On the White seeker and the Black friend
"If we follow this line of thinking, that means that White women and gender-non-conforming people get to have an identity, but only at the point of the spear that is their gender. The same is true for Queer White people, poor White people, Jewish White people and disabled White people. At some point, though, we’re still left with an identity-shaped void around the outline of our Whiteness. And the message we’ve internalized is that there’s nothing of value there. Wherever our Whiteness begins, our identity ends. We are as blank and desolate as the Omaha of the coastal imagination."
This is such a good articulation of something I think about a lot, in several ways! I always try to keep a hold on how much more compelling it is to claim transness than whiteness as a defining identity. It's a lot easier, and yes, cooler, to claim marginalization, than to have to grapple with the moral responsibility of being a white person under white supremacy. I've been grateful to have more people in my life who are willing and able to see and look at whiteness instead of treating it as empty space to be filled with other people's stuff.
And the photos you chose are amazing, such a great complement to the article.
Really thought provoking and a great articulation of things that have been swirling in the back of my mind for some time. I think one of the biggest questions I have these days is "What does it look like to claim identity as a white person without either cultural appropriation or falling into white supremacy?" For example, I've been loving writing by indigenous authors such as Robin Wall Kimmerer and wondered what it would look like to research the traditions of pre-Christian Europe to understand what my long ago German ancestors were doing. Of course what I found is that German Paganism is a thing that exists - and is constantly fighting off attempts to claim it by White Supremacy. Not sure exactly how to end this comment other than to say - yes, I agree that our pattern up until now has been to look for coolness and legitimacy from more oppressed folks, and that I'd like to find a different way forward but have yet to figure out what that looks like.
This articulates so much. So, so true that in my younger years I felt a sense of "cool points" that came from liking and listening to specific artists. I'm remembering with some shame the performative nature of wanting to demonstrate that I wasn't boring or biased, as a plain vanilla white girl from middle class Idaho. It wasn't enough simply to know for myself, inside my own self--others had to witness. I do think of at least some of that as being an element of youth and the desire for belonging that's very human: "look at me! look at me! like me! like me!" But that need can just as easily describe being a Garth Brooks fan.
Your piece gives me another lens through which to view those thoughts, and those visits to Funk Night at the bar in Moscow, Idaho (which in my day had a lower drinking age than Pullman, where I went to school). Let me tell you, that was a room full of mostly white kids getting down, getting funky, and getting back up again, and feeling very cool doing it, while most likely assuming that any Black person in the room was an athlete or possibly an exchange student.
In full confession, the first chords of Super Freak by Rick James still make me get up and dance every time even though I now know about his problematic behaviors that came to light in the 1990s after my funk nights had been replaced by getting babies down to bed and hoping they would NOT get back up again.
Oooh, this is a good one, Garrett! So many thoughts.