Thursday, January 24, 2008

Done With White People

I'm taking today off, at least the earlier half, so I have time to write about something I've concluded lately.

I don't exactly know the correct way to express this, except, I guess, through further explanation, but...basically, I decided that I'm done with white people. That's not totally news. There are very few whites I speak to now anyway, and I haven't made an effort with whites in years, which is what I mean by "done"--"done" making an effort. So, it's not to say that I will never have another white friend aside from the ones I do have. But why this is important is thinking about this a little more has made me realize a big reason for why I'm not interested in the GLBT community or GLBT issues, particularly fighting for them.

Before I started becoming more curious about GLBT community and thinking more critically about being queer myself, I was done with white people. That presents a problem, given that, possibly depending on where you live, every single GLBT thing is white--from events to gathering, "support groups" to queer interests and stereotypes. In my last post, I was talking about racism vs hatred and all the different ways one can be racist without hating other people. Last night, I also read a few blog posts by others who have tried "fighting" racism within their own families but gave up after realizing it was impossible to change their families. I thought their posts were so perfect, because they go along with my recent posts about anti-racists, particularly the very first one, my Reflections post. To me, their work is so pointless. If you can't even change your family's mind, whose mind can you change??? Why this is relevant, in a second.

Back to my point about racism vs hatred. I explained the difference between "hating" based solely on skin color and "hating" based on experiences with people of that skin color. To put it more clearly, people most often carry racism towards others not because they hate that person's skin but because they hate the experiences that person brings to them. So what I'm saying, for me, is not that I now "hate" all white people based on skin color; I'm saying I give up based on experiences. Like the women in those posts above, I give up. And like the majority of blacks eventually do, I give up. Not only am I not going to try to "explain" things to whites anywhere other than my blog about racial differences (okay, I say this, but...), but I am done going into white spaces trying to fit in or looking for friends. As I said, this is not new for me, but it's just a new conscious thought.

Sure, we might all be queer at the GLBT meetings. But we're not all the same race. And, no matter what, race is too hard to overcome. The thing that happens--and the thing I hate to see happen--is there comes a day when, one by one, each person who used to think we could do something about the problem of race...realizes it's just too much for him or her. I read what white (and some non-white) anti-racists have to say, and I realize blacks give up before everybody else does...because blacks have the experiences--from whites--to realize before everyone else that, hey, this is not going to happen. I can go to as many white schools, work as many white jobs, make as much white money as I want...I can not act like a "typical black b!tch," I can go to class every day, I can do a great job at work, I can even make the effort. But if I get anywhere, it will be as "the exception"...and that's not even true with every white, Asian or Latinos person, nor even with most white, Asian or Latino people. This is what I mean when I say I consider anti-racists--though the general white population also fits this--naive.

When blacks give up, they withdraw completely from whites, usually into self-made predominantly black groups. MSNBC recently did this week-long feature on black women, and one of the nights examined how so many black women start their own businesses. Given that the feature was completely shallow, they didn't think to ask/examine questions such as WHY. It was to be a testament of how well black women are doing. The truth is, maybe some of those black women have their own businesses because they are tired of white people and white environments--tired of being one of a few, if not the only, black person/woman working somewhere; tired of being told what to do by white males; tired of "having to prove" oneself; tired of being treated unfairly. Maybe it's not that black women are suddenly confident, independent upstarts or the new model minority that can be used against black men to say "why can't you be this way?" Maybe this is black women's response to racism.

And if I weren't so physically tired and in so much debt, I would march right out there after receiving my diploma and start up my own business for many of the aforementioned reasons. I can't stand the thought of being in one more all-white environment or having white men tell me what to do, the thought of feeling awkward for however many more years every day of my life and being ignored day in and day out.

If I can't stand that, then how am I supposed to go to simple meetings where pretty much everyone there will be white? After all, I know what will happen. I've been in GLBT environments, and this is exactly what has happened: with the exception of one "good" white person, no one else ever spoke to me unless I spoke to them. Funny thing that--that "good" white person was a Conservative; everyone else was a "Liberal." They were all sooooo destroyed about affirmative action getting struck down in Michigan, but they also quickly said that they'd rather that have happened on election night than Republicans maintaining control of the Congress and Senate. Of course, a couple of them also just had to get into a discussion of the benefits of affirmative action, with one wannabe-white quite erroneously Latino saying people should not gain admission to school "just because" of their race. queer white "Liberals" are really so really understand me.

And then there's the way a lot of white queers want you to completely forget about race. We're all gay now. Being queer transcends race. We're all on the same level. We all have the same issues., we're not, and no, we don't. For instance, sitting around listening to a bunch of whites and one Latino demonstrate a complete lack of understanding about and fake support of affirmative action when you're the only other minority in the room, especially given that affirmative action is incurably synonymous with black people in most everyone's minds and I'm the only black around...???? White women can try to make themselves the victim in affirmative action fights all they want, but they are just fine without affirmative action and everyone knows it, including them, apparently, since they can sit and say they'd rather lose affirmative action than have Republicans in powers. Nobody thinks "white women" when they think affirmative action. And not to mention that they can walk into GLBT environments and leave with new best friends and new girlfriends/boyfriends--I can't do that.

Then there are the ones who think that black people should understand queer people better than anybody on the face of the earth. Why? Because queer people understand black people so well? Are you kidding? As racially alienating as I've found black people to be all my life and hetero white people to be the last ten years of my life--particularly the last three years--I have never met more people who just don't get it, who are the most obviously intimidated when I'm around and who won't have anything to do with me than white queers. To me, they are worse than white heterosexuals. So, why would I be done with white heterosexuals but make an exception for white queers? If anything, white queers are a big part of what made me throw up my hands.

I have no idea if she still reads this blog, but a white trans woman who used to attend my law school asked me if I attended GLBT meetings and was going to a GLBT event (we "met" online). How do you tell a white person why you don't attend GLBT events? If you simply say you don't feel comfortable, they attribute that to not accepting your sexuality. If you say you don't feel comfortable because of race, they say the white people in their organization aren't "like that," or that there are several minorities in the organization.

Two things about that: "several" to white people means something totally different than it does to "people of color"--they see 4 colored people out of 30 people and think, "wow, diversity!" We see 4 colored people out of 30 people and think, "damn, ain't no black people here!" Bringing me to my second point--"other minorities" or "people of color" isn't good enough to every minority, especially black people. Black people want to see other black people! And in that organization the trans woman asked me about, the one meeting I ever went to, there were about 30-40+ white people and two black people, with a couple other minorities.

I hate questions such as "are you going to the XYZ identity meeting??" To me, that is a question that is asked to test whether or not you're XYZ enough in an effort to decide whether or not you're acceptable. I can't avoid it with black people, but I can with queers by not telling them I'm "one of them." Gays are so much like black people. They have a set of questions that they ask to test you when they first meet you, and I hate dealing with that stuff. I've also realized that most queers think going to GLBT things is the quickest way to become comfortable with your sexual orientation, to make friends, find support/community and so on. This is another thing that just makes a lot of black queers different from white and other queers. GLBT environments are just not accepting for everyone; they're just not "home" for us all. But white queers, not realizing the experience is different for many black queers, still give this advice to us, that we need to get out there and meet other queers.

Knowing what I know about white people, I, at least, don't want to meet any white queers. I don't want to talk to them, I don't want to spend time with them, I don't want to be around them. What other options do I have, then? I don't live in LA. I don't live in Chicago or Atlanta. I don't live in NYC or DC. And, you know what, I don't want to move to any of those places, except Chicago (another piece of "advice" given to me by a white queer, i.e. move to LA). After all, my life experiences with other minorities, particularly blacks, aren't all that much better than my experiences with whites. Moving just to find other black queers isn't worth it to me, especially if I'd have to move somewhere like Los Angeles! Besides, I've met a few minority queers here, and they test you, as well. I fail. I'd fail out there, too. Worse yet, I'd be stuck in shallow-n-fakeLand.

Admittedly, I perceive the GLBT struggle as white, reflecting white interests. I have a feeling that if GLBT minorities got up and had their say, they'd complain about some pretty different things than queer whites do. When I think about my concerns as a GLBT person, they don't match what white queers say. Clearly, there are black queers out there who do share white queer concerns--they have a web presence; I consider them "professional homosexuals." I'm not interested in white concerns, and that adds to the difficulty of befriending white queers or going to their events. I don't know a lot about black queer concerns, but I suspect that if they are also an intersection of racism and sexuality, particularly as they relate to the GLBT community and general racism unrelated to sexuality...then many of those concerns are just as hopeless as ending racism is. I know my concerns have generally been dealt with by just giving up on the GLBT community and on coming out, as well as on whites in general. Other blacks/minorities can (and do) simply do what straight minorities do, i.e. form racial/sexual identity groups and segregate.