Troy Davis

Remember your history.

If you’re white, go study.  Go do your work.  Go shut the fuck up and listen to a person of color who’s willing to share their experiences with you.  Shut up and do your work.  It is work that needs to be done and tonight you are seeing what happens when people fail to do that work.

If you’re a person of color all I can say to you is that I am trying to do my work.  I am trying and I am sad.

 

ETA: If you’ve come to this post after the fact to tell me that racism doesn’t exist, that white privilege is a myth, or that “racism is a two way street” and white people are oppressed too, please don’t leave a comment.  It won’t be posted.  Instead, click here.

14 Responses to “Troy Davis”


  1. 1 wpm November 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    you get it more than most. you were born with privilege into a family with long hollywood lineage and you dont HAVE to listen or even care, but you are. please continue to represent that and speak your mind. you are gifted. help your generation, many of its representatives so very clueless, get the message! no progress without struggle, dont us POC know it! rock on.

  2. 2 amy November 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    This is a beautiful and truthful post. Great job.

  3. 3 MissJenny619 November 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    You should hear Jeff Buckley’s version of this song. It is on his “Live at Sin-E: Legacy Edition” album (disc 1). It is entrancing!

  4. 4 Aimee November 29, 2011 at 3:24 am

    This post is very short. And my ancient computer messes up youtube or any video so I’m assuming I’m missing Billie Holiday.

    I have to say I wonder Stephen if you are capable of questioning whether white people really are some priveleged class and black people not. That doesn’t jibe with the reality I see and I can back that up with lots of history, statistics, etc.

    But I wonder if the trans-world can ever give up its obsession with hating on white people. You seem to be a different voice amidst the ‘dogma’ I mentioned on another post. Is that really true? Could you possibly be mistaking your privelege for some essentialized and imagined notion of ‘white’ privelege that the trans activists seem to constantly assert exists?

    I abhor the death penalty and think there are a lot of profound questions as to whether or not Troy was guilty, given the fact that the prosecution based most of its case if not all on circumstantial evidence, much of which is highly questionable. But an instance of racism against black people? The jury that convicted him was made up of a majority of blacks, so how on earth do you figure that?

    I think you have more work to do in deconstructing your own personal privelege than in helping some mass of whites recognize their supposed privelege, frankly. It would be amazingly cool if you could even begin to question whether there’s any truth in that.

    • 5 Stephen November 29, 2011 at 5:57 am

      This article describes what white privilege is very well. It’s a pretty famous text, and it helped me a lot in my anti-racism education. (And continues to help me.)

      The idea of white privilege is not an idea trans people came up with–it’s an idea that comes from years and years of anti-racist thought.

      Racism is much more complex than simply “There were black jurors, so if they convict an innocent black man it’s not racist.” Those black jurors exist in a system of institutionalized white supremacy.

      • 6 Aimee November 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        I should read the article you reference, but before doing so, want to point out that I didn’t assert the white privelege is an idea trans people came up with. It is a concept I notice that they are among the most fixated on, and that the gays start to take a second place to them in that assertion, most notably certain elements of the lesbian community.

        I consider this investment and pet obsession with ‘white privelege’ to be one of the major factors holding back the queer movement. It engenders huge amounts of justifiable resentment and distrust, and even some not-totally-justified hatred, in the middle and lower working classes of whites towards LGTB’s all around the US. It is also an idea that divides the queer community within itself.

        I guess if someone truly believes that there is ‘white supremacy’ in a country in which a black president became so with the shortest resume in presidential history, and in which there is just as populous a class of whites equally poor to the poorest of blacks, then debate probably won’t go anywhere. More whites were lynched in the South than blacks, but the democrats and their minions do the best they can to suppress this reality (statistic from Born Fighting, Senator Jim Webb).

        There is class, upper and upper middle class supremacy, but no such thing as ‘white’ supremacy. Another American famous writer on this topic: Shelby Steele, who in the mid-2000’s said definitively, “This needs to be said: Black people are not oppressed.”

        Well, I wish you luck, you are certainly a unique and promising voice and I hope the authentic spirit in which you write helps you find a way to the broader reality on this topic as you journey.

        Being ‘white’ especially as a northwestern european, that is anglo-celtic in background, has been a far greater oppression in my life than has been gender as a queer lesbian, which is not to say the latter hasn’t been a struggle in the public arena. But I feel it unhealthy to promote hatred of me or other white lesbians or gay men, and can’t really participate in the parts of the queer community who continue to do this, even unwittingly.

        Thanks for allowing me to comment and for your response.

        • 7 Stephen November 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm

          One time I actually got into a protracted argument with Shelby Steele at a dinner party, so it’s funny you bring him up. (I was twelve. I was a really obnoxiously loud twelve, just as I’m an obnoxiously opinionated nineteen. The argument was about literacy in the Middle East.) While I wouldn’t presume to tell a black man how to be black, I have a lot of issues with Steele’s politics, and I caution you against using Steele to justify your argument. Often, more conservative people of color who make statements such as Steele’s are used as tokens for white people to justify their racist ideals.

          Questioning and deconstructing white privilege is not promoting hatred. I don’t hate myself for being white. Your assumption that anti-racist action constitutes hatred is rooted in a refusal to engage with the idea that while you may not consciously contribute to oppression, you are an oppressor.

          We’re all complicit in different oppressions. None of us are entirely oppressed or oppressors. We have to be each others allies. As Audre Lorde understood, there is no hierarchy of oppressions. If we want to create a queer movement that is remotely useful, we need to talk about all forms of oppression: racial, gender-based, (dis)ability-based–all of them.

          I’ll speak frankly: This comment and your previous one are racist. I want to help educate you, but since I have a policy against cissexist comments, I feel that it’s hypocritical to let you make racist comments on my blog. Unless you’re willing to acknowledge that white privilege exists, that people of color are oppressed, and that white people must take responsibility for their oppression, please don’t make any further comments. If you do, they will not be posted.

          • 8 wpm November 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

            I am learning SO much from this thread. This dialogue is so needed! Stephen would love to know your opinion of the article regarding why blacks are not supporting OWS. I know that as a black woman, I feel for those in the struggle and I appreciate their work and diligence but my parents marched on Washington and experienced heightened political sabotage while working with the civil rights movement. They’re simply tired and feel that its a simple case of white privilege finally experiencing what minorities have been dealing with for years.

            • 9 Stephen November 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

              I believe in this movement, and we in the movement owe it anything, it’s our critiques of it so that it can grow and change and become stronger. I’m committed to OWS, and I’m committed to making OWS value and centralize the voices of people of color.

              One of the big things we need to remember is that police brutality like the kind happening to white people at OWS is a fact of life for many people of color, but it’s being reported on more now because it’s happening to whites.

              And I’d say more, but pretty much everything I think was said better by Prometheus Brown in this article.

  5. 10 Aimee November 29, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Well, Stephen, I suppose we’re at a standstill. I think it’s worth asking, and challenging your assertions that my previous two posts are racist or say racist things. What exact comments were ‘racist’? There isn’t one fact that I cite that I cannot support with fairly established sources, not just Shelby Steele, who just concluded something generally that can also be substantially and evidentiarily proven.

    • 11 Stephen November 30, 2011 at 12:36 am

      Stating that white privilege doesn’t exist, or that there are white people who are exempt from white privilege, is racist. You’ve done that repeatedly.

      I’m not going to post your other comment, in deference to my policy against -isms in comments. I hope you’re in a place where you can self-educate about these things, because I want to tell you as compassionately as I can that not a lot of people are going to want to educate you in the place you are in.

  6. 12 Aimee November 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    This I assume won’t get posted, but I’ll leave you with observations about experienced bloggers: most don’t comment on comments they don’t post. They just don’t post them. Making characterizations and asserting something about a comment you don’t actually post is widely considered bad ‘blogger’ practice.

    I would have to point out also that not a lot of people are going to want to educate you in the place you are in.

    Best wishes.

    • 13 Stephen November 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Ha, if I reply to unposted comments that it’s because I’m bad at WordPress’s comment moderation technology. It’s got this thing where you can reply or approve, or reply and approve, and I am a bear of little brain. Despite being sort of an internet presence, I’m incredibly bad at all things technological.

      I’ve been around the internet once or twice. I’m pretty blog savvy. And I don’t think my decision not to post flagrantly racist or cissexist comments is particularly unusual or “bad blogger practice.” My choice to address a mention of your comments to you is meant as a gesture of courtesy.

  7. 14 anivad January 5, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Regarding the amptoons article you linked, I’m not so sure about the part where it says: “They may say they will work to women’s statues … but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s” and how it similarly applies to race and any other kind of privilege.

    I’m one of those people who gets highly distressed and feels bad about unearned privilege (specifically male privilege, given that I’m a transitioning trans guy and it’s thus something that I’m acutely aware of), and one of the most useful things someone said to me was that: it’s not that I’m getting things I don’t deserve, but that other people (in this case women) are not getting things they DO deserve.

    And that thus the objective should not be to strip the privileged group of their rights and advantages, but to work on conferring those same rights and advantages onto the marginalised group. Because just working to lower the privileged to the level of the unprivileged will result in an equally poor quality of life for everyone, rather than working to create an equally high quality of life for everyone. In the words of that article, we shouldn’t be getting distressed over unearned advantage, but should instead be getting distressed over unearned DISadvantage, because that’s a more useful and productive route to take, and will benefit everyone in the long run.


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