April 4th, 2009

mandedna

(no subject)

I've been stewing over a post made here on April 1st. The post was about an article about a bunch of burners who had to confront their racism when they advertised a "Native Themed" party/gathering. A range of righteously pissed off native people came down hard on them.

My problem is with the comments to the post. The article that *I* read was about a bunch white kids that got their asses kicked and took it. They tried to understand, it was a painful process, and they stuck with it even though it hurt.

What I read in the comments really bothered me. It was a bunch of finger-pointing and sarcastic piling on the burners. The kids who were in genuine pain trying to understand and trying to change a whole lifetime of institutionalized racism in a short time were mocked rather than admired for trying to do the work to change. Who among us has tried to do so much work in such a short amount of time? I'm impressed.

Here are some quotes from the article. (The emphasis is mine.)
"The fired-up Hopis, Kiowas and other tribal members spent more than four hours lecturing the handful of white, college-class Burners about cultural sensitivity until some of them simply broke down crying."
"The Native Americans persuaded the Burners to come to the Intertribal Friendship House on International Boulevard in Oakland that night. There, they got blasted by Natives young and old for their party idea.

"four hours lecturing" the white kids. That means the kids stuck around in an effort to understand. They were free to go but they chose to do the difficult thing and they stayed. In the comments to the post they were made fun of for crying. I think that's a really assholish thing to do. Genuine emotion during genuine times of growth and change shouldn't be mocked but should be embraced.

"They were brave for even coming," said Anquoe. "They saw the real tears of the people there and saw the heat of people's anger." The Village Elders demanded a cancellation. There was a ten-year-old girl sobbing in front of them.""</em>
"The back and forth went on until 1 a.m. and everyone was emotionally beaten, exhausted, and silent." No further reparations are planned, but the topic still smolders on places like Tribe.net. The organizers lost thousands of dollars in party planning fees, and face the continued ire of the Natives as well as their own Burner peers."
"Anquoe says the non-party was a rare example of effective conflict resolution that is unique to the Bay Area, and he commends Caapi for their actions. Those bystanders who claim overreaction should reverse the situation.

"The back and forth went on until 1 a.m. and everyone was emotionally beaten, exhausted, and silent."
Once again, those kids stayed and tried to understand. Others ran away but these were courageous and worthy of praise. It is the easy way out in racist countries to walk away but they took the hard way and began the learning process.

Frankly I'm hacked off at the response of the people here in this group to the story. There are whole nations of people unwilling to do the work to learn this stuff. Why on earth would you mock and make fun of some of the few really trying to change themselves? Save your finger pointing for yourselves. It's just another way to say that "those people over there" are so much worse off than our exalted anti-racist selves. It's mean, thoughtless, and cruel. We should be better than that.