Occasionally, as people may guess, I get emails, or messages in my FB messages, and comments in response to my posts on Facebook, that object to and criticize my posts that “lean” toward “being against white people” or “being against Japanese people” or “being against black people.” In a world of words, and I–being a person who distrusts words but must use words to communicate certain things, it is hard to navigate what I consider to be colonized relations. This includes how we use words, and how we *listen* or *hear* and how we filter and project. In social relations, our words and ideas as well as our ideals, are mixed up with personal feelings, kinds of traumas we’ve experienced, attachments and commitments in our subconscious, and how willing we are to change or to look at ourselves, as well as our ethical and moral dispositions. Yes, we are not simple beings. From all sides, people who are married to their own ideas of self (and cannot see difference), will accuse, accuse, accuse.
In a present-day, when everyone *brands* everything, labels every little behavior, color, identity, and re-creates hierarchies and judgements constantly, it is truly a difficult time. But in resisting, what happens?
Analyzing only goes so far. But in response to people who accuse me, and other mixed-race folks (and those who label or consider themselves mono-racial) of “hating” or “being against” one group or another, I write this short thing below:
If you object to me pointing out white supremacy, then your own defensiveness implicates you in white supremacy. That’s my point. Do you want to look at yourself? To counter this, do you try to make yourself “non-racial” or “non-white” or “just human”? As admirable as this defense might seem, this way of “retreating” and “hiding” implicates you in my other critiques of a lack of creativity and being caught up in the colonial ideological machine. It protects white supremacy. White-washing (making us nothing but “all-human”) is a maintenance. If you are feeling defensive right now, then see it. If you want to hate the speaker who is saying it, this points to how bankrupt you are, or how attached to being racist (or sexist, or homophobic, or heterosexist, or color-ist, or……whatever the oppressive hierarchical tactic you are producing) you are. I am not different from this tactic. The difference may only be in the fact that I look at it and name it and struggle with it because I know *It is NOT MINE or ME* as much as it is a conditioned trait that I have taken in simply by being born into a society, a nation.
If you are unwilling to look at yourself, then you are a producer, a maintainer, of continual oppression. Don’t expect people to like you or approve of you. Some may not care. They are colluding along with you as well.
If you are constantly indicting, accusing, reacting with angry tones at every little infraction of difference–and considering this to be “combating the racisms (or other isms),” then you are just getting through it and trying to recognize it but do not understand (yet) that these reactions do not help but produce further hate in others. We can let off steam with those who are like us, but we must travel further within our mechanisms of self, to look at how fragile and deep this all is, for all of us and *that there is NO PURE SPACE or PLACE.* If you think there is a pure place of the perfect “personal” that expresses no racism, sexism, heterosexism, size-ism, colorism, caste and class-ism, nationalism, scientism, psychologism, etc. etc., then you are among those who do not understand how we are all connected (to time, place, other).
I do remember myself, during certain periods in Zen Buddhist training in a monastery, that our teacher would give dharma talks on “the stink of Zen.” This was not a moral criticism–which so many folks retreat to — the purity versus impurity, or the good versus the bad, etc. dualities, but in the spirit of Zen Buddhism, to be mindful, to be able to see Mind and its machinations, and to realize that people go through certain aspects of training when things are UPPERMOST in our MINDS and we react. In the case of ‘the stink of Zen,’ it is a cautionary note on how arrogant we can become when we are intensely noticing and practicing with one-pointedness, becoming aware of things, and how we then make the whole universe ONLY THAT. My teacher always pointed out that many students of religion or spirituality or philosophies (of any kind) often wind up staying in that state for long periods, or never get out of it. I think of people, especially, who have climbed themselves out of dire conditions and addictions — such as those who have escaped the terror of familial violence and running toward a certain religion such as “being born again” or who are students of Alcoholic Anonymous, and who have made remarkable strides. At this point, many students of spiritual paths and also social justice, act out in similar fashion, with strident and arrogant notions of all reality and make psychological (which is culturally particular and not universal) and *BLANKETING” everything over to make sense of it, but cannot filter themselves *TOWARD DIFFERENCE* and diversities of life and experience, unable to differentiate between realities and make their single-mindedness the center of all reality. There are no “Others” in this place, erasing others.
I don’t blame this. I went through this for about twenty years and began to climb out of it. We have to be careful of the “markers.” We often judge and guide ourselves along to resist these things, with very assimilated and colonized notions of “how we should be”–with the socially acceptable ways of judging how a “good” person should be. This is colonized to be sure.
So in all this work, as we come to know ourselves, and hopefully we come to know the difference of all humans, where things interconnect along the lines of isms. I always hope that some will recognize me as a person along the path of working on the self, and to realize and to live in a better light; and that this “light” is not a permanent place of purity or complete freedom or superiority, but a place of being able to work better with a better and better and better repertoire of tools to make a BETTER WORLD. If you think it is ONLY ALL ABOUT YOU—then you’ve got work to do. But if you don’t agree, go on ahead (I’m talking to myself here, just as much). I probably won’t pay you any mind, except in ways you may be an oppressor of me and those on the path and who need protection.
So NO, I do not HATE. I DO HATE, however, the TRAITS that bind a person to want to maintain certain forms of oppression in the name of fear, or rage, or vengeance, but I understand my hatred of *Traits* to mean that I have hope in the ways in which a person may become aware, and then to work on it through a lifetime or two. Otherwise, what is the point of social justice? or awareness? We must see these systems we travel in, but understand the fragile nature and complex interplay of past, present, and future, in the making of selves and social systems.
To be able to see our paths, and to make changes— to become better at managing and understanding how our passions, our intellect, our trauma, our resistance tactics, and our notions of “how the world should be” — must constantly be put to loving-and-sharp scrutiny—with joy, love, power, understanding. And done with an understanding of holding our weaknesses instead of attacking them, working on ways our unique characteristics can work to benefit self and others and social systems in the future. In the present, it is way too mired in disempowerment. But we may, now, work in small concentric circles of influence and honesty, letting go of superiority, and move intensely in ways that we don’t stink too much (disruption is good, stink is bad).