Metaphorical Mountain Climbing

It was only when I finally accepted the reality of my situation within the dominant paradigm that things started to really shift and rearrange themselves in my internal landscape. It occurred once I gave voice to the understanding that I would never be fully acceptable regardless of whether I followed every rule laid out before me or I ignored them, whether I shut up or spoke up, whether I was naughty or nice, whether I loved or hated. Sure, the language and particular brand of oppression and punishment varied, but the established and reinforced image of “unacceptability of everything associated with Robyn because she must make amends for the terrible misfortune of not being born white” was overwhelmingly persistent.

This is not an idea I picked up via fanciful and naive notions combined with a misunderstanding about society, rather it’s a perspective that was deliberately drummed (or beaten) into me by various people and circumstances throughout my life, such as the White Australia policy intended. The actuality of my being in this society, in this time, in this body, with this mind and animated by this spirit is considered to be some kind of offense to creation, or likened as such, by many a supreme white god during a brief moment of you’ve-got-a-chip-on-your-shoulder righteous indignation and hold-the-liniment-while-I-deliver a tongue-lashing clarity. And I’m talking about the non-racist supreme white gods, don’t get them confused with those other types(!).

but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive
—Audrey Lorde, A litany for survival

I’m not going to gloss this…it hurt. To fully accept the level of oppression you have been living under when you are not literally running for your life every day, will likely plunge a person into some kind of temporary depression or anger, grief, whatever. It hurt like I didn’t think I would survive it, and to be honest I am not so sure I did. Eventually, it did stop hurting so acutely, as anyone who’s been through anything can tell you. Once the shock and devastation subsided, after the tears and rage exhausted themselves, beyond all that pain and self-pity and many miles past the “why can’t it be different?” phase – I began to understand simple things.

If everything I do is already tainted because it is done by me, it follows that I am free to be and do as I please. Let that taint be my insignia.

It surprises me that there is no more worrying about avoiding potential consequences and no more wasting my energy on frivolous attempts to be understood, welcomed or appreciated. There are no more external masters to please as they have already proven that they cannot be pleased by the likes of me. My days are no longer populated with “Yessirs” unless I totally accept that behaviour in the moment as my choice and my honour. More importantly, I am now in a position to set my own standards and to judge, to draw boundaries and define borders, to erase and replace them at will, but never to be judged. No, I absolutely do not confer upon my oppressors the right to judge me.

It is inevitable in a divide and conquer approach to discrimination, that I would have no peers, so who would be left to judge me in any meaningful way? Of course, I am not oblivious, all manner of people will have a crack at passing judgement on their fellow humans, but these judgements are well below the standard and level of humanity to which I aspire, thus rendering them entirely irrelevant within the context of my life. Similarly, my judgements are irrelevant to rural families, sporting heroes and every single one of the political candidates in the recent election, to point out a few. We are each operating in entirely different reality frameworks.

The mental image I hold for this set of experiences is akin to climbing a mountain through all kinds of weather, until the moment you break through the cloud barrier into pure sunlight and clear air. At this point, we become invisible to those who remain at the base of the mountain.

I posit that there is no greater gift for freedom than to be considered utterly inconsequential and therefore to be consistently overlooked.

I ask you in all sincerity, is there a greater advantage to the cause for freedom than spectacularly failing to inspire people to want to use me or enslave me to serve their own agendas?

My measures and markers for success are no longer dependent on the persistence of white supremacy as a social norm, and in this manner the race war within has ended and the human journey has begun.

*

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Your negligee is showing

Now that I have written a post about questions… I have a question!

Seeing as the most common defense for racist acts is that any offense was not intended, what role, if any, does negligence play in racism?

Proposing a new term here: the negligee racist, a much more amusing visual combined with a proportionate degree of levity.

Negligent sounds so malignant and you can be assured, anyone using the negligee defense does not want to be considered malignant. In fact, inappropriately bringing up such thoughts can inadvertently bring forth the very malignancy being denied.

So next time you are stereotyped, racially-profiled, mammied, ridiculed, put down, followed around a shop by security, refused service, asked where you are from 17 times in one minute, abused on public transport, die in police custody, etc consider that you’ve not been the victim of racism, you’ve simply been negligee’d.

Negligee racism. A curious but generally considered harmless Aussie social ritual specifically designed for the purposes of paying tribute to the most beautiful, interesting and capable members of our society – really, if you cop some negligee racism, you should feel especially privileged. You’ve been seen, noted, honoured with that special brand of reverse-logic we are famous for and suitably brought back down – to level the playing field somewhat.

You must really spare a thought for those who aren’t special enough to be on the receiving end of such outstanding and effortful tribute. A certain degree of over-stated humility is considered very appropriate when receiving negligee tributes, it makes the racist (oops, negligee-ist) feel their efforts are being appreciated.

ooo…negligee…sounds posh

 

Really being a human

If you’ve had enough of bad news, or you can relate to anything in my last couple of poems – check out this news article today. It’s a fine example of diversity in action in Australia.

Snip of triple M article

Excerpt from the Triple M article

In truth, we have all sorts of people here with very loud voices representing their various interests and, oftentimes they are all arguing with one another. Dan represents the voice that almost never gets heard and it’s a testament to our shared humanity that his beautiful attitude (in my humble opinion) has even made it’s way into the news stream.

Objecting, opposing, denouncing, calling out bad behaviour, resisting, etc. they all have their place. Here’s a reminder that there is also another way…

Read the article here —>  Dan becomes anti-racism hero

An evening with Dr Cornel West

An intellectual evening with Dr Cornel West | The Saturday Paper.

For all kinds of reasons, I would have to say this was the best night of my life. The author of the linked article, Maxine Beneba Clarke, hasn’t mentioned anything here about her own magical, heart-opening performance. However, the article does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the experience.

While he was in town, Dr West was also a guest on the highest rating episode of ABC’s Q&A show ever – so he made a big impact during his visit to Australia.

My friends and I spent a few minutes afterwards discussing the immediate highlights such as the delightful experience of hearing the statement “there’s a white supremacist in me” said by a black man in a public forum. It’s one of those things that has an instant effect on everyone who actually lets the idea sink in. We also spent some time thinking of what questions we would ask Dr West if we had the chance. I was as enthusiastic and excitable as a teenager so I shot out of the blocks with, “Do you want to come and live at my house?” Everyone agreed that should be the first question we ask.

When it came down to actually meeting him though I asked Dr West about resistance to facts/information/other perspectives by the white population and what role negative rhetoric by the black community might play in this. He spoke with me about how people learn through catastrophe if they don’t learn any other way.

After sitting on this experience for a week, I can see how off-track my question was… oh well we live and learn. In hindsight, I should have just asked myself about my own resistance in response to all the negative rhetoric I hear and read. More importantly though, I can see how timid I’ve been. I’m not saying that with any judgment, we do what is essential to survival and anyway, it is what it is.

What I do know – is that I have been holding out to see whether the most valued aspects of my way of being could be positively reflected in a world dominated and shaped by those and their minions who have a lust for power and money and various other things of dubious virtue. Those who aren’t afraid to use violence to achieve their goals. Those who are patting themselves on the back for all that number-crunching, someone-else’s back-breaking success they’ve managed to snatch like candy from a baby. Those who think they have won.

Click! knowing and awe have become artists-in-residence;
a flowing arrangement of clear vision and virtuous men returning to simple truths.
line from a poem earlier this year – Smashing Beliefs

In short, Dr Cornel West appears to be the type of man I always expected and hoped to see in the world but hadn’t found. So many times I’ve been told, and by so many, that I have unrealistic expectations… yet here he is. This man not only exists – I got to meet him.

Robyn_DrWest

I am eternally grateful to the friend who took me to this event, Nasser, a fellow magician who is also burdened with the curse of unreasonable expectations and and the wherewithal to make them happen.

*

Peace, brothers and sisters. Over here the love is still flowing 😉

Aamer Rahman on Reverse Racism

“A lot of white people don’t like my comedy.”

The beauty of Aamer Rahman’s routine is that people are laughing at the kind of absurd scenarios that are everyday experiences for non-white people in Australia. He would barely have to write any material – there is/always has been a never-ending stream of mind-bendingly hilarious content flowing directly from the lips of white Australia to the ears of the rest of us. God bless the bigots for they have made this man what he is and I am grateful.

White Jazz! Australia taken over by China then sold to India for a Squid

My favourite lines from this hilarious video….

Nazeem Hussain is one very funny man!  His national tour is coming up shortly, so this video is doing the rounds of Facebook.

Very serious warning!!!  If you identify with being white and/or you have no sense of humour – you might want to avoid this little interlude…. just sayin’

Walk with me

Treading these multi-hued lands
The history of this place unfolds.
It’s a song with a unique melody
Humming, low, sweet, melancholy
Whispered without words
Beneath clouds and trees.

Make my back your place to rest.
When you walk with me we both exist.
Abuse and ignore me, I become less than grey.
Come home again so I can flourish,
Vivid and diverse,
Walk with me not on me.

*

The inspiration for this poem is this post over here Reflecting on Rituals – An indigenous perspective on process as transformation. I’m indigenous but I can’t lay claim to any passed down knowledge from the ancestors. What occurs to me though, is that over time I’ve learned similar types of ideas as the author presents – from walking and listening to the earth of this wonderful country. It’s obvious to me – we regularly and repeatedly miss the point of what indigenous people and cultures, in fact, everyone that has arrived or will arrive on these shores, truly has to offer…  hmm… except perhaps Tony Abbott and that crazy Sydney hostage bloke… ignorance and assertion is not only ugly, it frequently ends in violence.