tw for sexual violence, suicide, whiteness
i have been thinking a lot about transformative justice in the past month.
partially because i have been lucky enough to have gone to talks at my university given by antioppression activists who spoke about it, though their speeches both had larger subjects. they both imagine a world where we can support abusers and survivors, and insist people aren’t disposable.
because disposing of people is colonial logic.*
and it is worth mentioning both of these speakers are both women of color.
it is worth mentioning because in the past month a friend of mine has come out as an abuser. in the past month, people have connected our relationship and handled it in different ways.
two people of color have contacted me to have conversations about it. to one of them, it didn’t make sense. and i understand that. it doesn’t make sense to me. and it isn’t a decision that comes lightly, or passively, or without conversation. i told this person my reasons for trusting that my friend has dedicated themselves to ensuring this never happens again. they have changed behavioral patterns that lead to this abuse. they have been transparent with everyone they come in contact with, including me. i don’t think any of us are under the impression that this erases what has happened. i don’t think any of us are under the impression that they are forgiven or excused for past abuses. i certainly am not. but i trust their attempts to do better. and people don’t trust that. this person didn’t, and asked we separate, and i understand why. i don’t blame them a single bit.
i get it. i would probably be angry with me if i were in a different position. i have been angry at people who have made the decisions i am making. i have distanced myself from them and those around them. i soooo get it.
but i also cannot ignore the racial dynamics that plays into what is going on. that this abuser is Black, and thus everything they have come forward about is inherently read through a lens of anti-Blackness. that people are projecting masculinity onto this person and thus fed into myths of Black masculinity that have killed so many Black men and continue to do so. that Black bodies are disposable. so disposable we can steal them, abuse them, force them to work to the death, criminalize them, incarcerate them, and more. that we can summarize their words in separate posts and act as if these words are then neutral because they have gone through a strainer of whiteness. that we can cut them out of our lives without a hesitation because we do not value Black bodies in this world. we don’t value them when they have done everything right. we don’t value them the second they have done something wrong.
nearly everyone that i have seen demonize both myself and this person is white. when i offered one white person a conversation, they refused. when i offered another white person one, they refused, only to then DEMAND i have one, but on their terms, on terms i was not comfortable with and felt i no longer owed them. they had made the decision to separate. and i don’t blame them. and i also no longer owe them. when i didn’t comply with their coercive and manipulative attempts to justify my private life to them, they have written posts lashing out against me, twisting my words and saying i am things i am not.
and people believe them. wait, let me clarify: white people believe them. white people believe a white person’s words when a person of color refuses to justify their relationship with another person of color to them.
and this is something people are not talking about.
white people have cut me out so easily. white people i have known for years could not do the same thing other poc have offered me. have not thought enough of me to merely ask me what the fuck is going on.
and this is not to say there are not other poc who are upset with me. but, as far as i have seen (and, granted, my tumblr activity has been sparse lately because i have been busy), no other poc have written passive aggressive posts about me, unfollowed me and/or deleted me from FB about this. the only people who have come to me to have a conversation about this are other poc, though, like i said before, the first one to do was a Black woman herself. and, still: i get it. i understand. i do not blame anyone for protecting themselves. but there has been a marked difference between the way poc have handled this and the way white folks have. (and this is also not to say that non-Black poc do not have our own internalized anti-Blackness to confront daily and how it impacts our interaction in this situation.)
this is not to say that i do not think that poc are not capable of violence, or that what happened wasn’t violence. but it’s worth interrogating that some folks will get a pass and some won’t, interrogating who those folks are and why. there is no doubt in my mind that the reaction to this situation would be different had my friend been white. these dynamics play out not just on tumblr, but in the larger world. one only has to look at hollywood to see how Black men are demonized for their abuses while white men’s abuses are forgotten about, or barely mentioned, and either way their professional lives barely suffer (though i do not feel anyone in hollywood has ever attempted accountability in the way my friend has).
and i get that. i get that everyone has a right to keep themselves safe. i don’t blame anyone for that.
and i get that every decision to demonize my friend and dispose of both of us is informed by a history of white supremacy that says we are disposable. this is not the first time white people have cut me out of their lives. white people i have known for years have dismissed me whenever i pushed a little too far time and time again. and it will happen again.
this is a very serious topic. this is not a decision to make lightly. this is not an easy conversation.
but just because you don’t see conversations happening here does not mean they are not happening. with my friend who has come out as abuser. with my friends. with our friends. with my mentors. and it’s worth noting that these conversations are happening in a queer and trans community of people who are mostly people of color. these things are all happening, and, despite the assumptions apparently everyone is under, i am under no obligation to write about every detail of my personal life on here. i am under no obligation to disclose more details of my personal life than i feel comfortable with. i share what i am comfortable with, when i am comfortable with it.
and in case you haven’t understood yet: i do not owe white people shit.
i am not a brown body for your quick consumption. i am not a fucking marionette of radical qpoc-ness for you to consume in attempts to alleviate your white/thin/straight/rich guilt until the second i do something you don’t understand or approve of. especially not when i am apparently not human enough for you to consider a fucking conversation with.
i understand if people want to unfollow me. i understand if people want me to unfollow them. i will gladly do that. i want everyone to be as safe as possible. if we have a relationship, i am open to having a conversation with you, if you want one. if not, i understand. (though if you want a conversation please be patient, as this week promises to be almost as busy as last.)
but if we are really going to change the circumstances of the world we have to think of better solutions than cutting people out; than locking them up; than telling them to kill themselves. it is not radical to tell a Black person to kill themselves in a history of centuries of ongoing genocide against Black bodies.
we have to recognize we all hold inherently violent and oppressive identities. if we want everyone who is violent and oppressive to kill themselves, then fine. fucking go for it.
but i’m not hearing any calls for mass suicide.*
so in the meantime i’m going to keep working on myself, and my community. and if you don’t trust me; that’s fine, i get it. i sleep at night knowing i have the support of those in my daily life. those who are made up of a multiplicities of identities. those who i love and respect and love me and respect me and trust me even if they don’t agree with my decision.
because if i worried about what any white person thought of me i would never rest.
*both of these ideas came out of conversations with friends. i acknowledge you and thank you for your constant love and support.