You know, I aim to bring the chuckles over here at FF, but sometimes there are situations that are notably unfunny that I have to comment on. Historically, these have included posts on medical conditions, career anxiety and the ongoing feud between me and my penis. Okay, that last one's a little bit funny.
A fellow blogger submitted this post the other day. It is about how he, a brown man, categorically would not want to come back as a white person in a future life, ending his post with a disclaimer that this was not a racist sentiment and we had the following comment exchange:
The Illustrious D said...
I do want to be white in my next life. But that's not racist either...
July 13, 2010 9:25 AM
@ I-D:I donno whether I should ask this but: Would you still want to be Jewish in your next life? (Assuming there is a next life and assuming you'd have the choice)
The Illustrious D said...
I once heard a famous lesbian state that she hopes her kids are straight. This had nothing to with self-loathing or lack of pride, but rather wanting her kids to have the easiest path possible.To that end, I would come back in my next life as a white heterosexual Christian (at least culturally) man.Though I wanna try one go-around as a woman at some point.
July 19, 2010 12:33 PM
@ I-D:My point in this post was exactly the opposite. I realized I came to value my struggles however hard things might have been for me. I don't want it easier in my next life. Is that masochism? Maybe. But it's also a political consciousness that I seem to embody and that feel committed to and want to keep living by.Thanks for responding, dearest I-D.
July 19, 2010 5:27 PM
Oooooooooooooooooookay. I have several points to make on this subject and I'm doing it here because I don't want to bogart his comments section.
First of all, it is racist. Flat out. You can have all the reasons in the world (and we'll get to some of those in a moment), but it's still racist. It's essentially giving more value in your experience as a non-white more than you ever possibly could as a caucasian. Not religious experiences, nor sexual, cultural or handicapped experiences. This is purely about the skin colour you were born with and valuing it above another's. Sorry, you can paint it in whatever far-left liberal nobility you like, but that's racist.
This is not to say that all races have the same experiences, which is what I ultimately think he was getting at. The implicit tone was saying that he values his experience as a brown person; this is totally, 100% valid. I value myself as a Jew. I value myself as a queer. I value myself as whatever-label-I'm-using-to-describe-my-physical-condition-this-week. It's all worthwhile. But guess what other experience is worthwhile? Being white. I don't really identify as white, but there's a lot of really good shit that comes along with that DNA. In refusing to entertain the notion of having those benefits, you essentially place more value on your oppression, real or perceived, than on being born with a certain racial advantage. It's wallowing, accepting whatever persecution you can grab and holding on for dear life rather than refusing it and moving on.
There is a tendency among young adults to react to the shattering of childhood perceptions of the world with radicalism, fight. We place more value in being different than in being good. More worth in personal struggle than saying, "Fuck you," getting over it and moving up in the world. Petition? Sure, I'll sign it. Protest? I'm there. What's it about? I don't really know, but someone's mad about something so I'm in. Anger requires no research whatsoever. The big issues of the world are not dealt with by the angry, but rather by those who have gone past that to understanding and, in many cases, sadness. It's naive to think that we can solve what the great educated minds of the world cannot, but then again, we're not really looking to find solutions. We're looking to be angry.
Why? We just love being different, even crucified. We base our burgeoning adulthood identity on all these things that separate us from our peers and collect them like they're Pokemon. The harder our journey, the prouder we are of ourselves. "Is that masochism?" No. It's way too smug to be masochism. It's self-satisfying martyrdom, it's weaving your own hairshirt, it's flogging yourself with a smile and it's repulsive. Hey, why not cripple yourself while you're at it? Why not pluck out your eyes or blow off your eardrums? At what point does difference stop being perceived as noble and just as fucked up? Probably the point where you yourself are at, I'm guessing.
As stated, I enjoy the unique perspectives that I've gained from my "otherness." I am happy to own them for the rest of my life and look forward to the things they'll teach me. But they're not fucking battle scars. They're not a button on a canvas messenger bag. Not a sign at a rally on posterboard from the Dollar Store. And they're certainly not a self-congratulatory mock up of an image of white domination on someone's blog. My oppressions, my struggles, they don't put me in a nobler place because I've lived them. It's shit I've been dealt and if someone came up and offered me a contract stating that in my next life I could be a healthy, white, straight male, you bet your ass I'd sign.