A reminder to everyone that the Arab slave trade predates the transatlantic slave trade by several centuries and European colonialism by at least a millennia. Now I know whiteness has used this history as whataboutery but it matters that we hold this in* mind.
I always say we focus on white supremacy because of the context of our lives, but white supremacy is not the whole story and in fact Arab supremacy does not complete the story either...but it is an important vector of anti-blackness I wish was more widely studied.
My personal interests the points white & Arab supremacy converge in North Africa for example. And how this leads to the sorts of geopolitical conflicts & violence fought on the Mediterranean Sea & on modern Arab ‘slave’ markets.
That’s all I’ll say on chapter 3. Instead I would like to reflect a bit more on the writing journey, as it feels prescient. The journey to the book.
I have received a private message from a distraught black trainee clinical psychologist, struggling with experiences of exclusion/marginalisation. She approached me for support. I tried to offer something, but my capacity is limited.
I know these experiences very well. When I struggled, there were very few people in the profession who offered help. Or rather let me re-phrase...If I framed difficulties in terms of me not knowing how to...a few would. If I frames them in terms of racism...people run away.
My elder sister also told me, ‘you’re going to attract a lot envy little sister, but remember you are blessed and we are here. Your star is shining, no one can do anything about it’ I am Indeed blessed. Very thankful for her presence in my life.
She does not know much I have written & thought about envy & white envy. But remember my latest on the topic, safest & most effective defence: inhabit your power, reclaim every inch of it. Wear it with pride. This is your protection.
Also people who wish for what others have without wanting none of the sacrifices, struggle, wounds, losses are greedy. Greedy and abundance are mutually exclusive. I have never ever met a greedy happy person.
This chapter is possibly the most Fanonian. I look at the fantasies the black body arouses in white space. I consider the impact of these fantasies on our internal world and, therefore how white supremacy permeates us.
I look at the embodied manifestations of racism and it’s impact on our physical health. I look at health inequalities in the broader sense and therefore consider racial trauma as an embodied & physically noxious phenomenon...
I had the most wonderful small private launch, my inner circle only, loved ones & all folks important to the journey of Living While Black. I feel blessed & thankful. I am going to share a few reflections.
The pride and joy in my elder sisters eyes will stay with me forever. I will carry it for life.
Take away message: brace yourself Guilaine. I am still not connecting to fear or to what’s to come. Everyone has been telling me it’s radical, it will bring about a watershed moment, you don’t seem to get what’s going to come your way...
Can we please take a moment to appreciate the cover of Living While Black again, this is @bronzebygold ‘s vision & work in the main.
You know what it evokes in me?
I love the cover first of all. The pic does not do it justice. When I first I got it, I was reminded of how tactile a person I am, I love to touch it, the grain of it..., makes it interesting to the touch. Then there is the world black...you can’t get a sense of it. It sticks out
The moment I saw it, I thought scar. The scars of trauma, the scar of enslaved Africans...but also the culture of scarification of my forebears, my mother was scarified, she has a small scar on her face, close to one eye, looks like a tiny feather.
I had a convo with them. I am taking this further, so I do not want to say too much here, not wise tactically. It’s good that social services have accepted the conduct was unacceptable that is not enough for me. The school is still trying to minimise and thus I need to amplify.
Completely different register...I have had this nagging thought on my mind, in the anti-racism meeting we discussed creativity, artistic expression & connection to the realm of the spiritual as decolonial resistance and as self-care...
Someone described this process as sublimation — the analytic defence. We stayed on this. In analytic thinking sublimation is basically the process of converting neurotic impulses into socially acceptable ways of being or thinking. I agreed.
Then it occurred to me...in the classification of defence mechanisms actually sublimation is considered a mature and more sophisticated defence. Until here...no nothing new.
All institutions on this land have profited from enslavement & colonialism and ALL *continue* to do so because...trans-generational wealth does not disappear, it makes babies gets passed down & invested. And neo-colonial arrangements continue to sustain geopolitical exploitation.
Hence, no one can ever tell me I do not belong here or in France or Belgium or in most of Western Europe. I belong wherever the blood of my ancestors & siblings edified a country. It’s my newly found sense of entitlement. The blood of my people is the walls of your institutions.
Imagine if all folks of colour truly believed we BELONG. Imagine if we internalised the notion this land is ours, without shame or apology. My god race dynamics would shift a notch. I encourage everyone black & brown to work on this sense of entitlement & home.
Reminder that when we speak about structural realities, socialisation & historical legacies...it’s nonsensical to believe personal choice alone explains our behaviour. It’s a white illusion. Our lives are constrained in ways our hubris won’t allow us to see.
There’s that complex & paradoxical dance we have to do between accepting the constraints placed on our lives & what we have all inherited...while still allowing ourselves space to move & claim some agency where we can.
It’s not an all or nothing game. But the belief in utter control is illusion & as is the belief we’re completely helpless. Generally powerfully folks believe they are a lot more powerful than they are...and marginalised folks think they have much less power they actually do.
There’s that video of Dr Umar Johnson still circulating in which forcefully oppose mixed relationships on materialist grounds. I grew up hearing this argument, so there was nothing radical in his comments for me, controversial yes. Radical nope, I follow the logic.
What is more troubling for me and I discuss the issue (but not at depth) in LWB is how it is still taboo to discuss choice of sexual partners in the context of white supremacy & racial politics and how we’re supposed to this them as non-eventful & insignificant.
I think this is nonsense and it is silencing. But it still feels prickly to go there. I would refer you to Fanon on this of course but even he, despite writing so forcefully on the problematics of ‘desiring whiteness’ as a reminder, married a white woman.
Too many mixed-race folks who attempt to disown their proximity to whiteness need to make peace with the ‘enemy within’ before they enter racial justice spaces & convos. This is real.
Nothing worse than a white adjacent body lecturing black folks on blackness unaware or unwilling to look at what dynamics they are bringing into the room.
Anyway a reminder that proximity as a factor in assessing risks re: racial politics & complicity had many heads*. Proximity can be class based too & irrespective of phenotypical adjacency. It’s important we remember this.
Thank you the many of you who have referred me to this piece. Yes...indeed, I do address the pathologisation of blackness and in particular the pathologisation of black resistance in Living While Black historically & contemporarily...
We can all laugh at the existence of drapetomania as a medical diagnosis. Where we struggle is to recognise the more subtle & covert ways black people who resist racism continue to be seen as ill, immature, disordered or disorderly. I cover this too.
Everyone who has ever been in dispute over racism or any form of discrimination related dispute will attest to these very powerful projections of disturbance/pathology/dysfunction. I have been there. I know how toxic & potent the stuff is...it’s a violent form of gaslighting...
Anyway I am grateful and if any of you want my tips & to hear about my experience of writing, we’ll be holding a community session in the future for aspiring writers of colour in the future.
For now I’ll just say what I often say...think about the why? For me I was always I think destined to write even though others saw that before I did. The trigger was my experience within academic psychology & resistance & protest to silencing. This was my personal trigger.
I think you need a trigger to put that fire in your belly. If you are disconnected from yourself, your rage, your hunger, your passion...You will write, but I don’t think it will be compelling. Humans connect to emotions & to life/death drives.
I want to say first and foremost that I am extremely thankful. Despite differences in scholarship and positionality (& white supremacy related concerns over her prominence & popularity), I cannot but be humbled.
A* scholar of her stature knows what it means for scholar like me to be endorsed by her. I do not take that lightly AT ALL. I know the controversies & I know her scholarship is not without issues, I have spoken to the same openly...and yet, here we are. That speaks volume to me.
I have not commented on Feminista Jones and the Black Marxism comment/scandal that led to her deactivating her account. There are others who have offered adept criticisms of her Tweet & most are better placed to offer a nuanced critique of racism in Marxism & of black Marxism.
But I do want to make a point on the politics of twitter critiques. And make a point on form & process which I am afraid in this instance, directly link to contents or substance.
There are many, and I mean *many in these streets* that need to better manage their envy. It’s clear to me* many of the criticisms offered are exploitative criticisms. I will explain what I mean.
I support the abolition case. My fear is too many abolitionists seem to be lacking imagination. When I read again & again the argument that the police should be replaced by other institutions such a social work governances, I worry. A lot.
A racist institution cannot be replaced* by another racist institution, well* it can...but this is not transformation. There is no institution in any white supremacist society that is not structurally racist. This is the baseline.
The abolition case, can only be sustain by fundamentally transferring power from the state to communities themselves. There is no other arguable case. And we need to accept communities are equally capable of violence & racism.
What a perverse finding.
This is partly why we have such low success rates for race discrimination claims when law makers & courts prioritise white intentions (irrespective of what the Equality Act states...) over impact/effect.
And the fact that the Judge made reference (if I understand properly) to the black staff being ‘confrontational’ I think speaks volumes. This oozes racial bias. But you know, it’s a judge so, that’s fine.
Not saying that we can’t argue ppl can use inappropriate & racist language inadvertently but if we have a judicial system that expects WP to admit they intended to be discriminatory...you might as well close shops. Why hear race discrimination claims?
Anyway as I take a break, I have been thinking about something, I wanted to share a few reflections on a race dynamic I am starting to understand better in a short thread. The tension/discomfort/disturbance that comes abt in teams or interpersonally around racial ‘differences’.
Many of us I am sure will recognise this. Where you have staff/students of colour who feel excluded or ill at ease in a particular white space. And they can’t attribute the tension/disturbance to any overt conflict. Nothing seems to have happened & said that created the tension.
But they feel excluded and sometimes actually get genuinely distressed. There are various ways to formulate this, you’ll know for example I write a lot about ‘location of disturbance’, I think what I am saying here is related.
Trying to write, struggling and thinking about the latest debauchery around the race report, I am glad this is being exposed for the naive souls to hopefully see* how structural racism operates and what a con white supremacy is. A con we’re so invested in.
Such a farce but we know this is exactly how institutions tend to function when allegations of racism are made. The aim is never to assess the evidence for and against, it is usually to assess evidence against the allegation only...
And if none can be found, to actually fabricate evidence that will challenge the allegation. This is the standard practice. Witnesses to events are not included. Testimonies are worded in a way to disprove them. Intentions are quite frankly invented. It’s the same game.