We have recently written two articles which have proven controversial. One highlighted the lies, behaviour and psychology of men who cheat and the other listed men to avoid. Both were based on real, personal, recent or on-going experiences.
When we were confronted with accusations of racism by people commenting on the blog and brothers we know, we immediately defended ourselves. We are both children of immigrants who have lived and worked in black, Asian and global majority communities all our lives; we have both seen and experienced racism and are disgusted by it; we are both dedicated to eradicating racism through our activism in our daily lives and with this blog. We have both read extensively on the subjects of anti-racism, civil rights, black liberation and post-colonialism. We both have many more black, Asian, Latino and global majority friends and acquaintances than those from European/caucasian backgrounds, and the white friends we do have are likely to be committed anti-racists as well.
However, we are always advocating self-reflection, self-critique and self-improvement and thus realised it is not enough to simply defend ourselves. We advocate listening to others when they point out discrimination or injustice, and we argue for the importance of taking steps to correct oppressive behaviours. With this in mind, we must examine the criticisms being levelled at us and respond.
Although based on personal experiences, we have come to realise that some of the aforementioned articles could definitely be read in a way that enforces racist stereotypes. This was never our intention, and for this we sincerely apologise. As our descriptions were not based on racist media portrayals of black men, but rather on ex-boyfriends/lovers/acquaintances, it took us awhile to acknowledge the initial criticism. Our first response was to protest and assert our innocence. But when we then actively thought about the posts from the perspective of others, we realised they were right.
SoR are dedicated to articulating and attacking oppression where ever it arises. But when honestly relaying our own experiences of sexism, we must ensure that we do not unwittingly reaffirm racist stereotypes or other forms of oppression. Let us state emphatically: We categorically reject the criminalisation of the black community and the related association of criminal subcultures with black culture. Black communities have been historically disenfranchised, systematically marginalised and continually brutalised. Media portrayals never acknowledge this context, yet they contribute to the demonisation of black people by perpetuating racist stereotypes while neglecting to portray the far more numerous hard-working people from these communities who never engage in criminal activity. As Cornel West reminds us, the real gangstas are in the White House: Violence, corruption and criminality are perpetuated by the white, male, capitalist elites who murder millions of innocent people for oil and other resources, destroy people’s livelihoods and entire communities for private gain, and show no morals whatsoever in their mindless pursuit of profit.
With this context in mind, SoR must strike a balance between reporting our experiences of oppression and being aware that the world is currently dominated by this white male power structure, and that this affects both how people act and how we interpret these actions. This in turn raises a series of questions regarding the intersectionalities of racism and sexism. We are dedicated to defeating both and this discussion has proved useful in enabling us to reflect more clearly on where the overlaps and areas of potential conflict lie.
The most useful approach to these discussions is that of Black Feminism. Theorists such as bell hooks, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins , Barbara Smith and Kimberle Crenshaw have pointed out that (mainstream/white) feminist theorists have largely ignored race and overlooked the experiences of black women. In our aforementioned post, we unwittingly failed to pay significant attention to race and unintentionally reiterated racist stereotypes to the detriment of black men. SoR began from the premise that our struggles are united. We have seen those who only focus on one type of oppression while ignoring others, and the purpose of the blog was to counteract this and demonstrate that we must work together, for all forms of oppression are interconnected.
This experience has taught us that we are all socialised into a racist society that normalises white privilege and dehumanises people of colour and as a result, no one can claim to be free from racism. It is not enough to merely apologise for creating posts that have unwittingly re-enforced racist stereotypes. We must also act on this apology and we are in the process of editing the posts by working with those who initially raised their concerns. We hope to produce more analytical articles on the subject and are looking forward to the Brothers of Resistance column, which will deal with both racism and sexism, coming soon. We endeavour to be fully sensitive to these issues in the future with a view to totally eradicating racism from the blog, from ourselves and, eventually, eliminating it all together.
Thank you to all the revolutionary brothers and sisters who brought this issue to our attention.
Some links on race and sex intersections:
Bryon Hurt on Why He is a Black Male Feminist: http://www.theroot.com/views/why-i-am-male-feminist?page=0,0
Kevin Powell “Confessions of a Sexist”: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/hdh9/e-reserves/Powell_-_Confessions_of_a_recovering_misogynist_PDF.pdf
A review of bell hooks’ latest book on black male masculinity “We Real Cool”: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/we-real-cool-by-bell-hooks-565972.html
A useful article introducing Patricia Hill Collin’s black feminist epistemology: