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JanFeb 18: Why I'm: R Eddo-Lodge > Being Brown: The experience

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message 1: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments I am so happy that this one time,a book was chosen that I,being a brown girl,could really really identify with.So,I just wanted to bring about this thread to know your insights and experiences on a world that is divided on the basis of the colour of the skin among scanty of other such things.I won't promise it to be a short one.I have wanted to say so many things and it is now i think that People would really hear.

You know,I don't understand why the colour of the skin?
Why not the colour of the eyes?
Why not the colour of the hair?
But then there is this interesting theory that,Convenience tops it all.Thus,the colour of the skin.

But if you are to judge me based on the colour of my skin,I'd like to ask you one thing,
Would you then also subconsciously be defining an image of me from what you only see?

I think,Emma was very right in saying in the intro speech for the book that- "there is so much of racism from our past and present,that is not acknowledged or accounted for.i know this to be the case from my own education." Most of you might deny being a racist and I believe you.But it is really not about what you think.It's more like when you are teaching a child alphabets,you teach them A for apple.You were taught this as a child too and even now,if i question you-"A for?",I know the answer.Education ,thus happens to be a very fundamental institution in the development of such views.

Sharing a story from two years back,
I was baby sitting with my guest sister in a German youth house, a bunch of 9-11 year olds.They weren't particularly motivated to spend the night with an Asian.I wouldn't say they warmed up to me,but I do remember myself being frozen in my mind for a bit.While eating dinner,one of them posed a rather baffling question toward me,-
Are you poor? I mean do you live on the street?
I couldn't believe my ears back there for a minute.At one moment I was sitting at the table eating dinner,and the other moment the chair at the table started to feel like a burden of a privilege.
I answered,-"Why would you think so?And,no,i live in a well lit warm house and i am not poor."
And then backing her up,another one answered, That's what we were taught in school."

Now you can very well imagine,why the reference of "A for apple" to"Brown for inferior".Before even knowing me for who I am,they presumed and had an image in their mind of me being a person from the poor streets of India.

I wouldn't say that this is the only experience with racism that I have run into in the past 18 years.And I think there will be more of you,who have experienced it too.

Just as feminism,racism seems to have sorted out itself since we all know about a man named Nelson Mandela who had won his fight and thus things resolved and all the colours of the skin remained happily ever after.But,knock knock,back to reality? Racism is springing from ignorance.We don't want to talk about it,because it is a heavy topic, or,Oh,everything is fine or some other excuse,right?
Hate to say it,but the truth?It is not a problem of the major superior powers of the world,hence it can now peacefully take a back seat.

I don't know,how many of you have even been observing racism happen.But,i have.I have seen staff at hotels(in foreign countries) prefer giving a room to white people first.I have seen people talking politely to white people but not at all the same way to brown or black people.I have seen some of my white trip/group mates judge me before even knowing me.

And then we come back to the question-"Why am i not talking to white people about race?"

-You tell me!

(No offense intended)


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 06, 2018 02:30PM) (new)

As you said before, I think it's a heavy topic where we (whites people) are awkward about what actual racists do and what our ancestry did in the past.

I hate racism because I hate when other people feel bad in their skin. When I talk about racism with my friends I've always the fear to be missunderstood and then make them feel bad about themselves or make them angry because of that.

That's why I try to avoid to talk about that even if I know it's a good thing to openly speak about that kind of subject to understand each other point of view and make the future better for everyone.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your own story and your thought about that.


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris (chrismanion) | 6 comments It wasn't until your sixth paragraph that I new you were from India. Most African people


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris (chrismanion) | 6 comments I didn't know you were from India until your sixth paragraph. I think of most people with African descent as brown people, although they and others most often refer to themselves as black. I don't usually think in terms of colors when I think of people, so it is interesting to me to see your brown descriptive for yourself.

I've never thought of people from India as being brown. I marvel at their usually dark hair and the shape of their eyes and the women's beautiful saris.

I regret and grieve that much of the world teaches their young how to categorize people in boxes or in labels of such grotesque proportions that few stand a chance of revealing the beauty of their uniqueness that God gave them. So few have eyes to see it because they've been taught a kind of color cruelty.

I cling to the story I heard Maya Angelou tell about a dinner party guest at her home who cracked a racial joke at the table. Maya asked to speak to the guest away from the table. When she returned, she was alone. She'd escorted the guest to the door, telling him in simple terms that she'd worked hard to create a peaceful home and that she'd tolerate no one who chose to disrespect or harm it.

We need more examples in society of people with the courage to stand up to unequal and disrespectful behaviors towards others. If we don't show by example what we find acceptable vs. unacceptable, how is the next generation to learn?
Until we discover we are all one, who will be willing to stand against the crowd and say that's not right? Unless we do, nothing will change.


message 5: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Lewis wrote: "As you said before, I think it's a heavy topic where we (whites people) are awkward about what actual racists do and what our ancestry did in the past.

I hate racism because I hate when other peop..."


Hi Lewis,

I can understand how you feel that there can be misunderstandings down the racism(or any inequality) road.But I also know,that if you have the courage to befriend people,irrespective of what they look like,you don't need to be afraid to openly criticise something that's wrong.

And i think,I wouldn't really say i feel bad in my own skin.I am proud that I had the opportunity to be brown,because I don't have to wonder about the worst behaviours of human beings.

:)


message 6: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Chris wrote: "I didn't know you were from India until your sixth paragraph. I think of most people with African descent as brown people, although they and others most often refer to themselves as black. I don't ..."

Hi Chris,

Yes,you are right.However,in the last century,the Africans were called the blacks and all the Asians or non-whites were called coloured people,because then again convenience.

Also,mostly Indian people have dark hair,but we are all unique in our own features.

I think you are very right in saying that in the process of labelling they have committed a colour cruelty of sorts.I,too ,like you would have wished that we could respect the uniqueness we were given and not be destructive about it.

Maya Angelou's reaction is very apt and I think it is a perfect example of not ignoring something at a lower level in the first place,so that it doesn't turn into something bigger in the future.

Thank you for your encouraging words.I think people should learn to use the power of their voices sooner.Keeping one's anger and disagreement inside has never led to change,it has only led to sacrifice,compromise and war.

:)


message 7: by Georgianna (new)

Georgianna Carlos (georgecarlos) | 2 comments I liked how you said that education is a catalyst on why we have such views.

I'm a Filipino and one of my frustrations with my country is how people are so racist with fellow Filipinos. People who have lighter skin or "mestiza/mestizo" (those Filipinos with "white" ancestors. Usually Spanish) get special privilege and treatment. We have this term called "Great Wall" since the "chinito/chinita" (Filipino-Chinese) are not allowed to marry Filipinos (but they can marry white). In fact, all our beauty products focus on whitening the skin. Now that I'm older, I can see how our education may contribute to this.

Our history books are always written from a "Western gaze" and there is always emphasis on how, in Filipino history, the upper class in society are the fairer Filipinos. The Philippines was saved during World War 2 by the Americans (and in fact, we all memorize General MacArthur's "I Shall Return" line) but no focus on the Filipino soldiers who also fought during the war. Maria Clara, the image of what a beautiful Filipina should be, is white with straight, black hair.

With this, I wonder how one can shift the mindset of a people wherein this way of thinking has been taught for hundreds of years? Sure, we now have books by Filipino authors in schools but those things people were exposed to, it can't be help that certain behaviors will be carried and passed on. More than just talking to white people, how does one talk to fellow colored people about race? :)


message 8: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Georgianna wrote: "I liked how you said that education is a catalyst on why we have such views.

I'm a Filipino and one of my frustrations with my country is how people are so racist with fellow Filipinos. People who..."


Hi Georgianna,

Thank you for sharing your view on the racism in your country.I think your frustrations are very justified.I mean walking into the 21st century,there is still a bit of colonialism I can imply from Philippines.I mean how can a foreigner be considered superior to or define beauty as opposed to those who the land really belongs to.

And,thank you for enlightening me about this law about marriage.I think it is very wrong and the entire bureaucracy and corruption is playing very well into the politics as well.

As for the beauty products aiming at fairness of the skin,I think that is the most stupid thing in my own country as well.Because believe me,all those people who use these creams are encouraging racism and along with that a tag that says,"I am dumb",because these creams don't do shit.

As I said,education shows you only what the writer wants you to see and I think more people in your country should be encouraged to write and even if that is not possible,teachers should tell children the truth,like you know it.I am sure,there must have been someone wise and bold to expose you to the truths of your country's history.

You are right.Mindsets don't change overnight,but just because the process is gradual doesn't mean we should stop pushing it forward.We can all try together and we will win.

As for talking to fellow coloured people about race,you had the courage to tell me,right?I am sure you'll find that courage with other people as well.People who will listen to you.

I wish you the very best and ounces of motivation to keep pushing.:)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom


Like Nelson Mandela, I think the best way to win against racism is education and love.

All the ways should be used to educate people like schools, universities, media, politics, Internet etc.


message 10: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Keith wrote: "Hi Ashna.

Firstly, may I thank you for sharing your thoughts, your stories and experiences. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Even as a cis white guy, you c..."


Hi Keith,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of the issues that I pointed out and adding to the subject at matter here.I think you are very true in saying that -"racism can be found everywhere,if you really care to look",which is sadly what most people don't do.

Well,as for history being rewritten,I think the only history that can be rewritten is the new one we write.

:)


message 11: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Lewis wrote: "“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for..."

That is indeed very true Lewis.Only if everybody could really care to understand this and not be offended by a meagre statement of the harsh reality,then things could really go in the favour of world equality. :)


message 12: by Manisha (new)

Manisha Hey Ashna,

I do agree with what you are saying but I believe that ignorance also has a lot to do with exposure and not all ignorance is mean spirited. I have studied abroad for the past few years and I felt that people in London were a lot more accepting than people from other areas in the UK as evidenced by the Brexit vote. People have asked me all kinds of questions that I have considered absurd, but a lot of times it's easy to differentiate between curiosity (which stems from lack of education) and a mean spirited undertone to the question.

The need for education to provide equality and eradicate racism is extremely obvious in our culture as well. Every time I come home I am more aware of the internalised racism in our country and the purported differences between people in north and south India. I am not sure to what extent education can make a difference as a lot of it is embedded in our psyche from years of colonialism, but it's a start :)


message 13: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Okay, I hope I didn't make a fool of myself, but this is my reply, and remember that I am a white lassie from Austria, with everything that entails:



Topic: Jan 18: Why I'm ...: K. Eddo-Lodge > Being Brown: The experience 10.1.2018-13.1.2018


message 1: Ashna
Ashna, there is no need to promise it to be a short one.:)

I agree, there is so much racism that needs to be acknowledged, as it is connected with history, and history is so often white-washed.
About what you had to endure, I am sorry for that. But, as you see, our view of the world is shaped by what we learn, by what others tell us. And, I have to say, and I hate that it is this way, but South-East Asia in general is depicted as poor here. And that is what sticks with one. Now, of course I know that not everyone is poor in South-East Asia, but I am 20, have had years out of school to think about a lot of stuff, and know that it is good to be inquisitive, I don't want to play the issue down here, as that is where the crux is... Just, they are not responsible... (I'm not implying that you say they are) Kids, because that is what they are, talk like the people around them. And they told you that they were taught this in school... So that is where the problem (and the solution) lies. Never should a teacher teach something so unreflected, so lacking of thought, so... stereotypical... And Ashna, you are so right, something that is not a topic of the major superior powers often means that it isn't being acted on... at all.

"Why Am I not Talking To White People About Race?"
To put it bluntly, I think, because we white people cannot understand. Not on the same level. We can read about it, but we never EXPERIENCE it in our own skin. And that is a huge difference. Also, I think, in many, many ways are we too comfortable with a system that benefits us so much to destroy it, to take it down...


message 2: Lewis
Yes, it is difficult for us to talk about it. But if we want to change it, we have to talk about it. What I hate the most is when I am belittled when I talk about racism. When I do talk about racism, my biggest fear is that I confuse something and make it worse. When I talk about history, that I confuse two people, and put the bad into someone else's shoes than the one who actually did it.
But the only thing I can do is try, try and most importantly, listen to the experts.


message 4: Chris
I don't have anything against boxes; I do have something against them being connotated in a bad way, no matter what the label actually means...
And wow, Maya Angelou sure has principles!!!


message 7: Georgianna
I have to say that Ashna nailed it with saying that education is a catalyst on why we have the views we have/such views.
Let's think about it for a minute, how long we are in education and how much time we spend there.... In Austria (speaking of Austria, as this is the country I am from and know the best) everybody has to attend school for at least 9 years, starting when you are 6. You spend 4 months of the year outside of school, but 1 month is split up for Christmas and Easter Holidays between the school year, so it is safe to say that you only spend 3 monts without your brain being occupied with school. Now think about that - 3/4 of a year, for at least 9 years, you spend in school/with school. So, of course, for the majority of children this is what counts - what they are taught there. Then you can add another 4 or 5 years, before you can go to university, if you want to.
What I want to say is: that is a very long time period, and one of the most formative ones we humans have as well... Not only is it important what we are taught in school, but also HOW and making the students realise WHY. But what is probably even more important is what is NOT being taught in school. Did you know that Lincoln is responsible for the biggest mass hanging in US history? Well, I definitely didn't learn that in school. There is so much more I didn't learn about history in school, that I really know that it would be arrogant to say I know everything about my country's history. There are centuries I have learned nothing about Austria. And I don't think that's okay...
History made us who we are... it explains so much... We have to acknowledge it, the good the bad and the ugly.
And Georgianna, you know what this "Great Wall"? reminds me of? A law that was in place in Nazi Germany that forbade Jewish and Non-Jewish people to marry. It went even farther, forbade even more... but reading that such a law is still in place somewhere in the world horrifies me... No matter where in my opinion, such a law is out of place anywhere in the world...
White-washing of history is, in my eyes, a real sacrilege as it erases so many who were really important and/or have achieved a great many things. Did you know, for example, that NASA were employing up to thousand women as computers, and many of them were black? Who would have thought this to be true, in segregated US-America in the 1940s and 1950s? Now that is really a farce that these extraordinary women, who put mankind onto the moon, are simply being eradicated from our history books.
You write that the image of what a beautiful Filipina should be is white with straight black hair. And I really ask myself why... the whole beauty standard stuff is something that is beyond me... Why is being white a beauty standard? Well, more important is maybe the question HOW it came to be the beauty standard. I really am guessing now, but I don't think I lean myself too much outside the window when I say it is because of colonialism. Of Europeans destroying the ways of lives of Indigenous Peoples. I'd be surprised if the beauty standards were the same before as today before colonialism started. I don't know, and I am gald when somebody could teach me more about this, but I think chances are very high that I am right with my thoughts on this.

Colonization brought so many changes, it brought havock over our societies, one way or another... I believe we all have to decolonize, in the way that is the way for us. Colonization has different results for us, and so decolonization will look different for us too, depending on the society we live in.
To say it with a distinction: We have to bury being White, not being white.

About behaviours being carried on and passed on? That requires a lot of self-work, of being vigilant (for lack of a better word), of questioning ones behaviour and again and again and again, and also, I believe, oh holding one another accountable.


message 8: Ashna
I agree, it is completely not understandable to me how a foreigner can be seen as superior, per se. I believe that you could say that maybe a certain foreign person is superior in morals compared to a certain person form the country. But a foreign person being superior simply because of their skin colour or something else they can't influence? That is bollocks to me. That is racist as hell when it is about skin colour.


message 9: Keith
I agree, the fact that history is written by the winners, the conquerors, the "ruling class", sure tells history. But it is only half the coin, only one side of the coin... and the descendants of the winners then carry on their flawed history as in the Americas, where Native people have to listen to Non-Natives telling them that they were savages and hoards and war-faring each other. <- The first two are simple lies, and really, intertribal warfare is not the same as a planned genocide. Well, the Natives respond: You brought civilization? Hm yeah, you gave us small-pox disease contaminated blankets, sent us off to reserves (which were first called prisoner of war camps, just FYI), forbade our ancestors to speak our language... we taught you that you have to bathe... TO BATHE!!!!
History really is a complex issue, and often it is much more "stories" than history.
I don't think history needs to be "re-written". I don't think that's the right term. I think more of... adding, uncovering, digging out... it all happened, but the responsibility lies with us. I don't think any tiny bit of it should be hidden, as it all happened, and covering it would be a disgrace to those who suffered it, and to those who did good.
Because you know, it all happened, the good, the bad and the ugly.


message 10: Lewis
Yes, all means should be used... all of them...


message 13: Manisha
Manisha, I agree. It's a start... and over time, amazing things can and will happen, if we work towards them...


message 14: Keith
Yes, I agree.. what the colonizing countrie did AROUND THE WORLD as never really taught to me in school... the founding of the US? Only 1776 was shortly mentioned and the Slave Trade we talked about maybe for 15 minutes... The founding of Canada? Non-existent. We only talked so little about it and NEVER about the Nations that have been (and I say "have been", not "had been", because that is a significant difference, notice, everyone) there before, since time immemorial, with their own laws and foods and medicine.
The way of teaching needs to change....
END! END! END! END!

P.S.: How come we have 211.000 members, but only 14(15 with mine) posts, that actually come from even less members...
Makes me wonder...


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

MeerderWörter wrote: "Okay, I hope I didn't make a fool of myself, but this is my reply, and remember that I am a white lassie from Austria, with everything that entails:



Topic: Jan 18: Why I'm ...: K. Eddo-Lodge > B..."


Totally agree with the answers you made to me.

I find really sad too that so many people from this book club keep their thought to themselves on these really importants subjects like racism, feminism etc. .

It's too bad to miss the opportunity to make our minds growth together...


message 15: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Lewis wrote: "MeerderWörter wrote: "Okay, I hope I didn't make a fool of myself, but this is my reply, and remember that I am a white lassie from Austria, with everything that entails:



Topic: Jan 18: Why I'm ..."


What I think is important is to recognise how subtle racism works... and that being White and white are not the same. Okay, I am heavily Northern American based, when it comes to following the voices of people of colour, but I am willing to change that... the more voices the better.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

@ MeederWörter: maybe people are shy, maybe they are afraid to share their opinion and then to be judged. I know, nobody here will judge anyone but still, it is sometime difficult to talk about a topic like racism, feminism people may think they will be awkward.

@Lewis: I agree education involving critical thinking and how to be open minded is the key.

I will not say that racism is usual, but usually when a living being (that/who shows a certain level of intelligence) meet something or someone that/who is new, this may be perceived as a threat. We all know that animals follow two main patterns: escape or fight.

Even if we are (us, humans) classified has intellegent specie (Yes, I promise, we are considered to be smart^^) we still have some defensive mechanisms when we think we are in a dangerous situation (Do you remember how the last spider you found in your room end its life?). In the same species animals may attack to each other.

So actually, I think that racism emerges from fear. And fear leads to anger and hate. Consequently, I definitely agree that education is the key.

Maybe I am wrong :)


message 17: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Or maybe a lot of us aren't brown and are letting others speak first. :)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Pam wrote: "Or maybe a lot of us aren't brown and are letting others speak first. :)"

I'm too hurried of giving my point of view. ; )


message 19: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Sally (dd_sally) | 9 comments I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I currently studying on another island of Indonesia called Java where the people appearance are different from mine. I used to heard people in my place talks about how people from the other island treat us differently. I was wondering if that could be true or not until I moved here in Java. Based on what I had experienced, I see that racism does exist here.

I live in a rented house for a quite long time. One day, the outside wall cracked because the house is an old house and it's about time to do the building treatment. So, I told the owner about it. It's our deal that when there's a damage happen I got to report it to the owner. I was surprised when she accused me if one of my friends did that. I've heard she talks bad thing about the people with colors (these people she talked about are from Nusa Tenggara who also have black skin as the People in Papua) in her neighborhood. In her judgment, when one of the color people have bad attitude means all of them would do the same.

The other case was at my University. I used to be bullied by some guys from my classmate because where I'm from and how I look like. I felt bad and uncomfortable about myself at that moment.

I'm not saying that all of the people here are still do that to the People from East Islands of this Country, but the truth is racism still exist here.


message 20: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I currently studying on ..."


Hi Debbie,

I am really glad you shared your experience with me.I feel very sorry for people like your owner and those guys from college,because seems like they have a mind level way below yours.All I see is immaturity and callousness on their part.

However,I feel that you needn't feel bad and uncomfortable in your body. You and I are both beautiful in our own ways and we can't shut up everybody who comments on our body,but we sure can hold our beautiful brown faces up and leave our lovely black hair down and walk past these low-life bigots with the confidence that nobody gets to define me,but ME.

Also,Debbie,sometimes we have to speak up for everybody else to shut up.I never give people the leverage to talk shit about me and walk away,then it can be at the cost of my relationship to them.

I hope that you feel beautiful in your own body and don't let anybody define or limit you.Little by little we can eradicate racism.I promise.Will you support me?

:)


message 21: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Sally (dd_sally) | 9 comments Ashna wrote: "Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I c..."


Sometimes I wish I could be brave enough at that time to speak up for myself against people like them. But, it happened and now I realize that I have to learn from it and be braver to do the thing I wish I did in the past time.

Thank you for your encouragement Ashna, I really appreciate that. And yes, I will support you.


message 22: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Glad I could help.We are here to help and encourage each other,because that is the only way we are getting somewhere.All the best Debbie. ;)


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 28, 2018 12:21PM) (new)

Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I currently studying on ..."


Thank you for sharing your story with us.

When I was young, I used to be alone most of the time 'cause of my extreme timidity and also maybe 'cause I felt bad about myself. Because of my loneliness, some folks thought I was "weird" and took me for target of their harassements for several years.

I tell my story here, even if it's not a racism related problem, to say I think if some people assess we're "different" they need to be nasty and cruel with us whatever "differences" we have.

Stay strong.


message 24: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Sally (dd_sally) | 9 comments Ashna wrote: "Glad I could help.We are here to help and encourage each other,because that is the only way we are getting somewhere.All the best Debbie. ;)"

Thank you so much Ashana. Glad I could share with all of you. All the best :)


message 25: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Sally (dd_sally) | 9 comments Lewis wrote: "Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I c..."


Lewis, I'm sorry for what happened to you. I wish things like this could end. And we should stay strong together to fight this no matter where we are, right?


message 26: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Lewis wrote: "Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and curly hair. I c..."


I agree... people have the tendency to bully someone regardless of what makes them different... it might be different forms tho...


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Debbie Sally wrote: "Lewis wrote: "Debbie Sally wrote: "I like this thread. I wanna share a little of my experiences.

I'm from Papua, the East island of Indonesia. Most of Papuan born with brown/black skin color and c..."


Debbie, I'm sorry for what's happening to you too.

It makes me sad 'cause it remembers me what made this period of my life dark still happens today.

I shared my story with you if it could makes you feel less alone, which is really helpful to stay strong during these situations.

Yes, stay strong together by our minds !


message 28: by AnnaBella (new)

AnnaBella (thenovelannabella) | 2 comments This is a long post, so that anyone reading is aware. This morning I finished my first feminist book of the year, and I'd like to take this time to discuss it. As a graduate student, I've narrowed my research focus, and taken classes that deal with the topics that I wish to shed light on. After multiple topic changes, and several primary source evaluations, I've decided what I will be doing for my Master's dissertation here at King's College London, and how I can apply this work to a PhD. And the timing is perfect. Here at King's, I will be submitting my dissertation on intersectionality in the Second Wave Women's Movement (or the lack there-of) and contextualizing how non-white, straight, middle-class women experienced Second Wave Feminism. I made this bold decision because I realize that I cannot stop talking about race, and feminism, and how they interact. As a mixed-race person, I must be both black and white. I must be able to take what I know from my experience as a person of color and relay that to white people who are otherwise unaware. I must educate people who are ignorant because ignorance breeds more ignorance.


100 years ago, SOME women got the right to vote in the UK. Some?, you may ask. Yes. Some. White women, over the age of 30 who owned property. That means only the wealthiest, white, women were able to exercise voting rights that working class women, and women of color championed to receive. Why is this important? We should remember each Women's movement beyond feminism. It's not just for feminism. It is also racism.


What does race has to do with any of this? Well, it kind of has to do with all of this. Feminism does not exist in a vacuum. That is impossible. Every wo(man) (I say this because feminism is supposed to be for ALL people, not just women) experiences life differently, and if we do not take this into account when we are speaking for change, then we are only taking into account a small group of people when we are actively vying for that change. Intersectionality corrects that error by taking into account different types of ways that a person experiences oppression and applying that to their life experiences. That means that, for example, a woman of color who is mentally ill, impoverished, has no education, and is disabled experiences more types of oppression than a gay, white man, with an education. Even if both of these people are oppressed, they experience oppression differently, because there are different forces impeding their lives. Like I said, this is called 'Intersectionality'.

The opposite of this is White Feminism. Before you get offended, let me explain. White Feminism does not mean that white people who are feminists are bad, or that all feminists who are white avoid intersectionality. It means that most white feminists are white. Instead of focusing on their experience of all women, they focus on the experience of white women. Reni Eddo-Lodge explains White Feminism here in an easily consumable way. "The politics of whiteness transcends the colour of anyone's skin. It is an occupying force in the mind. It is a political ideology that is concerned with maintaining power through domination and exclusion. Anyone can buy into it, just like anyone can choose to challenge it. White women seem to take the phrase 'white feminism' very personally, but it is at once everything and nothing to do with them. It's not about women, who are feminists, who are white. It's about women espousing feminist politics as the buy into the politics of whiteness, which at is core are exclusionary, discriminatory, and structurally racist. (Eddo-Lodge, 170) An example of White Feminism today is the wage gap/equal pay. White women get 77 cents to a dollar. Black and LatinX women get FAR less, but the only one we see in the media is the wage gap between white men and women.


This year, I signed up for a 2 part class on Gender and Society in Britain. In the first semester, we focused on Britain from 1900-1939. We discussed the suffrage movement. Our Professor was an excellent facilitator of discussion, and our readings were comprehensive. Some of my classmates were inspirational in their desire to educate themselves. Yet for each of those students, there were some who refused to acknowledge exactly what this course was meant to teach. In the last week of the course, we watched the film Suffragette and then we read articles that reviewed the film. Many of these articles, and my classmates praised the film for being ultra-feminist because it was female made, with female characters, with females in mind. I was gob smacked. This film, that was meant to portray working class women in East London did not have a single person of color. This alone is historically inaccurate as there were many Indian women involved with the suffrage movement. When both my professor and I pointed this out to my classmates, we were shut down. "It's a start" they said, "This has a place in historiography" they said. They did not understand that saying "it's a start" is the same thing as "be happy with what you have." They didn't understand that they were reinforced structural and institutional racism. All the while I tried to explain why one-dimensional views of things that are 'feminist' are toxic because they focus on the experience of not ALL women, but WHITE women. I could not believe that I was in a graduate course where students had no comprehension of white feminism. I pondered this, and pondered this.

I decided to bite the bullet and order a book that I had seen many reviews about. Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2017). I started reading it while I commuted to and from class each day. I loved this book so much that I made a deal to lend it to my professor who also wants to read it. This book speaks to me on a spiritual level because it puts into words exactly what I felt that day in my gender course where educated women said ignorant, racist things straight to my face. Eddo-Lodge breaks down racism into multiple contexts - everything from police violence to the portrayal of fictional characters. The chapter that I focused on the most though, was the chapter on White Feminism. Why? Because I wanted to imprint what she said on my brain so that I could explain to these women, and other white feminists, exactly why their viewpoint was so toxic. All I can say about this work is that it is a must read for all people. Not just for feminists. Not just for people of color. Not just for women. It is for everyone, because everyone is effected by inequality.

I leave you with my favorite paragraph in this work. If this paragraphs resonates with you, then you understand how hard it is to discuss race with white feminists and should therefore buy the book to read what Eddo-Lodge has to say. If you are offended by this paragraph, then that means that you are probably a white feminists and should also buy the book to educate yourself.

"For those who identify as feminist, but have never questioned what it means to be white, it is likely the phrase white feminism applies. Those who perceive every critique of white-dominated politics to be an attack on them as a white person are probably part of the problem. When white feminists are ignorant on race, they don't initially come from a place of malice - although their opposition can very quickly evolve into a frothing vitriol when challenged on their politics. Instead, I've learned that they come from a place very similar to mine. We all grew up in a white-dominated world. This is the context that white feminists are working within, benefiting from and reproducing a system that they barely notice." (Eddo-Lodge, 170-171)


message 29: by Stella (new)

Stella AnnaBella wrote: "This is a long post, so that anyone reading is aware. This morning I finished my first feminist book of the year, and I'd like to take this time to discuss it. As a graduate student, I've narrowed ..."

I'm really glad you chose this as your dissertation topic. It is very important. And while there is some information out there, it isn't maybe at the forefront where it gets a lot of attention. Like you said, "ignorance breeds more ignorance."

I'm sorry I haven't finished Eddo-Lodge's book...I've read the original blog and some excerpts but am waiting on a hold at the library. So I cannot comment fully on that. Meanwhile I've read Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and am now reading Feminism is For Everybody by bell hooks. The second I'm not liking quite as well as the first, but bell hooks seems to be laying out a clear outline of what wasn't addressed in the past and needs to be addressed in the future of feminism. Particularly, she writes about our need to confront our internalized sexism, racism, and classism. She talks about how feminism was taken over by upper class white women who came in, ignored the concerns of the working class and people of color, and basically said "We're the leaders now, the rest of you are followers, and the agenda will be our goal of being equal to our wealthy white male peers rather than things that might be more important to other women."

So I started thinking about my own internalized sexism and wondering about racism and classism too. My first thought was how I was raised to think of women as fragile. Which I totally don't accept intellectually. Most of the women in my family are quite strong. But when I started weight training, I had a mental block. I really didn't think I could do it. I didn't feel it was right for a woman...maybe even that women who weight train are some sort of freaks? It was very disconcerting because I don't actual believe that, but I felt it. I actually didn't start thinking I could lift weights until I'd actually done it. Does that make sense? So now I'm digging to see what other strange ideas got lodged in my head over the years.

Reading books in the order they come into the library has an interesting effect on my thought processes. Sorry if it doesn't seem related, but in my mind I'm making many connections between this and that. I mostly just wanted to encourage you in your work.


message 30: by James (new)

James Corprew Pam wrote: "Or maybe a lot of us aren't brown and are letting others speak first. :)"

I think its a combination of things including what you just pointed out here. I do think a lot of members (myself included) spend a lot of time just reading and observing what other people have experienced in their own lives.

The other thing is just like politics and religion, discussions about racism can be very polarizing as people tend to jump to conclusions (generally the worst) when the topic comes up. The subject matter is very divisive and personal to people. Rarely are people able to have objective or independent thinking on it.

Being an independent/Libertarian American its very frustrating to see how divided the country is right now because of what i perceive is an unwillingness to hear one another out.

So thus, if someone has a different experience with racism and they happen to be white they simply would not feel comfortable talking about it in fear of being labeled a racist, ridiculed, bullied, or ostracized in some manner.

So thus, some people simply wont travel down that road and instead allow others who are of color share and speak about their own experiences since they are often the ones who have to fight harder against prejudice and racism.

Ive been a part of this club since its inception and while i give my input and opinion here or there for the most part i just read and digest what other people have to say about it regardless if i agree or disagree with their point of views.


message 31: by Stella (new)

Stella James wrote: "Pam wrote: "Or maybe a lot of us aren't brown and are letting others speak first. :)"

I think its a combination of things including what you just pointed out here. I do think a lot of members (mys..."


I agree it is a combination of reasons. Brown people or People of Color should have space to speak first, and safely. I'm a shy introvert -- putting myself out there is difficult and can be exhausting -- but I think it is important not to remain silent when I have something to share that might be helpful, so I'm trying.

On the other hand, as a white woman, I worry constantly...Will I appear racist if I say such-and-such? Am I making people of color work too hard to explain things to me? If I name the little I've done to improve myself, do I come off as self-congratulatory, or as a wanna-be white savior? Or what if I make a stupid mistake out of ignorance...sure, I've read a lot, but my actual face-to-face time with people from other cultures has been limited by growing up in a rural area and not traveling extensively. I can be wrong, and I'm willing to change, but does that come across in a public forum? I end up not asking questions, and then not getting answers to things that puzzle me, probably inhibiting my own growth as well as others.

So, yes, pretty much prefer to read along, listen and learn. I'd like to keep the conversation going, but not take it over. Want to give "likes" to other people and encouragement when they struggle. It's a balancing act. Make sense?


message 32: by James (new)

James Corprew Absolutely.


message 33: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
On-Being, a beautiful podcast I listen to, had an interview with Anand Giridharadas who is an American author and newspaper columnist and also a second generation American.

In the interview he mentions that as a POC he gets asked "Where are you from" all the time. Which, understandably so, gets annoying on the best of days. Spoilers, he shares a story that one time he gets asked it by a service tech in which he just allows the conversation to happen and ended up learning that the service tech had a new family member who was Indian themselves and how the service tech asked this question as a way of sharing their own experience. Link: https://onbeing.org/programs/anand-gi...

I share this not to say that the onus is on the POC to be willing to take an insult on the off chance that it might be an opening to a more enriching conversation, but to highlight that we all are going to make mistakes. Everyone is figuring out how to navigate the world and how to communicate with individuals who aren't you. Of course we're going to mess up. Just keep striving to make those connections. Keep striving to do good or to do better than what you did previously. Sometimes it works out.


message 34: by SW (new)

SW | 6 comments We talk about skin colors but the color of my skin has been perceived subjectively.

I am Lebanese and I lived a couple of years in the US. When I was in the US, people often pointed out how I was different and called me brown and obviously Arab. But in Lebanon, I often hear comments about how white I am and how people thought I was a foreigner. Even in a convention for Arabs where I was wearing a tag clearly stating my country, people mistook me for a westerner. It is interesting how people’s perceptions of me change depending on their own race. I think we tend to focus more on how people differ from us than on how they resemble us.


message 35: by SW (new)

SW | 6 comments About talking to white people about race, I never know how to go about it, especially when they are really ignorant on the subject. Where do I start?

When I was living in the US, one of my white friends wanted to take me home for thanksgiving to introduce me to her very white family who had never met a foreigner or left their home town. She thought it would be a good opportunity to educate them. I went. They were nice people but they bombarded me with questions and it was so exhausting. I must have answered a 100 questions and many were variations of “do you have x in your country?” Yes we have Pepsi and Coke. No we don’t have Dr Pepper. I have no doubt they were trying to be nice by showing interest in me but it was so tiring and the conversation remained superficial. I felt like an exotic animal being studied at times.

I saw the family a few more times and got the chance to correct some of their misconceptions about people like me (foreigners, Arabs, people of color). But it was work. It felt like work. I am still not sure if all that I said got through.

It was a continuous choice I had to make when I was living in the US: Do I feel like educating this person right now? Is it worth it? The answer might be yes if it is the father of a friend but no if it is a random stranger on an airplane.

Trying to explain the complicated history of the Middle East and how the West contributed to the current Islamic terrorism problem every time someone asked me “why do you people love to kill each other?” Was not an easy task.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I understand your point, and it is not surprising that it felt like work.

In a totally other context, trying to open the eyes of people to make them less ignorant feel like work and sometime it is bothering. I cannot tell about differences, race, belief etc... but I totally feel the same about another topic and sometime I wonder "Is it worth it?"

So thank you so much for this post! ;)



PS: Doing the right thing is always worth it! It is exhausting, sometime we feel people want to be ignorant because be aware of what surround them/us is difficult and being "blind" is much easier especially when we have some kind of privileges no matter who we are. It is a constant interior and exterior fight.
And sometime, thinking we are doing the right thing we are actualy mistaking but I cannot judge to harshly someone who tried to do something while the majority is just blindly watching. I will just finish by saying : "By refusing to act we are also making a choice and responsabilities come with it."


message 37: by Stella (new)

Stella AnnaBella wrote: "In the last week of the course, we watched the film Suffragette and then we read articles that reviewed the film. Many of these articles, and my classmates praised the film for being ultra-feminist because it was female made, with female characters, with females in mind. I was gob smacked. This film, that was meant to portray working class women in East London did not have a single person of color. This alone is historically inaccurate as there were many Indian women involved with the suffrage movement. ..."

I am hearing more and more lately about how Indian history is interwoven with English history, like in WWII, but we never learned any of this in school (in America). I haven't watched the movie Suffragette but I've read the graphic novel Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, so I went back to flip through the pictures, and yes, all the women, upper class and working class, appear white. I'm very disappointed, because it was educational for me, showing some of what happened then, and in a format I hope to share with my children in a couple years. Now I'll have to preface it with a lesson about whitewashing, or find an additional, more accurate source.

Do you know of any sources you could share about the Indian women's involvement in the suffrage movement, or must we wait for your research and hopefully others who are similarly inspired?


message 38: by Stella (new)

Stella Joanna wrote: "About talking to white people about race, I never know how to go about it, especially when they are really ignorant on the subject. Where do I start?"

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry it is so hard. And I want to apologize for our ignorance. Some white people maybe don't think to learn about others. Some of us don't get the opportunity. My spouse had a much better public school education in a more urban area on the West Coast (California) than I did at a rural public school in Montana. So even across the United States, our free public education is not equal. None of this was taught to us in school. Even in college, there were elective courses only, or "recommended" supplemental reading next to the required texts. This has changed some, as there are now degrees offered in Women's Studies, African-American Studies, LGBTQIA Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, etc. These weren't as widely available when I was an undergraduate student. And I know many people who didn't make it to college, who rarely leave their small towns, and quite a few unfortunately don't like reading much, so their experience is limited.

I am sorry there is this huge gap in knowledge and understanding. Thank you for your part in closing the gap for a few people.


message 39: by AnnaBella (new)

AnnaBella (thenovelannabella) | 2 comments Stella wrote: "AnnaBella wrote: "In the last week of the course, we watched the film Suffragette and then we read articles that reviewed the film. Many of these articles, and my classmates praised the film for be..."

Hello! I do not have an sources on hand, BUT, I do have 2 places for you to start.

First, I've linked Dr. Anna Maguire's Twitter. https://twitter.com/AnnaMaguire24 She is a teaching fellow at King's College London and her research is specifically in the Colonial experience of Britain. She recently gave a talk at the the East End Women's Museum. They have exhibits, and I believe, an archive with relevant literature. Dr. Maguire responds to twitter messages and emails, and is currently reading this book (she borroed my copy). If you are looking for primary source material, paying a visit to the East End Women's Museum is an excellent place to start.

I would contact them ahead of time and make sure you have permission to access their archive. London School of Economics also has a Women's Archive, that is incredibly comprehensive. The British Library also has an archive that is digitally available. Each of these sources have everything from documents to oral histories!

Happy Researching and thanks for all of the well wishes!


message 40: by Stella (new)

Stella AnnaBella wrote: "Stella wrote: "AnnaBella wrote: "In the last week of the course, we watched the film Suffragette and then we read articles that reviewed the film. Many of these articles, and my classmates praised ..."

Thank you! Our family has been hit by a round of illnesses (head cold turning to bronchitis and ear infections), so I'm a little limited at the moment. Checked out the Twitter account and am just amazed by all the wonderful connections. Will follow up more later. Thanks again.


message 41: by Kate (new)

Kate (katetakate) | 96 comments Hi all, I am only part way through this book (hoping to finish soon).

Thank you Ashna for starting this thread - so great to raise this point of discussion. I just wanted to chime in support - I am also have brown skin, and also have faced occasions of racism and also what I call “othering” where I have been treated differently or made to feel “different” because of my skin colour. Too many to write about and some instances I prefer to forget.
And I’ve been asked ignorant racist questions or been “told” racist comments, and when my eyebrows rise or I voice objection, I’ve quickly been told it doesn’t apply to me....”oh I don’t mean you! ...I don’t see you as black/brown”

And on occasions I’ve been mortified and unsure what to say, as I’ve had to, or my fellow POC friend had to navigate and engage in draining and (probably unintentional) demeaning racist conversations framed around “I’m not racist... (insert racist stereotype)...why does that happen???” Then ensues a conversation/inquisition...

I would like to add just one occasion: in my experience it isn’t always white ppl driving the convos - on one occasion a brown friend asked my black friend to explain in detail Apartheid to them because they didn’t understand why and how it all happened..... (this, in my opinion, was completely awkward, unnecessary, lazy (one can Internet research now!) and insensitive on the questioner’s part)

So my 2 cents:
I recognise a lot of ppl don’t like to talk about race so much so that they prefer to “not see it”- which in my opinion is not fair or a just way to live - POC cannot afford to be “not see”, the colour of their skin is *always” a visible factor no matter what, simply because of the way society (no matter where you live) operates.

I believe it is ok to ask/raise race issues with your POC friend - but kindly do so with sensitivity. I implore:
- lead in with humbleness, care and respect for the person you are talking with.

- reflect how well you know the person - eg. I personally don’t feel comfy being inquired/questioned (using my race or life experiences as line of inquiry) with strangers/acquaintances I barely talk to - eg. Genuinely widen your friendship circles, but see them as more than just their skin colour.

- Think before you speak. Think: how would you feel if someone asked me this question? Think about researching the answer for yourself - just because someone is of that race or culture doesn’t mean they need to be the “spokesperson/fountain of knowledge” for that race/culture.

- Frame your inquiry more respectfully and perhaps say something like this:
“May I ask you a question? And I am sorry if it is insensitive - that is not my intention...please just tell me to be quiet, or change the subject, if you don’t want to talk about it....”

Basically that is how I don’t mind discussing some challenging and draining race or cultural inquiries - it gives the person you are asking “the power” to drive the conversation rather than be steered by the “questioner”’s agenda.

While it is so disheartening that racism and prejudice is still so prevalent in this decade, it is heartening that it is being talked about.

By the way “Brit (ish)” by Afua Hirsch is another great book about race, identity and belonging.


message 42: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kate wrote: "Hi all, I am only part way through this book (hoping to finish soon).

Thank you Ashna for starting this thread - so great to raise this point of discussion. I just wanted to chime in support - I ..."


While reading your post, I was reminded of a quote that someone has coined who I follow on Twitter:

"When the color of your skin is seen as a weapon, you will never be seen as unarmed."
~Delores Schilling, Kanien'kehá:ka
source:
https://twitter.com/DelSchilling/stat...


message 43: by Micaela (new)

Micaela White | 1 comments As a Latina born and raised in South Florida I know I have had the privilege of growing up in a diverse area. I also know what it's like to walk into a room and be the only Spanish person there. I know I have been naive when others have been racist towards me. I'm sure many people have assumed I'm an immigrant just because of my brown skin. Automatically I'm "Mexican" somehow people forget that there's an entire continent full of Latin countries. I know of the countless of times it's assumed I'm fluent in Spanish because of my brown skin. My husband is black. He's told me stories I don't want to imagine of people being racist towards him and his family. I feel as though my encounters with racism seem so "no big deal" when I hear what he has been through. I know it is a big deal and it should always be a big deal. My parents didn't want me dating a black guy before they even knew him. One of his family members didn't want him to date me simply for the fact that I was Catholic. My sister who is half white and Spanish lives in a primarily white town. I have realized she barely knows her Spanish background, you wouldn't think she was Latin at all. It makes me sad. I know my husband and I will bring interracial children into this world one day. I hope that we show them how wonderful their heritages are. I know they will experience racism in their lifetime. I can't protect them from that. I just hope we're able to teach them how to be strong, keep their head up and respectfully speak their minds when they feel they need to.


message 44: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesliejean43) | 88 comments Micaela wrote: "As a Latina born and raised in South Florida I know I have had the privilege of growing up in a diverse area. I also know what it's like to walk into a room and be the only Spanish person there. I ..."

Well said, Micaela!!


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