Sunday, August 20, 2017

I was trying to explain

to someone recently why I'm very reluctant, anymore, to read/hear or lend credence to much from a white man (most especially) or a white woman (not quite as strenuously avoided, but almost). (which means I'm also very suspicious of my own thinking/comprehending)

Specifically whenever a white man or white woman writes about U.S. society or social processes or race or oppression and such...that's where my deep and profound skepticism kicks in.

Explaining that stance to someone else was difficult for me, in part because it sounds a little (a lot?) weird and also because I struggle for clarity about this with myself. I didn't/don't fully understand why...I just know that I don't want to entertain nearly any information about societal workings from such sources.

Since I couldn't (and it's not yet reached any sort of final state of clarity or anything even though it's becoming more comprehensible to me) clearly explain it to myself...it pretty much guaranteed I would not be able to do much in the way of telling someone else about it in any understandable way.

So...I explained it in terms of the content of what was said or written by white men. I said that if they were talking/writing about society and/or living beings and what they were saying/writing wasn't critical of or objecting to the status quo....then I wasn't interested in what they thought or wrote. And...if it was critical of the status quo then it had to be evaluated in terms of whether it promoted and/or upheld harm to or oppression of living beings or not.

White men and (most) white women's notions of the world and of how to understand and think are formed based on their learning from the voices of white men that came before them (transmitted by that stuff we call "culture" and social conditioning). Very few white men or women pay heed to the writings and thinkings of POC. (I'm not excluding myself but I've become much much better over the past few years at looking to the efforts of POC to assist me in my comprehension of this society and of how oppression operates)

I think it's crucial to realize that what we are told is "the way things are" or "common sense" or "that's just natural" are actually things that were decided to be that by some white man at some time in the past and since then a bunch of other white men agreed and over time what some white man decided became part of those rules for doing/comprehending that we inherit that's called "culture".

I have to break things down to real simple pieces to help me get a handle on them and as far as I can tell, in the end, much of the elements/aspects of a culture (especially those that have to do with understandings and power distribution and access to the material benefits and such) are made by those who have the power in a culture.

Those with social power inordinately influence what's acceptable to say, think, perceive and do...and they also dominate the ways (most of them, certainly the "acceptable" ones) of knowing and comprehending. Sometimes what they come up with may be ok for everyone...but...and this is the critical thing...at certain times and junctures what they will promote and uphold is designed for satisfying their interests and maintaining their domination. (and you are not told that this is what it is doing)

And...this ok stuff and innocuous stuff is all mixed in with the grotesquely domineering and oppressive stuff to where it's nigh on to impossible for anyone who grew up in that crap and shares various characteristics (like skin color and sex and such) with those looking out for themselves ancestors to be able to sift out the good from the bad.

It's quite difficult (dang near impossible) to actually begin that elusive task known as "thinking for yourself" unless and until some recognition is achieved that U.S. culture is primarily structured and influenced by and mostly works to uphold the power and influence and interests of white men. And by "culture" I'm including social systems and structures such as education and economics and and and.

We live in whitemanland and mostly don't realize it or recognize it or if we have a glimmering of that truth then we tend to deny it...and...to either ignore and dismiss or to get mad as hell and irate at anyone who outs that truth about this here United States. What's amazing is how effectively this is made invisible....especially to us who have white skin.

Don't believe me? Think about the absurdity of having thousands of monuments and statues honoring white men who wanted to wreck the whole United States because they wanted to keep on enslaving human beings. That's bizarre and weird...but...whitemanland thinking puts forth the idea that it makes "sense".

It's dang weird being a white guy who doesn't listen to white guys (and yes, it's true, I'm regularly deeply suspicious of my own thinkings/perceivings)

Part of what I'm stumbling around here trying to say is maybe just a long winded and much less eloquent variant of that many years ago made pithy and profound observation by Audre Lorde that the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. She's much smarter and insightful and talented than me.

I suspicion that, in addition to being unable to dismantle that house of oppression, neither will the master's ways of perceiving and thinking ever lead us to comprehend, with much coherence and clarity, just what in hell is going on.

So...one of the ways that I attempt to avoid using the "master's tools" is to not lend much weight (no matter how "reasoned" or nifty it might sound) to anything coming from a white person about social forces and such unless it's disparaging of or a critique of the social status quo...and even then I work to keep reminding myself that it came from a white person and to be very very cautious.

Don't misunderstand, if some white guy comes to repair my washing machine and shows me what's wrong and how to avoid breaking it again...I'll listen to him and pay heed to what he's saying. He's not talking about social stuff, ya know?


My apologies for the klunky writing here, I constantly wrestle with this stuff so my understanding and thinking is very much a work in progress.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Once again...

humans and our "knowledge" about "animals" turns out to be less than adequate.

There is a small tortoise we call (arbitrarily) Myrtle. I would have inserted a picture but blogger is behaving badly and won't let me.

Myrtle first showed up at our front door last year early one morning, strawberries were offered and taken and Myrtle proceeded to show up almost every morning for her berries and after about three weeks she stopped visiting.

Last week, guess what, Myrtle is once again at the front door early one morning looking for strawberries. This time Myrtle came for four mornings and now hasn't returned for almost a week. Who knows why...I only hope all is well.

Being visited, even briefly, by Myrtle is a much appreciated and valued gift.

Myrtle remembered the house, the door and the strawberries after a year. Myrtle would peer into the house to see if strawberries were coming. Myrtle became trusting enough that no withdrawal into a shell happened when we would approach.

There are ignorant Earthlings...mostly they're human ones.