Jan. 20th, 2017

dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
"The white cat symbolizes the silvery moon prying into corners and cleansing the sky for the day to follow... All dark, hidden places and beings are revealed in that inexorably gentle light. You can't shake your white cat because your white cat is you. You can't hide from your white cat because your white cat hides with you."

— William S. Burroughs, "The Cat Inside"
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I'm reading Buchi Emecheta's novel "The Joys of Motherhood", set in Nigeria around WWII, and there's a bit where the white master addresses his 'house-boy' as 'baboon'. She writes:
"his laughter was inspired by that type of wickedness that reduces any man, white or black, intelligent or not, to a new low; lower than the basest of animals, for animals at least respected each other's feelings, each other's dignity."
I've sometimes drawn a comparison between my experience of bullying and what I imagine it must be like to be the target of racism. There are crucial differences: the people who continually, unpredictably chipped away at my soul in high school were not trying to keep a whole class of people* miserable, afraid, and aware of how unwelcome they were; and once I escaped high school, I escaped them**. There's no such merciful exit for the young hijabi, the Indigenous athlete, the Sudanese refugee - all the Australians who have to cope with harassment from the media and in the street on top of systemic racism.

That constant drip-drip-drip is what makes people sometimes suddenly explode over seemingly small insults. I don't know what it's like to live with bigotry day in and day out, but I do know what the drip-drip-drip can do to you. When I read Buchi Emecheta's words, the familiar and infinite rage rose up in me. It's there now, in my chest and arms, almost nauseating. I think she may have been feeling something like the same feeling when she condemned the people who stoop to "that type of wickedness".

* Although there was gender policing involved; I would not have been the only young woman being called a "lemon" for being insufficiently feminine.

** With the exception of the Unpleasantness here in lj, many years ago now, which forced me to deal with the damage from high school - as well as requiring me to broaden my horizons, which led directly to the discovery of Emecheta, now one of my favourite authors.


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