You Don’t Have a Culture and That Culture is Evil

Consider that it is through my own identity in Whiteness as a White Person that I have felt immediate empathy for Muslims and Queer people alike, among others.

Being Muslim means constantly feeling the pressure to not be perceived as an extremist terrorist who wants to dominate others, despite the sad reality that there are some Muslims who do this and have power. To be Muslim under hostile eyes, even the eyes of those rightly angry because they have suffered from Islamic extremism, nevertheless means belonging to a group that is guilty until proven innocent. If a caring Muslim person wants to speak out against Islamist extremism, they risk opening themselves to other peoples’s false perceptions of permission to attack and demean all Muslim identity, despite deeply honorable efforts among many Muslims to actively decrease extremist ideologies in their communities.

So it is with being White, seriously contending against literal White Supremacists while constantly being demeaned as the racially guilty enemy in my own land just for being White and not apologizing for that.

To be Queer (transgender, genderqueer, etc) means always trying to educate others while caring for yourself and your own life experience without constant self-conscious worry, once you express your heart’s aligninment with this identity explicitly and without apology. It means looking for counselors who understand your social situation enough so that you can spend that time being cared for instead of putting precious emotional energy into educating the one who should be therapeutically comforting you.

Where my Whiteness differs from these parallels drawn with Muslim and Queer identities is that to be White means being everywhere and nowhere, being assumed “the blank slate” norm while also being denied explicit pride in one’s heritage amongst a rapidly diversifying cultural landscape. It means having almost every space available to you but nowhere specifically for you, by threat of being charged with White Supremacy. Your presence is requested for its assumed “power and privilege”, because you owe it and you should show your support, but demonized and resented when you show up; you are told that your existence is a burden to other people’s special “spaces”. If you try to shed your ethnic identity and become another, you will be humiliatingly mocked, at best, or viscously attacked for committing “cultural appropriation”, at worst- but you are allowed no explicit culture of your own, remember. Being White means You Don’t Have a Culture and That Culture is Evil.

Being White now means being taught to have no ethnic self-awareness while fearing that if you develop your ethnic White self-awareness you will be constantly, CONSTANTLY told that there is nothing good that can be attributed to your ethnic identity. You are to unquestioningly adore everyone else’s culture but have no normal, healthy, proud ancestral Self. You, White People [the voice of seething resentment] are allowed no ethnic kinship with others who look like you, though you see yourself everywhere. You are “represented” in image everywhere and in spirit nowhere. You are alone, and you must teeter in hesitancy before the possibility of even broaching the topic with another like you, On Pain of Accusation. They might Turn You In. You cannot trust Your Own because you are policed by Your Own and, in case you forgot, you don’t deserve a normal sense of Your Own, and if you try you will be suspect and viciously, publicly hated. You are told you have No Ethnic Awareness, and you wish they were right. How much easier their lie would be, if it were true. Because those who hate you the most are others like you. You are the hated Racial Blank Slate, forced to be everyone but allowed to be no one.

Fierce to Resist

We were learning to fight. We were becoming fierce to resist, and I was up against my opponent. Watch me, my good teacher, and guide me. I could not see her face, my worthy opponent. She was like me, like a mirror. Battling, she came too close, too quickly with anger. I thought we were just practicing, but she had a knife now. I could not see her face; I could not see her at all now. In our motion entangled she held up the knife with her right hand, pointed at me, leveled at the crook of her underarm and aimed at my heart, now moving too fast at me. Swiftly I deflected the knife back toward her, and I pierced her deeply, and bright red came her streaming blood. How frightening the satisfaction of blood in defensive battle, and too quickly it happens. Is this the origin of evil? “Tell me!” I cried to my teacher, “Is this the way of nature? Is there no other way?” His chest sighed heavily, looking into a far distance. He turned to me. “It is the way of nature. There was no other way.” Sorrow came to me, and I feared being found out by the Patrollers, the ones who strive to wrongly monitor peoples’ minds without care, extracting violence from where it was meant to sleep peacefully, while propagating such worse violence themselves. I fear they are coming, and they will see that I am an animal, that I have spilled blood without calculation or scheming. I have killed my own image. But as we battled we had also entangled in dance, and what now shall I do with her body? Where shall it be laid? Now she is a hatchling of a new life, and it is I who have sent her there.

 

 

 

image: Creative Commons CC0