Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. ‘Let’s get together, and feel alright.’ Yes, you will do that. You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.
Nelson Mandela was not a god, floating elegantly above us and saving us. He was utterly, thoroughly human, and he did all he did in spite of people like you. There is no need to name you because you know who you are, we know who you are, and you know we know that too. You didn’t break him in life, and you won’t shape him in death.”
Excerpts from his brilliant essay Mandela Will Never, Ever Be Your Minstrel. I love that he included Bob Marley’s lyrics, because he too like so many very much so human yet very much so remarkable people have been turned into memes and reframed to serve White supremacy and make the status quo and the State comfortable, literally what these people were fighting or singing or marching or writing or speaking etc. against.
When sentiment doesn’t allow for complexity and seeks to serve White supremacy, it cannot respect Mandela’s legacy. It cannot respect Black lives. It cannot be truthful in relation to justice—the justice still needed today for the racism and oppression that still thrives today.
Nelson Mandela was a human being and a complex one who fought with people, not alone, for a justice that cannot be separated from both the desire for peace and the necessity of self-defense from the State, both unity and the reality of racism so virulent and so pungent that we still smell and experience that stench today. His enemies—people who wanted him imprisoned or dead—are the same ones (literally, by name, in some cases) who are desperate and thirsty to reframe his life and legacy in a way where “peaceful” means “sought White approval; didn’t believe in self-defense.” Let’s remember him for who he actually was and what he did, with all of its complicated, difficult, radical and glorious complexity.
Perfection. For example, think of how MLK Jr.’s less
"conciliatory" fury has been whitewashed. It’s a human (and righteously angry) man who calls out white moderates for standing by during the Civil Rights Movement.
"Since I am White my chances are higher."
Seems to be the mentality of every Creepy White Guy.
1) Anime characters are not people.
2) Japanese girls are people.
3) People are different.
Let’s think this trough, creepy white dude.
madnessoftheholidays asked: i've heard from several POC, on blogs and videos about racism, that you can use your privilege to do good and/or help those without it. is this a widely argued idea/is there anything you suggest i read about the subject to gain more understanding about it? i've just never heard anyone disagree with that concept before and i want to make sure i'm not going on thinking something very problematic.
I have no idea where you would read more about this, sorry.
I think mostly it’s just a semantic issue maybe? Because I more or less get what they’re saying and don’t disagree with it.
Like it’s not wrong to use access to spaces to bring other people into spaces. And it’s not wrong to stick up for people when you know they might be in a situation where it’s difficult to stick up for themselves because they have greater challenges facing them in the system than you do. And it’s not wrong to explain out all these issues to others in order to promote re-examination and change.
But at the end of the day, like I said, just “using your privilege” to help isn’t enough. There is no equality until the entire system is taken down- which means no one gets to use socialized racial privilege. I don’t think there’s a clear line on the subject but for some people it’s veeery easy to perpetuate privilege/oppression by just claiming to “use privilege in a positive way.”
Like people start to think it’s enough to just get a voice into a space, rather than radically re-define the space itself. I guess it gets kind of confusing in The Help because the character is fictional but, on the part of the white author who mirrors her protagonist, it’s not “using privilege in a positive way” to re-affirm that white people are needed as interpreters for stories of black life and black suffering at the hands of U.S. racism. Some people tart to think it’s enough that they just sort of include these stories when they talk. But they should be actively seeking out the marginalized voices and promoting them as they are- it’s not enough to just give lip service.