Tagged: race

Racist Danish MP defenders bingo

By now you’ve probably heard about the Danish MP, Marie Krarup, and her racist little commentary on traditional Māori welcomes.

Hopefully, you’ve been following the sovereign rule of the internet in such matters, i.e. Do Not Read The Comments.  But if you’re as much of a masochist for privileged whining as I am, here’s a handy bingo board which might make the exercise a little more amusing.  Every single square can be hit just in the comments on Breakfast’s Facebook page.

Danish racism bingo

Sadly, I had created this before reading Colin Craig’s “are you really really really sure this isn’t a parody?” defence of Krarup, but on reflection, it’s an entire bingo board of its own, and all of the squares read “Oh my god, you can’t just ask people why they’re so white.”

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Bingo squares read, left to right, top to bottom: Māori are naturally angry, listen to Willy and JT on talkback; Don’t blame her, blame her political advisors; She’s not really putting down Māori culture, read between the lines; Māori culture wasn’t meant to be civilised; Danish people are just naturally blunt; There’s way to much Māori culture around anyway; We should stop living in the past and making whitey feel ashamed; Really, who are we to judge?; She’s just one person – getting widespread media coverage; Well it is rude to poke your nose in other people’s faces; She must have just been poorly translated; Even Captain Cook thought Māori were aggressive; FREE SQUARE: I think Danish people are barbaric, so take that!; What about freedom of speech?; Stop forcing your beliefs on the poor white woman!; Can’t we white people take criticism maturely as a country?; You can’t expect her to learn about the culture of a country she’s visiting; You wouldn’t be complaining if Paul Henry said it!; The poor woman just didn’t understand, that’s all; Why can’t we spend more time focusing on European culture?; But powhiri are screamy and scary; Her comments are totally bad – because it’ll damage our tourism industry; Māori are a minority so their culture doesn’t count anyway; Really we should take it as a compliment; Well they did kill the Moriori

Councillor Bruce Wilson: racist and incompetent

As covered by marty mars, Councillor Bruce Wilson from the fine city of Palmerston North decided to crack “a joke” about sterilising Maaori women smokers so they wouldn’t be able to smoke in front of their kids.

Every single statement since then from him has been a bingo square: it was a joke, I wouldn’t have said it if I knew media were present, I’m sorry if you were offended, I should have thought harder.

Like marty says,

We let these people off too lightly – and trying to get out of it by using the ‘joke’ defence is as bad as using the ‘should have thought harder’ defence – they are not a defence they are just useless excuses.

The thing is, stories like this consistently get the “oh, oops” treatment, especially when it’s privileged white dudes accidentally letting us all know that they’re authoritarian racist (or misogynist) fucks.

This is bullshit.

There is no level of “hard thinking” involved in the idea that it’s not okay to:

  • joking about forced sterilisation
    • of minority women
      • especially to punish them for behaviour you don’t like
        • especially when you’re a white dude
          • in a position of civic authority

That’s not something anyone in the 21st century should believe is some kind of grey area requiring intensive meditation.  It’s an automatic Godwin-exemption because it’s something the Nazis actually did.

Councillor Bruce Wilson shouldn’t just resign because he’s racist.  He should resign because he’s not competent to open his mouth and speak to other human beings.  

If he can’t understand “I shouldn’t joke about forced sterilisation of Maaori” then how the fuck do you expect him to help run a city?  What other basic concepts of human behaviour have to be explained to him?  “Councillor, we can’t superglue all the doors shut on the buses to stop people getting on and off at traffic lights because then no one can get on the bus at all”?  “Councillor, you shouldn’t advocate castrating people who put non-recyclables in the recycling bins”?  “Councillor, shoes go on your feet“?

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And a small thought to mull over:  what does it say about someone who, when “frustrated” by the lack of impact of anti-smoking policies, will go to “sterilise women” before “ban tobacco”?

So CAN Dame Susan Devoy actually be Race Relations Commissioner?

Possibly not, according to the font of all NZ political procedural knowledge and God-Emperor of the kiwipoliblogosphere, Idiot/Savant.

Quite apart from her total lack of experience and dodgy views on such matters, the Race Relations Commissioner must have mana. Devoy has none. But there’s another aspect to this that is worth exploring: the appointment may be unlawful.

On the not-fit-to-hold-a-teaspoon-much-less-public-office front, Morrissey in comments at The Standard raised this interesting piece of history:

Dame Susan Devoy says her testimonial for broadcaster Tony Veitch – splashed across newspapers today – was for an application to return his passport, not to support him in a court sentencing.

In her testimonial presented to the court at Veitch’s sentencing yesterday for injuring his former partner with reckless disregard, Dame Susan said he deserved a chance to get his life back and have the opportunity to work again.

She had written it because she believed Veitch, whom she knew and whose stepmother was a close friend, deserved a chance to work again.

“I mean we can’t ostracise him for the rest of his life. But it is a different kettle of fish when you are writing a letter of support of someone coming up for sentencing.

“And I know that because I have written a letter recently for someone who is actually serving 10 years and six months for something probably a lot less than what Tony has done.”

She said she would not necessarily have refused to provide a testimonial for his sentencing.

Oh no, Dame Susan was totally lied to!  She wouldn’t have written that testimonial if she knew it was for Tony Veitch’s sentencing for kicking his partner in the back so hard he broke her spine!  Except she also wouldn’t have not written him a testimony.  It just … would’ve been a testimony that looked less like she’s willing to exploit her celebrity to bail out a mate’s grown abusive stepson, when entered on the public record.

Fuck, someone probably thinks that episode helps to qualify her for the job, being all conciliatory and open-minded about things.  Gross.

Shouldn’t the Race Relations Commissioner know something about race relations?

So, Dame Susan Devoy is our new Race Relations Commissioner.

As highlighted by Coley Tangerina (THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS), she’s … not exactly the kind of person you’d have in mind for the role, if her previous musings on Waitangi Day are anything to go by:

We need a day that doesn’t necessarily replace Waitangi Day but complements it.

That doesn’t mean we lose sight of the significance and meaning of the Treaty but an opportunity to recognise that New Zealand is a multicultural society continuing to evolve as a nation of many people and not just Maori and Pakeha.

… This would leave … the door open for a day that we don’t feel ashamed to be a New Zealander; a day where we don’t only focus on the grievances of the past; a day that is positive and uplifting and, above all else, makes us feel good about ourselves. After all isn’t that the real meaning of holiday?

Our Race Relations Commissioner thinks Waitangi Day isn’t a proper national day because it focuses on [RACE-BASED] grievances of the past and makes her ashamed to be a [WHITE] New Zealander.

Fan-fucking-tastic.

It gets better, though, because earlier in the article Dame Susan notes:

We only need to look across the Tasman to witness how Australians celebrate their day … you do have to admire the way they celebrate their national day with a great showing of patriotism.

Mmmm, delicious patriotism.

Here’s my question(s):  does it concern Judith Collins that she’s appointed a Race Relations Commissioner who – at least a year ago – didn’t even seem to know the first thing about race relations in Australia, our nearest neighbour?  Wasn’t even aware that a growing number of Australians celebrate Invasion Day instead?  Thinks that we shouldn’t even have to spend one day out of 365 considering issues which are at the very heart of race relations in our own country?

Shouldn’t a Race Relations Commissioner know something about race relations?  Like, that the concept even exists?

Fuck off Jezebel: Quvenzhané Wallis is too good for your shit edition

This post was prompted by a series of tweets from @graceishuman about the general silence of white feminists – especially white feminist institutions – on the mistreatment and slagging-off of Quvenzhané Wallis at the Oscars.  Not only the silence, but, in one instance from Jezebel which I’m mainly going to address here, downright coming out and saying that it wasn’t that big a deal because [insert white lady problems].

This post shouldn’t need prompting, but it did, because it really is a lot easier for people like me to read a few blogs by women of colour, retweet some of their commentary, think “they got this”, and continue to auto-unfollow anyone who uncritically tweets Jezebel into my feed.

The shit of publications like Jezebel has to be called out, and it has to be called out by white feminists, and yeah, we’ve got to do it before we’re prompted by more marginalized women.

That being said, white feminists also don’t get to ride in on chargers carrying beautiful flowing banners which just coincidentally block the faces of all the women of colour who are speaking out on this shit.

So, first:  the linkage.  Go read these, then come back.

A Love Letter to Quvenzhané Wallis from Moya at Crunk Feminist Collective
Let Me Explain Why The Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Was so Hurtful by T F Charlton (@graceishuman) at Bitch Magazine
Apparently, People Have Beef With Quvenzhané Wallis by Arturo at Racialicious
Where Were White Feminists Speaking Out For Quvenzhané Wallis? by Kirsten West Savali at Clutch magazine

ETA: Once I’d drafted this, I saw Jessica Luther’s On Quvenzhané Wallis at Shakesville, which covers a lot of the same threads as this post.

Now, to Jezebel.  Jezebel, which on top of all its previous crimes against social justice decided that right now, right after a young black girl was called a cunt by The Onion, was the perfect time to post a big ol’ article about how cunt isn’t a bad word, it’s a word we should reclaim, woo yeah girl power right on.

They ain’t getting a link from me, but slap this into your address bar if you must: http:// jezebel.com /5987317/ cunt-is-not-a-bad-word.  There are those on my Twitter feed who will understand what I mean when I say “trigger warning for white feminist quoting Audre Lord”.

The only things you really need to know about the article:

First off:  Katie J M Baker gets eight paragraphs in before saying “It’s impossible to talk about the c-word this week without talking about the Onion‘s Quvenzhané Wallis tweet.”  You know, with a harsher editor and a smaller wordcount, you probably could’ve managed, Katie.

And:  Katie J M Baker thinks the real problem is

Focusing on the word “cunt” is a distraction; for example, the Onion debacle kinda overshadowed how sexist the Oscars were overall.

Apparently Katie J M Baker’s feminism will be non-intersectional and it will be bullshit.  She only manages to mention Quvenzhané’s race when referring to another writer’s reaction to the tweet.  The whole tone of the piece is basically a pissant STFU to those bloggers who have objected to the tweet – not that Baker’s going to link to anyone she disagrees with.

Baker thinks we should “take advantage of [the word “cunt”‘s] true awesomeness”.  I would really love to know how she’d work that into an explanation to a nine-year-old black girl of why a Twitter account decided to call her a cunt to its 4.5 million+ followers.

The overarching question, of course, is why this kind of shit gets published in Jezebel.  It’s not a difficult question.  It’s basic, simple, instinctive, ingrained racism, mixed with the kind of self-centredness which is the equivalent of tattooing “I AM PRIVILEGED” on your forehead (while living in a society where face-tattoos on white people denote high status).

It simply does not occur to the writers and editors of Jezebel to think about Quvenzhané’s feelings, or situation, or circumstances.  They cannot consider that she is black, that she is NINE FUCKING YEARS OLD, that this is (hopefully) the first in an inevitable, ongoing series of humiliations and aggressions which she will have flung at her for her entire life.

Katie J M Baker and the team at Jezebel just hear “The Onion called someone a cunt” and the immediate reaction is “Me.  What if someone called ME a cunt?  What would *I* do?  What response would best exemplify MY amazing feminist cred? ”

The real irony is that I couldn’t find Baker’s article by searching for “Quvenzhané”.  I had to search for “cunt”.  Because when you search for “Quvenzhané” on Jezebel you actually get a big long list of posts which purport to celebrate her achievements and awesomeness.

Take that list.  Compare it to Baker’s post, her complete lack of disregard for Quvenzhané Wallis.  Now consider:  what’s Jezebel going to do when Quvenzhané – and Willow Smith, for that matter – stop being adorable little black dolls which the comfortable white feminists can coo over?  What happens when they start saying things that make the comfortable white feminists less comfortable?

New Zealanders in the audience may like to think back on when Keisha Castle-Hughes, Maaori Doll-child of the Nation, got knocked up at 16.  I’m recalling the popular response being less that positive.

This is 2013.  You can’t Helen Keller people any more.  There is going to be some ugly shit when Quvenzhané gets old enough that her “use my name, douchebag” routine becomes less “adorable little minx” and more “bitchy”.  And I hope I and other white feminists will fucking stomp on that shit when it happens.

Greens announce non-racist policy; 3News decides to make it racist

The Green Party are supporting moves to limit the ability of non-New Zealanders to buy property in New Zealand, following a poll which showed 2/3 of respondents agreed with the idea.

3News decided in its infinite wisdom to jazz up this story by staking out several auctions on Auckland’s North Shore and reporting on how many of the properties went to people who looked Asian.

Sadly, journalist-of-the-people Patrick Gower (and of course it was Patrick Gower) was unable to detain these filthy home-purchasers and demand to see their papers, meaning we may never know how many people-who-can-service-mortgages-and-also-have-different-shaped-us-to-us-white-folk are living among us.

One of them could be behind you right now.  Maybe more.  They are ninjas, after all.  *rimshot*

So all Patrick Gower can tell us is that in 20 minutes, 3 houses were auctioned, all to Asians.  He apparently doesn’t even have the services of an intern to check – and add boring old context to the story – that the Asian population of the former North Shore City was 18.5% in the 2006 census.

Personally, I haven’t thought enough about the issue to have a stated opinion either way, but the fact is that while many of the people who answered “yes” to the Reid Research poll are almost certainly racist, and almost certainly picture people of colour – probably their idea of “Asians” – when they think about Foreigners Taking Our Houses, the fact is that a blanket ban on all non-New Zealand residents buying property here isn’t inherently racist.

It’s pretty xenophobic, but that is, actually, a different thing.

It may become racist in practice if our immigration laws unfairly give advantage to white English-speaking people, which they probably do.

Story-time, though:  I was in a lecture in my first year of uni, waiting for the lecturer to arrive, when one student – who, yes, was of Asian ethnicity – was approaching by another student of Asian ethnicity and asked to take part in a survey of international students.  After sending the inquirer politely on her way, the first student burst into an epic rant on why the fuck did she always get asked to do those bloody surveys, she’s a fucking Kiwi for fuck’s sake, her family have been here forever but everyone always assumes she’s an international student who can’t speak English just because she looks Asian!

It was an eye-opener for the young Queen of Thorns, because of course I too had assumed she was a foreigner based on her physical appearance.  Turned out her family had probably been in New Zealand as long as mine.

The earliest Chinese settler in recorded NZ history was Wong Ahpoo Hock Ting, who arrived here in 1842.  By 1869 there were over 2,000 Chinese men living in New Zealand – women migrated very rarely.  From 1881 to 1944 an unquestionably racist poll tax sought to keep the number of Chinese people entering New Zealand down, which makes this whole story kind of ironic.

The basic fact is:  Patrick Gower and 3News ran a racist piece of shit masquerading as in-depth reporting.  They deliberately conflated “foreigner” with “Asian”, which is especially terrible of them given this little nugget from the 2008/09 North Shore City Council annual report:

For people born overseas who are now living in North Shore City, the most common birthplace was England.

Maybe next week Paddy could stake out some auctions and breathlessly report on how many of the successful bids came from people with BBC accents.  No?  I rest my case.

How dare Maaori not play ball!

So, Ngati Tuwharetoa want to charge Ironman NZ for the privilege of holding an event on Tuwharetoa land.

Cue the usual rightwingers-who-would-normally-defend-property-rights-to-the-death suddenly whinging that some natural landscapes and features should belong to ~the community~ (not-subtext: “and not those greedy brown people”).

Morgan Godfery knocks this one down:

Property rights are always sanctified when possessed and exercised by the right sort of people – read non-Maori. Where Maori are attempting to protect and exercise their property rights the goal posts are shifted. Property rights are great, but you Maori must make exceptions for sporting events, fishing competitions and anything else we decide. Apparently, property rights enjoy a shifting definition.

The answer – and we can all see this coming – is racism.

But another aspect which I want to highlight is the sports-as-religion aspect.

All the criticisms of this which I’ve seen have said “oh well if it were a commercial operation, of course we wouldn’t have a problem with the landowners charging a fee, but this is different.”

Newsflash:  It’s not.

Ironman New Zealand is as much a commercial venture as a jet-ski hire business would be.    The entry fee – if you get an early-bird registration – is $785 per entrant.  Apparently an extra $40 a head makes this totally untenable, if you go by this Dominion Post story which just happens to not mention the former figure.

But somehow, in the Kiwi psyche, it’s different because we like to pretend that sport is all about the love of the game and the pinnacle of human physiology and, well, sportsmanship.  We really, really love to close our eyes to the notion that professional sports are professional.  That sport is a career choice (note: generally if you are a dude, less so if you’re a team of multiple-world-champion women).  That sporting bodies are, frankly, in it for the money.

We see this every single time the NZRFU tries to whip up nationalistic fervor for the All Blacks (usually with a degree of success, because a lot of people still buy this bullshit).  Suddenly it’s all about Our Boys In Black.

It’s the reason our news media spins every story of Dan-Carter-signs-with-provincial-French-team as a Great Betrayal Of The Nation, as though Dan Carter is bussing tables in Ponsonby in the off-season and plays purely for The Love of The Game.  (I have no doubt Dan Carter loves rugby, I just think he may also love a big juicy paycheck, like most of us do.)

The racism against Maaori in this story works especially well because it plays on this meme.  Because it means that Ngati Tuwharetoa aren’t just greedy bastards, they’re greedy bastards who aren’t going along with patriotic sports culture.  It emphasises the idea that Maaori aren’t “Kiwis”, aren’t like us, aren’t part of our society, aren’t playing their part.

All I can suggest is that if Ironman have an issue with paying Maaori landowners for use of their land, they could try hosting the event on Gibbs Farm for free.  Because apparently the right would be totally okay with that.

Oh, aren’t you clever?

Recently, in two different spheres, I’ve seen the delightful little appropriation of social justice comments best summed up as:

But you keep saying gender and race shouldn’t matter, so you’re a hypocrite for promoting diversity!!!

How convenient.

The two spheres are the Labour Party reshuffle and sci fi/fantasy awards, just to cover the whole spectrum of my interests.  And the people making these comments – who, honestly, I do try not to assume are white hetero cis-men – seem to think they’re very clever to point out this gaping hole in progressive/identity-politics arguments.

It’s bunkum, of course.

Yes, in the progressive utopia completely divorced from historical context, gender and race (and orientation and disability etc) wouldn’t necessarily be meaningful.  They might not even be relevant.  People simply may not care about the shade of your skin and simply not understand the concept of certain behaviours being categorised as “male” or “female”.

The two tiny problems with that are:

1.  We don’t live in a progressive utopia

2.  Even if we did, it would still have a historical context of racism, patriarchy, and general kyriarchal shittiness.

Now, I am kind of tempted to go on this big rant about that whole pesky historical context thing and how oppressed groups have actually been systematically denied the right to excel in many, many fields because of sexism and racism and so on and so on.

But there’s really no need.

Because the people whinging that “you SAID race and gender don’t matter!!!” only ever seem to bring this up under two circumstances:  (a) when a line-up of [X] is entirely white hetero cis-dudes and someone points out that this isn’t representative; (b) when a line-up of [X] contains “too many” non-white non-hetero non-cis non-dudes, and people approve of it being more representative.

You’re arguing that race and gender (in these specific instances) shouldn’t matter … but you’re the ones fixated on race and gender when it threatens your privilege.

You insist that everything be (or IS) a meritocracy … when it supports your privilege.  When you’re not the person at risk of being kicked out or ignored or unrewarded for your work because of your gender and/or race.

For some totally inexplicable reason, you don’t think gender and race matter when it means people like you dominate everything, but it does when you, for once in your entire existence, don’t get to be surrounded by faces and stories which reflect your life.

Shorter QoT?  Your privilege is showing.  And it’s kind of sad how suddenly you give a fuck about sexism and racism when it serves your personal interests and keeps women and people of colour down.

Monday warm fuzzies: cosplay edition

And with the simple utterance of “cosplay”, I lose half my readership, but probably gain aaaaaaaaaaall the bumps to my Googleability.

One day, Chaka Cumberbatch started the first big cosplay race war by having the gall to cosplay as Sailor Venus.  While being a woman of colour.  A badass, damn hot woman of colour (personally, I think the shit would have hit less of the fan if she wasn’t damn hot: much less threatening to the racist geek psyche.)

Read all about it at Racialicious.

In referencing that post, I initially wanted to make an addendum to the previous cosplay-related “new rule” about not complaining about the lack of [mandatorily fuckable] women in fandom.  But here’s the problem:  the dominant geek paradigm is really, really white.  And you don’t hear the voices of that paradigm lamenting the lack of people of colour.

It’s dehumanizing both ways:  geeks whinge about no [hot] chicks coming to their clubs because they only want to fuck them, but they don’t whinge about no people of colour coming to their clubs because they don’t even want to fuck them.

~

And one day, Ryan from Mad Art Lab decided it wasn’t enough just to casually gender-bend the traditional Princess Leia/metal bikini costume.  He had to gender-fuck its shit right up.

~

Cosplayers: subverting subversions of the dominant paradigm’s dominant paradigm since awesome o’clock.