“Racism is a problem of communication” Part 2 living the consequences of this rhetoric

On January 20th I wrote a post under the title "Racism is a problem of communication" and other assorted white myths. In the post, I mentioned the German town of Hoyerswerda where, in 1991 a refugee center was set on fire by right wing racists who wanted to inflict as much harm as possible on the immigrants living at the center. In the post I mentioned that the town was opening a new center to receive, once again, immigrants. The local politicians framed the racism as “a problem of communication that made white people look bad”. Back then I wrote:

Two things worth noting here. On the one hand, “racism as bringing shame to the country”. Racism is not exposed because of its inherently violence towards People of Color or because of the long lasting consequences on the lives of PoC. Racism brings “shame” to white people. The affect of racism (as in, who is affected by it) is not on the victims but on how “badly” it reflects on the white dominant culture. On the other hand, “racism as a matter of feelings” and “racism as a result of bad communication”. Rather than expose racism as part of a centuries old history behind white supremacy, racism becomes a problem of “self expression”, reduced to a few problematic individuals that cannot “express themselves” properly.

Last week, a group of immigrants moved into the town. This happened:

The destitute east German town of Hoyerswerda waited 23 years for a second chance to prove they were a welcoming place, after a mob chased foreign refugees and migrants in 1991. When that chance arrived this week, it took them about 36 hours to blow it.

They got their chance Wednesday afternoon when 36 refugees, including 10 kids, from places including Syria, Pakistan and Morocco arrived at their brand new center. A Moroccan man was attacked Friday morning.

A primary difference, of course, between the attacks in 1991 and Friday was that this was an isolated attack.[…]

Friday’s attack took place while one of the newest residents of the city of 35,000 was standing on the ancient and very quaint city square. A resident riding by on a bicycle slapped him, then turned around and came back and hit him again, at least a couple times.

And again, the white tactics of deflection are deployed: an isolated incident, different from the previous one, etc etc. Rather than address the structure underlying these attacks and highlighting the brutal genealogy of racism that 23 years later is present like the previous time, we are offered apologia and minimization.

Racism continues being a consequence of white supremacy, no matter how the dominant culture wants us to believe it’s just “isolated incidents” or “a few bad apples”.

10 reasons why Joyce Carol Oates should be named the Patron of White Feminism

1. While Michelle Goldberg at The Nation needed more than 10 thousand words to write the ultimate guide to fear of Women of Color and “mean masses” on Twitter, Oates can achieve the same result in 140 characters or less

Shadows gathering at edge of property. Full moon, when ominous threatening twitterers come to life.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 9, 2014

2. Godwin’s Law? What’s that? Wasn’t Godwin the Earl of Essex? Zoo guards, on the other hand, are as bad as the NAZIS. AS.BAD

Still can’t comprehend why the Danish zoo killed the beautiful young healthy giraffe. Yes, they had “reasons”—so did Nazi doctors.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 11, 2014

3. Islam is bad and women need to be saved from it. Also, Muslim men are savages.

Where 99.3% of women report having been sexually harassed & rape is epidemic—Egypt—natural to inquire: what’s the predominant religion?

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

July 5, 2013

If 99.3% of women reported being treated equitably, fairly, generously—it would be natural to ask: what’s the predominant religion?

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

July 5, 2013

4. It’d be worse if I was racist!

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Quote via

5. She has meaningful Olympics commentary 

So glad not to be in Sochi! & I am not even gay, or Russian.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 8, 2014

6. Woody Allen is just a misunderstood genius… like Nabokov

Though Woody Allen has been much denounced, very likely many of his denouncers greatly admire Nabokov’s “Lolita.” No contradiction?

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 8, 2014

7. And those “piling on Woody Allen are just like a lynching mob”

Very likely studies have been done of the psychology of the lynch mob—probably not original to suggest that it is thrilling to “bond”…

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 9, 2014

Perhaps the object of the lynch mob isn’t important: it’s the passion of righteousness that bonds the mob. Intervene at your own peril.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 9, 2014

(Oh if you think this is not what white feminists are saying about Allen, check this piece by Susan Moore at The Guardian. After reading Moore’s piece, head off to this gem from Oates about “the court of public opinion”)

8. In “Other cultures” young girls are also courted by older men (notice how the cultural relativism is only deployed in so far as it benefits white supremacy. When it’s about judging Islam, “all those men are savages”; when it’s about defending a child abuser “in other cultures it’s normal”).

Predilection of older—(could be elderly)—men for young girls is not uncommon in all cultures. See Kawabata, “House of Sleeping Beauties.”

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 8, 2014

9. Art, art matters above all ethical issues or even human decency

Woody Allen may have behaved unconscionably as a person/ step-father—but it isn’t clear what this has to do with his often brilliant films.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 2, 2014

All things being equal, one would prefer to give an award to the “nicer” of two artists. But the quality of the art itself is what matters.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

February 2, 2014

10. When in doubt, side with the victim… except when the perpetrator is a white man you respect. (any similarities with white feminists siding with a white man when he abuses “lesser” women is a mere coincidence)

When in doubt, side with the victim.

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)

January 28, 2014

Anti white racism taken very seriously in France

Remember when in 2011 I posted about a Black woman convicted of “anti white racism” in France?

It has only gotten worse ever since. This week “Man jailed for ‘anti-white racist’ attack in France”. However, this one is not quite like the other one. If a Black woman could be convicted of “anti white racism”, then the definition of racism had to be stretched even further (reverse racism is not enough of a claim for white supremacy, expansion is required until the word racism loses all meaning and victims are left with absolutely nothing). So… this from the article is a bonafide expansion, once and for all, of what racism actually means or entails:

A man was sentenced this week to four years behind bars for an “anti-white racist” attack on a Frenchman on the platform of a Paris train station. The convicted man was also white.[…]

The victim first laid eyes on his two attackers when they asked him for a cigarette while he was on the platform waiting for a train. When he refused to hand one over he began to be insulted with a second alleged attacker, who has not yet been caught, calling the victim “a dirty white” and “dirty Frenchman”.

He was then set upon by both men and attacked with broken bottles. The victim was left seriously injured.

To French prosecutors, the abuse was not just ordinary insults, the words were a clear sign the beating was racially motivated. The court agreed and followed prosecutors’ recommendations in imposing the four-year sentence, one year of which is suspended.

The article contains gems such as these:

'Anti-white racism is just like any other form of racism - it cannot be ignored'

And

"We are acting just like we would for any kind of racism case, whether it’s anti-Semitic or anti-black," Vice president of LICRA Philippe Schmidt told The Local in an April 2013 interview. "We cannot just pull a blanket over our eyes because this is a case of anti-white racism.

A bit of decontextualized, faux outrage commentary had to be added as well

The issue of anti-white racism is a sensitive subject in France. Up until recently it was a concept invoked mainly by members of France’s far-right organizations.

Because really, how could it possibly be that these ideas trickled down from the extreme right into the mainstream?! it couldn’t possibly be that mainstream media played a role amplifying them uncritically and, in turn, they were picked by “moderate” politicians and public figures to get themselves into the spotlight at the expense of minorities and excluded groups? No, these ideas just “came to be” into the public opinion and “inserted themselves” into mainstream discourses by spontaneous generation. The 2011 conviction of a Black woman couldn’t have possibly played a role in getting to the point we are at now, right? Ah, “reverse racism” is finally institutionalized and given the proper legal framework that white supremacy requires.  

Whiteness as social disease and ableism

I want to preface this by saying that throughout this reflection, when I use “whiteness” I mean it as shorthand, inspired in bell hooks’ definition, for “white supremacist, heteronormative, cissupremacist, capitalist, Imperialist patriarchy” (see here Trudy’s compiled list of origins of definitions and here for bell hooks’ own usage of these ideas in one example of her own writing). I understand that “whiteness” usually means different things to different people but this is what I have in mind when I speak about it. Whiteness as “system of interlocked oppressions”.

Yesterday I shared Sarah Kendzior’s excellent post about media cruelty and exclusion. A number of people objected to the ableism in the piece, mostly, the conflation of sociopathy to racism/ misogyny/ transphobia, etc (you can see it in the reblogs of my post but I also saw the objections pop up on Twitter). Last week, a woman of color, in a private space, asked if people thought that referring to racism as sociopathy was ableist. The question was based, I presumed, in the definition of sociopathy as one in “which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others”. The responses (all of them), said yes. Equating racism to sociopathy was ableist. In all these instances described, the respondents pointing out the ableism were white.

I realized in these incidents that there seems to be a disconnect and lack of understanding of the framework to explain what we are experiencing as PoC. The ableism highlighted in these situations might be technically correct. These could be interpreted as ableist ways of describing social problems, unless the “observer” was implicated by virtue of being on the receiving end of these behaviors. I am not trying to gloss over the implication for mental health and for the stigmas associated with mental illness. Yet, I also realized that for many of us, myself included, whiteness can only be described as a social disease. We lack words to explain this in ways that do not further stigmatize people. I am aware that saying racism is sociopathic could be interpreted as ableist and yet, how do we describe a culture wide phenomenon that kills us? how do we describe a political system founded on our shared inhumanity? how do we describe an oppression that is rooted in lack of empathy and love towards us? Again, this is not to gloss over ableism but what words do we have to pick from? One of the consequences of epistemic injustice is that we do not have accepted frameworks to explain our lives. By “accepted”, I mean, frameworks that are society-wide accepted and recognized as valid throughout academia, mainstream media and public discourses including but not limited to policy and laws. So, in this denial of our knowledge and theories, we are left gasping for air. Here we stand looking for words that would encompass the gravity of what we experience.

Tim Wise, someone whose work is awful, has spoken about the pathology of privilege and this is where Tim Wise’s phony and shallow activism comes through. Privilege is not the pathology. Privilege is the symptom of whiteness as a social disease that kills us. The outcome of our systemic Othering and eventual deaths is the privilege. Wise, ever the apologist, falls into the white trap I’ve written about this past week claiming that racism is bad not because it kills PoC, racism is bad for white people because it causes them mental illnesses

That’s what white privilege does to white folks. But that’s not all. It also creates an intense anxiety, like a mental dysfunction, an emotional anxiety, and distress. If you are privileged after all, if you are the top dog, if you have all the advantage, you are constantly afraid of who’s gaining on you. You’re constantly afraid of who’s coming to take what you have. You’ve got to close the border. They’re coming to take our stuff.  We’ve got to worry about terrorists. They’re coming to take our stuff. We got to get them before they get us; preventative war. We’ve got to stop them. That’s what privilege will do for you because those who have it are constantly anxious. A study in June of 2004, in the journal of the American Medical Association, which received very little attention, found that in the United States the rates of anxiety disorder, depression, and substance abuse related mental disorders are twice the global average, five times the rate in Nigeria. How is it that the most powerful and privileged people on earth can have so much more anxiety than people who live in war torn areas, civil war, political corruption, amazing problems, often famine, all kinds of hardships, that for the most part, we don’t see at least in the same abundance, let’s say, in the United States? And yet, it is here that the greatest level of anxiety exists. I would suggest that the reason that happens is because it’s the privilege that generates the anxiety.

See? White folks suffer more than those Black folks in Nigeria or in war thorn, famine suffering countries! (really? how did he get away with the inherent white supremacy of this statement?! and worse, how did he become mandatory reading material in educational institutions across the Western world?! I know the answer, these are the rhetorical questions I ask myself in disbelief).

How do we, as PoC define a system where you are viewed and treated as the disease and as the reason for the disease (which is what Tim Wise implies, by proximity, in his statements above)? Because if white folks experience anxiety and mental health issues due to a desperation to preserve their privilege, aren’t we somewhat responsible for their perceived suffering as well? How do we steer clear of this language to explain “whiteness as a system that immunizes itself from our existence”? Yes, these are all disease related metaphors and yet, which other metaphors do we have to illustrate something that kills us? Moreover, how do those of us who bear the marks of this whiteness while simultaneously dealing with mental health issues and the associated stigmas find an appropriate framework that doesn’t stigmatize us in one of our intersecting oppressions?

In the Journal of Disability Studies Quarterly, Phil Smith writes about “Whiteness, Normal Theory, and Disability Studies”. From his paper:

Racism is defined bluntly and cogently as “an ideological ethnocentric diseased set of beliefs

“A diseased set of beliefs”. And then, further on, this:

It is very true that minorities are at greater risk for acquiring disability labels and losing ability capacities, often as a result of impoverishment (O’Connor 1993). Difficulty in obtaining services for African Americans may include issues including impoverishment, discrimination, and services that are not culturally competent.[…]

And race has been tied in basic ways to understandings and metaphors of developmental disability. For example, prior to the label of Down syndrome used by modernist medical science, the term Mongolism was the dominant term. The construction of people with disabilities as freaks is “steeped in racism, imperialism, and handicapism…”. Psychiatric survivors have also experienced a “potent fusion of insanity and blackness” as the result of racialized terror felt by Whites.

Race and disability have resided in the same social terrains throughout their history, especially so in educational territories. Eugenicist, modernist science has been instrumental in conflating the cultural topography of disability and race. For example, research has shown over and over that there is a relationship between eligibility for special education services and race […]

One of the most recent of these studies revealed that “…black public school students are three times as likely as whites to be identified as mentally retarded and in need of special-education services…” (Tato 2001, Paragraph 4). Another source notes that African-American students are mis-identified as being mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed at much higher rates than whites […]

I could go on quoting more race based ableist stigmas from this paper but I won’t. My point is made: ableist discourses rest on a foundation of racist Othering. This is not to say that white people are not oppressed by ableism. This is to say that whiteness (see my first paragraph for the working definition) will do away with their own if, by proximity, they can be linked to “us”. And if that is not the textbook definition of a culture that exhibits a “long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others”, then what other words are we left to use to define it?

Italian Parliamentary dons blackface to “protest” benefits for Black immigrants

From Italy MP ‘blacks up’ for anti-migrant speech - Europe - Al Jazeera English (emphasis mine)

A right-wing Italian politician smeared his face with black greasepaint in parliament, advising Italians to “become a bit darker” if they wanted to take advantage of the country’s supposed hand-outs to black immigrants.[…]

"At the end of the day, maybe in this country in order to achieve anything we need to be a bit darker.

"I say we can all put make-up on and make ourselves a bit darker, and then we can all go around painted black and say we want the same help that non-EU citizens get.

The Northern League has accused Cecile Kyenge, the country’s Congo-born minister for integration, of using her post to “favour negritude”.

When I wrote about the racist constructions used in the European Union as a project of Empire, this is precisely the kind of ideology I was referring to. In this construction, to be Black, to be of color, to be Other is to never be fully acknowledged as belonging. This from the article:

Kyenge is Italy’s first black politician and has experienced multiple incidents of racism, not least from the Northern League.

Its leader Roberto Calderoli compared her to an orang-utan last year. He was later charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination.

Kyenge has also had bananas thrown at her during public appearances and the political party’s official newspaper has started printing her daily agenda, detailing her official appointments.

Here’s a hint of why these issues are nowhere close to be fixed:

In response, Nichi Vendola, the head of the left-wing SEL party, tweeted: “Can someone tell the racists that we’re in the Third Millennium and are a civilised country, despite them.

“The racists think they’re in Alabama or Mississippi of a half-century ago or in South Africa during apartheid.”

These places that Vendola points out as examples of horrific racism were made so through a history of European colonialism. The racism and violence that took place/ is taking place in those locations is a direct result of a European ideology that was imposed in them. To now point to them as “examples” of anything without any historical contextualization of how they came to be, where those ideas originated, etc, is to further push the myth of an enlightened Europe that somewhat bears no responsibility for how white supremacy came to be and how, to this day, the European Union is founded and expanded on these ideas. 

A black African teenager was hit with a hurley and verbally abused in her garden in one of 97 racist incidents reported to an online database in the first 2½ months after it went live.
A complaint made to iReport, an online database managed by the European Network Against Racism, said the girl and her family had been racially abused by a neighbour on several occasions and that the family was threatened with arson if the children played outside.

iReport website records 97 racist incidents in first 2½ months of operation - Social Affairs & News from Ireland & Abroad | The Irish Times - Mon, Dec 16, 2013

From the article:

Of the 97 racist incidents reported between July 11th, 2013, when the iReport database went live, and September 30th, 2013, almost two-thirds involved physical threat (52 per cent) or physical assault (13.5 per cent).

The full report is available online here.

The Maury Show Feminists strike again

There is this group of white British feminists that never seem to get enough of taunting and annoying me based on their dislike of my work. This past week has been no exception.

It all started when someone known as Glosswitch wrote an inane piece defending the likes of Helen Lewis and Caitlin Moran against the “mean feminists” who call them out. She name checked me in her piece to make a point about intersectionality. I objected to her using my name or any of my ideas to defend Helen Lewis, someone who, out of the blue and without having any interactions with me, once called me “the worst of a certain strand of feminist blogging”. Glosswitch wrote a schoolyard rant about how her “friends” are unjustly attacked and how “mean feminists” call them out, etc. For this “defense” she appropriated intersectional theory. I vehemently objected to this. I resent the mindless appropriation of theories and ideas created by and for Black women and other Women of Color to perpetuate a white supremacist feminism that actually works to alienate and subjugate us further. When I expressed my vehement disagreement with Glosswitch using these ideas, I became a target. First this:

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And then a long series of tweets about how I “oppress” white women and how I “appropriate” white feminism in their experiences of mental health (where this claim comes from is anyone’s guess). My feminism is, apparently, a “hobby horse”. In Glosswitch’s defense came Becca Reilly-Cooper, a Professor of Philosophy at University of Warwick who initiated her “defense” of Glosswitch by asking if I had ever been “sectioned” due to mental health reasons. Again, I have no idea where their obsession with my mental health comes from. When I clearly refused to engage in conversation with her, she labeled me “repulsive”.

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These attacks have been going on since Friday. I have requested more than once that they leave me alone just like I ignore all and their work or media presence. However, their Maury Show tactics escalate by the hour. Just like the infamous talk show, these feminists have a long history of transphobia, queerphobia, racism and a predisposition to scandal at the expense of those they perceive to be “beneath them”. They systematically pick on Women of Color and or trans* women to score points with their follow base at our expense. It is a media tactic designed so as not to disturb the status quo but solely for self promotion. This is nothing more than tabloid feminism which, pretty much like its namesake, targets minorities to “make examples” of them and appease a supremacist culture.

Dutch national monument for the commemoration of the Transatlantic Slave Trade dressed as racist character of Zwarte Piet/ Black Piet

The National Slavery Monument, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the Netherlands in 1863 was unveiled on July 1, 2002. The Monument is located in one of Amsterdam’s main parks (Oosterpark/ East Park) where every year, on the first of July, the commemoration of the end of slavery takes place (and the Keti Koti festival). The monument and the park hold a deep symbolism for Afro Dutch people and for People of Color from different diasporas who share a history of colonization and Othering. It is a reminder of one of the most hurtful periods of Dutch colonial interventions.

When white Dutch people argue that there isn’t any racism in the character of Zwarte Piet we are again and again forced to revisit this harmful history and the role that the Transatlantic Slave Trade played in the racist Othering of Black people. The Zwarte Piet apologists, always hiding behind the white supremacist ideology that allows them to perpetuate the racist practices keep denying this link. Now, someone (it is not known exactly who) dressed the figures in the National Slavery Monument with Zwarte Piet clothing items. There is no point denying it anymore. This white supremacist society wishes to continue hurting with impunity.

Found via Quinsy Gario at Roet in Het Eten

The arrival of Sinterklaas to The Netherlands in three photos 

In order to “fend off” accusations of racism, the official ceremony to mark the arrival of Sinterklaas had the addition of “Spanish noblemen”. In the first photo you can see the “Saint” by horse with his Blackface servants by foot and, in the background, some “figures” also riding by horse, like the Saint. Close up in the second photo, you can see the “Spanish noblemen” who, unlike the Blackface servant, get to ride horses high. In the third photo, you see the “Spanish noblemen” are “played” by white, Dutch women.

Yes, the way to make this festivity less racist is by having white women ride in horses along the Saint while the Blackface servant walks around helping them all with their horses. 

First image via

Second image via

Third image via

Danish court upholds White Supremacist definition of racism

Last week, Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was convicted in a Danish court for racism. In her blog, she wrote that she was “convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters”. She was convicted by the Eastern High Court for violating section 266b of the Danish criminal code, which specifies racism as a crime, and she was fined 5,000 kroner (roughly 670 Euros). From The Copenhagen Post:

According to the law, it is illegal to “spread messages that threaten, taunt or degrade a group because of their race, skin colour, national or ethnic extraction, belief or sexual orientation”.

The court argued that Bazrafkan in her blog had generalized about Muslims men being criminals, and that because her statement “derided and degraded a group simply based on their faith”, she was guilty.

Of course I find her statements gross and untrue. I don’t think I need to clarify that. My disgust of her statements, though, doesn’t mean I can overlook the obvious: she is Iranian and living in Denmark. As much as I find her statements odious, she is making observations about her own culture. These observations about one’s own culture or heritage precludes racism as one cannot be racist against one’s own. Prejudiced or ethnocentric, yes, but not racist. Racism requires a power deferential that is just not present in this case. This Iranian Danish woman simply doesn’t have the institutionalized backing to turn her prejudice into systemic discrimination or legal frameworks to exclude people based on them being Muslim.

From an interview with Firoozeh Bazrafkan also at The Copenhagen Post:

I have also been critical of Judaism and Christianity but I was born in Iran as a Muslim. I have family members in Iran who don’t have the same democratic rights and freedom to express their anger as I do. I do my best to get the point out in my artwork and installations because I want to criticise the Iranian regime my way. If I want to be angry, I should have the right to be angry and call the Islamic regime anything I want. The state shouldn’t go in and take my rights.

Her opinions might be repulsive, one might even argue that they incite hate speech but this misuse of anti racism laws has one very concrete and grave consequence: it opens the door for convictions based on “anti white racism” as well. If a person of color makes a generalization about white people, theoretically speaking, they can now be measured by the standard set by this court ruling. European anti racism laws were enacted post World War II to protect minorities from White Supremacy. Convicting an Iranian woman making misguided and prejudiced observations about a culture that is hers are contrary to the spirit of this laws. This is a White Supremacist interpretation of racism as it dilutes and erases institutional and political power from the equation. In this flawed interpretation of the law, we all stand on equal grounds: white people, people of color, ethnic minorities, immigrants, etc… all equally represented and equally liable for the systematic oppression that might afflict us. Needless to say, this is a sure way to exonerate White Supremacy from any responsibility in “the state of things”. An Iranian woman criticizing her culture, however misguided, has the same weight than a right wing politician trying to pass a law to limit the rights of Muslims. When every prejudiced action is viewed equally under the law, we lose a fundamental tool to level the playing field, the one little piece of legislation that offers some degree of leverage against centuries of racist history.

I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.

In Defense of Jason Richwine | National Review Online

Remember when last week the guy behind the Heritage Foundation report against immigration reform in the US was found to be a proponent of eugenics? For those who might not be familiar, The Heritage Foundation released a report claiming that the currently discussed reform would cost the State trillions (I love hyperbolic figures pulled out of white rich dude’s asses, by the way… QUADRILLIONS! QUINTILLIONS! The tomato pickers that have been barely surviving with exploitative labor and yet pumping money into our economy will cost us QUINTILLIONS if we give them dignity in the form of a residence card! IMAGINE THE SOCIAL UPHEAVAL! etc). Anyway, I digress…

Turns out that the author of the inflammatory report was found to be a proponent of eugenics, claiming that non Whites have lower IQs than the White American population. His proposition was that Latin@s should have their IQs tested before being granted any residency status (of course, “discarding” those who are below a certain IQ). In 2009, in his Harvard dissertation he wrote:

The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.

I won’t waste a second of my time trying to rebuke eugenics ideologies that personally implicate me (after all, I am one of those Latin@s with supposedly low IQs that is about to bring down the demise of the purity of Western White civilization… and you know what? I hope my “stupid” is contagious and I indeed ruin their purity with my presence but again, I digress). So, rather than trying to unpack his statements which do not deserve an ounce of consideration, I wanted to point out the beginning of the “polite right wing” circling of the wagons. This is not some Tea Party uncouth histrionics, this is the rich right wing claiming that eugenics deserve to be taken into account and that attacks on these ideas are based on misguided political correctness. The National Review, of course, enlists the apologists who begin the above mentioned circling of wagons:

I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.

The data sets are correct! These people are indeed stupid! Incidentally, The National Review seems more equal opportunity White Supremacist and brings up the claim that Blacks have even lower IQs so, why miss the opportunity to single out one minority when you can also highlight everyone else’s supposed racial deficiencies in the process?

To my fellow Latin@s living in the US, I can only offer my sympathy. Here in The Netherlands, the notion that we are deficient and have lower IQs has gained mainstream momentum (Ha! we are ahead of the curve in White Supremacist eugenics! talk about being trendsetters). Pretty much like The National Review, in The Netherlands, the claims of lower IQ were also “backed with scientific data”. We don’t need to look too far away into history to know the kind of people who took a similar approach and made analogous “scientific” claims to create policy. 

Let me get this out of the way: I don’t like Adria Richards. I think I have good reason to not like Adria Richards. So I should be feeling some major Schadenfreude right now. Instead, though, I think what’s unfolded in the developer community in recent days has been a tragedy.

Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost | Amanda Blum

Notice how almost all the comments, even those in favor of Adria Richards, many of them (as the one I am quoting here), from White women defending Richards are all about disciplining the uppity Black woman.

They don’t like her tone. Her vocal antics are improper. She didn’t deserve to be fired but… It always boils down to it: the misbehaved Black woman should have known better. Even ostensibly feminist blogs are giving space to such opinions. 

This is what happens when WoC do not play by the rules of patriarchal White Supremacy: the racist version of “slut had it coming”. If only she had not been so outspoken, if only she didn’t expose stuff she doesn’t like… if only she had been docile.

Anyone trying to unpack this disaster from the perspective of sexism in the tech industry, I’m afraid they are missing the point entirely; as usual, it is about the racist sexism in the tech (and non tech) world. Adria Richards is now its latest victim.

I blame Schwyzer for the ineffectual, whitewashed, lukewarm feminism that is incapable of producing substantial change

A while ago, everyone was talking about Anne Marie Slaugher’s piece “Why women can’t have it all”. Back then I wrote that the reason why women cannot have it all is because feminism has stopped being about dreams and utopia and revolution and instead, it has become a movement set to compromise with patriarchy. We are supposed to want to have better positions at capitalist exploitation (women should aspire to be CEOs, earn more even at the expense of other women who are subjugated across racist poverty, exploitation of resources in the Global South, etc.). And now, of course, I have also spoken out about Schwyzer’s attempt to silence me (which as it is rightfully noted here, is not the first time he does to a Latina blogger).

Meanwhile, Schwyzer continues to have a place on the feminist table. He continues to be interviewed, his “side of the story” is made to matter, he is allowed to continue forcing himself into feminist spaces, he gets paid to write about women’s issues, for women, in mainstream media publications, etc. AND THEN WE WONDER WHY PATRIARCHAL POLITICIANS A LA ROMNEY DO NOT TAKE FEMINISM SERIOUSLY?! Then we wonder why the erosion of women’s rights across all the Western world continues unabated? Then we have round tables, talks, conferences, dissertations, seminars, paid writing gigs, debates, to discuss why women’s rights are on the first line of attack when racist, heteronormative patriarchy needs to be enforced? How can we even dare to wonder about the root cause of this when the most mainstream form of feminism allows a guy like Schwyzer to “represent” women? Have we been made so submissive by virtue of capitalist consumer culture that we misguidedly believe we need to “negotiate” our own fucking spaces with a guy like Hugo Schwyzer? Have we been collectively beaten into compliance that a White, cisgender, American man is “approved” to speak on our behalf and then we wonder why our interests are not well represented?

And while Schwyzer, individually, cannot be held accountable for the complete demise of feminism, I believe him to be a very good metonymical representation of the movement’s failures. The failures represented by compromise, lukewarm attempts at “change” that only serve to further subjugate women, that continue to keep Women of Color “in their place”, boxed in an asphyxiating structure of White Supremacy, relegated to the role of “trouble maker” to be silenced, to be demanded “proof of her own oppression”. Schwyzer, allowed to be the executing arm of this White Supremacy, in the name of the very same ideology that is supposed to “liberate” women.  

For as long as a man like Hugo Schwyzer can silence Women of Color and “groom” White women to act as his shields against our “mean anger”, no woman will be allowed to have it all. We have gotten to a point where the most revolutionary thing feminism can do is say NO. Just that. No. A white, cisgender American man can never have a woman’s best interests in mind. A feminism that gives Schwyzer the benefit of the doubt while he demands that we “prove” our oppression, is nothing but a sham. When white, cisgender, male politicians come for our rights, let’s not forget who kept the door open for them.

I scanned this page out of the summer edition of Dutch magazine OpZij. This is hands down, the most popular feminist magazine in the country. They devote two news items to Women of Color in this edition. Both are in this page. The top item explains how Muslim women “cook themselves silly and are attacked during Ramadan” and the second one, with the disembodied brown, Mexican hand illustrating the item, is about women who participate in drug cartels.
With feminism like OpZij, who needs white supremacy?!

I scanned this page out of the summer edition of Dutch magazine OpZij. This is hands down, the most popular feminist magazine in the country. They devote two news items to Women of Color in this edition. Both are in this page. The top item explains how Muslim women “cook themselves silly and are attacked during Ramadan” and the second one, with the disembodied brown, Mexican hand illustrating the item, is about women who participate in drug cartels.

With feminism like OpZij, who needs white supremacy?!

White supremacist Shaun Patrick Winkler, a convicted batterer who once worked for an Aryan Nations leader, wants to add an unlikely notch to his spotty resume — sheriff of Idaho’s Bonner County.

White supremacist runs for sheriff in Idaho, raising hackles | Reuters

Eh, not to be trite but this one’s at least in the open about his ideology. I am much more terrified of the undercover racists because I cannot see them coming. I expect this guy won’t even pretend to care. You’ll be on your own from the get go.