white privilege

White privileges

Due process
Free speech
Freedom of movement
Freedom of association
Religious expression
Right to family life
Reproductive justice
Self defence
Feminism
Empire
Education
Opportunity
Criminal justice
Commonwealth
State protection
Narrative
Etc

Anarchy in the UK

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What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi.  There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).

Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.

To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?

Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.

We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.

The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.

Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.

If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.

Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.

Disunited Against Fascism

Demoralising is the word I’d use to sum up yesterday’s events. Fascists converged on my hometown en masse. I wasn’t quite expecting so many; I had been hoping they’d broken a few noses with all the infighting but they were here. If I had not been with my small group of white people, I would have been terrified. I think all anti fascists figured out very quickly we were going to be outnumbered and our plans to prevent them from passing were looking like suicide.

Even if we had managed to stand our ground, the police weren’t having any of it. They followed us around, stopped and searched us, mocked us for being stopped and searched, refused to provide a receipt cos apparently they didn’t need to and when the fun stuff was over, they physically pushed us for not immediately responding to command. They didn’t want to talk about whether what they were doing was lawful or how many human rights they were breaching, at one point I felt almost lifted off my feet as they pushed us out of the way and into the UAF kettle. Or hell as I’ve come to term it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever visited Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square, it looks like an amphitheatre with a fountain in the middle. Sitting on the stairs you can see everyone in the square. As we begrudgingly joined UAF and the like at the designated point for protest, I recognised the various groups assembled. UAF had a megaphone, English Disco Lovers were DANCING and SWP were handing out placards to people who have no idea who they are.  Among the sea of white faces were local Asian lads, older black men and the odd member of an anti-fascist network. It was these people that helped keep us safe. Or at least made us feel safe-ish. They were going to defend our town, they were ready. They had to be; EDL had broken through two police lines and were injuring police officers and even each other in an attempt to attack us. When I heard this news, I felt chilled to the core. There were so many more of them than us. I felt we could come to serious harm. I felt conflicted. I’m not a fan of a Muslim Defence League any more than I am the EDL but given the choice, in that situation, they were my comrades, we had a common enemy and an appreciation for the seriousness of the situation. Unlike the others.

English Disco Lovers made me want to rage in fury. Here we were, under imminent threat of attack and they were boogying? I was on the other side of the square and watching in disbelief as they pranced. Was this a spoof? Is my whole life a parody? Unfortunately not. The group of white people in their retro disco clothes, having fun whilst the rest of us struggled to suppress the 10th panic attack of the day were able to do so because racism, let’s face it, doesn’t really affect them or at least won’t ever in the same way. It’s ok to be so blasé when you’re not the one under threat of attack at any given time. UAF just did not BLOODY SHUT UP once as they reminded us of this racist threat we were under. No shit Sherlock, that’s why we’re at this demo. I was already seething from a comment I’d read on their page where they said they would be dealing with ‘racists, fascists and trolls’. I found it irksome because UAF are known for shopping Antifa comrades to the police. They stifle dissent by criminalising people. I was worried. Worried for the Asian lads and black men and my friends. To be quite honest there weren’t even many UAF there.

I searched the news today, again incredulous, at the media’s portrayal of events. Pictures of EDL interspersed with the counter demo, all white front pages as they say. There were some pictures of people of colour but all of those were masked and threatening. They referred to an ‘anarchist element’ and ‘troublemakers’. The EDL looked like they were at a festival in a country they run. Tell me, if I, as a person with a foot in both worlds, looked at those pictures and identified PoC as the antagonists then what is your average Daily Mail reader thinking? Considering the white mainstream news sources, it is clear to see where their prejudices lie. Everything you heard/saw on the news was untrue. I did however; find a link to content that looked like the demo I had attended. It was a YouTube clip filmed off a telly, a Bangladeshi channel and it spoke to actual people of colour. I wished I knew what he was saying but I didn’t need to, he’d seen what I’d seen and that was good enough for me.

See, that’s what the anti-racist movement needs more of; more people of colour speaking up and defending themselves, more white people shutting the fuck up and listening. But they don’t y’see; they know what’s best after all.

A friend of mine got into a discussion on a UAF page where she echoed many of the sentiments I have expressed above. UAF were praising Disco Leaguers for their impressive shapes. She was told that the term ‘person of colour’ is offensive and that she, as a white woman was being patronising. Well, I had to correct them and sent them this, “Hey, so I’m a person of colour and think it highly patronising when white people undermine threats to our lives with happy clapping and stupid dance moves. You are quick to dismiss dissent and you can manipulate it to look like some white people appropriate the struggle as though it’s all about them, but what exactly are you doing? Thoroughly disappointed with UAF, SWP, English disco league. You make a mockery of our pain” which was then promptly deleted by them. Unite against Fascism, the anti-racist organisation don’t care for my opinion. Is it because I am brown? Or is it because I am a woman? Is it because these people don’t actually have a clue what they’re doing and are seen to be doers with very little respect for people of colour’s lived experiences? I think all three. The Disco Leaguers didn’t even know what PoC means! They had to Google it.

The face of anti-racism, ladies, gents and non-binary peeps.

I’m absolutely brimming with confidence and hope.

fuck all racism no one is illegal

Privilege Top Trumps

What makes me a feminist? First and foremost I am a woman. I demand an equal right to life. I resent the opportunities I am not given on the basis of my sex. I will fight for these rights, physically if I have to. I resent the ways in which I have had to struggle in order to survive. I am bitter about the many men who have hurt me, on a personal level but professionally also. As women, we have all had these experiences purely because we have been programmed to believe we are physically and intellectually inferior. Many of us haven’t the fight to strike back because we already believe we will lose.

In some parts of the world, it is extremely dangerous to identify as a strong woman. Women in parts of rural Pakistan/Afghanistan have their noses torn off for refusing to make the dinner. In Central America, self-identifying trans women are brutally murdered for deviating from the extremely cis gendered norm. Young Turkish women are coerced into taking their own lives since honour killings carry a mandatory life sentence. Our sisters the world over are suffering still, controlled by the very men who claim to protect and provide. In fact, up to 70% of the women in our vast world will experience domestic abuse. It is astonishing, when the figure is this high, that our Western media is constantly demanding an end to feminism or at least writing about its decline. And there are women, mainly white middle/upper class women, the Brunis and the Perrys; but a few working class too, who believe that this might be true. Even though ¼ of their female British citizens are subjected to threats and violence in their own homes. That they actively choose to disassociate from such a crucial and necessary cause is astonishing and doesn’t make sense. How is one able to claim such ignorance when feminists have been highlighting these issues before I was even born?

I like to play privilege Buckaroo in my head. I am a cis gendered woman with a few years of life behind me. I was educated in my relatively developed corner of the West. I have the sort of face that fits and a name I constructed to impress white people from whom I may need to seek employment. I struggle to think of all my privileges because, from where I normally sit, people haven’t always been welcoming. I am a BrAsian woman of Pakistani/Kashmiri heritage but I’m kind of a beige-y brown so people generally cannot place me. I’m the ‘other’, I have to ‘specify’ and this makes me suspicious to some folk. They want to trust me cos I like to drink gin and know all the lyrics to Pink Floyd but I start to twitch when people bring up the ethnics and their alien ways, and this alarms them. I should do a better job of being British and give over my old allegiances, deny my ancestral journey to this greatest of islands. But I can’t. Not because I hold dear my old culture or religion but because women like me have to smash through the patriarchal crap for women like my mother.

A child bride, uneducated, one of eight daughters; existing only so that one day she would cook and clean and bear children. Nobody asked her about her plans, she wasn’t taught consent or autonomy. She suffered. I haven’t had the best of lives but comparatively, I had the strength to fight back. I had white middle class teachers and a second wave feminist aunt. It no longer matters that my mother struggled to feed and clothe all four of us on £40 week child benefit, I looked forward to hippy guitar mornings with Mr Davies, the primary school teacher who gave me first Parker pen. I was not going to be like my mother, I said. I wasn’t going to be so weak and unable to help myself. I was going to elevate my status and never look back. Except.. It’s a little bit selfish thinking like that. I had hope. I could read English. My teachers believed in me; I was destined for great things. My mother was never given the opportunity. She wore a plait with a middle parting, a shalwar kameez and she wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. It made her look shifty but she was just painfully shy. I have privileges my mother wouldn’t have dared to dream about. I must remember this.

When conscientious white feminist friends start questioning the validity of the word feminism in the fight for equality for ALL women, it makes me think again about my privilege and the relative ease with which I can proclaim to be a feminist. Women of colour are struggling to find their place in this crucial global movement. But also, women of the working classes. Has it been hijacked by the white woman who believes in equality for well to do white women alone or is this another divide and rule mission for the patriarchy? It’s easy for a man to say that oppression is about class first and foremost, especially if that man happens to be called Marx but the fact remains that that is his privilege as a man. And a white man at that. White women with money (and some without) have the time and resources to make a stand. Banging on about equality whilst ignoring the prejudice and discrimination faced by women of colour, disabled women, trans women etc. is not the feminism I believed it to be. It’s patriarchy manifesting in the very people who were privileged enough to recognise the inequality they were themselves subjected to.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

We cannot let the patriarchy take the word ‘feminism’ away from us. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my issues with it, BUT I am damned if I let the patriarchy dictate its usage.

Fems, let us be inclusive. Let’s literally give a shit about ALL women. Listen to the women who have been toxically shamed into believing they are inferior, because they are black or mentally unwell. We need to be aware of our language and the way patriarchy subtly controls people who are the ‘other’.

Who’s with me?