Ferguson Transformed Marissa Johnson in a Good Direction, but Her Use of the Phrase "White Supremacy" Is a Big Problem

Comments

1
White Supremacy can be parsed. A definition of terms takes some work but it can be wrestled back from the fuzzy depths. I think as a description of a systemic process that does not require (and manifestly repels) conscious recognition by those who ot benefits, it is a powerful phrase. White Supremacy is a foundational aspect of our political and cultural life, and what the Westlakers may not gather is that the chutes and ladders they navigate shield them from its architecture. Other folks are expised on the daily to its backside.

This is a great opportunity to get your Hegel on, Charles.
2
I didn't like her tactics at the time and am still not that thrilled with them. But we have to face it and give credit: she did make an impact. I think she has enormous potential but she needs to learn how to focus it and refine it a little bit.

Ya gotta make allies not just enemies in this world. But like the beginning of Project Runway I like Ru see lots of good things from this queen and want to see what she does next.

3
And by Project Runway I meant to say RuPaul's Drag Race
4
There is still no evidence that Marissa Johnson is a member of Black Lives Matter. Why continue to perpetuate this apparent fallacy Charles?
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@5, No, "White Privilege" assumes that if you hold all other variables equal (gender, age, socioeconomic status, criminal history, etc), a black person will still face greater hardship than a white person under the identical conditions.
7
Inchoate is one word. Naïve is another. So is Wrong.
8
We're always looking for a bad guy, whether its 'white supremacists' or 'NIMBYs' or 'climate-change deniers'. An identifiable enemy can unite forces for a common goal, but what we're faced with is a broken system; it's more nebulous. Obviously, it's far more difficult to encourage people to join the fight when the foes are faceless. In our blindness, we strike out against our neighbors. Luckily, there is always forgiveness.
9
@8 wins
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@8 - I think that's what's so frustrating to black activists in cities like Seattle. The bad guys aren't faceless. When talking institutional racism, every white face is a bad guy and in Seattle many of those white faces have accepted that label and do feel responsible for perpetuating the divide. Now what? Unless you are hiring manager or a policy maker, what can one do as an individual? Give a black person money? Babysit a black child?
11
and here I thought most of the christians in the world weren't white (and most of Seattle didn't identify as christians).
12
When I think of white supremacy, I always think of this superstar guy who plows through academia named Drew. He renamed and declares everywhere he goes. He is The Authority, as he will tell anyone who asks, on what constitutes the White Fragility. He knows because he is white. If I were to ask that guy named Drew who ushers himself around the world on airplanes burning up fossil fuels, exploiting economic conditions, bulldozing adjuncts, and maligning women's rights in the name of his own academic branding what white supremacy was, he'd say whatever got him the most likes on his very white, very privileged, very wealth-infused, ableist page, and call it proper and more informed. Drew knows the best thing to say and doesn't give a damn about any of it except if it provides a photo op or a nice huffy Twitter post. It depends on who you ask. For those with personal struggles rather than causes one wears like socks, the struggle du jour of others to thunderous applause, the Baltimore party that lasts all week, those whose lives are personally rocked, literally, by the exigencies of conflict as they play out, this woman did a great disservice. It is okay to find her behavior abhorrent because she exists in a continuum, not a vacuum. Her behavior dishonored the disabled and the elderly. Her tea party and Calvinist training, which if you scratch dear Drew just a little will scurry up quickly, taught her both were irrelevant to herself and her voice, and up she went to scream over them all. This message is being ignored. It was deliberate. It was an act of malevolence. Thank goodness that BLM is not in the trade of able-bodied indifference and that form of structural violence.
13
Like button for Max. This article is total bullshit and completely irrelevant. What the fuck does her family/upbringing/"TRANSFORMATION" have to do with you disliking the tone of her APPROACH. I am sorry an important political event centered the voice of a black woman??? Back to the drawing board?
14
I don't know... To me, her "transformative experience" looks more like lurching between identities, and the behavior of someone mired in a nasty personality crisis.
15
I think it is pretty clear that she misuses the word "white supremacist." Or uses it to mean something different from it's traditional meaning. Without a doubt, many white progressives in Seattle are blind to issues of race and are therefore sometimes a hurdle in the path to real equality. Color-blindness and a failure to acknowledge race as a factor is certainly one of the things that perpetuates the status quo.

But that isn't what "white supremacist" means. Those things in no way indicate a belief that white people are superior (the actual meaning of white supremacist). This is a classic logical fallacy, where you assume someone who doesn't agree with you must have motives contrary to yours. In other words, if they don't agree with me about the best tactics are--if they boo me for saying what I am saying--they must be opposed to my goals, they must not want to solve racial injustice. They must be actively supporting a system that favors white people.

Interestingly, Marissa Johnson is suffering from the same problem. People who disagree with her tactics are saying her motivations must be suspect. She must be a conservative activist trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders or whatever. She can't just be someone who has the same goals but a different strategy and worldview.

This article is one of the very few I have read that was careful to point out that her motivations are laudable, despite disagreeing with her actions and the specifics of her message. It is too easy to cast someone as an enemy even when they want the same thing as you.
16
Did she create a transformative moment for people that were there to just say "fuck it", no matter what they do and no matter how hard they try, somebody is still going to yell "white supremacy" at them, so they don't try as hard, or care as much, confirming to a negative view of the world.
I hope not.
17
@15: that's how she struck me, too. Or like the saying about how there's no one more virulently against smoking than a former smoker. She may have left the tea party, but it seems like she's still a fan of their tactics. (Which, hey: the tea party's been awfully successful at wreaking the havoc they sought to wreak.)
18
What Charles said.
19
@13: I meant Marissa Johnson. I don't think Charles is wrong.

His point is that she changed her politics a year ago, so she has the righteousness of the recent convert, and that "White Supremacist" is alienating to allies and inarticulate when examined closely. I agree with that.

I'm glad a black woman was the center of a political protest, however. I hope to see more like her.

But she did shake things up so yay.
21
@4:

You mean no "evidence" YOU are willing to acknowledge despite everyone else already having done so; hence the only "apparent fallacy" is one of your own making. You might as well get used to the reality that your opinion with regards to Ms Johnson's "membership" in anything is irrelevant.
22
I guess I don't really know what "what supremacy" means either. To me it connotes an active belief that non-whites are inferior and that concrete steps should be taken to keep whites exclusively in all positions of power in society, as in Apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow South.
To me that doesn't describe modern America as well as as the concept of institutional racism does. Most Americans today would not come out and say Black people are inferior and need to be oppressed but at the same time, are content to enjoy white privilege and not get worked up about the institutional racism Black people face. Maybe I give my fellow white Americans too much credit.
I personally realize it all but don't know what to do beyond try to vote for the least racist candidates possible.
The announcement of the (non) indictment of Darren Wilson is also a pivotal moment in Ta-Nehisi Coates new book. Interesting to see the difference in reactions.
23
@21, I've looked at the FB pages, and the interview. Neither one provided a lick of evidence, and the FB page was an obvious fraud (the page in particular was started Aug. 8th, and is therefore not BLM Seattle's page).

I'm not interested in proving you wrong again. I'm interested in links to proof. That's all. Put up or go away. All I've seen are statements that say she is a member, but none of them actually provide any way of verifying the statement (with the exception of the fraudulent FB page, which only lists Marissa Johnson's phone number as proof that she herself is a member). If you can actually provide verifiable evidence, I'll happily shut up about it.

Also, I added the word apparent as an attempt at appeasing you. It was an admission I might be wrong. I see how well you respond to attempts to find common ground now. I assure you I won't make that mistake again.
24
@23: I think a lot of us just feel like it's moot at this point as to whether she's a card carrying member of BLM or not. She did something controversial that started a conversation and (seemingly) got the Sanders campaign to work harder on racial issues.
She's a black women who's concerned about black lives. Does that not qualify her for the Black Lives Matter movement?
25
*woman
26
Forgive the Socratic paraphrase, but it would seem:
Strong minds discuss ideas.
Marginal minds discuss events.
Weak minds discuss people.
The entirely brain dead confuse skin color with identity.
27
@23 is apparently under the impression that BLM issues identity cards. I may be off base, but I suspect that the author has no fucking clue that BLM doesn't do that, or grasp the many reasons why they don't.
28
@24, not at all. BLM has official chapters in 3 countries. It is an official organization, with formal members. Marissa Johnson claims to be a full staff member of BLM (the aforementioned copycat FB page lists her "official" title). That should be easy to double check for any journalist.

As for why it matters, BLM's image is at stake. Also, for Charles in particular, there is the question of libel. Which is why I assume he has some actual evidence, as Keck wouldn't let Mr. Mudede endanger The Stranger's bottom line without some impressive evidence.

That evidence is all I want. I don't want to vilify anybody. I just want to know that the missive being thrust in my face is verifiably true. I honestly don't think that is too much to ask from any news organization, and at least prior to sometime this year, The Stranger was a better news outlet than The Times.
29
@28:

Oh please, you don't want evidence - that's all around you - you want validation, you want to be right. So sorry, but you're wrong, you've been wrong from the beginning, you'll continue to be wrong, and nobody else, including whomever you think is "in charge" of BLM gives two shits about your "concern" for their image.

Here's a thought: if you REALLY want to verify any of this, why don't you just, you know, contact BLM directly and ASK them? Or are you afraid you won't like the response you're likely to receive?
30
@29, The BLM Seattle page is not returning messages of any kind regarding the incident. Do you have another way of contacting them?

This is the last time I will respond to your posts on this topic until you provide evidence, btw. I've been quite generous to you through these 4 threads now. Put up or shut up. If you continue to harass me on this matter in further threads, I will consider it cyberstalking and report it appropriately. You've had your chance to provide your evidence, and you have one last chance before I'm simply done with you.
31
@30 - promise?
32
@31, the "deal" only applies to COMTE. I do promise that, though.
33
All I get from this article is don't talk about White Supremacy. Even if it rules the world. And if you don't think it rules the world, if somehow colonialism and neocolonialism don't strike you as morally wrong, exploitive, and dangerous to the earth, perhaps you are a part of the incredibly small minority of people that benefit from it.
34
@30: Someone responding to your posts a couple times is not cyberstalking. This is called a "forum," and you come here and post willingly.

Get a grip, stop crying, and put that little victim card back in the deck.
35
Her Use of the Phrase "White Supremacy" Is a Big Problem .... to White Supremacists.
36
@34, the intentional process of going through multiple threads specifically to find and harass a single poster is indeed cyberstalking. This is the fourth thread COMTE has entered into this debate with me. We're not talking about "a couple of times" here. We're talking dozens of posts over the course of a week and a half.

I do post here willingly, you got that much right.

Victim card? Back in the deck? I'm not playing any game here. I have no deck, and no cards. I am an adult. I deal in life and reality, not fantasy.
37
@36 you sound just like bailo... "People keep calling me stupid when I say stupid things! Stalking! Harassment! Help, I need an adult!"
38
The Slog's comment section is no game. Real talk.
39
Thank you, COMTE. When you go to jail for "cyberstalking,"* the rest of us will try to pick up the slack.


*Threats from people like libertine and TDMFOTP just make me giggle uncontrollably.

40
@36: Damn you are a whiny baby. So you have a right to post on anything, as many times as you want, but if a person responds to you unfavorably, it is "stalking?"

You sure as hell do not sound like an adult, you sound like a twelve year old who found a thesaurus.

Dry those eyes off and tell mommy you need a juice box, a nap, and some time away from the family computer.
41
@39:

Not to worry, libertine would have to actually identify themselves to the authorities in order to file any sort of "charges", then demonstrate how a "debate" (their own words) over multiple comments THEY'VE MADE on an online comment web site, constitutes a crime under Washington State law. Somehow, I sense libertine's accusation, were it not laughed at outright, would fail to come anywhere close to meeting those standards; although, given their willful obstinacy and obsessive intransigence, I doubt they'll believe even the actual evidence of their own eyes, should they bother to look up the relevant statute.
42
@26,
Well put.

I mentioned in another thread that what Johnson did at the Sanders rally was unnecessary. They got attention all right. But it may have come at a cost to BLM & the Democrats (note Clinton's video also posted on SLOG).

I do agree with Charles somewhat that the use of the term 'White supremacy' is problematic. To me, it is a nebulous term. And incessantly demonizing an opponent not agreeing with the phrase 'Black lives matter' or worse calling him or her racist won't get a conversation going.
43
@42:

Or perhaps many Black Americans are simply tired of having a "conversation" with White Americans that inevitably ends with "we'll get around to you once we've solved all these other far-more-important-to-us problems", which only serves to emphasize how we tend to dismiss THEIR problems as being less of a priority to US; hence the charge that we use our privilege, our supremacy, to drive agendas favoring Whites, often at the expense of those that mainly favor people of color.
44
She uses the term "White Supremacy" in exactly the same way that bell hooks does. It's not a novel redefinition.
45
bell hooks:


To me an important breakthrough, I felt, in my work and that of others was the call to use the term white supremacy, over racism because racism in and of itself did not really allow for a discourse of colonization and decolonization, the recognition of the internalized racism within people of color and it was always in a sense keeping things at the level at which whiteness and white people remained at the center of the discussion.

In my classroom I might say to students that you know that when we use the term white supremacy it doesn’t just evoke white people, it evokes a political world that we can all frame ourselves in relationship to….

And so for me those words were very much about the constant reminder, one of institutional construct, that we’re not talking about personal construct in the sense of, how do you feel about me as a woman, or how do you feel about me as a black person?

… We have to problematize nationalism beyond race, in all kinds of ways that I think there’s a tremendous reluctance […] to have a more complex accounting of identity.
46
@42 We should instead be looking at the cost of support for Social Security and Medicare. The event got huge media attention, but the vast majority of sources I saw misnamed it a "Bernie Sanders Rally" and ignored the fact that it was instead a rally to drum up support for our local/state/federal safety nets.

Support for BLM shouldn't come at the cost of the poor, the elderly and the infirm. Folks keep ignoring this little fact and it's becoming tiring.
47
@46:

While semantically you're correct, the fact is, Sanders' appearance at the rally gave BLM a window of opportunity to confront him directly (something that would have been next to impossible to achieve at the Hec Ed event later in the day) and they took advantage of that to do what they did.

The problem with "at the expense of" is that all too often it turns into "these things first, your thing later"; precisely the point I was making in my previous comment.
48
@46: Given all the work put into organizing the rally by some very nice people, it sucks that it was overshadowed by something just as important (and exponentially more violent). It was received as a "Bernie Sanders Rally" because he is the only horse in that race worth hitching your wagon to (IMHO). He remains the only candidate to go beyond "saving" Social Security, Medicare, and other components of the social safety net from neoliberal efforts at privatization, but instead expand them in an aggressive manner.

Support for BLM is not a mutually exclusive cause from the care and concern for the poor, the elderly, and the infirm. Is there no room on the platform? Is the printer low on ink?
49
245 You realize that with that "definition" then you, yes you, can never NOT be a "white supremacist."

Yeah. No. Words have actual meanings.

This new ideological re-parsing of language for propaganda - even for causes for which I sympathize - is done for fanatics, absolutists, religious nuts and eventually tyrants and terrorists. It inevitably goes no where good.

No thanks.

51
@49: I'm not sure how you arrived at your conclusion after reading hooks' passage. I'm wondering if you completely missed her point altogether. I don't claim that you have to agree with her observations, but sorry, that's a 2.6 for reading comprehension.
52
@47 It certainly can, but it doesn't have to.

What is certain is that it leads to various disadvantaged groups fighting over scraps while those in power point and laugh.
53
@51 no. you don't get to play this bullshit "reading comprehension" game.

I'm talking about Johnson. You said Johnson's use of the term was in keeping with Hooks.

Johnson's use of White Supremacy at the Sanders/Social Security event was a reactionary shotgun at an entire audience of people she didn't know. It was a lazy reflex.

She yelled this at people who were only reacting to her ACTION - not her ethnicity or race - of leaping up on stage and screaming at somebody.

I was there. The video doesn't begin to show the confusion. You couldn't even tell what Johnson was saying at first. What with two separate groups of activists chanting - one chanting about Uncle Ikes another chanting about black lives matter and another third chanting "Bernie!"

The crowd of Sanders supporters would've done the same thing if some Tea Partier had leapt up on stage and began incoherently screaming in an old mans face. It had nothing to do with white supremacy.

Her use of the term "white supremacist" at that event wasn't a commentary on the legacy colonialism. It was knee jerk sloganeering.

And no, separately, I'm not totally onboard with Hooks "definition."

Words have meanings, man. Propaganda has an agenda.
54
Scrap the Cap was supposed to be the "take away " from the Social Security Birthday /Discussion / Rally but that did not occur. The wealthy conservatives must be pleased.
55
dylan roof
56
Good Morning Charles,
Bit late to comment but I thought I'd contend with you regarding this, excerpted from your posting:

'Not all major events open our society and force it to face some hard truths. There are events that actually close it and increase the nation's ignorance; 9/11 was such an event. It did not reveal truths about American foreign policy but instead led to the fabrication of a whole narrative about Iraq's involvement with the terrorists and its possession of weapons of mass destruction. This country paid dearly for that fiction. (And so did Iraq.)'

I might remind you that BLM, whatever its merit is based on a false narrative as well:

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/17/393646640/…

I recall something Mark Twain once remarked 'Rumor goes around the world before the truth gets a chance to put its boots on.'

As I recall, the citizens of Ferguson, MO paid dearly for this fiction (that Micheal Brown was shot & killed unjustifiably). The DOJ cleared Officer Wilson.