December 2017
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31


you can only measure emotional selfishness in bad times / racism is a system, bigotry is an attitude


icon: "voltaic (photo of me with rainbow reflections on my face, leaning my head at a sharp angle and staring intently at the camera)"

I can't bear selfishness, especially when it kills empathy. If you can't care about someone else's feelings when you are angry at them or hurt by them, what good is your love? NONE. it is USELESS. And I know that sometimes I am selfish like this, but I try my best not to be and when I fuck it up and don't keep compassion present, I apologize and do my best to help heal any hurt I have caused. That's what I ask from others. I'm not sure if selfishness should be a dealbreaker, or how many times it takes to decide that it's not just occasional accidents but the general way of handling things.

Doing stuff for other people that makes you feel good is not a test of love, not remotely. You can be the most romantic, gift-giving, affectionate-words-using, cuddly, playful, service-giving person when you're happy, but if you turn into an attacking beast when you're upset, that means you are NOT LOVING, you just like the reactions your niceness gives. Love doesn't vanish when anger or hurt happens. Selfish giving does vanish. You can tell how much someone loves you by how well they treat you when they are upset with you.

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all white people are racist. not all white people are bigoted. racism is a system you are born into. bigotry is an attitude you can choose.

I'm using the sociological definition of racism as an institutionalized system of inequality. Individual acts of bigotry against white people are not called racism because they aren't something that exists in a nation-wide or world-wide way, enforced by laws and educational systems and media etc. Bigotry based on your skin is painful and horrible to experience no matter who you are. But if it was racism, a systemic problem, then every white person you know would have a similar set of daily experiences. People hating you for who you are is bigotry, prejudice- it only becomes oppression if it is something that no one in your group can escape. If I try to make it as simple as possible, bigotry is an individual problem which can be escaped by avoiding those individuals who are bigoted. Racism is a social system which cannot be escaped because you can't avoid the laws and other forms of institutional inequality like educational systems. Sometimes white people suffer under bigotry, but white people never have to deal with racism, at least not in the US.

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Comments
topaznebula ══╣╠══
Yes to all of this. Yes yes yes.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
<3
volamonster ══╣╠══
Do you find that it's rare to encounter people who have emotionally developed enough (or have the natural emotional talents) to be reliably loving in this way? I feel like it's rare, in my experience, but that could just be my confirmation bias or bad luck. Regardless, this is an insightful observation and I definitely agree.

Also, fucking amen to the racism/bigotry thing. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to explain this and people just completely refuse the information.
belenen ══╣woven souls╠══
Yes, it's absolutely rare. We're taught lies about love from the very beginning, and we're not taught the actual skills of managing our emotions (rather than spewing or smothering them). And then, we constantly have our feelings invalidated, so we feel like in order for them to be treated as valid, we have to have only one at a time. So people throw out compassion because they're afraid that if they don't, people will say their hurt isn't real and ignore it. It's only through example that I feel we can learn this. I only learned when Hannah criticized my squelched anger for not being managed and expressed kindly, while containing love. Before, I didn't know that was humanly possible. I'd never seen it done. Before something can be created it must be imagined...
ssjspider ══╣B&W Cas╠══
Sometimes white people suffer under bigotry, but white people never have to deal with racism, at least not in the US.

I just had a "conversation" with someone about this on tumblr (they were "anonymous" so it wasn't a real conversation, I just responded to whiney post they made) I wish I'd have seen this earlier, it's a great way of explaining this
wildrose ══╣╠══
raidingparty ══╣╠══
I don't think identifying people as racist is as useful as identifying racist actions or constructs.
Billions of people (myself included) participate in racism. Assuming the best of people, I expect that most do it unconsciously.

That being said, I do like the distinction made between racism and bigotry, definitely important for white people who think they've been the victim of racism.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
I think it is vital that people realize that racism lives inside them. it's not just in institutions and conscious actions, it is in ALL KINDS of little assumptions and habits. I agree that the vast majority is unconscious. But if we don't recognize that it is inside us, we cannot get it out. People think that they're not racist because they don't have bigotry, and then they go around accidentally hurting people CONSTANTLY with their "innocent" racist assumptions. This happens with other marginalized groups as well, of course. It's not transphobic bigots that hurt me -- they don't really have my attention. It's the people who want to be allies and yet refer to a group that includes me as "ladies." It's that kind of thing that screams at you "you don't belong, we don't know you or want to." Even when you KNOW it is not how the person consciously feels, those microaggressions can eat your soul. Especially when they happen every fucking day everywhere you go.
call_me_katya ══╣Cat╠══
I had a situation recently. I felt hurt by a friend's actions [not SF]. I cried a little and decided that just being normal with them would be spineless of me. I wanted them to feel as hurt as I did. I wanted to wound, assuming that was the only way I could make my presence felt. I was going to an event that they would be attending and worried all day how I would make them understand how badly they had made me feel.

Just before the event, I bumped into them in the street. It was so unexpected, so outside of any scenarios I had already thought through that when they said hello I was just incredibly surprised, blinked and said hello back. We fell into step together companionably and chatted normally [although by unspoken agreement we did not discuss the issue], and hung out for most of the evening at the event. The next day I wondered if I'd been weak, not making a point of trying to hurt them. Then I read this and realised that my natural reaction, my true reaction was just to get along with them, and show them that I cared. Thank you for helping me to realise I wasn't being weak and 'too kind'.
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
Thank you for helping me to realise I wasn't being weak and 'too kind'.

*love*
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
I have wondered whether there are some particular situations even in the US where white people may suffer racism by the power plus oppression definition. Because a lot of people live in pockets where they don't get out of their small communities, and if those communities and those communities happen to be non-white. They would be rare, but I wonder if those situations exist and what they would look like.

It's the hard times that put our love to the test, the times when we're most resistant to loving. To love and be loved through these times of hurt and difficulty is a beautiful gift.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
only if those communities had their own laws and media and were not subject to or exposed to national laws/media. otherwise it would still be just marginalization. This country was literally built with white supremacy and it is in everything.

Usually what happens when whites are the minority in the US is that they are still the oppressors, given all the best jobs. Look at Baltimore. There was some kind of federal contract hiring used as an example, can't remember specifics, but the data shouldn't be too hard to find if you're curious.
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
These are interesting thoughts.

What about people who have issues that cause them to say or do the wrong thing in tough situations, i.e. cannot show their love when they have been hurt? Would you say they aren't capable of truly loving someone?

And while many political systems are racist, I'm not sure that makes people living within the system racists. Isn't a racist someone who supports racism, whether deliberately or not?
belenen ══╣feminist╠══
people with disabilities may need accommodation, but everyone is capable of learning to not attack people. Calling people names and saying hurtful things is learned behavior and can be unlearned. An example of accommodation would be when I was dating someone who did not have very much ability to control their emotions and remember coping skills in the moment. So after we discussed the problem, as an accommodation, I would not take it personally when they got very upset and started attacking but would instead remind them to take some time to reflect and calm down before discussing it with me. For their part, they agreed to actually take that time when reminded. In this way, they were able to avoid hurting me with saying impulsively horrible things.

Yes, a racist is someone who supports racism, whether deliberately or not (usually not deliberately: that's a bigot). People who are privileged in a racist system (white people) automatically support racism whether they want to or not. You can unlearn as much as you can but there will always be aspects of racism there. That's how privilege works. An example in the US: Black people know white cultural references, but the opposite is not true. This is racist, as it maintains white cultural references as the 'important' ones that 'everyone' should know (and for many other reasons). You get this cultural knowledge from a lifetime of exposure, and there is no way you can fully counteract that. All you can do is try to improve: no white person can perfectly undo their years of deeply subconscious racist training. Same for men unlearning sexism, cis people unlearning cissexism, etc.
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
With this explanation, I'd agree with your point on the first topic.
By the way, I think it says a lot for both of you that you were able to reach this consensus and act accordingly.

I see what you mean about racism, and of course I can't judge how it is in the US. I'll just trust you there.
Here in Germany we have a large Turkish community, and it is considered important to know Turkish/Muslim culture to some degree, e.g. our school's calendar shows the beginning and end of Ramadan etc. So while there certainly is racism in Germany, I would not say that the oppressed culture is considered "not important".
theindiequeen ══╣╠══
That was such a good, clear way to explain why reverse racism isn't a thing. Every time I try to explain it, my words get all jumbled up, and it's not very clear. I think because most of the things I've read explaining this before go into a lot of detail and are pretty lengthy, which is great, but thanks for summing it up in such a succinct way!
toll_booth ══╣╠══
My not having to think about my white privilege IS white privilege. It took me years to get that.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.