Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Erase Racism Carnival

The 5th Erase Racism Carnival is up over at one of my favorite blogs, Black Looks. I think the ideas put fort in this carnival are important to feminist allies, in general, since race issues and gender issues intersect on so many levels, and so often. And I think some of the concepts and responses to people who seem antagonistic toward the idea of ending racism (!) are similar conceptually to what some of our responses ought to be to ward people who seem to be antagonistic toward the idea of ending sexism, and ending the oppression of women.

For instance, recently we've had a few people comment on a post about the oppression of women with what amounts to "well, men are oppressed, too!". The fact is, whether or not you see men as oppressed, noting the oppression of men isn't an appropriate response to analysis about the oppression of women. Which isn't to say the two are mutually exclusive--it's just that "men are oppressed too" can't be the only response to the fact of women's oppression. It doesn't get anything done. Plus, the oppression that men may or may not endure, to the extent that women don't hold the power in our society, doesn't come from women's actions, but from those of men.

One of the posters at the Erase Racism Carnival makes a similar point about the tendency of white people to respond to charges of racism with "but black people had slaves too!" Sokari introduces Naija girl's post and gives us a blurb:
A disillusioned Naija girl’s is sick of white people’s reactions to accusations of racism which is to retort “But blacks sold their fellow blacks too”. She responds in a post “Why I resent white people”. Naija Girl starts with the reason for her post and then goes on to discuss the slavery in traditional African society and the impact the European invasion had on African life.[Sokari]

that whenever we, as black people, open our mouths to talk about racism, they are quick to stifle us by bringing up the ‘But blacks sold their fellow blacks too’ card. I am sick of this attempt at a cop-out, and will now address this……..First of all, yes. Blacks did indeed sell blacks. I can hear the self-congratulatory cheers and back-slaps being passed around the white crowd now…….. What was prevalent practice in Africa was having servants (domestic slavery). Slaves were employed by kings, chiefs, and wealthy people in their houses as domestic servants. The number of slaves a man had usually determined his social status. Usually many of the slaves were captives of war. Enter the white man with goods like iron, whiskey, linen, gin, cotton and wool, offering them in exchange for slaves.[Naija Girl]


I think this speaks to us as feminist allies, and to those who chime in "but men are oppressed too" without anything else to add.
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