I know those cognitive shortcuts, too

It’s clockwork at this point: No argument, no matter how meticulously evidenced or delicately constructed, will ever be engaged with as long as it implicates people as participants in a harmful system. Instead a variety of shortcuts are employed to avoid confrontations of complicity. One of the more routine ones I receive is the presumption of “insanity”–that none of my conclusions need be examined or grappled with because I’m “crazy”–and it’s a familiar one Sherronda Brown receives too.

When I wrote “The Racist Roots of Gynecology and What Black Women Birthed” for Wear Your Voice Magazine, I was called a liar. My credibility and intelligence were challenged by white readers who refused to believe the facts that I laid out about disparities in pain management and anti-Blackness medicine.

“Sims never gave [anesthesia] to the enslaved women in his care. It is recorded that he subscribed to the belief that Black people did not have the same capacity to feel pain as white people, a belief that many people in the medical field unfortunately still hold. Physicians continually offer less pain relief and fewer management resources to their Black patients, even to children, due to this accepted myth.”

I spent an entire weekend reading through texts like Trial and Error: J. Marion Sims and the Birth of Modern Gynecology in the American South, “Toward an Understanding of the ‘Medical Plantation’ as a Cultural Location of Disability,” and A Calculus of Suffering: Pain, Professionalism, and Anesthesia in Nineteenth-Century America. I even read Sims’ own account of his life, work, and ideology in his autobiography.

I provided evidence and sources. Still, the legitimacy of my work was questioned, because so many white people refuse to admit that the insidiousness of racism and anti-Blackness reaches as far and as wide as it does, and that it harms us in the many horrific ways that Black people and non-Black people of color know all too well.

White supremacy’s modus operandi is not only to deny the validity of clear evidence set before it, but it is also to alter narratives in its own favor, something that we have witnessed Trump and his supporters do time and time again. It’s something that we have seen history textbooks perpetrate, claiming that the enslaved Africans of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade were nothing more than immigrants and that Canada’s First Nations peoples agreed to move out of their own lands to make room for European settlers.

It’s lazy thinking, and it’s fucking ubiquitous.

Read more by Brown here.

-Shiv

Overcompensate

At this point it’s no longer a secret to anyone but Democratic politicians that their way forward is to reinforce the voter franchise, the undermining of which has primarily affected black and poor voters. In the wake of Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama, however, commentary has largely seem to have taken the franchise for granted. Black voters were lauded for tipping the scales against a literal pedophile, but hardly any ink has been spilled to talk about the importance of the franchise.

As Talynn Kel notes, this isn’t the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last.

Over the last few months, we watched white supremacy work overtime to disenfranchise voters and advocate for a known racist and alleged sexual abuser to take public office. And now that the election is over — and we see from the exit polls that Black women played a pivotal role in electing Doug Jones, the first Democrat Alabama senator in 25 years — we must, in typical fashion, watch as white supremacy skews the narrative to minimize and erase the impact and importance of Black women.

“They saved us,” white people say, erasing our personal motives and structuring the narrative to prioritize whiteness. As usual with white supremacy, our votes aren’t being viewed as designed to save us — they’re being viewed as designed to save white people. To save the country.

And meanwhile, this country we saved? It will inevitably continue to turn its back on us. “This is not just a question about African American voters,” Doug Jones said. “This election is about everybody in the state.” But somehow, that American “everybody” seems to rarely, if ever, include Black women.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Medicine’s history of eugenics

Hey folks. The blog hasn’t died or anything. I’ve been tied up in something that’s probably bigger than anything I’ve ever pursued before, and I’m pouring all my free time into it.

Just quickly sharing this article on medicine and eugenics.

Medicine is rife with old eponyms — diseases or body parts named after their discoverers or researchers — that are beginning to be replaced by more logical names for practical reasons. (The term “rectouterine pouch,” after all, tells us more precisely what we are talking about than “pouch of Douglas”).

But this was the first I had heard of the entire medical profession deciding to change an eponym for the sake of revoking honor from someone whose actions were now deemed immoral. And, more than that, the name change accompanied a small but repetitive teaching of why there was a new name — actively passing on the unethical history that led to greater understanding of a rare disease.

When other diseases gained new names, we were typically allowed to use the original eponym and the logical name interchangeably. But here? We were being told: Don’t use this old name.This man was a Nazi, who used tissue from Nazi prisoners to make his discoveries. And this moment of reflection on the history of this disease’s name happened almost every time I was taught about GPA.

The piece goes on to describe some pretty grizzly methods of discovery in medicine, so content warning for racism and extreme violence.

Read more here.

We’ll be back on schedule soon.

-Shiv

How the dark net’s radicalization works

It’s not exactly a secret that 4chan and its derivatives have been cesspools for Literally Nazi recruitment, bleeding into other interests that would have been styled “nerdy” 15 years ago, such as gaming and comic books. Caught in between these various sub-interests are the often maligned “furries”–participants of fiction and art focusing on anthropomorphic animal characters. Furry communities have been undergoing a largely unnoticed explicit project to redirect those in their community away from white supremacist radicalization, and ostracize those too far in to salvage. One such member, Deo, has written about some of the indoctrination techniques that radicalize these nerdy young white men in the hopes that her peers can recognise this process.

Content notice: Nazi tropes and, if you click on the link, Nazi imagery, genocidal aspirations, and chat logs of indoctrinal programming. (paragraph breaks added for readability)

Isolated, lonely, insecure, unfulfilled, bitter young men who feel that society at large has abandoned them and denies them the opportunities they feel entitled to are prime targets. White supremacist recruiters approach these angry young men and tell them that they are special and have a greater destiny. They are told that every white man carries this legacy mantle of superiority because every white man bears the lineage of advancements and accomplishments of all white men throughout history. That every white man is imbued by his fore fathers with an important destiny to defend the white race. Thus the lonely NEET need not achieve anything himself to still hold this position of power and supremacy, his accomplishments that the recruiter can flatter him for is simply that he was born with white skin.

These tactics transform nerdy bullied young men into proud white warriors, making them useful tools for the promotion and growth of the white supremacist ideology and agenda. Neo-Nazi groups know utilizing the insecurity and loneliness in their targets is an effective recruiting and radicalizing tactic especially when tailored to the large audience of socially awkward internet nerds.

Another key strategy in white supremacist recruitment are online communities that warmly welcoming in new members, once lured into such a group the recruit is given a surge of support, validation, and esteem boosting. The new members are told they belong, that they may not fit in real life social cliques but that they fit into this group, and that the other group members care about them. Hours will be invested in grooming the new recruit, befriending and talking with them. Active chats are appealing to those who are bored and isolated and only want some human contact but have trouble getting it elsewhere due to social awkwardness.

The white supremacist group offers a sense of community and belonging and slowly cultivates in the recruit into a sense of loyalty towards the group. For those desperate for friendship or to feel included this is an incredibly potent lure. These groups can have darker tactics as well, with leaders telling their members that they cannot leave or return to people outside of the group. Many reasons are given but most commonly this inability to leave is posed as there being some boogeyman outsider, like “SJWs”, will eventually toss them out, bully them, ostracize them, or attack them. Leaving the group is framed to members as ruining their only chance at fun, true friendship, or inclusion. Members are told they must remain in the group because within the group is the only place it is safe to express themselves freely, that their opinions are too radical to be accepted elsewhere, or that their ‘truth’ will be brutally suppressed by outsiders, and within the group are the only people who will ever accept them. The outside world is cast as some nebulously ominous power that is held back from harming the member only by the protection of the group. All of this forges fear and friendship together into chains that trap people into toxic white supremacist spaces.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Ethical analysis of racialized sexual fetishes

There are a lot of people who would rather their sexual habits and porn consumption be infinitely separated from ethical analysis, but we are unfortunately products of our time and place. Cico Three has an excellent, if somewhat technical analysis on interracial porn, examining the historical themes and consequences of white/black pairings depicted in pornography:

Skin Diamond notes that, “Interracial is only ‘interracial’ if it involves a Black man and a white girl.” Sexton concurs writing, “to be considered interracial, especially in the U.S. context, [a relationship] must involve a Black person. This is not always the case, of course, and there are myriad historical examples of hysteria prompted by the prospect of sexual encounter between whites and nonblack people of color. What I sense, however, is that within the racist imagination, relationships with blacks, whether the other is white or a nonblack person of color, constitute interracial relationships par excellence.”

Diamond continues, “Technically, most of my porn is interracial but because I’m a Black chick, it doesn’t count. People only wanna see the taboo of a Black man with a white girl.” Diamond’s analysis of her scenes with white or other non-Black men ‘not counting’ speaks again to the inviolability of Black women and has two meanings. “It doesn’t count” in both marketing and accounting. This plays out in different earning potential for white and Black women performers.

The higher earning potential happens in two ways. White women performers, especially successful ones, often follow a progression of roles. Lexington Steeledescribes it, “There are situations where it could be the industry, whether it’s her boyfriend, her husband or management that suggests she either doesn’t do [interracial] at all, or waits until a certain time when her rates can appreciate over time. Where it’s: girl-girl to boy-girl to anal to DP [double penetration] to, and then the ultimate she can charge her most is when she finally does interracial.” This is career path is unavailable to Black women performers whose scenes are always already “racial” but never “inter” from an earning perspective, even when explicitly pointed out as such. For example Nyomi Banxxx recalled about a scene with a white male performer, “I had this conversation with my agent. I had this conversation with a director, because we were arguing about rate. I said, ‘I need to get paid for an interracial rate, IR.’ ‘No that’s not IR.’” This is one reason why Misty Stone says, Black performers “do the same amount of work but [white performers] get different opportunities.”

It’s a bit of a dense read but I recommend you check it out here.

-Shiv

 

Passive vs. active whiteness

This essay articulates the depth of my contempt for Republican voters (and modern conservatism more generally):

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

Read more here.

-Shiv

There is no middle ground on justice, moderates

One of the reasons I distrust so-called “moderates” is that their list of things they’re willing to compromise on is a bit too long, and often includes critical human & civil rights issues. In fact, being willing to tell your neighbour they are only partially human, or partially “equal,” should be considered extreme in my opinion.

The average American will easily agree that they believe that freedom, justice, and equality are basic rights, rights we are born with. These ideas are woven throughout the entire narrative of our democracy. But in practice, very few people actually believe that freedom, justice, and equality are rights that every American deserves. When you enjoy your freedoms, and you tell those who want their freedoms that they have to wait, that they have to go slowly, that they have to give you time to make uncomfortable adjustments to the amount of privilege that their inequality has afforded you, what you are saying is, “You were not born with these rights. You were not born as deserving as me. I have the power and privilege to determine when it is time for you to receive freedom and equality, and my approval is conditioned on how comfortable and safe you make me feel about how that freedom and equality will impact the privileges I enjoy.”

Read more Ijeoma Oluo here.

-Shiv

Glad to see red-baiting make a return

The title of this post is sarcasm, for those of you who aren’t following along at home.

One thing that struck me about the Beltway’s coverage of the Berkeley protest was how commentators accused the anti-fascist protesters of feeding into Nazi persecution narratives. I found this accusation to be badly misdirected. The media were deliberately trying to get the white supremacists on film and on their microphone, and what they printed a day later  confirmed that they were selling a very familiar drink: Red bait. I was disappointed to see self-avowed skeptics swallow the media narrative uncritically, as the material from the non-professionals clearly shows a different story from “vicious hoodie thug attacks innocent Trump supporter”–a Trump supporter who had pepper-sprayed a crowd of people while wearing a Pinochet shirt, the Chilean capitalist dictator legendary for his torture & mass murder program against socialists [not going to link to it but LITERALLY ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS if you look it up].

At minimum, please take the time to browse amateur footage. Yes, you’ll have to sift through the alt-right versions, but that’s how I also found this hilarious tweet: alt-right dude says the protest turned into a “massive militant demonstration,” but shows exactly nothing happening. Not even the people actively trying to smear anti-fascist protesters could find something incriminating, but you can trust the Beltway to play something up for clickbait and distort the picture.

Assume they’ve got a slant at least as severe as the anti-fascists themselves.

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The greatest tragedy in Sarah Ditum’s mind is treating white women like adults

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: Sarah Ditum is constitutionally incapable of directly stating what she means. She has been trained in a feminist tradition that trades almost exclusively in equivocation and doublespeak. This is one aspect of debunking TERFs that makes the task so grating–the ambiguity, rather than being a sign of the TERF’s lack of principles, instead reflects poorly on the critic since we sometimes guess incorrectly at what they’re trying to say. From there they can swoop in and claim that they actually meant something else, which, again, should be considered evidence that they are shitty communicators rather than evidence the critic has misunderstood. So I confess, I’m at a backfoot here, squinting at Egyptian hieroglyphs without the benefit of a Rosetta stone.

Feminists have spent decades trying to get the value of women’s unpaid labour recognised, to basically no avail. The trouble all along, it turns out, was the framing: instead of saying women deserved credit for their contribution to the economy, feminists should have said that women deserve blame. Because blame is one commodity where people are happy to give women their due. The obvious absence of women from the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – where female counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by a car allegedly driven by an alt-right supporter called James Alex Fields – could have lead to a discussion about the male near-monopoly on violence. Instead the impulse to cherchez la femme kicked in early and hasn’t let up since.

This isn’t particularly difficult, Ditum.

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