ASSIMILATION AS ASSASSINATION

Posted: 31st December 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

by Migrant Tales, under Shenita Ann McLean

MT comment: Even if the blog entry below speaks of assimilation, or one-way integration of blacks in the United States, it’s pretty certain that these types of discussions will pick up in Finland as we become a more culturally diverse society. Who is being assimilated into Finnish society? Are blacks and visible minorities expected to assimilate while for white Europeans it’s a two-way process (integration)?

__________________

Much of what I have studied & come to understand through history is that the true definition of an American is to be a White male who owns a home. This definition is crucial because it is based on how assimilation has ACTUALLY worked throughout history instead of how the larger society has told people how it works. As a Black African woman, I fit no where in that definition & my chances of being a “true” American are completely shot because those who define what it means to be “American” never intended for me to be able to access such a status. Many people discuss how the process of assimilating into a specific culture requires the shedding of one’s own culture & history & then embracing the prickly culture of the target/dominant society. The truth is assimilation in American society means that one must lose everything for the hopes of gaining a specific status, gaining approval from the dominant society; but for most Africans, this hope is never fulfilled, never met.

Shadeism

What is assimilation for Black Africans in America?

For the African in America, in many ways assimilation tells us to be something that we can never become without first assassinating our true selves. Assimilation is a process where a people of a minority group has shed their own culture & adapt to that of a dominant society. This assimilation requires that you shed your culture, forget your history, & embrace the mindset of an entirely different people. When African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement asked for integration, they most likely were NOT asking for White/Euro-Washing. But, truth be told, that is exactly what we have today among Black Africans in America. Many of the goals & definitions of Black Americans today are defined by how well Blacks adjust to the backwards American society. Black Africans are told to forget their history, forget slavery happened; & when they do remember slavery, remember that it wasn’t that bad anyway & White people don’t like for people to talk about it. This supposed assimilation & in many cases maladjustment is really a means of pacification. It ensures that an individual is not dangerous or a threat to dominant White supremacy. We all see what happens to Black Africans when they don’t know their history right? They further the White supremist, imperialist, & capitalist agenda better than any White/Euro-American ever could. Assimilation into American society & culture is marketed as “standards of success” to all peoples of color, all oppressed peoples. Everyone is told that the bar is set at chronic individualism, social sociopathy, selfishness, White supremacy, capitalism, sexism, patriarchy, & ignorance. People are strangling each other to try to meet these standards. You may have heard many Black Africans claim that many of us are “just crabs in a bucket”. It is true in a number of ways, many of us kill each other as we strive to achieve assimilation & adjustment to a society maladjusted to sociopathy. Measuring the success of the oppressed peoples by how many of us have adjusted & assimilated to this sick American society is NOT success at all. It is time for Black Africans to create their own means/measurements of success instead of accepting the White washed criteria that was handed to us.

One of the leading mindsets among the assimilation initiative is “Colorism”. Colorism is a mindset/belief that lighter-skinned sisters & brothers are better in EVERY way possible than their darker-skinned brothers & sisters. Colorism is the result of racism. Colorism is a symptom of racism that plagues the Black African community. I mention colorism because through colorism & the lily complex, one can see how assimilation may be more of an “achievable” goal for those of the lighter complexion within the Black African community. Now with that in mind, we can see how colorism works with racism to deem the lily complex as the only means for proper assimilation for those of the darker complexion. The lily complex is when Black African women “whiten” their appearance in an aim to cover up their physical selves to assimilate & be accepted as attractive. Colorism & the Lily complex are two versions of internalized oppression within the Black community, the end result when Black Africans buy into the negative perceptions & stereotypes of the dominant society. The use/employment of the lily complex goes hand in hand with self-rejection. It is part of the belief that one’s natural self is not good enough & not attractive enough. Embracing colorism is the first step in embracing the inferiority complex then the lily complex is employed as a means of assimilation, a means of conforming. As Shorter-Gooden & Jones state, “…African American women across the country feel pressure to alter their appearance as best they can, and many are wracked with feelings of inferiority. … It is possible to dye your brown tresses platinum and still love your Blackness. For many women, such changes may simply be another means of self-expression. And for others, shifting their appearance is just one of many conscious compromises they make to ensure that their White coworkers and peers feel comfortable with them and don’t make presumptions about their attitude or politics based on the way they dress, the way they style their hair, or other superficialities. These women are aware that others may find Eurocentric characteristics more appealing and that being seen as attractive can help them integrate certain circles and access certain opportunities. So they conform to survive, to get along, to achieve” (2008, p.178-9). These maladjustments to the dominant society result in Black African women & men using bleaching products on their skin, dying their hair blonde, rejecting their history, rejecting their people, & Black African women being 5 times more likely to use beauty products than White/Euro-American women.

Assimilation As Assassination

Much of what is required for Black Africans to assimilate requires that they embrace dangerously poisonous mindsets. They have to reject the self, reject their heritage, reject their people, & run towards the cold embrace of their oppressor. Embracing America’s rigid standards & hatred for everything Black & Brown have resulted in self-hate among the Black African communities in America. America is not a melting pot, America is a bleaching pot. The encouragement of Black Africans to forget their history, heritage, hate themselves & fade to Whiteness is in no way safe. It does not result in a healthy society filled with people who do not see race, it results in a world dictated by White supremist standards & structuralism.

If you must hate & reject your natural self in order to assimilate (& keep in mind that the hopes for success & approval from White America is not guaranteed & its success rate is less than 0.0000009%), then it is NOT worth it. Assimilation requires the assassination of the truth, the assassination of who YOU are. Too many Black Africans are walking around thinking that the norm is a White standard & that it has always been that way. NO, White supremacy & racism do not need to have a monopoly on your hair, your body, your history, your community, your mindset, your people, your perceptions, YOU. Assimilation is defeat. Assimilation is assassination.

by survivorsolidarityzachandkaylajo

ig·no·rant/ˈignərənt/

Adjective:
1.    Lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
2.    Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: “ignorant of astronomy”.

I am KaylaJo O’Lone-Hahn.  I am a pansexual female, gender-nonconformist, radical queer, feminist/intersectionalist, nihilist, rape survivor, and anarchist-communist. My political and philosophical outlooks make up an enormous part of who I am, define where my character lies, and help determine what my actions consist of.  I am also white and middle class. Because of this, I come from an intersection of great economic and social privilege, but have also faced other social oppressions.  I have only come to any of these outlooks on life because of plenty of research and luck in knowing people who held these and other views.  I am on a constant hunt for knowledge, and the knowledge I have gleaned from circumstance and understanding makes me who I am.
Because of  my privilege being white and middle class, my constant search for knowledge leads me down many paths that makes me ashamed of my ancestors. To also know that I am lucky enough to live the way I do, while many of my friends and comrades barely get by, makes me ashamed of myself and my privilege. Now, there are a few ways to go with this shame. I can stop seeking knowledge that may make me understand the lowest, cruelest parts of my ancestry and the world I live in so that I don’t feel bad. I can try and justify the actions of many before me. I can tell myself that my mother’s side of the family was all poor Whites. I can bring up the tiny bit of my Cherokee ancestry (which, because of time-frame reasons, I do not go touting around, because the historical significance suggests a white male member of my family raped a Native American woman and made her pregnant) so that I can tell myself, with the poor White ancestry of Ireland and Eastern Europe, combined with Cherokee ancestry, my family has been oppressed. And that’s not entirely untrue. Poor whites and Native Americans have suffered oppression in American society. But as an individual, I have not suffered oppression because of my race.
My final option is to continue seeking knowledge about the past so I can try and  help to discontinue the oppression in the future. Sometimes, I will feel bad. But it really doesn’t matter if I feel bad, because the oppression that thousands upon thousands of people face today is the more pressing and meaningful issue than my individual feelings. Therefore, I must go on seeking knowledge to better the world, and that’s it.
Not everyone wants to do this, and that’s where ignorance comes in. Everyone is ignorant of something, no one could ever possibly know everything about the world. Even if we all spent every moment of our lives researching every topic we can, we will not know everything.  Because of my views, I like to consider myself less ignorant than most, but I am still young and have a long ways of learning to go.
Still, ignorance plays a major role in politics. Some kinds of ignorance are benign, some are neutral, and others are malevolent. The most benign kind of ignorance is the one associated with not knowing, and not having thought up  the topic to do adequate research. Some people genuinely have never thought of environmental politics, the plight of the poor in a certain area, or how Monsanto has monopolized and corrupted the food industry. In some cases, people have genuinely never thought of a topic and therefore know nothing about it. Now, if these people are involved in politics and have no knowledge of these or other things (it’s happened with me and a lot of people I know, everything is a learning process) I don’t feel like it should be held against them nor should any kind of interpersonal harm come to them. People should not be treated poorly because certain information has never come their way. But the requirement for me to feel this way is that the person in question must want to know. No matter how idiotic their lack of knowledge may seem, I won’t hold it against anyone so long as when they recognize their ignorance on a topic and they want to know more.
Beyond the genuine unknowing, a person can choose whether or not to pursue knowledge or not as it is placed in front of them. If they choose not to, they have an immoral ignorance. Those who do not seek to learn, especially within political communities, are normally what I see as being the weakest links in the chain, if they are even upstanding enough to be a part of the chain in the first place.
Then, there are the people who do know, but if they do not choose to ignore it, they do nothing about it. I know plenty of people from all backgrounds who refuse to recognize the plights of others, mostly because it makes them feel antagonized or guilty. To have knowledge and then refuse it for your own personal benefit is immoral in and of itself, but to have the knowledge, ignore it, and then refuse to accept it or do anything about it is a malevolent, willful ignorance.
There is also a right way to go. There are the people who don’t know everything, accept knowledge when it is offered to them, apply it to themselves no matter the emotional significance, and pursue actions as applies to the knowledge. If you know someone is getting beaten, stop it. Don’t just sit around pretending it doesn’t apply to you. If someone is riddled in addiction, help them, no matter how much precious time it takes out of your day. If someone is being oppressed, do whatever you can to stop it, rather than ignoring it or trying to justify it because the oppressors may be people you’re grouped with. Within the politics of ignorance, people should not be punished or ridiculed or what-have-you  for a lack of knowledge. However, if they do have knowledge and either ignore it or do not pursue it further, they are a weakness within the movement and a stain on progression.
This also applies to people outside of movements. Sometimes, people genuinely have no knowledge that what they are doing is wrong, and it’s willfully ignorant to refuse that fact and go on hating, beating, or shaming people. I think we should all pursue knowledge, but some people are flat-out ignorant that something they do may be oppressive, racist, sexist, or a myriad of other things. If they don’t know, and have never thought of this,  the focus should be on educating them rather than demonizing them. The demonizing should only come in once they have knowledge and refuse it or don’t take any action on it. I feel like ignorance is a large but subtle facet of political movements and should be taken very seriously both for those within and outside of the movements at hand. No movement will have true success without some kind of understanding, education, and fighting back against the wrongs of the world.

-KaylaJo O’Lone-Hahn

by Rick Gunderman

The recession of 2008 was a minor speedbump for liberalism, not any sort of real threat to its ability to rule. However, if we are on the cusp of a crisis much worse than the ’08 recession, we may find that the option of liberalism disappears before us.