“Positive Thinking” Is a Cover for White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and Capitalism

I found a lot of truth in a blog post I read recently called “Positive Attitude” Bullshit: On the dangers of “radical self-love”.

People whose lives aren’t going well or who experience mental illness are often subjected to “positive thinking” and New-Age-y “manifest abundance” crap. The idea is that if you just think the right kind of thoughts and change yourself with sheer willpower and perhaps by purchasing certain self-help books, suddenly you will get what you want in life.

positive thinking

Life doesn’t actually work that way. Marginalized and neuro-atypical people can’t just think their way out of institutionalized systems of oppression. These systems mean we get shittier jobs, get paid less, are harassed and degraded for existing as ourselves, and have less access to generational wealth and benefits. “Positive thinking” and the idea that simply changing how you think will change how rewarding and comfortable your life is hides how capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy form your life conditions and chances.

It makes the systemic problems and violence of capitalism into into individual flaws. It takes unfair external conditions shaped by the effects of centuries-old oppressions and tells you that your lack of total success in life is actually your personal fault. And there are certain self-appointed people who somehow have discovered the right way to think, and they are happy to sell you products so that you too can discipline your naughty negative thoughts.

New-Age-y positive thinking philosophies, which some corporations have used to indoctrinate their workers, are just another cover for rapacious hyper-capitalism. They are a clever way of keeping people divided and focused on their personal flaws and their personal financial goals and their personal relationship problems.

Instead, what would be truly POSITIVE for most people would be to band together and find ways to end our current economic system, which requires a few winners and a lot of losers to work. It would be POSITIVE if we remembered community, unions, liberation, a multitude of loving relationships, and collaboration instead of competition. Caring people coming together to overthrow our hateful system and creating something new that benefits everyone by design is more my style of positive thinking.

Baltimore Rioters & Looters Have Done Something Right. Let’s Learn From Them.

An image from the 1968 Baltimore riots.

An image from the 1968 Baltimore riots.

The Baltimore looters and rioters have something figured out. If everyone struggling against racist police brutality was a peaceful marcher, we wouldn’t even be discussing Baltimore right now.

In the recent years of activism against racist police brutality, we have seen many peaceful marches, protests, vigils, and rallies. There have been hundreds of thousands of participants across the country and across the world. These are fabulous actions. These are people standing up, being seen and making their voices heard in public. A mass movement against white supremacy is vital.

BUT

Do these peaceful protests dominate the mainstream news cycles? How much time have important politicians given to peaceful protesters and their prominent leaders or their sponsoring non-profits? How much change has occurred on the ground?

But as soon as a Black person loots or riots, the MSM are ALL OVER IT. We saw this with Ferguson. Complaining about this fact doesn’t change it. Peaceful protests do not make headlines and do not dominate news cycles. Nonviolent protest is the safest tactic for most people, it allows for mass participation, and by demonstrating that large numbers of people care about this issue, it is an important part of the struggle to end white supremacy. But it does not do all things. Relying on a single tactic for such a massive undertaking is setting us up to fail.

Other tactics exist. We should use all tactics if we are serious about our goal. This is called diversity of tactics, and it has a very interesting history.

Looking purely at effectiveness: what brought the Baltimore Black community’s oppression to mainstream national attention? We have the rioters to thank. Flagrant injustices committed against them have gone unnoticed by the MSM for years. It was the rioters and looters, people who actually broke the laws that have unjustly targeted them, who took real risks to their livelihood and safety, who disobeyed the rules of capitalism, who brought this struggle to the mainstream national news. Peaceful protesting is not a tactic that succeeded in this way. It is safe, sanitized, controlled by “leaders” with agendas, and easily ignored.

Rioting is rational for the people under these circumstances. I think oppressed people, when the police, the government, the justice system, the media, and the wider society have failed them, have every right to rise up against their oppression using whatever means they deem necessary.

As one writer put it:

We’re observing bravery; racists and reactionaries will call it thuggery, and traitors will demand resistance be a little more polite–no rocks, no fire please. Respect the law that desecrates you, uphold the property relations that oppress you, and don’t forget decorum.

Liberals, entrenched community leaders and white allies do not like this tactic. They can be found blaming rioting and looting on “a few thugs” the “criminal element taking advantage of the situation” or my favorite, “outside agitators.” They still believe in respectability politics: that if Blacks can just prove to whites that they are Just Like Us, by living unimpeachable, perfect, Cosby Show lives, whites will suddenly dismantle institutionalized racism. This tactic was thoroughly debunked in the sixties, but clearly continues to hold allure for those who are afraid of what it would mean to take more drastic measures. It also reinforces that there are indeed certain contemptible Black people who must be separated out from the “good” Black people.

It hurts my ears to hear liberals mouth the phrase “outside agitators” to disown the most militant anti-racist-oppression agitators. That phrase has a history. It has a long association with Black uprisings against white supremacy and capitalism. To use that phrase is to tap into America’s disgusting history of justifying Black oppression and privation. Outside agitators were blamed for slave revolts because it was believed Blacks were too stupid to rebel against their enslavement. Outside agitators were blamed for various riots throughout the 20th century, including the Watts riots. George Wallace, the infamous Jim Crow-supporting Alabama governor, blamed Black organizing and rebellion on outside agitators. Often these agitators were painted as in some way socialist because property was destroyed. Communist agitators fomenting Black rebellion was discussed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the sixties.

Of course, as it turns out, the Baltimore looters and rioters were locals. Well-meaning liberals and allies need to cut it out with this “outside agitators” crap right now. What we have on our hands are local heroes, and it is wrong to rob them of their bravery by saying they couldn’t have done it. It must have been the communists!

Looters and rioters are the bravest participants of the protest against police brutality in Baltimore. They also have a very effective tactic when it comes to attracting media attention. As we move forward, we need to learn and adapt so that our battles against white supremacy can be more efficacious. This is more than theory: lives are at stake.

Further reading: here is a big information dump of background on the history of Black people in Baltimore and their encounters with racism.

“Conservatism Is a White People’s Movement”

John Derbyshire, recently fired from the National Review, a popular conservative magazine, for being too racist (yeah, I guess it is possible), is now finally free to say what he really thinks.

And this loudly-self-proclaimed Conservative has a thing or two to say. On a white supremacist blog he now writes for.

Conservatism. . .is a white people’s movement, a scattering of outliers notwithstanding.

Always has been, always will be. I have attended at least a hundred conservative gatherings, conferences, cruises, and jamborees: let me tell you, there ain’t too many raisins in that bun. I was in and out of the National Review offices for twelve years, and the only black person I saw there, other than when Herman Cain came calling, was Alex, the guy who runs the mail room.

Nail on the head. But why is this?

[C]onservative ideals like self-sufficiency and minimal dependence on government have no appeal to underperforming minorities—groups who, in the statistical generality, are short of the attributes that make for group success in a modern commercial nation.

Oh, I see.

He deliberates what name to give to himself and other “true” non-establishment conservatives.

I actually think “White Supremacist” is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.

Haha, history just “came up with” colonization, imperialism, and genocide! How about that! And whites just happened to benefit from it. What a beneficial coincidence for John Derbyshire.

Normally, I wouldn’t want to participate in making such people’s voices louder than they already are. I choose to highlight occasional instances, like this one, to remind complacent people that overt RACISM STILL EXISTS. And in very prominent places.

Not to mention all the less in-your-face kinds. But that’s what I usually talk about on this blog anyway.

One Man’s Battle Against Ethnic Studies Continues…

Ah, the despicable Tom Horne. (See my previous post on this issue.)

From Colorlines:

In his final act as Arizona state school superintendent, Tom Horne called a news conference Monday morning to announce that the Tucson Unified School District is operating in violation of HB 2291, the bill he helped pass that banned ethnic studies programs across the state.

KTAR reports:

The Tucson Unified district is teaching students to be racist in violation of a new state law that took effect Dec. 31, Horne said.

“They teach kids that they are oppressed, that the United States is dominated by a white, racist, imperialist power structure that wants to opporess them,” [Tom] Horne said.

My textbooks also taught me that whites dominate America. The only difference between my class and the ones Horne describes is that Tucson teaches children that white supremacy is bad.

The law bans classes in kindergarten through 12th grade that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people and are designed primarily for students of one ethic group.

My history classes as a youth were designed primarily for an ethnic group: whites. Whites discovered America, whites settled America, whites designed the American government, whites were the notable leaders, whites fought the key battles, whites defended freedom and liberty, white culture is the culture worthy of study, white struggles received special attention, white art, white philosophy, white authors, white white white. And I have a feeling it is no different in Arizona- AZ not being well known for its bigotry-free government institutions and all. In my school (located in a highly segregated community), we all celebrated white European-American culture and bonded over our shared ethnic status: i.e. membership in the dominant race. Could it possibly be the same in white-majority school districts in Arizona?

So I’m sure that as a fair-minded individual, with no personal ax to grind or anything, Tom Horne in his new role as AZ AG (aaaah!) will aggressively attack public school curriculum that treats whites as the most important race and focuses primarily on white history and achievement.

Augustine F. Romero, director of student equity in the Tucson schools, said, “All of our forefathers have contributed to this country, not just one set of forefathers. We respect and admire and appreciate the traditional forefathers, but there are others.”

Utah Group Sends 1,300 Latino Names, Personal Info to Press

Vomit. Our White Supremacy is just fine, thanks for asking.

Utah state officials are investigating how a list of 1,300 largely Latino names and sensitive personal information got sent to media outlets and ICE officials this week. The list, which an anonymous group claims is a roll of the state’s undocumented immigrants, includes information like Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. And in case it couldn’t get more frightening, it’s also got the names of children and due dates for the list’s pregnant women.

In an accompanying letter, the anonymous group demanded that those on the list be deported immediately. The list to news outlets also came with a letter, dated April 4, from “Concerned Citizens of America.”

[…]At least some of the people named on the list have already been proven to be documented residents.

Niiiice work vigilante racist assholes. You really need to go to the link and read their letters. No joke I can make could be better than what they actually wrote.

Not White Enough? There’s an App for That!

From Colorlines:

Vaseline is offering a Facebook app in India that allows users to whiten their profile pictures on the site.

[…]Now please don’t think Vaseline is doing this to promote white supremacy in India on purely ideological grounds. There’s profit to be made from a racial hierarchy that places white at the top. The Facebook app is part of Vaseline’s summer campaign to promote their new skin-lightening cream…for men.

Vaseline and Facebook team up to promote white supremacy.

Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur has lent his face to this white supremacy campaign.

The Latest on Hate Groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s winter Intelligence Report is out! It’s got all the latest on hate groups and extremists in America. Oh boy!

The cover story is about “[t]he personal papers of John Tanton, architect of the modern anti-immigration movement, [which] contain explosive proof of his many ties to white nationalism.”

This John Tanton, an important, active and prominent anti-immigration leader, has a long and documented history of collaboration with white-nationalists, neo-nazis, powerful antisemites and eugenicists. He has also shown concern about sub-replacement fertility among whites. See my series on Demographic Winter to learn more about this topic.

I have encountered some hard-line anti-immigrant people online, and they repeatedly claim that race has nothing to do with their views on immigration. They then go on to worry about what will happen when whites are no longer the majority in the US. I feel like the SPLC article above will set the record straight.

Political Correctness

I l-o-v-e it when people agree with me! Hearts out to A Truly Elegant Mess, a blog that recently posted the amazing bit Who wakes up and says, “I wish I could be oppressed too”?.

My favorite part:

As far as this idea of “politically correct” (scare quotes intended) as code for “uptight” or “restrictive,” I don’t see why it is so important to some people to be allowed to use words that create an othering effect of specific groups. One thing that must be put out there right now: complaining about being forced to be “PC” is, in essence, complaining that you can’t be a racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic douchenozzle without there being consequences.

Agreed. I have this train of thought often. I hear people gripe about the expectation to be “PC”, implying that somehow their freedom of expression is cramped, or that it gets in the way of honestly expressing themselves. Well, here’s the thing. Being PC is about respecting all people equally. Specifically, it is about not using terms that traditionally oppressed or marginalized groups find offensive. Using such terms is typically (though not always) something that a privileged group does, with the intended or unintended effect of reinforcing oppressive social structures.

You don’t have to be PC – you don’t have to treat anyone with respect either. But there are, and should be, consequences if you decide to treat certain groups with disrespect by using insulting terms towards them. If your honest feelings towards a group of (traditionally oppressed) people is one of inferiority, feel free to be honest. Like all moments of honesty, if the truth is painful, people will react. So complaining about being PC is like Dori from the above post says: it’s complaining that you can’t be a bigot without some degree of public censure. Allow me to join you in a big Boo Hoo.

Perhaps you’ve always been accustomed to using certain terms amongst your peer group that you realize get a bad reaction when used outside of that group. For example, certain words you use to describe blacks while in your all-white circle of friends don’t fly when the group is racially-mixed. I would suggest to think this one over. If POC find the terms offensive, why use them at all? Especially when out of earshot of people of color? The fact that we would use certain terms when in an all-white (or all-male or etc) group but not in a mixed group demonstrates that we know the difference between offensive and inoffensive remarks, but we still resort to insulting terms when we think it’s safe.

I have this suggestion. Why not use only terms that you would be unashamed to use in any social situation, regardless of the make-up of the group? Particularly for those of us who belong to social groups that have a lot of privilege, why not respect those who don’t? Why actively participate in white supremacy, male dominance, heteronormativity, etc? This is a relatively easy form of rebellion against social inequalities… give it a go!