This Saturday, October 8th, I’ll be taking race and antiracism and the relationship between racism and Islamophobia with Yassir Morsi at the Lebanese Muslim Association.
Work in Progress
I didn’t know a baby could be a weapon
And it took nearly 7 years to see what she represented
While idling on my phone
I came across a mention
Not of me
(Though it could have been)
Or so I felt
But wasn’t this only evidence again
Of putting myself at the centre of a stain?
Done to others without intent
It doesn’t matter
That’s in your head
They give no fucks for how you felt
And that’s as it should be
But then again
When my presence was questioned by a straight cis man
Who raised an objection to the baby who can
Override the purpose and the higher plan
That her pangs for my breasts
Were reminders of the absence of a man
Who was promised to appear
Whose absence made things unclear
Because babies are weapons if they can’t disappear
When needed to
Who said in an interview earlier that year
That, although he was married,
He might be queer,
Not in reality
He had a wife
And three children
She drove the mini van with the food
Brought to impress the VIP who looked straight through her as she fixed me,
In her glare
The one who dared to use a language rightly hers
Whose years of toil had borne no flesh
Whose weaponised baby born of love
Between two people whose separate pasts united them
In ways unforseeable
By those for whom their baby’s mixedness represented only privilege
A result that deserves no praise
For who would applaud an outcome already appraiseable?
From the point of view of those who think it’s typical
Of women like me.
To use a whiteness undemanded
To speak in words not founded
Not visibly grounded
And to birth a brown child who’ll grow to ask questions
Now directed at her mother by childless professors
Who give no fucks for the feelings of white women
Using stolen feminism
To demand attention
And to draw energy from the edification
Of a space too small to contain the ego of a mother rejected.
I understood it then
Though they didn’t know
Because I couldn’t show
How thoughts messed with feelings of fierce protection
Onto a baby whose needs
Overrode any mental ability
The mental agility
Needed to understand
That events don’t cede to plans
And it might be my fault
But this is the reality of a world that tells us
That we’re right but we’re not
Or only partly
But I can’t take heart in it
Because I burned some bridges
Though I might not have started it
And I can’t hide behind hormones
For that’s just asking for it
And playing a game
From which it’s best to refrain
If I want to be a serious player in what isn’t really a game
It’s, as my now six year old would say,
Real life, mama
I reject the man who struck the blow
On behalf of his teacher
Whose lessons he believed more
Than his wife and lover
Whose stories he liked to tell to others
While her photography
Was relegated to the past
Which could not last
Because of his graft.
She didn’t know that he’d be the feminist in her stead
That she’d be too busy bringing bread
Where she wasn’t invited
But from which she could transport
Ejected mothers and deadly babies
Back to the safety
Of the decoy brown man who
Or so it might be claimed
But not in vain.
Because whatever might be said
In vexed discussions on Facebook threads
Not all stories are the same
And these two knew
Their child was dyed in the same hue
Of their ancestors
On both sides
Who, though a million miles apart
Were dealt the same cards
And in their hearts
They carried their dissatisfaction
And felt the same need to dart
Looking for a place to call home
But knowing it was impossible
Of ever being able
To make that call.
And trying to be appeased
If that’s the word
That no one is forcing them to flee
At least for now
And this is the story of the reason
Why, whatever the season
I will not use motherhood to lay blame
To higher knowledge
Or greater ability
Or demand I be listened to
While others won’t be.
I know that’s not what I did
I have to tell myself
I am not the white mother on that thread
However I felt
Whatever was said
By those whose feat
Was to deny two mothers, one Black, a shared seat.
My label it appears
Was more significant
Than my commitment
Which is still constant
Not just for me
Nor because of my delivery
From a past legacy
Whose pain is sometimes too weighty
But for my future
For the one who has to exist in
Real life, mama.
As First Nations people and people of colour in Australia well know, racial violence never went away. But, for others, recent events may serve as a needed reminder that racist attacks and abuses of police power also happen outside the US.
The Brexit fallout has included a sharp rise in racist attacks on people of colour and migrants, including eastern Europeans. Anti-racists in the UK have quickly responded. The iStreetWatch website now allows users to report and map racist incidents across the UK.
People are increasingly using online spaces and digital tools such as anti-racism apps to strategise, challenge racist views and strengthen anti-racist solidarity.
Read the rest of the article here
Mohamad Tabbaa suggested to me that it would be a good idea to write something on the problems of the white left’s reaction to #Brexit and their failure to take seriously the racism on which the leave vote very much relied. We were particularly troubled by remarks by staples of the Australian left, John Pilger and Jeff Sparrow. So, unsurprisingly perhaps, not many outlets wanted to publish us. Sajjeling did though and I’m very grateful. The article has been shared more than 1,000 on Facebook and I am particularly honoured that it was shared by Media Diversified. Read the article on Sajjeling.
In an article on race and British cultural studies, Roxy Harris noted that the field’s founders – E.P. Thompson and Raymond Williams – ignored “the place of black and brown British subjects in the national polity”. Thompson’s classic 1968 study, The Making of the English Working Class, for example, while covering “topics such as the liberty of ‘the free-born Englishman’” was silent about “the part played by the Empire, the slaves, plantations, the East India Company and so on”.
These great theorists of British society were race-blind.
But it seems that little has been learned from this partial and parochial view of British social and economic history, especially in the writings of a small but vocal group from what we will refer to as “the white Left”.
Since last Friday’s #Brexit vote, where a referendum was held in the UK to determine whether Britain would exit the European Union (EU), Australian writers John Pilger and Jeff Sparrow wrote in New Matilda and Overland respectively that the vote to leave the EU was a knife in the back of neoliberalism (Pilger) and testimony to the success of participatory democracy (Sparrow).
I concluded that
It has become a problem to identify that racism has been made play a role in how austerity is framed – as a struggle between the deserving native and the undeserving, undesirable yet desiring migrant. This conveniently ignores the detrimental effects that the mobilisation of race, and sexualised race in particular, has on achieving the societies we need, in which there is enough for all.
Read the article here
On Monday June 20 I was interviewed by Raymond Grenfell on Indymedia on RTR FM (Perth) about the assassination of Jo Cox, the far right and racism in Britain and Australia. You can listen again here.
I tried to talk about how mainstream politics nurtures the environment in which Jo Cox was assassinated. My point about terrorism and hate crimes, however, did not come across as clearly as I would have liked. What I intended to say was that while it’s right to point out that there are double standards at play when any act of violence carried out by Muslims is immediately tagged as ‘terrorism’ and those carried out by whites is framed as a mental health issue, we should be wary of seeming to endorse anti-terrorism legislation which, for the great majority of cases is used to discriminate against and racially profile Muslims and other racialised people. A useful article by Gary Younge goes towards some of the problems I wished to articulate.
The racism of the Brexit campaign set the scene for the murder of Jo Cox. Her brutal killing is continuous with Breivik’s Utoya massacre. Then as now the peddlers of hate, from the those who ‘bravely’ spoke of the failures of multiculturalism, to those inciting hooligans to taunt refugee children with their 1930s style cartoons are responsible.
Breivik, like Mair, was a creation of modern Europe’s refusal to admit that race is integral to its formation, not an aberration, not a pathology. It is the logical outcome of the sustained refusal to accept the fact that Europe was not, is not and will not be a white continent but that its power structures have to change in recognition, which means engaging deeply with the legacies of race, ceding white power, and dismantling Eurocentrism.
It is on this battleground that Jo Cox died.
Roz Ward, academic and co-founder of the Safe Schools Programme has been suspended from her post by La Trobe University. She called the Australian flag racist in a private Facebook post.
Welcome to academia 2016.
Of course, for many Muslim people accused of ‘terrorism’ for their social media activity, or non-privileged young people, for example those jailed for 4 years for ‘inciting disorder’ for posting on Facebook during the London ‘riots’ in 2011, or again, those such as Houria Boutledja, the French-Algerian decolonial activist whose Facebook account and that of the Parti des indigenes de la republique has been repeatedly reported for ‘abuse’ by right-wing Zionist trolls during her recent successful case against the Ligue de defence Juive for a violent attack against her are well used to having their social media monitored and used as a means for discipline and punishment.
Roz Ward is being attacked because of homophobia, transphobia and racism.
Houria Bouteldja is being attacked because of racism and fascism.
I Stand With Roz and Houria.