stop hitting. start dancing

April 19, 2009 § 8 Comments

my response to nezua on we dont need another anti-racism 101…

i see what you are saying. its like someone may hit you and it hurts. but if someone hits you by accident vs. someone hitting you on purpose – you account for it differently. most of us do. thank god.
i admit that i get annoyed with folks though who go around swinging their arms every which way and then are surprised that when they hit you it hurt. like some folks (entitled folks) have been taught and supported in swinging their arms around every which way and expect for others to simply get out of their way if they dont want to get hurt. other folks (poc) have been taught to walk with their arms close to their side, spending much of their energy trying to avoid other folks hitting them, trying to anticipate everyone else’s move so they dont get hit.
and then we poc go around to white folks trying to explain to them why they shouldnt hit others.
we tell them that racism is when you intentionally hit others. when you have the attitude that says its okay, right good to hit those kinds of people.
sometimes we go deeper and we tell them that racism is when you hit another person of color because you have been trained that running around randomly swinging your arms around in a world full of people is okay. we tell them that they have been taught that they have a right to run around swinging their arms blindly. that they consider this to be freedom.
but it goes deeper right?
because really we are all taught that we are not allowed to swing our arms and hit certain people. like adults. or teachers. or police officers. or white folks. or rich folks. or straight folks. or the privileged. the middle class. we ought to respect those people.
we have been taught a wrong definition for freedom. freedom isnt the right to hit another person. freedom is the right to love another person.
and then there are those crazy folks. revolutionaries i think we call them. who say: dont hit me. dont hit any body without their permission.
and if you do hit someone. accidentally. you are accountable to them to make it right.
a revolutionary says: stop hitting. start dancing.

§ 8 Responses to stop hitting. start dancing

  • Sue G-R says:

    I just started reading your blog. Thank you for your poetry and wisdom.

    What I do not understand about we white folks is why it is so hard for us to say sorry. I teach my kids to say sorry if they accidentally hurt each other or me. I don’t care if they meant to cause pain (and sometimes they did), they need to say sorry without excuses. I don’t think I am in the minority on that, and yet when it comes to apologizing for hitting with racism, it’s almost impossible for us.

    OK I do understand, actually. It is scary to admit I am a racist, that I have been tainted by the racism in the environment, even without my consent, and to say sorry is to admit that I am not impervious, that I am racist.

    But still, it really does not matter if I hurt someone intentionally or un, it matters that I hurt them.

  • Mamita Mala says:

    I always get caught up on this shit cuz she I am not a proponent of non-violence. I’m not saying a go around hitting people or that I’m for setting off bombs, pero it probably has to do with my politicization and the people who walked me through it.

    Pero you are right freedom is about the right love another person and especially yourself, yourself as part of community, familia. I’m all for dancing pero if you are sitting outside my casa with a tank, don’t mistake my dancing for passive resistance. You never know what I’m hiding under my falda.

    • mama says:

      i am not a proponent of non violence either. i believe in the right to self defense. and you touch my kid and you are dead.
      but i think that is more like someone hitting you and then you hitting back. justified.
      but i do feel like there are some peoples (and i guess all of us to one degree or another) who feel like they should go around swinging their arms randomly and if they hit someone the other person shouldnt hit back. and that is a different type of violence. and much less justified. you know?
      i would be really interested in a conversation about those of us who in one way or another believe in the anti-violence movement and yet dont believe in non-violence. like what do we see as the difference between the two. what do we mean by violence? what are the weaknesses of the non violence movement? how do we define justice?

  • Sue says:

    why is it so scary to admit that you are a racist?

    That’s a really good question. I don’t even know, need to think about it more. But to admit I am racist is up there on the shame meter with going potty in my own pants (on purpose) .

    Maybe it’s something about the fact that (at least in American schools) the only type of racism we learn about is genocide and slavery and we don’t want to be responsible for those things, though silence, even ignorance, is certainly a form of consent.

  • whatsername says:

    I love this post. I am continually amazed at the way people feel the right to take up space.

    I run into it on bus and BART all the time…people who are taking up more than their assigned seat and just expect I’ll deal. And I don’t mean heavy people who can’t help it, I mean people who have spread themselves out on their seat. I’m not a tiny person, I’m a bit tall for a female, but I look and see how much space I’m taking up, especially when things are crowded.

    And so many people don’t care. Or run into you, step on your foot, whatever, and don’t even acknowledge it, don’t look up, don’t make a sound, don’t say “oops”, “sorry”, “‘scuse me”, nothing. Some days I seriously want to scream at people, “this is my bubble, for fuck’s sake respect it”. But only on the really bad days…

    • mama says:

      yes. and i have to say that i find this ‘unawareness’ to check for how much space you are taking up to be more prevalant among men, white folks, upper classes, etc. for instance i am sometimes amazed at how habibi just doesnt think about how much space is available and then how much of it he can take up and still be fair to everyone else. and i am am amazed how rarely folks call him on it. like they are just honored by his presence.
      or how quick folks are to excuse his behaviour by saying that he ‘didnt mean it that way’. how do they know? dont they know that if your bubble is inconvenient to him he just thinks your bubble is ridiculous and figures he will just act however he feels comfortable?
      it is like we are so quick to give the benefit of the doubt to folks based on their social status/kyrarchy placement.
      a couple of days ago i was in this cafe. and there was an expat black girl hanging out with a bunch of other expats. and i watched her to see how they would all interact with her. and it was obvious that she was new in the group. and she only spoke when spoken to. and she laughed a half a second after everyone else had started laughing. she kept her hands and arms still. very very non threatening. and by the end everyone obviously felt comfortable with her. but damn.
      and then when she got up to leave. she visible relaxed and her pace became more expressive and i could tell that ‘normally’ she is much more vibrant…i dont know…it just made me a lil pissed at life for a moment.

      • whatsername says:

        Yah I never call people out for it.

        Sometimes, if they are standing up and I’m sitting down and their bag is hitting me in the face, I will glare at them.


        That’s all I can bring myself to do though, don’t want to be a “bitch” you know?

        And I hate awkward first meeting people things like that. 😦

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