2011 saw the rise of many events that made many of us reflect on the kind of society we live in and if society’s machine is user-friendly to all people or a select few, the ones who can afford to operate it. We’ve witnessed everything including the media’s treatment towards rape against minority women. We’ve seen small uprisings against the social and corporate order coined as “flash mobs” by the mainstream media. But two events truly stood out on their own rights: Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and Slut Walk (SW).
OWS was created to combat corporate abuse, avarice, and negligence against big businesses and banks, the heart of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. SW was formed to counter excusing or explaining rape while transferring blame unto the victim. It was formed in Toronto, Canada as a result of a police officer’s statement suggesting that “to remain safe, women should avoid dressing like sluts.” Both movements sound like a noble cause against the ravenous spirit of Capitalism and the injustices of a male-chauvinist world, but recent blogs and articles suggest that they were created in the name of justice for certain people – white people.
A report by The Guardian, a British news site, reports on how a young black woman was disrespected at the movement, not by cops or security, but by other members of the movement who were white and male. She was forced to evict her camp after that incident. However, she gave her two cents on the matter by suggesting that white men are used to being in charge of damn near everything, seen as experts on everything, and are allowed to speak and write about (drumroll) everything! So, it’s no surprise that some would feel white and male enough to shut this woman up no matter how wrong they truly are. After all, they know more about being oppressed than a young woman of color.
Months later, another confrontation occurred. A march on behalf of an Asian soldier, Private Danny Chen, who was killed by his fellow officers because he was Chinese. The movement on behalf of the young man was to fight against the U.S. Military’s resistance to disclose any information pertaining to Chen’s death. The conductors of the march reached out to several organizations, one of them was OWS. They wanted to reach out and stand with the movement as both were created for just causes.
However, as soon as the march reached the Occupation, they were “upstaged” by the OWS protesters, one of them individual white man taking it upon himself to represent the march holding the Chinese Communist flag. Of course, the people asked him to refrain, but then, he got pissed and started screaming about how the march was “Anti-Communist.” Soon, things have gone down hill from there due to certain liberal and progressive OWS members – with privileges.
As for SW, the movement against rape and sexual harassment against women seemed like a good idea. It sounded as if was an opportunity for women to stand up against the male mindset towards the crime of rape and would give women more empowerment. However, the emergence of a certain racial slur during SW helped revealed what kind of women wanted to be empowered – white women.
Signs with the N-word were shown during the SW trek. Some white women started using the word at will as if to make a point. Some condemned them while many defended them. Apparently, the point was, as one of the signs has written, ‘woman’ is the new n*gger of the world, a statement that holds little weight given historical references. But some ladies have argued that to use the word in such a way, even with good intentions, is no less damaging than using it as a means of degradation against someone’s color. Still, the (white) women who had a different opinion cursed out and insulted those who confronted them to correct their thinking thereby shifting the blame unto them. Gee, where have we’ve seen this before?
These three, separate incidents, and possibly some similar others that have gone unnoticed or were suppressed from the limelight, have taught me that in a racist and sexist society such as the United States, movements consisting of a majority of white people are racially exclusive. Both movements have certain members within its ranks that are not seeking justice in the truest sense of the world, but instead it demands a sense of white entitlement. The white males in the OWS incidents reported wanted to feel like “experts” as well as victims of this economic downfall while the white women involved in the N-word fiasco wanted to feel free to use racial epithet while playing victim and expect no consequences.
The fallacious habit of white entitlement is a roadblock against marginalized people, male and female and a serious obstacle for white activists. It further divides people for a cause against society’s wrongdoing. While some whites are more understanding, knowledgeable, and considerate of people of color (POC) and would invite them to join their activism, whiteness rears its ugly head (either by other members or the ones inviting them) preventing their membership. Therefore, questions are raised as to who these movements are truly for, all people or certain people.
So, marginalized people have to create their own movements – Occupations. We know that capitalistic greed has gone out of control, and we know that it’s responsible for the ongoing forms of institutionalized oppression that hold many of us down. It is because of this nation’s 1% and the government that coddles to them like hoes to a pimp that we’ve seen mass incarcerations, harsh sentencing for the poor, more death sentences, poor education, racist healthcare and pollution, racist and sexist, biased, media content, police corruption, more prisons, more money for prisons, extreme and excessive militarism, unemployment, crime and an unquenchable thirst for materialism. No one has felt the sting of this oppressive system more than POC.
Now, as this nation continues to crumble under the weight of its own greed and false sense of supremacy, most white people are now victims of a system many of them supported. They have only given a small taste of what their POC counterparts go through on a daily basis. One would think some of them would have sense enough to invite them as activists with equal rights and privileges, but that is not the case it seems. Thankfully, not all are the same, but if these certain so-called “liberal” and “progressive” whites continue to flaunt their privileges around, they won’t be seen as freedom fighters but as spoiled brats.