My comments about it, I hope, makes it clear just why it becomes so *grating* when white people with tattoos, piercings, who are punk, or whatever the fuck else white people do to show their counter-culture individuality, equate their whatever experiences they have for their increased visibility with the experiences of dark skinned PoC, or visibly genderescent and/or trans people, or anyone who lacks any real choice about how visible they are and the ways that this visibility negatively impacts their lives (also inclusive of disabled people, fat people, women, etc. and all intersections thereof).
White people, your choice to become visible is predicated on the notion that you are the default human, thus you must do something extra achieve the same level of visibility that various marginalized bodies experience.
It is not only the assholeishness of engaging in a false equivalence (choice to get tattooed = skin colour) but it reenforces the white supremacist notion that you are default and, thus, normal.
all of this.
This was a huge problem with the original description for a panel I was on at WisCon about body acceptance—which not coincidentally, only attracted White panelists in its first incarnation. We did get it significantly changed, although for other reasons it ended up still being fairly disastrous (ask cypheroftyr). But the original panel totally seemed to equate tattoos and piercings and shit with being a POC, which is fucked up and would certainly explain why no POC had volunteered to be on the panel as it was written.
This was never meant to be a fun and enjoyable activity. It was never meant to be one of those “LOOK BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES, WE’RE ALL THE SAME” kind of things.
Because racism isn’t a fun thing. And unfortunately, we live in a society where we are not treated as equals. AND IT FEELS AWFUL. To the commenters who are up in arms about the treatment of the one white girl crying in that situation- did you even bother to think about the number of times POC have ever cried due to the racism they experience in their day-to-day being? Or the number of times we are permitted to cry? Or that our cries would be heard? Call me a terrible person, but I have no sympathy for the white girl who was crying in the activity because she dismissed the educational value of such a session and didn’t bring a pen or paper. A session which she would later be credited for and advance her educational experience.
If anything, she was being rewarded for enduring a short period of hardship. Where’s the credit I get for the hardship I endure?
Where was the credit for being denied the right to a proper education at the age of 6 because my accent caused me to pronounce all these English words incorrectly?
Where was the credit for being rejected to play any roles as any leading character in a school play because my skin colour was “aesthetically displeasing for the role” (aka too brown)?
Do I get a credit for getting beaten up because someone thought that all brown/ “muslim looking people” are terrorists?
How many credits do I get for being fetishised by white people who thought that Desi vaginas were a gate way to a fantastical exotic world, only to find out that they weren’t and would there for cause harm to you BECAUSE YOU COULDN’T LIVE UP TO YOUR RACIAL STEREOTYPE?
Even now in the work place, do I get a magic credit for being forced to Anglicise my name so “it doesn’t scare the clients”? Or to endure my manager telling me to dress more “professional” so “customers aren’t worried about people like me”?
So, do I get any credits here?
You see, it’s gonna hurt a few white people when I say this- but you all have that privilege of stepping in and out of discussions and situations to do with racism. That girl crying away in that experiment has the luxury of stepping out in an hour or, she has the freedom of saying”I DON’T LIKE THIS I’M MAKING IT STOP”. That’s a fucking privilege. It’s something that I, and many other POC here will never ever have.
So for the next white person who complains about this clip, consider all this before you spill your privilege denial everywhere.
everything above. Everything.
To those who want to support the Occupation of Wall Street, who want to struggle for a more just and equitable society, but who feel excluded from the campaign, this is a message for you.
To those who do not feel as though their voices are being heard, who have felt unable or uncomfortable participating in the campaign, or who feel as though they have been silenced, this is a message for you.
To those who haven’t thought about #OccupyWallStreet but know that radical social change is needed, and to those who have thought about joining the protest but do not know where or how to begin, this is a message for you.
You are not alone. The individuals who make up the People of Color Working Group have come together because we share precisely these feelings and believe that the opportunity for consciousness-raising presented by #OccupyWallStreet is one that cannot be missed. It is time to push for the expansion and diversification of #OccupyWallStreet. If this is truly to be a movement of the 99%, it will need the rest of the city and the rest of the country.
Let’s be real. The economic crisis did not begin with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers in 2008. Indeed, people of color and poor people have been in a state of crisis since the founding of this country, and for indigenous communities, since before the founding of the nation. We have long known that capitalism serves only the interests of a tiny, mostly white, minority.
Black and brown folks have long known that whenever economic troubles ‘necessitate’ austerity measures and the people are asked to tighten their belts, we are the first to lose our jobs, our children’s schools are the first to lose funding, and our bodies are the first to be brutalized and caged. Only we can speak this truth to power. We must not miss the chance to put the needs of people of color—upon whose backs this country was built—at the forefront of this struggle.
The People of Color Working Group was formed to build a racially conscious and inclusive movement. We are reaching out to communities of color, including immigrant, undocumented, and low-wage workers, prisoners, LGTBQ people of color, marginalized religious communities such as Muslims, and indigenous peoples, for whom this occupation ironically comes on top of another one and therefore must be decolonized. We know that many individuals have responsibilities that do not allow them to participate in the occupation and that the heavy police presence at Liberty Park undoubtedly deters many. We know because we are some of these individuals. But this movement is not confined to Liberty Park: with your help, the movement will be made accessible to all.
If it is not made so, it will not succeed. By ignoring the dynamics of power and privilege, this monumental social movement risks replicating the very structures of injustice it seeks to eliminate. And so we are actively working to unite the diverse voices of all communities, in order to understand exactly what is at stake, and to demand that a movement to end economic injustice must have at its core an honest struggle to end racism.
The People of Color working group is not meant to divide, but to unite, all peoples. Our hope is that we, the 99%, can move forward together, with a critical understanding of how the greed, corruption, and inequality inherent to capitalism threatens the lives of all peoples and the Earth.
The People of Color working group was launched on October 1, 2011. We can be reached by email at email@example.com. We can also be found online at pococcupywallstreet.tumblr.com We meet Sundays @ 3 PM and Wednesdays @ 6:30 PM under the large red structure in Liberty Square.