Anti-Black racism and the expansion of sexual citizenship

… OR-We need to do so much better at loving eachother, a dispatch from the ‘Very House of Difference’ – Published on Political Affairs pa, by  KAI M. GREEN & TREVA ELLISON, July 15, 2013.

scholars, activists, and artists based in Los Angeles, where we dream about and plan for the abolition of racial capitalism and the growth of life-affirming relations and structures. We wrote this piece out of a desire to cultivate and build on conversations about how we can grow trust and solidarity across differences, build resilient and sustainable movements, while showing up as ourselves in the various communities that we inhabit.   

Our place was the very house of difference rather than the security of any one difference.[1] – Audre Lorde, Zami

We are sending this dispatch from what our Black unicorn ancestor Audre Lorde called, “the very house of difference.” This house is not a singular place, but it is a geography of injury and interdependence, one of pain and possibility. It is the corner of Market and Broad in Newark, where Sakia Gunn was murdered. It is the sidewalk in the West Village where the New Jersey 7 survived a homophobic attack. It’s at the corner of 27th Avenue and 29th Street outside the Schooner Tavern in Minneapolis where CeCe McDonald and her friends survived a racist and transphobic attack while walking home from the grocery store. We are live from the intersection, a place Alexis Pauline Gumbs describes as a “literal and psychic place of injury,” that requires transformation.

We (Treva and Kai) are Black, queer, trans, and anti-capitalist scholars, activists, and artists based in Los Angeles, where we dream about and plan for the abolition of racial capitalism and the growth of life-affirming relations and structures. We wrote this piece out of a desire to cultivate and build on conversations about how we can grow trust and solidarity across differences, build resilient and sustainable movements, while showing up as ourselves in the various communities that we inhabit.

Our place was the very house of difference rather than the security of any one difference.[1] – Audre Lorde, Zami

We are sending this dispatch from what our Black unicorn ancestor Audre Lorde called, “the very house of difference.” This house is not a singular place, but it is a geography of injury and interdependence, one of pain and possibility. It is the corner of Market and Broad in Newark, where Sakia Gunn was murdered. It is the sidewalk in the West Village where the New Jersey 7 survived a homophobic attack. It’s at the corner of 27th Avenue and 29th Street outside the Schooner Tavern in Minneapolis where CeCe McDonald and her friends survived a racist and transphobic attack while walking home from the grocery store. We are live from the intersection, a place Alexis Pauline Gumbs describes as a “literal and psychic place of injury,” that requires transformation … //

… Desires for equality have a tendency to move people to become more invested in sameness instead of thinking about the reality of difference. We are not the same. Audre Lorde told us this. Toni Cade Bambara told us this. Gloria Anzaldúa told us this. Marlon Riggs told us this. We are not the same and it is our differences that give us strength. It is our ability to see that our freedoms are all connected and of equal value, but our oppressions while linked are not the same. We must not allow one kind of oppression to displace another in our political imaginaries, especially if that displacement is more of an ideological fallacy than a material reality.

For those who understand oppression through one dominant identity, say as a white woman, it might be easy to come together as women to rally around how this society devalues women’s lives and labor, but it might not be so easy to see the ways in which as a white women you can create systems that are oppressive and closed to women of color or people of color in general. We have to do better. Our lenses must be broadened so that at all times we are not only aware of our particular positions of oppression, but also our relative positions of privilege. Understanding privilege is not about guilt, though this is what seems to be happening these days. I don’t need you to feel bad about what happened during slavery or what’s happening with the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Guilt is paralyzing and it doesn’t produce much movement or change, it’s just stifling. Relinquish your guilt and use your privilege to change the structures that produce that privilege. Don’t include me in your privileged ranks, it means nothing if I can’t take my people with me. Barack Obama as first Black president means nothing if Black people as a class remain in crises.

This essay begins with recounting places and moments of injury. These stories are the kinds of stories that become unspeakable and unknowable in a discursive order and model of reform that privileges single-issue politics over mobilizing around the material conditions that produce trauma, vulnerability and death. There are certainly reforms to be made, but we need to become more aware of the places and people we are asked to give up in order to receive something that could easily be retracted. We don’t have to become Black. We don’t have to become gay. But we must be able to build beyond our own individual positions whether we stand in the intersection or not, we have to develop a model for recognizing the intersection, these moments when race, gender, class, citizenship, sexuality and ability collide (and they are always colliding). We must look for those who are lost; those who we’ve been asked to forget about because they are not our own. To dwell in the house of difference is to think, plan, and create with the intersection in mind and in heart.

The dispatch has been sent. Will you heed the call?
(full text).

Links:

Consigned to the past, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Gamal Essam El-Din, July 10, 2013;

Inclusion or exclusion, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Ahmed Morsy, July 10, 2013: Can national reconciliation with Islamists start or is it too late?

Let’s bail out (Cypriot) households and non-financial companies, not banks (3 graphs), onJuly 13, 2013;

The system behind Doctor X, on RWER Blog, by Edwardf Fullbrook, July 15, 2013;

Undisclosed Locations, on UTNE/politics, by Nick Turse, July 10, 2013.

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