questions, reactions, racism (notes)

by mickharris

read an article today by a queer person of color about the limitations and oppressiveness of “standardized” english

and by “standardized” i mean middle class white/academically sanctioned english

instantly? it made me furious.

the tone was whiny, self-pitying, rote (to me)

the anger rose like a black tide whispering

how dare how dare how dare




that it took me moments, minutes, a half an hour to realize that this catharsis is genuine, necessary, valuable and precious 

to this person, and important to people like me who root themselves in this language

and are allowed to play

and be

while others struggle to communicate

is shitty.  to say the least.


this is the definition of defensive – 

1. used or intended to defend or protect

2. very anxious to avoid or challenge criticism


what we think we do with words and our institutions is protect them, raise a flag, cup them like chubby baby limbs 

too fragile to move on their own

but the gut-drop means that we know how cold and ancient the rules are.

there’s a reason they call it the ivory tower


why, if i love this language so much (and i do and i don’t, it limits, it is literal, it is formulaic and dry)

do i need to defend all of the horrific boundaries that go with it?

why am i in service to this bastion of old intellectualism that would spit on me, too, if i tried to rise higher than

my station,

my natural place.


why do i have to take a moment to deconstruct anger toward someone who i should be standing with, supporting

someone whose words i should be listening to

before shouting back?


because, because of

a million reasons

things that are parsed and illuminated by writers and thinkers

far more flexible with their words than me


it’s hard to write about this without a keen sense of being on display, of uprooting and bringing to light ugly things, that will ultimately taint this with the children’s textbook see-how-i-am-trying, see-how-i-am-smart aspect that ultimately makes a lot of white liberals (even if we are queer) take private solace in deep and hateful racism while smiling and offering hands to the world.

it’s a hypocrisy i am struggling with.  mired in social justice, silent when asked to witness the words of people who are in turn silenced by 99% of the population, i find i don’t like the feeling of being – what?  plain?  small?  wrong?  a lot of things.

so it swings back, hard and brutal, to the most basic and cruel of stereotypes running on repeat, getting stuck in my head.

the only thing i know for sure: if you deny that these voices exist, if you sit and drown out the whispering colonial explorer slipping his whip from its coil with his sense of righteous justification

(if you are like me, raised suburban, raised liberal and progressive and relatively educated)

you’re a fucking liar.


where do we go from here?  what do we do?  what’s the solution?

i don’t have that answer

the only thing i can do, i guess, is keep digging

i feel: dangerous, sharp.  like a bomb, ticking, waiting to go off.

like a liar, an impostor.