Racism, Sexism and the hand of Silence

I’d like to take the time to respond to some claims being made about me, and my decision to speak out. Why bother? I hear you ask. Why dignify it with an answer? Well, normally I wouldn’t; haters gonna hate and all that.  This I feel, however, is a teachable moment.  I’d like to use this to start a national conversation about how we respond to people who speak out. I’d also like to highlight the inherent racism, sexism, and misogyny spewing from the mouths of white service-providers in the APY lands in response to my actions. The very place where family violence, sexual violence and violence against women is endemic. The very place where service-providers are acutely aware of this, and yet appear to be perpetuating stereotypes that silence Anangu. 

I was talking to a friend of mine recently, an important and highly-respected member of the Kaurna Community here in Adelaide. He and I were discussing a situation where he was trying to stand up for the rights of Aboriginal Artists. Something he said stayed with me and I am. reminded of it now – he said (words to the effect of): “I could have made a song and dance about it, but I didn’t bother because then I’m just the ‘Angry Black Man’ and they won’t pay any attention”. 

Then I’m just the Angry Black Man and they won’t pay any attention. 

So essentially, because of his race – his anger is unwarranted and unjustified, and therefore, his opinion deserves to be dismissed. 

Now, one could argue that in this instance, no one had actually stated that he was just an Angry Black Man, or indeed dismissed his opinion; but one does not come to be but a weary traveller, approaching black/white interactions and discourse with such a bitter cynicism without having experienced or witnessed this firsthand as a symptom of systemic racism. 

I however, have been called an ‘Angry Black Woman’, by service providers employed by the government, in response to my decision to speak out about the endemic sexual abuse of Anangu children in the APY lands, dismissing my views and lived experience. Silencing me. 

Now, there’s an added layer of complexity here. Because not only is this racism; it’s sexist and misogynistic. Because of my race, and my gender – my opinion doesn’t count. Because I’m Aboriginal, I’m dim-witted. Because I’m a woman, I’m hysterical and dramatic; bitter because my hopes and dreams of returning to country didn’t pan out. Because I’m an Aborignal Woman, my opinion isn’t worthy of consideration. 

That is racist. That is sexist. 

Huda Hussein, author, activist and advocate writes: “It seems to me that the Angry Black Woman (label) serves to silence women, and in particular to erase our identification of racism and sexism. Although black women exist at the intersection of these two systems of oppression, black women couldn’t possibly be righteously upset about either (or both). We are angry because it is in our nature. We are angry without cause.”

Moreover, do we really want pirinpa (white people) up there, on Anangu land, servicing Anangu communities, if they perpetuate these revolting stereotypes that do nothing more than further marginalise an already marginalised group? Silencing the silent? 

To conclude, author and activist Leah Sinclair writes: “these specific stereotypes of the angry black woman and black girls with attitude are directed specifically at us, originating from an institutionalised system that has historically demonised, criticised and mocked black women. We have valid, complex emotions that we are entitled to feel and express. Do some of us have an attitude? Sure. But is that a problem or a valid excuse to dismiss black women’s opinions? No. I personally wear my so-called attitude with pride. I have confidence and conviction in what I believe in, and will express my opinion when I feel I need to. If that’s having an “attitude problem”, then, sweetie, you just have to deal with it.”

I have confidence and conviction in what I believe it and will express my opinion when I feel I need to. Deal with it. 


References: 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/hudahassan/the-twilight-of-the-angry-black-woman#.vymlAGABDg

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/08/stereotype-angry-black-girls-racial


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3 thoughts on “Racism, Sexism and the hand of Silence

  1. Don’t stop talking and getting your message out. It stimulates much needed debate.
    Great quote from the cardfightback blog:

    We’ve said this many times before but we’ll say it again: there are individuals, over the decades and the centuries, who stand up to be counted, who are vocal, who do brave things to talk about what is uncomfortable and what others don’t want to hear. And history tells us that those individuals will, by the states/organisation/people who consider their voices should not be heard, be in some way attacked. It’s part of the narrative that’s perpetuated, the false narrative that makes people an enemy and removes their protections under due process but the way the organisation reacts is actually identical in each case. It’s to perceive the person telling the truth as the enemy and try to take them out.

    Protest is highly useful: either verbally in meetings or on the Internet (the great leveller) or demanding that other groups of people help – Union, Whistleblowers, other outside jurisdictions, direct action, in that it informs us that it is right and appropriate to keep saying what is happening here in the NT is quite wrong, intolerable, that people are punished as they attempt to assert a defense, when they attempt to argue back and re-frame the debate and that it has to stop if education ever wants a chance to succeed here in the Northern Territory.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Down Under Feminists’ Carnival hashtag 90 | No Award

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