The damage done to the souls of men and white people

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One of the reasons I am a fan of Fanon, is because he dared us to examine the heart of the colonial beast from the brilliantly liberating vantage point of it’s diseased center.

His writings breathed fire. They were powerfully anti-colonial and anti-Eurocentric. No doubt, like any other man, they were also mired in his gender oppressiveness. But he nevertheless helped me understand oppression in a very liberating way. I realized that understanding the damage done to the souls of oppressors was a far more empowering way to engage with the myriad forms of oppression in and around me.

Now, we can further complicate this shit, but I don’t think I have the literary skill or temperament to hold your attention for that long. So for now, I’m going to limit myself to two particularly well-known global demographics – men and white people – both groups of whom, it can safely be said, benefit from the overwhelming majority of oppression on our good green earth. Yes, yes, in varying degrees when we complicate it with class and nationality and yadda, yadda. But wherever you go on this earth, men have it better than other genders – at least in their own local communities and societies – and white people have it better than damn near everyone else on the fucking planet. (Holy crapola did that European settler colonialism work wonders for the melanin-deficient.)

Now, I say that we gain spiritual strength over our oppressors (inside and out) by understanding the damage done to the souls of those oppressors. And in the global north, i.e. the privileged-ass Western world, this means understanding the damage done to the souls of men and white people.

(And I daresay that would be the case in any other part of the earth as well.)

The reason I think it is empowering for me to think of oppression in this way is because it both humbles and strengthens me at the same time.

It humbles me because I realize that even beyond what oppression does to our bodies, our minds, and our social environments – it is at our deepest, most soulful level that oppression is fought.

It strengthens me because I realize that no matter how violently and/or silently oppression might manifest in our daily lives, those who reap the benefits of it cannot hide from the damage it does to their souls.

And that’s a comforting mixture of truth, justice, and that little bit of whacky to help you sleep at night.

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Sadly, Trump’s misogyny is commonplace in a rape culture society

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When I inexplicably found myself back in grad school for the second time in my life, during a slightly lonely period in my late twenties, I used to hang out with the “dudes” of my department. These hang-outs were usually drunken, come-to-think-of-it-rather-trite-and-banal, shindigs.

When the hang outs were all guys, sexism in the form of humor was an oft used lingua franca among many of them. Unfortunately they tended to be the loudest and dominated the proceedings. Since this was a progressive social science department, all the guys had taken different feminist theory classes during their grad and undergrad years. Indeed, the most disgustingly misogynistic of the lot apparently even minored in women and gender studies at UCLA, his previous alma mater.

(Just goes to show that ivory tower credentials are highly unreliable in determining good human beings.)

In more than one party, this misogyny masked as ribald humor would rear it’s ugly head. Indeed, the stuff that came out of the UCLA-graduated head misogynist’s mouth was no less than the vileness that has been revealed to come out of Trump’s mouth. And it was all laughed at and seen as fun by the rest of the guys in that group.

All I did at the time was numb my loneliness with booze, as folks guffawed to the drunken ramblings of some white, self-identifying Marxist’s lewd misogyny, heartily egged on by his drinking buddy – a white, Anarchist dude who identified as a very public feminist. (If there’s one thing socialist and anarchist dudes seem to find congruence on, it’s male privilege).

The group also happened to be a really white and heteronormative group. Me and a buddy of mine were the only men of color (and I was, as far as I could tell, the only queer man).

I don’t say this to make some vague point about intersecting forms of oppression.

I say this to undo the shame I feel to this day of not doing a damn thing to intervene – cowering behind the excuse that I didn’t feel safe enough to do so. When in all honesty, I would have been fine. I could have told them off, walked away (and almost certainly have been far happier and healthier for it). I could have even tried to counter it with humor or sarcasm or just done something. For a variety of reasons, I preferred cowardice at the time.

But as I sat there wallowing in my misery, I did make particular note of this feeling that churned inside me, a rather sickening feeling.

There is a particular insidiousness to misogyny when it comes from men of the more entitled sections of society. Because there’s greater social and cultural power behind the words. Whether it’s white men in America or upper caste Hindu men in India or men from the majoritarian sections of society wherever the fuck their miserable selves may exist – rape culture is held up, among other ways, by majoritarian male power and control.

And glued together by the silence and willful ignorance of others.

Now Trump’s misogyny seems to know no bounds – be it his braggadocio in committing rape and sexual assault or his despicable sexualization of his own daughter on, of course, the Howard Stern show – Trump is human refuse. But he is not human refuse in a vacuum. He emerged, or rather was hellishly spawned, out of a society steeped in rape culture.

Indeed, one of the most troubling things about the revelations of his violently sexist conversations is not really being addressed by the media – maybe because it poses far more difficult questions for us as members of this society.

Trump-style misogyny is far more commonplace than we might think.

The scary and scared third

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Today I’d like to write about the scary and scared third.

Having spent the majority of my adulthood primarily rooted in North America – eventually becoming a citizen of Canada (eh) and a green card holder in the States, I feel proud of having gained a rather rich understanding of the myriad facets of Americo-Canadian society. This understanding is, of course, limited by my experiences and interpretations – but it is nevertheless authentic.

(And what is writing if not a vain attempt at authenticity?)

Now, in my travels as an immigrant – eventually garnering of various settler privileges – I have realized that both the US and Canada have what I’ve decided to call the scary and scared third. They seem to be way more docile and subdued in Canada, but shit can always change quite rapidly.

You might have an inkling already of what I’m talking about here.

It’s not unlike other societies, perhaps all over the world but certainly in places I can claim some membership in.

The scary and scared third is that section of society, usually between 30-40% of the population in that nation, country, or state – comprised of a mixture of class backgrounds but quite homogenously emerging from the majoritarian ethno-racial groups, and generally serving elite interests of power and control. Examples of what I mean by “majoritarian ethno-racial groups” include white folk in the US or Canada, upper caste Hindus in India, Han Chinese in China, Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, or Askenazi Jews in Israel.

(I’m nothing if not secular in my condemnations of majoritarianism.)

They are also easily motivated by the venemous, pied piperesque tunes of fear, anger, and hatred – or at the very least a variable spectrum of intense anxiety, irritability, and dislike that can easily be morphed into more dangerous motivational factors.

Now for the most part in the rest of the world, the scary and scared third are a threat only to the remainder of their local societies and themselves. In the US however, they’re also a threat to the rest of the world.

By now I’m assuming some of you would have guessed that this narrative is veering towards that chauvinistic political orgy known as the US political elections that the powers-that-be of the country use to hoodwink all of us into thinking we live in a democracy.

This time around lay people are almost certainly going to celebrate a capitalist, neo-colonial, blue-blood making her way into the White House. Given the other option (because in America the idea of democratic choice is limited to an elite-driven binary) and because we live in crappy times, many of us will actually heave a sigh of relief as and when Hillary breaks the presidential glass ceiling riding on white privilege and old wealth.

But what happens to the scary and scared third that Trump and his acolytes are currently stringing along? They aren’t going anywhere – even after Trump Inc. crashes and burns into the history books as the world’s worst joke.

That’s over a 100 million people, almost predominantly white, with centuries of racial privilege behind them and lots of guns in front of them, in a country where racial demographics are diversifying rapidly.

So, don’t go celebrating your ass off when the Rodham scion occupies the White House again.

The scary and scared third are going to be even scarier and a lot more scared.

Capitalist workaholic cultures in the non-profit industrial complex

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My alleged career in public health, social services, and education in various North American cities has spanned almost a decade and a half. If you take into account work that I did in India prior to and alongside that career in the States and Canada, then that’s a good two decades of labor in these sectors that I can claim as a badge of honor and failure in equal proportion. Essentially this was work in various organizations that exist within what INCITE! brilliantly classified as the non-profit industrial complex.

From anecdotal evidence it feels safe to say that a lot, likely the majority, of social justice activist-type people tend to find paid work in social services, health, education, or some combination thereof. Many, like me, thus end up building low-wage careers in the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC from here on out), which for me includes both public and private organizations and those pain-in-the-butt, dual ones. And like me, many also build these careers kicking and screaming because really what other choice is there for so many of us in a capitalist economy?

For the most part we do this to the detriment of our health and personal lives…all in the name of finding a job that at least partially enriches our souls.

I am of the opinion that the major reason for this hit on our well-being is the shitty, pro-capitalist, Jesus-complex-bearing, workaholic culture that exists within vast parts of the NPIC.

This is not nurturing for our society and communities.

Now make no mistake, I’m not dissing the work done by many of the organizations within the NPIC. There is genuinely good work happening with quite a few of these non-profits, whether in subversive manners or not.

But why oh why can’t this good work be done without adopting oppressive work cultures?

It is so very rare to find a non-profit that adheres to the simple truth that having a nurturing, caring, anti-capitalist, and anti-perfectionist work culture – based on building egalitarian communities – will in reality benefit the cause in the long run.

I will say this though. I do believe that this self-aggrandizing, oppressive, workaholic mentality is a manifestation of settler-colonial patriarchy. Not only are we better of without it, we must actively fight it for the sake of our children, families, and communities.

Because it’s the people we love who suffer the most when we’re forced to spend the overwhelming majority of our waking hours selling our labor for sustenance.

I have said it before and will say it again:

Fuck capitalism.