survivors

April 5, 2009 § 33 Comments

here’s the thing.  that i have to come to accept.  that i dont want to accept.  about myself.  there are really cool people in the world that just dont interest me.

its like last week.  we went to the beach.  the red sea.  it was beautiful.  relaxing.  freeing. joyful.  and the couple with which we went.  were cool people.  brown liberals with law degrees doing good work.  and they just didnt interest me.

and the whole weekend i was trying to figure out why.

and then i realized: they are full of bourgeois value judgements that i think are at best, ignorant and at worst, dangerous.

but it was their vacation.  and they were cool enough.  and i wanted to relax so i didnt call them out on their bull shit.  i just got bored of hearing the same stories over and over again.

but by the last day i realized it was my lil family’s vacation too.

and i have seen some real shit in my life.  and people who havent seen how evil people are. who havent faced death before.  who arent survivors.  who have had the privilege of sanity for most of their life.  who find the mainstream comforting and safe.  not alienating and isolating.  who think violence happens out there.  who understand war and occupation as theory and not life.  who think that the police are helpful and not scary.  who have always had enough money.  who have always made sure that they couldnt be touched by anything but words.

they just dont hold my attention.

these people just hold a series of values that i dont subscribe to.  and either i argue against the US-centric bougie nonsense or i just go mute.  or i walk away.

somewhere amid all the violence i have survived since childhood i gained a sense of humor that is gallows and steeped in fuck the oppressors a revolution is comin baby after we kill off the gods.   i dont malign the poor but the rich.  i invert weakness as a strength.  and i admire those who say: today is a good day to die.  so lets fucking fight.

this does not make me a popular dinner guest.

it make me a damn fine revolutionary.

also, might make me a lil intimidating.

so i have come to accept (even though i dont want to.  even though i am really really a sweet person inside. i am the kind of person who gives up her lunch money so you can by a nickel bag) that i am intimidating.  and alot of folks enjoy my company.  i mean alot of activists, radicals, artists, revolutionaries, survivors, veterans, punks, anarchists, etc.

but the bourgeois?

i move through the their world like frida kahlo.  the lil housewife.  too bored to stay awake.

§ 33 Responses to survivors

  • Fabiola says:

    beautiful baby!

  • Trula says:

    please. When you can talk to anyone, from any walk of life, without judgement or pretension of ‘better than thou’ then you will truly be a revolutionary.

    • mama says:

      i am not claiming to better than anyone. i am saying that i dont get along with everyone in the same way. and that i have struggled in my life because i feel like i should get along with people. even though being around them is psychologically destructive for me. and that i accept that part of my being a human being in this world. that i dont like everyone. and i dont have to. and not everyone is healthy for me to be around. that not everyone is able to relate to who i am and what i have done.
      its the fact that folks read it as ‘better than thou’… that i can only claim to be a revolutionary when i have stopped being human with preferences, disagreements, etc. that kind of response contributes to the ways that the marginalized communities including: working class and women of color’s needs in terms of mental health are erased. i feel uncomfortable in strongly middle class value laden settings. i think that the bourgeois values upholds the violent values that justify why my communities are becoming extinct on this planet. i dont like spending my valuable free time in the midst of such constant justifications for violence.
      you think that is judgemental and pretentious? fine.
      but why is is that woc are always the quickest to insult other woc when we center ourselves first? why are we the first to call each other uppity? judgemental? pretentious? claiming to much for ourselves? dont have the right to use our own critical thinking and center ourselves in our world? why are we are the first to police each other? why do we require that we enjoy spending time with people who require that we justify our right to exist? why do we insist on punishing ourselves and our sisters in such a way?
      knowing so little about each other and yet claiming that one should be able to talk to folks who erase your existance in order to justify their own…i dont see what is so positive about that…
      maybe you can explain it to me.

  • nezua says:

    true revolution is loving yourself without reserve

  • Meep says:

    Hm, maybe you should have dinner with fellow revolutionaries instead. Seems more fun, anyway!

  • fabiola says:

    Yes, I agree so much with this:
    “that i dont like everyone. and i dont have to. and not everyone is healthy for me to be around. that not everyone is able to relate to who i am and what i have done.”
    Speak your truth sis.
    The whole policing thing – it’s draining.

    • mama says:

      yes i am thinking about this policing thing alot lately. why when we are already being policed by others. constantly told who we can and cannot be. do we do it to each other? maybe you (not you fabi, just a you in general) could trust that i am a complicated being…and rather than policing me…could ask…gee, what did you mean by that?

  • Aaminah says:

    “but why is is that woc are always the quickest to insult other woc when we center ourselves first? why are we the first to call each other uppity? judgemental? pretentious?”

    i hate to use the word “jealous” because i think it is deeper than that, but… i think that other woc think “how dare she do that when i can’t!”. well, sister, my answer is: YES YOU CAN. and furthermore, you SHOULD.

    • mama says:

      @aaminah
      exactly. you can and you should. not just for your sake but for mine too. the more woc who are strong and healthy in this world…that is a revolution.

  • belledame222 says:

    for whatever it’s worth:

    I pretty much fit the entire bourgeois list of background stuff you’ve just outlined and then some. White to boot. So, I’m not saying, “hey, I get it.” Which means there’s a gap. And I think it’d be more honest to say–for a lot of people to say, maybe your vacation companions would’ve said if they knew, maybe not, who knows–yeah, it hurts a bit, to know that there’s going to be this gap, and there’s nothing you can do about it. To say that rather than to put it back onto the person who’s saying, “look, this is just how it is.” It’s sad and a little painful, sometimes. To acknowledge that no matter how much you want there to be one, that connection isn’t going to happen.

    And all that said, if it wasn’t clear, yno, I think you’re right. Whatever kind of work you’re doing. Your law activists friends might well already hold this for themselves. You -can’t- like everyone. You can’t be without value judgments. You -do- need to do what you need to do to survive and protect your own health–mental, emotional, spiritual.

    “By the social standards that prevailed about me, I was no good, and could not be any good. But all the different kinds of virtue seemed to be mysteriously interconnected and to belong to much the same people…I did not question the prevailing standards, because so far as I could see there were no others. How could the rich, the strong, the elegant, the fashionable, the powerful, be in the wrong? It was their world, and the rules the made for it must be the right ones. And yet from a very early age I was aware of the impossibility of any -subjective- conformity. Always at the centre of my heart the inner self seemed to be awake, pointing out the difference between the moral obligation and the psychological -fact.-

    …At the time I could not see beyond the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish. I did not see in that case the weak have the right to make a different set of rules for themselves, because, even if such an idea had occurred to me, there was no one in my environment who could have confirmed me in it…I had nothing to help me except…my inability… to -dislike- myself–my instinct to survive.”

    –Orwell, “Such, Such Were The Joys”

    • mama says:

      @trula
      here is the thing. black amazon put it better than i could in her post a couple of weeks ago. i am not required (nor very interested) in having a discussion in which i explain , or feel compelled to explain, that i too have the right to exist. that i too am as human as another. ‘even though’ i am not as educated, as well paid, etc. as another.
      hon. i did say pretty much that. to their face. by the end of my ‘vacation’ i was sitting in the back of the van crying my eyes out while my partner held me (who by the way is white middle class wasp and whole bunch of other ridiculousness) after a week of being told that people (subtly…kind of subtly) like me, mothers like me, working class in debt folks like me, not college educated folks like me…are (kinda kinda) second class citizens. dont deserve the same kind of pay check as others, dont deserve the same kind of respect as others, dont deserve…dont deserve…dont deserve…is that how you would like your vacation to end? would you want to spend a month’s amount of money on a couple of days at the beach. and then be treated like shit?
      you dont know what scorn sounds like. if you think my post was dripping with it. ill just chalk that comment up to the fact that i am a good writer who manages through words to convey a feeling state effectively.
      im not trying to change people;s outlook. im not trying to convince folks that i too deserve to be treated decently. or that folks like me deserve to be treated as human beings. im not trying to convert folks out of their superiority mind set. im just trying to be a psychologically healthy individual. and if you knew me in person and not just cause you read one blog post. you would know that i always speak my mind. and say the uncomfortable things because they are true. because it is not about having a ‘different point of view’ its about having a violent point of view. a point of view that says that i should be a second class citizen in this world.

    • mama says:

      @ belledame
      –…At the time I could not see beyond the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish. I did not see in that case the weak have the right to make a different set of rules for themselves,—

      i had never read that by orwell…is it a book? an essay?

      so, last night i went to a couple of parties with expats expats expats. all of them dripping with privilege. and thats cool. and im known as that chick who goes around talking about ‘racism’ and ‘classism’ and what happens is that folks get drunk, get overconfident, and then come up to me and say — you arent really like all about you know all that race stuff and stuff because i mean you seem cool —
      gee, why dont i hang out with them more?

      so the message comes across that either 1. im cool or 2. i give a fuck about treating human beings as human beings. it cant be both.

      so for me its not just about having privilege. its about your relationship to that privilege. its one thing to be a lawyer. its another thing to think that because you are a lawyer that you have a right to a better than job than i do. or that because you are ‘educated’ you ought to understand middle east politics better than someone who lives in the middle east. or that the police are there to protect you. or that folks shouldnt have debt, you know what you deserve in life, by how much you make, and if you dont make alot of money then just dont spend it…or…i could go on…but it is exhausting to be around. folks who have that type of relationship to their privilege. as if it means they deserve more in life. than other folks.

    • mama says:

      @belledame
      so yes there is a gap. but it can be bridged. but it wont be bridged by me proving to another that i deserve to be treated as a human being. or the other expecting me to prove that.

  • Trula says:

    well, ok. It just seems to me this whole post is dripping with such scorn. I do not get the impression you made a real attempt to connect with them as people…I get the impression you just wrote them off from the get as being beneath your bother. Look. at the end of the day, if you cannot or will not try to come at people based on the simple human dignity we all posses, you are not showing how ‘right’ you are by putting them down.

    You don’t have to put anyone down to put yourself or others up…I understand that you feel I was putting you down by my comment, but truly that was not my intention. I do apologize for that, it’s clear I could have phrased my words in a more gentle way.

    I do wonder, all the stuff you wrote here about those people, would you say it to their face? Maybe if you discussed this with them, changes might have been made in their bourgeois outlook. At the very least they might have been made curious…and gone on to find out more. and by ‘discussed’ I mean just that, discussed. not challenged, or attacked, or started an argument with. Just maybe a question, like Hey, why do you think/ascribe to whatever? then they answer and you can give your viewpoint. you know?

  • Trula says:

    …and I feel compelled too say, that I know it’s not your responsibility to change their minds or educate them or whatever. But from my own experience, I know that sometimes just starting a discussion can open up avenues of thought just for myself. and it goes a long way toward building my own emotional strength, so I am not so easily psychological destroyed by people with a fundamentally different world view. That is an essential giving away of power that undermines the ability to grow as a person, I feel.

  • Derek says:

    The OCD in me is forcing me to point out that “a lot” is always two words, unless you’re talking about the word “allot”.

    I wished you’d expand on what you meant by “bourgeois value judgments”.

    “today is a good day to die. so lets fucking fight.” – holy shit, that’s beautiful.

  • mama says:

    @trula
    i dont know what your definition of ‘discussion’ is. but if it means that i have to sit down with folks and ‘open up the space’ where we can discuss if folks like me should be treated as equal human beings…you can count me out.

  • Trula says:

    ok, just a thought. and by the way, I wasn’t policing you, merely giving my opinion. I am no judge of what you should or should not say; how you should or should not interact with others. I have a hard enough time policing myself and navigating my own way in life, I have little desire in forcing others to belive/think/do as I do.

    I mentioned discussing this with them because I was puzzled why someone who ascribes to being a revolutionary is so put off from trying another way…isn’t that what revolution is, changing things up, doing things differently? and since you wrote that you hang with folks who are ‘ready to die today’…it seems to be you’d not be easily destroyed merely by talking to someone who has a fundamentally different way of living/moving/being in this world.

  • Trula says:

    p.s more on policing…curious why this came up off the rip. While I definitely could have expressed myself better and see how my initial remark could be viewed as hostile, the implied response that this meant I was trying to ‘police’ you seems so knee-jerk and overly defensive…why? I have read more than one blog post of your writing as well as follow your twitter stream and you do not seem to be so emotionally fragile that you cannot hear a differing opinion. am I wrong in that, or do you only want supportive/validating/echoing comments on this blog?

    a different opinion is not a personal attack or attempt to police or control your behavior, mama.

    • mama says:

      @ trula
      let me go to black amazon on this one…
      —–That you think that noticing that no matter how many times you said things over and over, that you noticing none of the supposed benefits are reaped by you. That no matter how many times you talk no one gets “better” or even basic.
      That you don’t have to reinforce the idea your HUMAN? That anyone who needs a guiding hand in doing shit that isn’t dehumanizing and wrong need not get MORE of your time.—–http://guyaneseterror.blogspot.com/2009/03/things-we-earn.html

      the attack you made:
      1. the idea that i am pretentious or self-righteous because i believe that folks who do not see me as being equal do not need to get more of my time.
      2. that the only legitimate way to be a revolutionary is to talk to anyone in any walk of life.
      3. question as to whether or not i can call myself a revolutionary because i think my time is valuable.
      4. to imply that i am ‘emotionally fragile’ cause i think my time is valuable.

      dont you see the difference? between talking with someone who has a different point of view. and someone who believes that you are subhuman. why should i spend my very precious time explaining to them that people like me deserve to be treated as human beings too. rather than spending that time on the beach playing with my daughter. or under the stars listening to the waves? why?

  • Trula says:

    Then why spend time with them at all? or expose your daughter to such people. The whole thing confuses me, if they said you are subhuman, then surely they think your daughter is too. What was the purpose/point in spending so much time with them?

    I am not implying you are emotionally fragile because you think your time is valuable. I said that you do not seem to be so emotionally fragile that you cannot hear a differing opinion. am I wrong in that, or do you only want supportive/validating/echoing comments on this blog? I have no desire to cause any harshness or misery or anger or attacking or policing or whatever, so if my comments/questions hurt you or make you feel policed or put upon, I have no issues not reading/posting to your blog or invading your web space in any way. Just say so, I won’t be offended.

  • Trula says:

    p.s and my differing opinion in my last comment, I meant differing opinion from me or others who post comments to your blog. Not the subhuman believers, I wasn’t referring to them in that point. I’m asking, do you only want supportive/validating/echoing comments to your blog? or do you view comments such as mine with a different opinion as policing off the rip.

  • belledame222 says:

    makes sense, per “gap.”

    per Orwell: it’s an essay. “Such, Such Were The Joys.” you can probably find it in various collections; the one I have is published by Penguin, “Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, Volume 4.” it might be on the Internets somewhere too; if I find it intact I’ll post a link.

  • belledame222 says:

    on your expansions, that truly sounds like a hell vacation actually.

    d’you think this stuff is exacerbated by the fishbowl-y aspects of expat communities?

  • belledame222 says:

    (do you know Natalia Antonova, p.s.?

    http://nataliaantonova.com/)

  • belledame222 says:

    (pal who’s also an expat, Ukranian origin, currently living and doing journalism in Jordan. also edits Global Comment and Arab Comment, links at her spot)

  • belledame222 says:

    @Trula um, it seems to me that the whole point of her post was that she just finally was getting to the point where she -doesn’t- want to spend time with them anymore.

  • Katie says:

    Mama –

    This was really powerful and I’ve bookmarked it for reading again and again when I am castigated for not being “nice” to my racist and sexist relatives.

    Trula –

    You’re dragging this out and making it painful in a way that….dun dun dun….forces her to justify her beliefs to YOU TOO! Way to replicate the original feelings that she’s writing about.

    And this value of “being able to talk to anyone” – it’s a bourgeois value. Think about it. Who has the mobility and the hubris and the income to think that they can really connect with anyone at any income level? People whose experiences and values and priorities differ completely from their own? Bourgeois, often white folks. I have watched this phenomenon happen time and time again, specifically with my aforementioned awful family. My uncle? The white guy who speaks Chinese? Yeah, he thinks like that. That’s why he goes up to random Asian people in the street and tries to speak Chinese with them. It’s not about being able to speak to everyone as though you KNOW them and their needs and their values. My uncle and people like him? They’re tourists. They will run back to what they know the second the situation leaves their control. I think strength lies in knowing where YOU come from, and what you know and don’t know.

  • Katie says:

    *ETA – “any income level, race, religion, ethnicity, language, history, gender, etc.”

  • belledame222 says:

    she’s often looking for submissions, you should definitely submit something to either or both.

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