The degree to which folks on the street, today, two thousand years later, state on TV that they know that the Gospel of Judas does not tell a story which is true. Hmmm.
The degree to which we decide we know the truth, and close our hearts to other light, well, what better allegory might there be, then Judas so loved Yeshua, that he did this terrible thing, at his behest, not for greed, and his name has been cursed ever since. A true account or not, it should bring a little humility to us in our judgements of each other.
The world is never, ever black and white. There are few hard lines and unbreakable barriers, if any at all exist. There is a wonderful, and meaningful poem on another blog this week.
of a white woman who came to the group for Women of Color
her grief cut us into guilt while we clutched the straw
of this tiny square inch we have which we need
so desperately when we need so much more
We talked her into leaving
which took 10 minutes of our precious 60
Those legion white Lesbians whose feelings are hurt
because we have a Lesbians of Color Potluck
once a month for 2 hours
Those tears of the straight woman
because we kicked out her boyfriend at the Lesbians only
poetry reading where no microphone was provided
& the room was much too small for all of us
shouting that we were imperialists
though I had spent 8 minutes trying to explain
to her that an oppressed people
cannot oppress their oppressor
She ignored me
charged into the room weeping & storming
taking up 9 minutes of our precious tiny square inch
Ah those tears
which could be jails, graves, rapists, thieves, thugs
those tears which are so puffed up with inappropriate grief
Those women who are used to having their tears work
rage at us
when they don't
We are not real Feminists they say
We do not love women
I yell back with a wet face
_Where are our jobs? Our apartments?_
_Our voices in parliament or congress?_
_Where is our safety from beatings, from murder?_
_You cannot even respect us to allow us_
_60 uninterrupted minutes for ourselves_
Your tears are chains
Feminism is the right of each woman
to claim her own life her own time
her own interrupted 60 hours
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are white
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are a man
We who are not allowed to speak have the right
to define our terms our turf
These facts are not debatable
Give us our inch
& we'll hand you a hanky
As I said, it is a wonderful meaningful poem. But it presumes race as a thing not a process. In so doing, it becomes so sure of the line between black and white, in all its applications, that it dates itself. Social science goes through fashion trends. Once, the NAACP was seen as a heroic undertaking, a partnership between Black activists and intellectuals, and a large number of White activists and intellectuals, many of them Jewish. Then, in the time when a politic of self determination came into being, as well it should, many young Black activists turned against the White membership in organizations like the NAACP, and did so with some degree of venom, while overlooking the fact that "Strange Fruit" was the expression of one such brave young men, a fellow named Abel Meeropole, who raised the orphans of the Rosenbergs.
As Cornel West reminds us, "Race Matters" even though it does not exist. There is a huge danger in ignoring that it exists, but an equal danger in giving it power by making race a category rather than a process. People are not a race, they are raced. There is not point at which a human is Black or White, more there is a movable convention depending on the reaction to complexion in the society one finds one in. A dear friend of mine, is part Spanish, part Native South American, and part Bohemian. In South American, she is seen as White. In the US, she is seen as completely Indian, and is on the Treaty Counsel.
It is not the simple hurt feelings of the White liberal that are at stake. Even gender turns out not to be an absolute. Where does the transgendered person fit in the poem above, is there a difference in acceptance before or after an operation to assign a more acceptable gender to an individual?
We also see the lines drawn around acceptable minorities. In point of fact, even the progressive community excludes and ignores, racializes. The Romany people are a people who today are the object of genocide, in many places and oppression in most. Those of us who advocate for them, represent a people for whom there is no tolerance of a civil rights movement. No tears are ever shed for them. Black men living in poverty, are excluded from many of the benefits of the rights struggle spearheaded by them and on their behalf. And yet, I would say that there were benefits to the broad nature of the support... it is just important, however to learn the lesson of inclusion.
The feminist movement in the US, was, almost completely sparked by women ( many of them Quaker ) in who had taken part in the abolitionist movement. Then, in a great irony, their movement for inclusion of women in an expectation of rights, in many ways, disempowered Black males, certainly not intentionally.
Derek Bell ( sorry to so paraphrase thee, Derek ) points out that before affirmative action, one's place in society was tied to one's background, the schools you went to and the family into which you were born. So, after the courts said, Black people in the US must be allowed into management, the first programmatic shop floor promotion programs were begun. So, let us say there are five management slots from the shop floor. Two will be affirmative action set asides, well, the first beneficiary is a White male, the three non-set asides. Then, the next, numerically to benefit were White woman, then among all the other descriptions of minorities, a few Black men find their way in, and yet, they become the face of affirmative action. Now, as the society is attempting to reclaim the right of an empowered class to pass opportunity to their own, exclusively, they attack affirmative action, putting the face of the Black man, the last beneficiary on the process of closing down of the road of opportunity.
So, White women, learned from their work for the end of slavery, that they had rights, they accessed rights in ways undreamed at the start of their movement ... and those Black men and women, are left, many far behind. So, is the answer to close off White and Black women as having no shared interests, or to find, together that there are benefits and debts to examine, from which to learn.
The poem ... well, the blame pattern in society is often, almost always pointed down at the other below thee on the ladder, this assumes a place on the ladder, which may or may not be true... I'm not sure it is even the best thing to point the blame pattern up, where it likely belongs, more we have to seek real answers, and I think the answer is seeking unity.
The stark Black and Whitness of the poem... well, the weeping White woman, I can easily see my wife in that. Genie was publicly attacked in a letter in an Irish American newspaper, for her support of Gay rights in the Irish American society. In point of fact, both Genie and I were often some of the few "straight" folks at meetings of ILGO and The Lavender and Green, where we were not judged by the color of our presumed sexuality, but on the history of our engagement in rights struggles.
Sometimes I find a sort of inescapable fate of Martin Niemoiller. When I was a child, and our public school was forcibly integrated I stood with Charles Brooks, a Black friend in the face of White bullies, though I was not Black. When the Feminist movement was still a long way from the beginnings of inclusion, I stood with my sisters in that movement, though I was not a woman, When I witnessed the blatant anti-Catholic policies and actions of Britain in Ireland, I stood with Catholics, though I was not Catholic, and when I learned about the crimes against Palestinian Arabs, I stood with them, though I was not Arab, and then when called to act in favor of the elderly, as a functionary in the NYS Division of Human Rights, I stood for the elderly, though I was not elderly, and then when Bangladeshi minority woman called me to witness that they are being publicly gang raped, I witness for them, though I was not Hindu, or Buddhist or Woman, I have been a voice in meetings for young adults Friends, though some remind me that I am not young, and when I asked Friends to stand with me, there were few who were so called. So, I wonder if Martin Niemoiller did speak out for the Jews etc., how much in the world of identity politics how might he be able to count on the voice of others for himself?
We are involved in many wars, wars with weapons and wars with ideas, and the real struggle to survive ... right this moment, is the struggle to survive a planet which is beginning to change, and become a place where humans may not be able to survive. The ice caps are melting. We struggle for power, to find the culprits among us, and we are not even building a raft together, let alone stopping the actions which are going to kill us all. What real advantage is there in defining our selves by categories of race and gender, when there is a chance of Condie Rice being the next president. Will that be a victory for Black Americans or Women, well, I am not sure it will be!
Like Judas, there is more to learn about each of us, than the package in which we come. Yes, race matters, yes we must reporate for the wrongs of the past, even Quakers have a dept to those we have racialized, but the politics of identity must be balanced with the need to grow towards unity.
Yes Feminism is the right to define thy time and space, but, it is also the need for equality, to be an equal actor. It is the need to find the strength not to pre-judge as well. So, I don't say this poem is wrong, it is part of the world, but the world is also not often as black and white. Well, here I am, a fellow, asking that we think about all this, and in the recent history of Quaker interaction on the Internet, I must say, I am uncomfortable in raising these concerns here, so I end with this is not an attack, a failure to understand, it is a conversation entered into by one who was an early feminist, who even as a child was part of the change away from American apartheid, and one who believes we need to talk to grow. We have to be humble about the things we think we know, such as the nature of Judas or the White man next to thee.