Some thoughts while I struggle with what to do with myself

A major problem I see with academia that is upheld by Academics* and non-Academics alike is the authority and visibility that is given to the knowledge’s produced in academic spaces. This blog post is in part prompted by a Facebook comment I read earlier today. The comment was a part of a thread discussing on ongoing problem of men’s rights activists creating fake profiles on twitter, posing as members of feminists online communities and saying things attempting to cause conflict. Anyways, the comment I read said that feminist falling for and agreeing with the fake profiles obviously hadn’t actually read feminist theory.
Moving away from the topic of the thread, I was disappointed how feminist academia/academics were being positioned as law and expertise. To me it is such a failure that a discipline that teaches intersectionality, that the personal is political and the importance of subjectivity loses site of the significance and value of experiential knowledge. Instead, I feel like feminist academia is too often uncritical of its own role in upholding power structures. Ive been thinking about this particularly as it is intwined with capitalism in that knowledge is commodified and made marketable and thus to give some knowledge authority is to enforce capitalism’s measurements of success and value.

I’ve been thinking about doing my PhD and so have been having internal debates, asking myself why? I ask if I’d even want to continue working within academia, why am I invested in seeing a change withing feminist academia and what would my relationship to this type of work look like.

While I am continuing to think and develop my thoughts in addition to the above, I will share two thinks. One reason I am considering this journey is selfish. I can think, write and talk about all these things I want to. I can do this through self reflection or I can do this through engaging with other folks ideas and reflections. My second reason is that I am really invested in academia as a site of sharing experiences, knowledge’s and ideas. I believe this can and does happen through all levels and am drawn by the ideas of producing collaborative work. I also think that undergraduate classes and student organizations hold potential to politicize people, especially young people and that there is something useful in that potential. These things require so much change, relationship building and accountability from feminist academia and academics….but these are just some thoughts that I needed to put out there while I work through all this.

*I am capitalizing “academics” to refer to a title and role that is taken up and given to those who work within academic institutions. I am calling particular attention to this because I recognize the concept of “academics” is contradictory to my argument.

twisted sisters

Twisted sisters sharing tea

Let out a short sigh filled with glee

Watching the leaves submerged to steep

One was enlightened by thoughts quite deep

They knew they were faeries but felt lost in this realm

Felt unable to influence, they retreated letting go of the helm

But with tea on her tongue the spirit turned spinster explained what she thought:

“We are the leaves, the world the water. We are separated by the memories and knowledge’s of how our ancestors fought.

Immersed in this toxic world we may be drowning and losing the strength of our spiritual memory, or like the tea we can move beyond our protections allowing our powers to be revolutionary”

Twisted sisters shared secrets with tea

Letting out sighs filled with glee

The sigh for today and all that they’ve lost

The glee for tomorrow, knowing they’re here for change at all cost.

untitled 1

the spring sun shines on the sidewalk like a magnifying glass highlighting all we had forgotten from a year ago.

The sun reminds us that it was not the earth that we had been walking upon but slabs of concrete hiding stolen soil.

 The cracks in the concrete replace imperialism with urban decay. The spring sun shines on the sidewalk like a magnifying glass preoccupying us with all we had forgotten from just one year ago.

Queer as in fuck you

I say my sexuality is queer not because gender doesn’t matter, or I don’t see it. Queer is not my anti-identity, instead queer provides alternative to the language provided by hetero and cisnormativity that refuses to recognize that are as many genders as there are people.

The language that follows sexual identity is dependent on the notion that all genders are knowable and traceable, that we knew them long before we traced them and that our desires are prearranged through these linear, categorical notions of being.

The colonization of Ireland and it’s people is not your tool for unaccountability

I’m writing my first blog post after feeling continuous angst towards irish and non-irish white folks on-going appropriation of irish experiences as a means to derail conversations around white privilege and racism. Too often, when called out on the perpetuation of white supremacy and the speaking on behalf of people of colour and indigenous folks, it seems that white people are quick to cite the experience of my peeps as a means to halt conversation and ultimately undermine the words and experience of people of colour and those indigenous to turtle island.  Just stop it! You are certainly not anti-racist and you are not doing anything for the long and on-going struggles around the decolonization of ireland and irish people. You’re taking history out of context and in my opinion failing to deconstruct whiteness in a way that is actually conducive to anti-colonial and anti white-supremacy resistances. The following is the beginning of a list of how I see this argument as fucked, how it defends white supremacy and colonization and fails resistance to the decolonization of ireland and irish people.

– Yes, irish people do have a history of colonization and racialization that lives on today on the land and the experiences of irish people. But most often when people bring up ireland in these conversations they fail to account for the ways in which people of irish decent benefit from white supremacy and the colonization of land and communities outside of ireland. In doing so a significant relation is missed;  an analysis of this relation is necessary for the decolonization of ireland and irish people. I am referring to the fact that the colonization of irish people and the land’s was greatly mediated by their proximity to britian. In this proximity I am including the physical island, the way my ancestors looked, culture (religion-which is another story of colonization for sure but significant nonetheless) etc.
These were mobilized as a tool in the colonization and oppression of people and communities indigenous to elsewhere. The displacement to and ultimate assimilation of irish people on colonial canada, colonial US and colonial australia (among other spaces) enabled a solidification of white supremacy and European colonization based on difference and greatly impacts the ways in which people of irish decent are privileged by systemic racism in these spaces uniquely and globally. As an example, think about what the experience might be of a person of colour who settles on turtle island versus a white person coming from Ireland. Or to push this example further, think about the xenophobia a person of colour might experience whose family has been settled on turtle island for generations compared to my family of which I am first generation irish/Scottish settler.

– These citing of irish experience also negates the reality of xenophobia and racism targeted towards people of colour in ireland. I believe that derailing conversations around anti-racism using irish experience will have profoundly negative effects for racism in ireland as it enables cultures of unaccountability. This unaccountability is equivalent to, and made possible by white supremacy

– To continue with the above points, often when the experiences of the irish are brought up it is done so homogeneously with no regard to the differing experience between irish living outside of ireland and irish people in ireland. More than often, and something that hurts my heart so much, irish settlers take up racist and colonial politics and lifestyles that are closer replica’s of the loyalist than the republicans in the settler-state of northern ireland. Ignoring this in the type of conversations I am discussing enables unaccountability among irish settlers. Obviously this furthers a racist agenda and the continuous colonization of turtle island, it encourages irish settlers participation in the oppression of people of colour and indigenous people and does nothing for irish liberation. It disconnects irish settlers from the struggles at home and presents a false image of irish sovereignty as a xenophobic and ireland as a white nation.

Bernadette Devlin, an irish republic and all-round badass made similar observations of irish settlers when she travelled across the ocean:

“I was not very long there until, like water, I found my own level. ‘My people’—the people who knew about oppression, discrimination, prejudice, poverty and the frustration and despair that they produce– were not Irish Americans. They were black, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos. And those who were supposed to be ‘my people’, the Irish Americans who knew about English misrule and the Famine and supported the civil rights movement at home, and knew that Partition and England were the cause of the problem, looked and sounded to me like Orangemen. They said exactly the same things about blacks that the loyalists said about us at home. In New York I was given the key to the city by the mayor, an honor not to be sneezed at. I gave it to the Black Panthers.” (Bernadette Devlin)

-This dynamic also enables the appropriation of irish struggles by right-wing movements. By removing the obligation of irish people to examine their white supremacy and privilege. It presents the facade that irish people and republican struggles are allies to racist fuckers and nazi scum. Read more about this from 32 CSM http://32csminternational.blogspot.com/2013/01/from-our-darmstradt-support-group.html

– This use of the irish narratives also fails to take into account the division between protestant and catholic that is significant in the story of irelands colonization. Knowing and acknowledging this history would make apparent the complexities around these irish experiences, which reveal the ability of irish people to access white privilege. Mobilizing irish experience to derail conversations around anti-racism invisibilizes these histories that live on in the contemporary occupation of ireland. It also halts significant and necessary conversations and strategies around resisting irish nationalism as necessary catholic. Further, resistance to the contemporary irish state and settler-state of northern ireland must be located in the reality of these histories. How can we really have movements working around access to abortion in ireland without recognizing that the state’s construction as a religious nation was built in the oppression of irish catholics?

-Much of the history of racialization towards people of irish descent is based on the oppression of people of colour, freckles as a signifier of the irish are an example of this as well as other stereotypes around criminalization, work ethic (re: civilized). Too often the mobilization of irish experiences is done so in ways to invisibilizes colonial constructions of race that makes the oppression of the Irish dependent on the colonization and oppression of people of colour and those indigenous to elsewhere,  – not the other way around. Instead, understanding that all people are racialized would make spaces to better deconstruct the ways in which hierarchies of whiteness are produced through the oppression of people of colour

– I am sure at least one fucker will compare irish experience to light-skinned privilege. This is not the same, let me say:  I can be white and irish, this categorization does not deny my identity but instead reflects the ways in which i am privileged by white supremacy. This is not about being complacent to assimilation, it’s about having an eye to power.

So fuck off with the appropriation of my people’s experience in the name of unaccountability and white supremacy. Maybe these conversations are more appropriately relegated to spaces where white people are discussing the construction of whiteness and white supremacy, confronting nazi appropriation of irish culture or amongst people of colour and indigenous people seeking to build network of decolonization with radical irish folks. If you’re of irish decent and reading this and have found yourself participating in these derailments I encourage you to engage in your own process of decolonization, do some research, talk to other irish folks, listen to your ancestors,  learn about where you come from and what brought you to and your relationship with wherever you are today. And seriously, think critically about the ways in which you benefit from white supremacy and the colonization of place, spaces and people outside of ireland.

This list is growing, if you have something to  add or a perspective to expand what i’ve written I welcome it. I encourage comments and critiques, they will only help strengthen my argument.