Posts tagged oppression.
He who is reluctant to recognize me opposes me.
Colonialism, simply, is the forced occupation and exploitation of a land, its people, and its labor, maintained to preserve a hierarchy within a society. Post-colonial theorist and psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon holds that hierarchies under colonialism are “[divided],” “first and foremost,” by “what species, what race one belongs to.” (Fanon, 5) He maintains that colonists, “the ruling species,” are “the outsider[s] from elsewhere, different from the indigenous populations,” and through colonial procedure construct a subordinate racial “other” (Fanon, 5) used to enforce and legitimate its position of dominance. Only from within this basic framework of colonialism does Suzy Lee Weiss become intelligible as a discursive product of colonial relations, an ideologue who derives her beliefs from those of her colonist forebears. In the way she so hastily and effortlessly resorted to deploying all symbolic markers of her tarnished “purity”—from the “lies” told about her whiteness’s intrinsic value, to the tongue-in-cheek pride for neo-colonial western philanthropy, and “ironic” embrace of laziness (which is only “laziness” insofar as it compares to her stereotyping of steadfast, overachieving, workaholic Asians)—to engender sympathy, Suzy Lee Weiss embodies Fanon’s description of the “totalitarian nature of colonial exploitation” in the way she frames herself as diametrically opposed to the “Native,” (Fanon, 6) the non-white. Suzy’s colonial eyes are only able to see minorities as the “quintessence of evil”; (Fanon, 6) their growing success representing “more than the absence of values” or the “the negation of values,” but to a greater degree the very “enemy of values” (Fanon, 6) itself. This juvenile understanding of relations of power, inchoate conclusions for why she was rejected by her preferred colleges, is why I argue Suzy Lee Weiss desires to be, and is perplexed by why she cannot remain, a colonizer in a post-colonial world. That she, a suburban white girl, understands her desire to sit at the throne of modern empire—symbolized by a seat in the classroom of an Ivy League college—as a desire in conflict with those of oppressed minorities, betrays the extent to which her world-view has been shaped and misshaped by bone-deep, fundamentally racist colonial logics. What she wants, like her forebears’ wanted, is to be able to achieve success completely unencumbered; to sit atop the ivory tower; to command national attention and honor for her accomplishments, even if and when her success comes as the result of systematic oppression.
From my essay: “’BUT WHERE’S MY STAFF?!’ A POST-COLONIAL FEMINIST DISMANTLING OF SUZY LEE WEISS: AMERICA’S STALEST CRACKER”
A single duty, a single objective: drive out colonialism by every means. And the most liberal among us would be prepared to accept this, at a pinch, but they cannot help seeing in this trial of strength a perfectly inhuman method used by subhumans to claim for themselves a charter for humanity: let them acquire it as quickly as possible, but in order to merit it, let them use nonviolent methods. Our noble souls are racist.
The metropolitan Left is in a quandary: it is well aware of the true fate of the “natives,” the pitiless oppression they are subjected to, and does not condemn their revolt, knowing that we did everything to provoke it. But even so, it thinks, there are limits: these guerrillas should make every effort to show some chivalry; this would be the best way of proving they are men. Sometimes the Left berates them: ‘You’re going too far; we cannot support you any longer.’ They don’t care a shit for its support; it can shove it up its ass for what it’s worth.
No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them.
The refusal, especially among liberals, to believe that pornography has any real relationship to sexual violence is astonishing. Liberals have always believed in the value and importance of education. But when it comes to pornography, we are asked to believe that nothing pornographic, whether written or visual, has an educative effect on anyone. A recognition that pornography must teach something does not imply any inevitable conclusion: it does not per se countenance censorship. It does, however, demand that we pay some attention to the quality of life, to the content of pornography. And it especially demands that when sexual violence against women is epidemic, serious questions be asked about the function and value of material that advocates such violence and makes it synonymous with pleasure.
Miss,” however delicious its scent in the private house, has a certain odour attached to it in Whitehall which is disagreeable to the noses on the other side of the partition; and that it is likely that a name to which “Miss” is attached will, because of this odour, circle in the lower spheres where the salaries are small rather than mount to the higher spheres where the salaries are substantial. As for “Mrs.,” it is a contaminated word; an obscene word. The less said about that word the better. Such is the smell of it, so rank does it stink in the nostrils of Whitehall, that Whitehall excludes it entirely. In Whitehall, as in heaven, there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage.
Looking fierce may not transform systems that actively work against my body, but it has and continues to help me reconfigure space through self-definition. Moreover, it empowers me to unapologetically take up (and reconfigure) more space.
Home. The very word begins to have a despairing and diabolical ring. You must consider what happens to this citizen, after all he has endured, when he returns—home: search, in his shoes, for a job, for a place to live; ride, in his skin, on segregated buses; see, with his eyes, the signs saying “White” and “Colored,” and especially the signs that say “White Ladies” and “Colored *Women*”; look into the eyes of his wife; look into the eyes of his son; listen, with his ears, to political speeches, North and South; imagine yourself being told to “wait.” And all this is happening in the richest and freest country in the world, and in the middle of the twentieth century.
The subtle and deadly change of heart that might occur in you would be involved with the realization that a civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.
I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos — and the white man, however intelligent he may be, is incapable of understanding Louis Armstrong or songs from the Congo. I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.
Don’t expect any breadth or grandeur from the Empire’s Christian divines. Across the board, the imperial chaplains exhibit the most obsequious deference to the Plutocracy, providing imprimaturs and singing hallelujahs for the civil religion of Chrapitalism: the lucrative merger of Christianity and capitalism, America’s most enduring covenant theology. It’s the core of “American exceptionalism,” the sanctimonious and blood-spattered myth of providential anointment for global dominion. In the Chrapitalist gospel, the rich young man goes away richer, for God and Mammon have pooled their capital, formed a bi-theistic investment group, and laundered the money in baptismal fonts before parking it in offshore accounts. Chrapitalism has been America’s distinctive and gilded contribution to religion and theology, a delusion that beloved community can be built on the foundations of capitalist property. As the American Empire wanes, so will its established religion; the erosion of Chrapitalism will generate a moral and spiritual maelstrom.
What will American Christians do as their fraudulent Mandate from Heaven expires? They might break with the imperial cult so completely that it would feel like atheism and treason. With a little help from anarchists, they might be monotheists, even Christians again. Who better to instruct them in blasphemy than sworn enemies of both God and the state? Christians might discover that unbelievers can be the most incisive and demanding theologians. As Critchley asserts, ” ‘God’ is the first anarchist, calling us into struggle with the mythic violence of law, the state, and politics by allowing us to glimpse the possibility of something that stands apart.” By inciting us to curse and renounce the homespun idolatry of Chrapitalism, Critchley and Graeber can point Christians back to a terrible but glorious moment in their history: when the avant-garde of the eschaton were maligned as godless traitors. We’ll need that dangerous memory in our frightful if doubtless very different time.