Tuesday 21 May 2019

hags last stir of the pot

This will be my last post in regard to the cultural appropriation issue. I’m 60 years old and tired with a great deal of work to do. I have really bad arthritis in my hands which has made all the keyboard clacking of last 5 days literally painful on another level.

I wish someone who reads this to convey to Emily Ito that the strategy of not acknowledging, delete and block will be a real winner for her future as an advocate for feminism and BIPOC rights.


But because I’m old senior feminist hag who has practiced resistance for so long that its hard to stop the knee from jerking….I just can’t resist giving Emily several last pieces of advice….

I am genuinely hurt she has refused to engage with me. Perhaps if I hadn’t taken the approach of challenging her we could have been friends.  I admire her, I wholly expect we have way more in common than our differences. But Emily has this theory about how you need to set limits and boundaries on who you interact with. She wouldn’t view that as only making herself available on her own terms, so she won’t talk to me and has actively blocked all social media routes through which I’ve tried to contact her….

I followed Emily Itos Instagram feed this morning. The first (and only) post I read was a long and heartfelt rationale why she chooses to block communications with particular people. It was a beautiful piece of several paragraphs, well thought out, emotional and compelling.

She had 24 replies from friends commending her for her courage and leadership.

Bigmouth that we all know I am, this was my comment….

“While setting “boundaries” may seem an act of valor, it should be applied with intelligent discretion, least it become limiting, censoring and walling yourself off from the vast experience of others. All the best Emily, as I expect you will soon block me as a person not worthy to talk to”

Just like a witch sitting at the pot chanting “hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, eye of newt, tongue of toad” and predicting the future my forecast came true in a half hour and Emily Ito despatched my annoying person and voice to outside her safe boundaries.

This is the remainder of what the witch sees in the mists of the crystal ball….
If you set yourself up as advocate for BIPOC issues it is respectful to engage with those who question you. At present you might be able to comfort yourself by dismissing me as just a troll you’ve fended off. Hugging up your woundedness and sense of victimisation like a badge of honour and walling yourself off from divergent views will mean you likely end up in an echo chamber surrounded by people who only affirm that everything you do and think is wonderful. You’ll know you’re in the process of building a padded cell for yourself when you start to contract your world by making it smaller. Limits, boundaries, censorship, blocking, imagining enemies and threats because your view is challenged. If you hope to be an effective advocate for disempowered women humility and openness to diversity are great qualities to have

I operate from the point of view that globalisation can be a wonderful thing for all humanity. As much as some people fear it, it is simply inevitable so I think the best attitude to take is work with it intelligently. Of all the nations humans have created on our planet the people of Japan have a unique culture in many ways. As an island nation they were able to police their borders to keep out people of other nationalities very effectively for thousands of years, the result being Japan hasn’t been invaded by another culture for millennia. The modern day government of Japan has practically no immigration program for people of other nationalities, so people of other cultures have virtually no opportunity to settle and become citizens. This protectiveness has led to a great insularity. Japanese people have a great fear of their culture and genetics being diluted. One of the reasons Emperor Hirohito felt comfortable with making an alliance with Nazi Germany is that he could relate very well to the concept of the superior master race and applying the theory of eugenic cleansing to keep racial bloodlines nominally “pure”. Regrettably we all know how Nazi Germany moved beyond eugenic theory to murdering people of disability and those designated of inferior race.

I have experienced the loneliness and alienation that comes from immigrating to live in another country. In fact I live a kind of double whammy in many ways because most of my ancestors arrived in New Zealand between 1880s to 1900 coming from such diverse countries such as Britain, Scotland, Germany, Wales and India. Their children and grandchildren went on to marry other New Zealanders with multi ethnic backgrounds such as Pacific Islanders and Maori. In 1986 I left New Zealand permanently with my 6 year old son and settled in Australia.

For some time I’ve been deeply reluctant to diverge into measuring and weighing what mine or any other womans racial or ethnic backgrounds are. It seems to have become more a calculation to display what your oppression credentials are. On an intellectual level I accept that the idea of “races” is a human construct. We are one species - the Homo Sapiens, who triumphed over all the other offshoots of the Homo genus. Through regional interbreeding over millenia we developed distinctive physical characteristics such as dark or lighter melanin in our skin tone, etc, etc…

I have a concern that sometimes the BIPOC community seems to segue into its own high minded version of eugenic science. There is a great deal of emphasis placed on your skin colour and ancestral culture. There is no denying that there is a large proportion of people in the world who think that is the most significant and only thing that is important; that a persons skin colour, race, culture or ethnicity is the only information they need to instantly stereotype that person. They can then regard that as sufficient knowledge to understand the most important things about that individual. I think it’s also a wilful obfuscation to think that only those designated “white” are racists. There are also many, many, many of us “white” people that work hard to make amends, that don’t judge people by those categories, and are people who want equality for all….Some of those people have the time and resources to do that work with big gestures and then others just live quietly – perhaps with unacknowledged gestures like welcoming the Indian family that moves in next door and inviting their kids over to play with yours.

What an irony when BIPOC people operate in the world making assumptions that all white people are racist and actively obstructing their desire for equality. I guess what goes around has come around….

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