From:   Charles Lenchner <>
Sent time:   Sunday, October 23, 2011 1:13:46 PM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Re: On racism, sexism, oppression

In her book, 'No Logo' Naomi Klein makes a wonderful point.
Throughout the 80s-90s culture wars, activists worked to hard to bring up the special ways in which some groups are historically marginalized, and sought redress for them. But.... corporations did an end run around them. They gleefully accepted women, people of color, GLBTQ folks into the top 1% as CEO's, entertainers, college administrators, students at Ivy League schools, whatever. But it was hell on the folks doing multi issue organizing, the ones trying to unite folks on issues that don't slice and dice everyone up into neat little identities.

"In the outside world. the politics of race, gender and sexuality remained tied to more concrete, pressing issues, like pay equity, same-sex spousal rights and police violence, and these serious movements were — and continue to be — a genuine threat to the economic and social order. But somehow, they didn’t seem terribly glamorous to students on many university campuses, for whom identity politics had evolved by the late eighties into something quite different. Many of the battles we fought were over issues of “representation” — a loosely defined set of grievances mostly lodged against the media, the curriculum and the English language. From campus feminists arguing over “representation” of women on the reading lists to gays wanting better “representation” on television, to rap stars bragging about “representing” the ghettos, to the question that ends in a riot in Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing — “Why are there no brothers on the wall?” — ours was a politics of mirrors and metaphors."

you start by demanding more formal and overt forms of "representation". And then....
"The backlash that identity politics inspired did a pretty good job of masking for us the fact that many of our demands for better representation were quickly accommodated by marketers, media makers and pop-culture producers alike — though perhaps not for the reasons we had hoped. ... If diversity was what we wanted, the brands seemed to be saying, then diversity was exactly what we would get. And with that, the marketers and media makers swooped down, air-brushes in hand, to touch up the colors and images in our culture.


On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 2:47 PM, Doug Singsen <> wrote:
In addition to giving women, people of color, and LGBTQ people space to speak and have their voices heard, we also need to be in active solidarity with struggles against racism, police brutality and the prison-industrial complex.


On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 2:43 PM, Jon Good <> wrote:
Obviously, not only white men have privilege, but in our society being white and male comes with, all other factors aside, the most privilege and the least oppression.  And we need to be aware of that when we interact with folks.

Think of it this way: Rich kids tend to have an inflated sense of entitlement and self-importance.  Not all rich kids do, nor do they hold a monopoly on being entitled and self-important.  But on the whole, they have more of it than people who are not rich kids, and it's really annoying and we wish they would understand that the world doesn't work for us the way it does for them.  That's kind of like how white males seem to the rest of everybody.

Anyway, this is just stuff for thought, but action does need to happen.



On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 1:50 AM, Richard S. <> wrote:
The aspects of privilege that might influence someone's behavior in
the way described below include a lot more than just whether somebody
is "white" or a "dude."  Economic-class privilege is another thing,
and, in general, consider someone's success and station in life
outside of the given activist group or world, etc.

It might be a good idea to pass out information or have discussions
that would discourage people from engaging in self-superior(?)
behavior, but I don't think doing something such as deliberately
picking non-white facilitators is going to solve this problem of the
behavior that you describe.  (It doesn't seem to me as though that
"solution" really connects to the problem.  Though I have no personal
problem with deliberately aiming to pick someone other than the "white
dude" if people think that's a good idea.  Personally, facilitation is
a chore that I myself would never want anyway, especially not in front
of a large group.)

Also, regarding people denying accusations of racism...  There
actually are sometimes situations in which somebody will accuse
somebody else of racism when it isn't really the case.  Especially if
it's not an overt thing with somebody using racist words, etc.  When a
group's sensitivities in these areas are heightened, sometimes people
might be a bit quick to jump to conclusions, or to believe somebody
who maybe has a personal agenda and is aiming to discredit someone
else.  Or maybe there are other reasons behind the dynamic that you
see in a particular situation.  Same applies re. sexism.  (Is somebody
who seems aggressive in a situation always so?  Or has something else
occurred that you don't know about that made that person particularly
angry?  Also, by the way, sometimes it is the more privileged people
who can appear less rude or uncouth - those are the smooth
manipulators.)  So, I would say, don't assume in advance that somebody
who denies a charge of being racist (or whatever) really is and that
the denial must automatically be considered false.  People should have
an open mind when discussing such accusations and it would be nice to
have a process through which they can be addressed fairly, with all
sides heard.


On Oct 22, 10:48 pm, rob hollander <> wrote:
> Might start by having non white facilitators/stack keepers etc. at the GA.
> The facilitators etc. at the handful of GA's I've attended have been 100%
> white. Is that a misleading characterization?
> rob
> On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 10:33 PM, Jon Good <> wrote:
> > To me, the most insidious part of privilege and institutional oppression is
> > that those committing oppression don't even know they're doing it.   I'm not
> > excusing this behavior but am trying to name it, as it's a BIG problem at
> > Liberty Plaza (not to mention in the rest of the world).  When folks in
> > positions of privilege interrupt or talk over others, or use their physical
> > stature to enforce the point they're making, or just think that , they don't
> > understand that people from less privilege backgrounds have a lot more
> > social pressure not to interrupt, not to be overbearing, and not to offer
> > their opinions on absolutely fucking everything. Or that the ways which
> > white dudes act is not necessarily the way that everyone should act.
> > So how can we address this problem?  Should we start every GA with a
> > 2-minute crash course on practical ways to curb your privilege and
> > oppression?  Make pamphlets and distribute them constantly? Have
> > announcements over the human mic several times a day?  Keep on ignoring the
> > people who try and bring it up for serious discussion?
> > Almost everybody (perhaps, 99%?) is well-meaning and doesn't *want* to be
> > racist, but when they're called out for acting racist,* their typical
> > response is "that's bullshit! I'm not racist!" which is about the most
> > frustrating thing they could possibly say.  In my experience (granted, it's
> > as a white, cisgendered male), I've had success bridging the gap between
> > intention and understanding by leading with "That thing X that you just did
> > was racist/sexist/homophobic because of Y and Z", like rubbing a dog's nose
> > in the steaming, racist turd it just did on your carpet.  I understand,
> > however, that I have the privilege of having little emotional and societal
> > stress on me because I'm not the object of that racism.
> > Anyhow, I agree with Shaista and the others (forgive me for not remembering
> > who) that are saying that we need to deal with this problem seriously, and I
> > would be super, super enthusiastic in pitching in with efforts to undermine,
> > attenuate, and/or stop this shit from happening. (I fully acknowledge the
> > possibility that the best way for me to help would be to not talk so much,
> > and if so, I will remain equally enthusiastic about shutting the hell up).
> > And as far as overt, deliberate, intentional racism, will somebody get that
> > guy handing out the "Wall St. Jews" flyers out of the fucking park?
> > Solidarity,
> > Jon
> --
> Rob Hollander
> Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
> 622 E 11, #10
> NYC, 10009
> 212-228-6152