Monday, March 05, 2007

Psst! Heart and Chasing Moksha – It’s the Clue Phone, and it’s ringing just for you!

So I’ve been following the Special White Lady debacle for the last few days, mostly quietly, and as amusing as it is to laugh at habitual ignorance of some of the less self-aware members of my own race there are times when one gets the feeling that they simply are not grasping what is being said to them. There they sit like the proverbial deer in the headlights, blinking stupidly, apparently completely unable to grasp why, jeez, everyone seems to be all upset with them! What did little old them do to deserve such meanness? Well, as a public service from one white girl to another, let me clue you both in.
What people are objecting to isn’t just what you’re saying, it’s the tone in which you’re saying it. Now I know that tone can be hard to interpret on the internet, but in both your cases the stench of martyrdom hangs pretty thickly over everything you write. What most people are taking away from your threads is a general sense that you consider yourselves to have made huge, giant sacrifices by marrying black men, and that you feel that those sacrifices entitle you to both praise and frequent pats on the back.
This is where the problem lies. Firstly, the idea that you made a sacrifice by marrying your husband? Pretty icky all around. Not very flattering to him, does not speak well of how much you value him as a person. Doesn’t speak well of you, either, the fact that you appear to consider yourselves above an entire category of human beings.
And there’s the other thing. That idea that you “married down” that permeates everything you write? Pretty racist, honestly. Likely to cause offense in most people of the thinking variety. Guaranteed to push the piss off buttons of most people of color, and for good reason.
And then there’s your whole “I speak for my husband” business, Chasing Moksha. Is the man not capable of speaking for himself? Has it ever occurred to you that your claim to speak for him might be met with just a teensy bit of skepticism from most black people, who are entirely too used to other people claiming to speak for them? Ever heard the term “cultural appropriation”? You’re pretty much the poster child.
And as to the claim that you deeply understand racism just because you’re partnered with a person of color…listen, ladies, my husband is Asian (whoops, better whisper that around CM, we all know how she feels about Asian people). Does my marriage to him give me some kind of magical ability to understand what it feels like to be the victim of racism? Umm, no. Not even a little bit. I can lend him an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on when he needs it, be his sounding board or the person he rants to when he’s pissed, but will I ever really understand what it feels like to walk in his shoes? No. And neither will either of you.
And you know what bothers me, personally, the most about all your self-absorbed little rants? How many times in all of this kerfuffle have either of you ever said that you love the guy you married? OK, after we count those, how many references to your own sacrifices have you made? Put the two side by side…how’s that tally looking? And how does that make your partner/former partner feel, the idea that you value him more as a status symbol than a person?
Me, personally? I made no sacrifices by marrying my husband. He’s a great guy, and I’m lucky to have him. Now if only either of you could pull your heads out of your asses for long enough, maybe you might find yourself looking at your partner the same way…

20 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

Brilliant!

Cassandra Says said...

Thanks!

Crankshaft said...

Your husband is Asian???

Cassandra Says said...

He's Filipino - born in Davao, raised in Manila, then San Francisco.

Crankshaft said...

Cool :)
From your profile it appears you've been places yourself - from the UK to the US....

Cassandra Says said...

I've been all over the place, but probably spent the largest blocks of time in the Middle East and London, then the Bay Area.
He and I are a pretty good match, really.

Crankshaft said...

Where in the Middle East, if you don't mind me asking? The only place I've been to is UAE (Dubai).

Thin Black Duke said...

Ah, thank you for this. It pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

I just realized you've resumed your activities. I waited after the IBTP fracas and eventually stopped checking. Good to see you back.

Thomas

Cassandra Says said...

Crankshaft - I lived in Libya and Saudi Arabia, visited Egypt and Dubai. Where I would have really liked to go but didn't get the chance was Oman and Syria. Oh, and Beirut - cool city, Beirut.
What did you think of the UAE? Was it a work trip (where one never gets to see much of anything)?

Cassandra Says said...

thin black duke - Thanks. It was either this or smacking my head on the desk a few times, and I wouldn't want to damage my keyboard.

Cassandra Says said...

Thomas - Hey, I was wondering why I hadn't seen you around in a while (at Alas either). How's it going?

Crankshaft said...

Wow. You've sure been places.

Saudi Arabia too huh? My aunt lived there for a while and she really hated that women couldn't drive there. Have things changed since?

Dubai is developing immensely even as we speak - some of their projects are really high tech. However, I think a lot of them still have the village mentality (as I call it) even though they're rather competitive.

I'd say a huge chunk of the population is expatriate Indians!
Freaking Indians are crawling all over the place.. :)

Cassandra Says said...

As far as I know women stil can't drive in Saudi, and are unlikely to be able to do so any time soon. I'm not fond of the place, to be honest. It's kind of like a gigantic shopping mall. Like Singapore. Libya, on the other hand, is gorgeous.
There are tons of Indian people in Dubai. I actually know a guy here who used to work there. Don't think he liked it very much. AS far as the mentality is concerned they're miles ahead of Saudi, though. There's a blogger I used to read who had some most amusing observations about that.
Indians are like Scots, they have itchy feet. I actually ran into a dude who was born a couple of towns away from me at the top of a mountain in Hawaii, working in the gift shop. Bloody Scots, always trying to run away from our notoriously miserable climate.

Crankshaft said...

AS far as the mentality is concerned they're miles ahead of Saudi, though.

The UAE is infinitely better than the KSA, in my opinion.

Indians are like Scots, they have itchy feet.

Oh yes. Very much. Indians can be found all over the world, from Africa to Hong Kong. Not to mention the US and UK. :)

My ancestor is British though - he eloped with an already married Indian woman and they had to find someplace to live where they wouldn't be killed by vengeful relatives...

Malaysia seemed like a good option back then :)

Anonymous said...

"Bloody Scots, always trying to run away from our notoriously miserable climate."

Our home turf is too confining. We flower better out of our native soil. Scots have the tendency at home, I think, to cut down each other's accomplishments: "I kent his father ..."

So we leave. It has been that way at least since 1600.

I'm a rarity at Alas since Barry decided to take a fistful of cash from a purveyor of racist porn to make the rest of the domain a link farm. I pop in now and again. As always, home turf for me it Feministe and its environs.

Thomas

Cassandra Says said...

"My ancestor is British though - he eloped with an already married Indian woman and they had to find someplace to live where they wouldn't be killed by vengeful relatives..."
With a Brit and an Indian it's a miracle they ever stayed in one place at all. Maybe two cases of itchy feet cancel each other out?

Cassandra Says said...

Thomas - funny, my husband says the same thing about Filipinos. The analogy he uses is crabs in a bucket - one crab tries to climb out, the others immediately pull it back down. Biscuits in a shortbread tin, maybe? In any case I couldn't tolerate the negativity back home and scarpered off to London the first chance I got.

Crankshaft said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crankshaft said...

With a Brit and an Indian it's a miracle they ever stayed in one place at all.

Their descendants never did. I think I have family in almost 30 countries, maybe more.

Even my mom studied in 3 countries - India, Australia and UK (Swindon). She had a few foreign boyfriends before settling down to marry my dad.

If I marry my Chindian (half Chinese, half Indian boyfriend), I will be the rare species who returned to her kind.