The end of privileged white society (and how an amateur blogger beat the pundits and pollsters)

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Back in May 2016, over 5 months and what seems like a lifetime ago, I published a blog post entitled “9 scary reasons Donald Trump can become president in November

In case you’re wondering how to access it, a shameless, self-aggrandizing link is provided below:

https://loveliberationstruggle.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/9-scary-reasons-donald-trump-can-become-president-in-november/)

I started that post with the following preamble:

Ok, I’m going to come right out and stake my claim on this prediction – it’s one with a very small chance of actually coming true (but I think that “small chance” is getting bigger by the day):

Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States.

Please note that it is Friday, May 27, 2016 – over five months away from us actually finding out whether or not this prediction comes true.

I’m not saying that this is a good thing, if it comes true that is. Not by any stretch of imagination. I’m just saying that it’s going to happen. And I’ve been feeling like this for quite a few months now. (Bless the intrepid soul of my long-suffering soulmate and life partner who has to hear my incessant geopolitical monologues.)

Following that introduction, I listed 9 scary and very true reasons for making such a prediction. You can check out the link for more details.

Now I won’t lie, I do feel a little vindicated. But I am anything but happy. Indeed, the day after that most catastrophic of nightmares panned out in surreal fashion before our eyes, I had a near mental and emotional breakdown and had to take a sick day off.

And yet, despite the return of past traumas and pain, I still feel the power of vindication.

An angry, rage-filled, and thoroughly depressing vindication.

Finally!

Finally, all the privileged, white shits of America can see what those of us who are racialized and come from colonized backgrounds have been seeing for fucking centuries.

Finally all the privileged, male shits of America can see what women and trans people across the globe have been seeing for fucking millennia.

Finally, the brutally patriarchal, white supremacist core of America is there for everyone to see.

For this is white misogyny’s last hurrah – and it was easy to spot. Hence the brazen prediction made about America electing Trump as president.

Now, let’s face it. That prediction was just pure dumb luck. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t use any scientific or statistical analysis, nor did I think it actually had much of a chance of coming true. It was nothing more than a gut feeling based on having lived in the settler-colonial societies of America and Canada for the vast majority of my adult life. Indeed, I even shamelessly back pedaled on that prediction a bit in a more recent essay I wrote about rape culture in our societies.

The reason I hark back to that time (apart from flagrant self-promotion) is because exactly a year prior, in May 2015, I wrote a much lengthier piece entitled “The end of privileged white society” – a tirade calling itself an essay and proud to be doing so.

I didn’t publish it. I merely wrote it, edited it, saved it, and told myself that I would publish it on my blog when the time felt right.

I believe that time is now, a year and a half later, because the dawn of this white-supremacist, misogynistic neo-fascism in the US signals the beginning of the end for privileged white society.

As promised to myself, the essay is published below.

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The end of privileged white society

May 2015, Toronto, Canada

Recently I had a particularly liberatory spiritual experience, a stream of slightly higher-than-normal consciousness.

I have tentatively entitled it: The end of privileged white society.

Mostly it has to do with my own liberation as a colonized person of color, which is at the heart of the story. White folk who fail to truly understand their privilege are and always have been a side story. I’ll explain in due course.

Now, when I say the end of privileged white society in this quasi-threatening tone, please note that I disdain masculine, misogynistic violence, or really violence of any kind barring that which is used in choiceless self defense. What I’m really envisioning with the end of privileged white society is equality, and the liberation of all. I’m just doing so a tad angrily, but that’s ok, I’m in control of my feelings. I know how scary an angry person of color is to privileged whiteness (you can see it in the eyes of the particularly insecure among them).

I really do envision the end of privileged white society. The end of white settler-colonial society in that imperialist, genocidal overlord known as the United States of America, in its parasitic client states in Canada and Israel or, hell, maybe even in that drunken joke known as Australia. The end of white Eurocentric society, in that sociopathic dump of a nation-state known as the UK with a vampirish monarchy for an overlord, or that sanctimonious pile of loser puss known as France, or even that technocratic, soulless beast known as Germany, and their various client states in Europe. I see the end of the kind of nightmarish and violent white nationalism in Eastern Europe, which seems to worryingly resort to it for any and all traumas that it might go through. Indeed, I see the end of privileged white society to such an extent that I truly do foresee it soon being referred to in generations to come as the primary source of oppression for the overwhelming majority of humanity for over six centuries.

As a colonized person of color, it’s an extraordinary feeling of liberation to have coursing through my veins.

And course through it does.

I can taste that feeling of liberation. I can smell it. I can sense it in my mind, my heart, indeed, in my soul. The earthen-skinned goddess of liberation is trembling with ferocious indignation.

(And she’s a little scary, let me tell you.)

For I do believe we are on the cusp of a glorious evolution towards a new epoch where we are closer to equality, real equality, towards the true liberation of all, where we share and share alike, where we all live in communion with each other and our non-human family.

Now, I desperately hope this evolution will be non-violent.

The problem is that there is one inviolable truth to this evolution in humanity happening.

White privilege must end.

Just as patriarchy and misogyny must end. Just as capitalism and imperialism must end. Just as religious fundamentalism and nationalism must end.

Privileged white society has to come crumbling down.

I know all the defensive tropes that can and will be raised to counter the sentiments and sensibilities of this piece. I actually couldn’t care less about them because of one undeniable fact:

One section of humanity cannot consume many times more than the overwhelming majority of the rest, having actively brutalized and exploited from the rest of the world without also realizing that for true equality, for the real liberation of all of humanity, that very same society that consumes so much at the expense of so many must end. The consumption must end. The privilege must end.

The party is over people.

Yes, even for white liberals and lefties who voted for Obama but still wallow in white privilege like its divine right.

The resources need to be shared and shared alike – with the rest of the fucking world, with all of humanity in harmony with the earth.

This is not a wish.

It is a natural fact.

Make no mistake, there are going to be sections of that privileged white society who, deep down will admit, are not going to want to share and share alike. Large sections. The Fox News crowd is large, and they will soon be joined by the CNN crowd, eventually maybe even the MSNBC crowd and the indy media crowd. The right wing, the liberals, the slightly whinier liberals, even those who call themselves leftists – how many, white or otherwise, across the Western world will actually give up their privilege to share and share alike with the rest of the world?

The answer could be quite sobering.

Because the vast majority, a right royal hefty chunk of privileged white society will organize themselves into protecting their privilege. They will likely do this by reverting back to the insecure rationalizations of their power, by further upholding their unholy belief in oppressive nation-states and corporations, and by retreating into sterile comfort zones of privileged fear (picture hordes of insecure, ageing hipsters huddled behind suburban walls, festooned with the flags and bouquets of vapid white pop culture, while being guarded by brutal state mercenaries itching to kill brown people – with everyone involved knowing that there are only so many you can kill before the natural harmony of equality and liberation is restored.)

If they slip back to that soulless garbage, that’s going to be a problem. Because eventually privileged white folk will have to realize (as must we all, cis men, the elites of the colonized lands and more – we must all realize…) that there’s a choice in life:

Choice # 1: liberate ourselves together, share and share alike, and understand that our liberation is inconceivable without the liberation of all.

Or

Choice # 2: fall into insularity, oppression, bigotry, whining insecurity, and vain attempts at hoarding one’s privilege when we all know that, sooner or later, nature takes its course.

Nature is all about true freedom, true liberation, and true equality.

Indeed, nature is all about true balance.

And humanity is a force of nature too.

You see, there is a fear within privileged white society that has been fostered by racism and exploitation over many centuries. It is a fear that was ingrained, nay, interred into privileged white society from the day it was born. It is a fear in them that makes me think that a large section of privileged white society will end up inciting even greater violence around the world than it already has, along with its running dogs of religious fundamentalism and patriarchy.

For there is one thing that all those who benefit from privileged white society, whether they’re white or not, fear about the world that makes me realize that white privilege, imperialism, settler-colonialism, Eurocentrism, and racism will either crumble (or be smashed) into the ground.

There are more of the colonized than there are of the colonizer.

Way more.

Way, way more.

By the very definition that privileged white society consumes so much more than the rest of the world combined, over many centuries of colonialism and imperialism, has resulted in one inviolable fact.

Those who consume little be many. The overwhelming majority of those folk are colonized people of color.

Those who consume lots be few. The overwhelming majority of those folk are privileged white people.

Check the numbers if you don’t believe me. Check how much the West consumes compared to the rest of the world, even when the rest of the world includes big, brutal, sub-imperialist powers like China and India. Put it in actual per-capita numbers (you know, if you believe that all human lives are of equal worth and all.)

Indeed, that duality can be rephrased:

Those who need privileged white society to end be many.

Those who need privileged white society to continue be few.

I don’t say this in a threatening way. This evolution in humanity is going to have moments of violence and trauma that we must always do our best to avoid. This is not, nor can it ever be, about violence or retribution.

It’s just fact.

There are always going to be more of the colonized than there are of the colonizer.

And the barriers, the borders, the nationalism, the military might, the state mercenaries, the criminalization, the prison systems, the imperialist wars, the comprador scum, all the privilege that is derived from consuming ten times more than the rest of the world, all of that cannot hold back the long march of time.

And time is on the side of the colonized.

The oil will end. Economies will crash. Ever-increasing numbers of clownish demagogues will come to the fore. You cannot keep consuming and not expect something to come back to bite you in the ass.

And while I don’t believe that white privilege, racism, colonialism, or Eurocentrism will end in my lifetime in terms of a major shift towards greater equality and liberation for all of humanity; I do know it will happen. Indeed, I don’t have to see this liberation in my lifetime, or in this material world, for me to believe in it and be happy about it.

Because I see its beginning.

And I go to bed at night thanking all the goddesses of the universe for not being born white.

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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.

The patriarchy that is bred in silence – and a bro way to fight it.

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We all are, or at least ought to be, aware of the more brutal manifestations of patriarchy – a social, political, cultural, and economic existence for humanity that privileges men over women and gender non-conforming folk.

(Apologies in advance for any mansplaining transgressions in this essay btw.)

Physical and sexual violence often come to mind right away when thinking about the most commonly cruel fall outs from this system of male power and control.

But I know there is more than just those egregious forms of patriarchy. Many people, myself included, have viewed or continue to view those types of gender-based violence solely in a vacuum, separate from the rotten and fetid foundation that the violence stems from. For if it wasn’t apparent to me before, it certainly is now, that the foundation of this global system of oppression is ultimately kept in place  via silence – a willfully tight lipped ignorance.

Most men, across the globe, close ranks when it comes to discussing patriarchy and sexism. Even the self-identifying “decent” ones, like many of the men I used to have in my life, tend to not be very open or concerned about gender injustice because it ultimately means looking into the unearned privileges they have accrued at the cost of the women around them. Now make no mistake, these are men who would condemn gender-based violence, maybe even with a lot of emotion, but cannot bring themselves to understand and engage with their own internalized sexism and male privilege.

The preservation of unjust privileges can often be a far stronger unifying force for those who benefit from them than the dismantling of those privileges can be for those who are oppressed by them.

(Fuck me, there I go mansplaining again – and with such long, boring-ass sentences too.)

But men closing ranks around the preservation of patriarchy is a real pain in the butt – especially if you’re trying to play even the tiniest of roles in effecting some social justice and real liberation (not to mention deal with your own internalized crap). Cos this shit happens across the board – cops, military soldiers, nationalists, religious crazies, cultural figures – all and more close ranks when the injustice of their existence is questioned. It’s men being men.

Petulant, cowardly men.

So when I find myself mired in rather depressing questions.

Ones like:

Why is silence so effective in maintaining this oppressive system?

Why are so many men so very scared of talking about these very real problems afflicting our communities and our homes?

What is it that prevents so many men from embracing true love and liberation and equality? And the enriching, but often difficult, struggles that are needed to keep regenerating those beautiful life forces?

When I get bogged down by such painful ruminations – I also remember to hold onto hope.

For I now have a beautiful new realm of bromance-building to find good men in my life.

It is the gift and all important responsibility of fatherhood.

(Which also often happens to be buckets of awesome, if occasionally irritating, fun in and of itself.)

Because a friendship cultivated with a man out of a mutual treasuring of that most liberating of life endeavors – that of parenting a child – is likely a friendship with a man who is caring, nurturing, and honorable.

And that’s a bro I can hang with.

“The Greatest City in America”

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Not many people other than folks who have lived in Baltimore would know this, but this is a frequent sighting on many a public bench in the city, as part of a public project following the city adopting it as it’s new motto in 2001, reading:

“Baltimore | The Greatest City in America”

When I started grad school there in the fall of 2003, I thought it rather nice to be living in a city that fancied itself thus.

I kid you not. Those engraved benches actually made me kinda proud to be living in Baltimore – even if it was barely 10 months.

I was there for the time it took to complete a Masters degree and find a job, any job, that was relatively close to my field of study in public health and environmental studies. But I was determined to find out as much as possible about the city that was going to be my home for that brief period of my life.

With the many places that I had lived in, I only realized the beauty inherent in those places upon leaving and looking back at the time I spent there. In writing this essay, as I revisited my memories of Baltimore I realized that it gave me a glimpse of urban America that was to stick for the rest of my life (and I use the term “urban” the way I grew up using the term, i.e. to indicate a city, rather than as an often offensive euphemism for black people).

The university I was studying in did give me a partial glimpse, inasmuch as the homes of settlers can give a partial glimpse into the lands and lives of the colonized.

Hopkins was not Baltimore and Baltimore was not Hopkins. Never the twain met while I was there. Yet, so too did the internecine spaces overlap just enough.

I had to necessarily leave one in order to truly see the other. But I had to be intentional about it since I was studying or working all the time and realized that I wasn’t actually seeing the city if I was cooped up in my department all day.

So I decided to chart out a few walking paths, each several miles long, using the Homewood campus as the radial center, in order to explore a little bit of Baltimore. It was a city that was so much and more. Looking back, I realize Baltimore was more honest than many other parts of America I had seen, prior to and following that time. It didn’t hide from the truth, didn’t try to shove it under the rug. It was simultaneously beautiful and painful in its uninhibited ways.

(I feel compelled to add that I had this assessment of Baltimore many, many years before finally coming round to watching The Wire. I continue to have it now after watching that brutally well-made show.)

I think it helped for me to come from India to try and make sense of whatever parts of Baltimore I was able to witness. The only assessment of Baltimore from folks talking about the city, especially those in Hopkins and folks from outside the city, seemed to be poverty and crime.

India too has crime, not to mention a lot of poverty. It has a lot of everything and poverty is surely one of them. Thus, the poverty I saw in Baltimore wasn’t anywhere near the same level of material harshness as that of the poorer neighborhoods and slums I observed during my childhood from within the car my family drove in and out of our middle-class neighborhoods in Bangalore.

But the poverty felt the same in both places.

And that is why I felt it helped for me to witness it as an immigrant from India. What I saw in Baltimore would be not unlike much of the rest of America I would witness. Like in India, the poverty in America felt structurally and historically induced. Like in India, it was deeply segregated along race, class, and caste lines. Like in India, and I suppose anywhere else, it reeked of injustice.

The houses and neighborhoods I was seeing were socially as far away from Hopkins as Bangalore was from Hopkins. The difference was stark. Houses were boarded up or crumbling. Roads were filled with potholes, as if the city had forgotten that this part of Baltimore, the much larger part, did in fact exist. Garbage left unpicked and overflowing in giant bins on sidewalks with large cracks in them. Panhandlers dotted every street corner, while numerous small businesses, legal and extra-legal, attempted to valiantly eke out a living. Not everywhere in Baltimore of course, but in enough neighborhoods with majority black communities to make one feel like something was off in a big way.

Ultimately though it was Hopkins itself that reminded me of the difference between Baltimore and Hopkins.

A brief sociological observation I conducted, out of sheer boredom, of privileged white grad students and their Indian hangers-on exemplified this.

My cousin had invited me for an evening of beer and burgers with some of his acquaintances. He was studying at a different campus, and asked if I wanted to join his colleagues and him for an outing. I agreed but soon regretted my decision as it turned out to be rather trite and deeply offensive to the soul.

When I was a lonelier, more wretched person – i.e. a fair chunk of the time prior to meeting my divine partner and soulmate, Sus – I generally went on outings with irritating, often bigoted and/or sexist men and their equally irritating/bigoted/sexist friends. In grad school, this meant that I tended to go bar-hopping with assholish, privileged, male grad students (I should know, I was likely one of them for many an outing).

This was one of those times.

The conversation was banal and superficial. It didn’t help that the entire evening took place in a loud sports bar patronized primarily by jocks and frat boys. The beer was insipid and the burgers were mediocre. My cousin, as was his wont when interacting with white folk, turned into a bit of a pandering clown.

As more beers got downed, one of the guys in the crowd, heartily egged on by my cousin, cracked a joke about black panhandlers in the city. I don’t quite remember the joke. It was told without the usage of the n-word or any other racial slur, which irritated me even more because that somehow gave it a pass with everyone at the table (though anything that gets a pass from that sorry crowd should always be viewed with suspicion).

The joke did however include the white-as -freshly-driven-snow joke teller’s attempt at pronouncing the word “fifty cents” a la the famous rapper, you know, without pronouncing the “f” and all – because, and this was supposed to be the funny part, that’s how black panhandlers pronounced it.

(Snobbish, racist assholes are one of the few subgroups of humanity who seem to derive great glee from being snobbish, racist assholes.)

I really didn’t understand the joke. It was’t particularly funny. It was extremely offensive, yet all of them guffawed loudly.

I didn’t say anything to counter it or challenge it. I just smiled my plastic smile, stress-ate my greasy burger, and got back to wishing for the evening to end quickly so I could go back to the solitude of my basement room.

There was something revolting about the entire optics of the episode. All the folks who laughed at the joke were studying at a rich private university. It was an all-white crowd, barring my cousin and myself, two middle-class Indian internationals who were temporarily let into the club for one evening. Some might say that shouldn’t matter, but at the time I felt like it did and still do. The chap cracking the joke wouldn’t have done so if there was a black person in the group. The farcical norms of political correctness would have held sway (although evidently they could be bent a little to accommodate a couple of wannabe coconuts).

It did not sit well. Something was deeply unsettling about it, and it made my stomach turn. To say that it was a manifestation of deep racism, socially instilled and structurally induced, is of course true, but still doesn’t capture the visceral revulsion I felt at that time.

I was equally repulsed by my cowardice because I failed quite breathtakingly. I failed my black brothers and sisters. I didn’t do right by them and I didn’t do right by me. I went with the flow, satisfied with the discovery, but not particularly interested in making any intervention.

The joke those guys were laughing at was about people and neighborhoods they had probably never visited despite literally being around the corner from where they worked and studied.

I realized then that if I were a black person, I would be more than a little angry. I would have been angry because of the way my history was airbrushed out of significance and the struggles my community faced were nonchalantly dismissed as pettiness. I would have been angry because of the way my community was being painted with such a broad brush by institutions that had a significant and sinister role to play in the subjugation of my people.

But I would have also felt angry because the handlers of that brush were so fucking blind to beauty.

On one of my walking trips, I chanced upon a small watering hole that I ventured into. Raw music emanated from the dimly lit stage, the sharp lilt of the guitar accompanied by the deep, raspy voice of an old black man in a suit, accompanied by two other, equally weathered musicians, a drummer and a harmonica player who also provided backing vocals. The audience consisted of couples and small groupings of friends, mostly middle-aged black folk, with beers and shots, either chatting with one another or mesmerized by the music. A few of them stared at me, at first with a little suspicion but then with an indifferent acceptance the moment I smiled at them. Smoke covered the room.

I sat by the bar, ordered a Colt 45 since it looked like the cheapest drink on offer, and listened.

I don’t know how long I sat there. I lost track of time because the music didn’t seem to be playing by the same rules as pop or rock concerts played by. More mellowed out and organically attuned to the crowd, not dominating the scene, but rather just providing mild dopamine-inducing comfort.

“Little taste?” the bartender asked me.

“Um…I’m sorry?” I said.

He smiled.

“Can I get you another drink son?” he asked, this time pronouncing the words more carefully, still smiling.

“Oh, yeah…sure…I’ll have the same please” I replied, awkwardly returning the smile.

“You’re not from around here, are you brother?” he asked me warmly, handing me the can.

“No…I’m not.” I replied. “I’m uh…I’m from India.”

“India! Damn…with elephants and shit…you a long way from home. What brings you here?”

“Um…I’m doing my Masters at uh…at Hopkins.” I said, a little hesitatingly.

“That’s great! Education’s so important…and you guys really study a lot, don’t ya?” he said, chuckling a bit.

“Well…” I replied, relaxing a little bit but not knowing what to say. His warmth was difficult to be nervous around.

“I got a nephew in college.” he said, without missing a beat. “Out here studying criminal justice.”

“Oh yeah? Where?” I asked

“University of Maryland, Baltimore Couny.”

“Where’s that?” I probed further.

“Not too far from here my man! The place where some of us black folk have a chance to get into college.” he said.

I smiled a little wryly. I was a little ashamed of where I was studying. I had been able to leverage my privilege from thousands of miles away to a university that most folks living in the same city as that institution couldn’t even dream of going to.

He was gracious about it though. Didn’t show me anything but warmth and a good-natured spirit.

“We gotta try though, you know what I mean?” he continued. “Can’t let the white man keep us down.”

I nodded.

He kept going, happy at the affirmation I was giving him.

“Yep…he sure do like his money. Man, I got no beef against white folk – water under the bridge – but, damn, why they gotta love that green so much man? Why they got to love them dead presidents so much? Sheesh…”

I was beginning to really, really like this wise handler of spirits and alcoholic beverages.

His short rant over, he tried lightening up the conversation.

“So…you a blues man huh?” he asked me, giving a quick wipe down to the weathered bar.

“Oh, yes…love the blues…and jazz too. Really great forms of music. This is the first live band I’ve ever been to though.” I replied.

“You shittin’ me! Man…this is one of the best live bars in the country. People say you gotta go to Chicago or down to New Orleans, but we got some of the best music in the country right here in Baltimore son! Tell you what my young Indian brother…you come here any time you want, and I’ll be sure that you won’t ever have to pay the cover, a’right? This drink’s on me.”

And so saying, he refused payment for the drink I ordered. The musicians got back on stage for another session, and everyone settled back down in their seats.

I smiled, grateful for the experience.

I think it was about then that I realized that Baltimore far richer than a place like Johns Hopkins University could ever fit within its sterile framework.

I don’t have the time or patience for men who fear love, liberation, and struggle

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This is among the longer titles I have for an essay. But I’ve had a three week break from this blog, so I wonder if I’m maybe trying to make up for the break by just throwing it all out there in the title. (Did you also notice the shameful nod to the name of the blog itself.)

Long titles are actually one of those cardinal sins I commit far too frequently as a blogger.

But then again, these long titles are useful for me because they kind of summarize what I’m trying to say. People will also be better informed to see if this essay might be worth the time it would take to read it. And it’s a more democratic and egalitarian way of presenting an essay – catering even to the reader with the patience levels of a fussy infant who has just gained enough sentience to realize how glorious she is and how much she needs to constantly and very loudly exclaim that fact to her parents.

(I love my awesome daughter so damn much now, that she does occasionally frustrate me with how incessantly illustrative she is of my own incompetence as a bumbling father.)

I wrote quite a while back about men who fear love – and today I want to add that I also don’t have the time or patience for them. I just don’t want to put in the energy into maintaining relationships with these men, because they always also fear equality and joy and real happiness and true gender liberation. The pyrrhic benefits of patriarchy and sexism are just too much to let go off because of that fear.

To be sure, I’m not suggesting that these benefits magically disappear when you start fighting for real love and happiness from the standpoint of equality, social justice, and liberation. Men across the world, regardless of the “isms” they identify with, are swaddled in patriarchal privilege, even if some benefits for some men are tempered by colonialism or racism or poverty. Those benefits nevertheless remain in various forms and will remain until we realize the folly of the last few thousand years and return to living in truly gender-liberated matriarchal societies, led and guided by women and gender non-conforming people, especially women and trans people of color.

Now, that will take a while because patriarchy is kinda stubborn and stupid and assholish (not to mention mind-numbingly evil), but letting go of that fear of love and happiness grounded in equality and liberation will reveal the soullessness and diseased nature of those patriarchal benefits to us men.

At least I’m betting it will.

But then again, what the fuck do I know?

So, let me bring in the power of someone who is a far superior soul and human being than I am.

Nowadays,  as is quite apparent from my recent writings, I can’t stop from bringing my little warrior goddess of a daughter into my essays, occasionally using appalling attempts at subtlety. But Daya invokes so much awe in me that I must bow before her strength and wisdom every day (apparently utilizing the power of a blog that gets a dozen views or more on a good day).

Because she teaches me so much about myself, about the people around me, about the world in general. Equally importantly, she helps me unlearn and relearn. She and Sus give me so much happiness, love, and outright freedom of the spirit – that it becomes easy to do that difficult unlearning and relearning. One feels strong enough to deal with any consequences, such as sadness and hurt. What’s a little sadness or hurt (not to mention anger and depression) when you have two powerful goddesses in your family?

Now, I have had to unlearn and relearn a lot about myself and the world, and equally so about my family, friends, and community – both in South Asia and North America. This most recent family visit to Bangalore I made alongside the afore mentioned two greatest human beings on earth – so that one of them could meet her grandparents and family in India – was yet another chapter of unlearning and relearning for me.

For starters, I think I need to finally come out as a survivor of many years of sibling abuse that I faced at the hands of my older brother during my childhood – physical violence in the form of punches, shoves and slaps, in addition to regular emotional abuse and verbal humiliation.

I realize that, while I forgive him because he didn’t know better (he seems to be a loyal, caring husband and a good, hard-working father), I would like to simultaneously formalize my non-relationship with him and declare that there never was and never will be any brotherly love between us.

(To be honest, I’m kinda happy that I don’t have to continue the facade of a relationship with bullshit politeness and banal conversations.)

It also just confirms to me how little actual blood or bloodlines matter when it comes to real, caring, and nurturing love for a fellow soul.

I also know that his abusive behavior towards me (which was usually followed by an apology of sorts, in keeping with the cyclical nature of abuse in most family or interpersonal relationships) was pretty much a direct result of being the firstborn in a shitty, socially conservative, and patriarchal marriage between my parents, which was arranged by their own patriarchal, socially conservative parents. The marriage itself had a shitty, socially conservative, and patriarchal relationship with my father’s side of the family, which made things way, way worse.

My parents seem to be doing much better now. As is the wont of the patriarchy from some generations, marriages are for freaking life no matter what, so eventually some of these couples realize that there’s nowhere to go but up, and thus might as well try to get a better marriage since they’re fucking stuck in it anyway, with only their own shittily-married parents as the norm to break free from (it’s no wonder that the bar for loving, long term relationships is set so low across the world).

 

I truly do believe that a major part of it is also fear in men – fear of perhaps losing those pyrrhic benefits and power that comes from patriarchal social norms, fear of the work and self-reflection needed for true equality and liberation that has to be the foundation for love and happiness, and indeed, fear of that love and liberation itself. Some might call it cowardice, others might say that men around the world are in reality, adult children, immature little bratty boys – infantile humans who have been handed a variety of powers and privileges due to thousands of years of patriarchy that molly-coddle the ever-loving crap out of them.

But what do I know…

And that is why, I’m going to stick to the personal (while surreptitiously getting onto a mighty giant pile of soap boxes) and in a nod to both my past and my future relationships with men, however they may or may not end up, indeed to the men in my life across time and space – I make this declaration:

I have no time or patience for men who fear true love, happiness, and liberation as well as the hard work, the struggles, the learning, unlearning and relearning that it takes to build a foundation of real equality, justice and liberation.

If I see this fear in any man in my life – and I now really seek it out because it irritates me no end – I might need to cool off from the relationship, or just not have one, you know, might not really want to be around the guy and talk or be all chill and polite. I might tell the guy, I might not, based on what I need for my own emotional and mental health. Because I need to dedicate my time and energy to people who truly don’t fear love or happiness or liberation – and the necessary struggles against patriarchy and self-reflection around oppression it takes to keep nurturing those life forces.

I have enough awesome love in my life, human and non-human, so I can afford to make this choice.

(NB: I have never paid adequate credit to my awesome, glorious partner, Sus, for all the critique, support and editing help she provides for every essay I produce. I hope to change that from this post onwards and show how truly grateful I am for it.)