “conscious” Good BM™ panelist who menaced the woman panelist at that public forum.

See Gina's POST about this incident at What About Our Daughters.