Category Archives: White Privilege

Accessible Multi-linking & Polyamory Virtual Con Still Accepting Panelist Submissions

 

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Good news for anyone who is interested in polyamory but find Cons inaccessible for a variety of reasons. The Accessible Multi-linking and Polyamory Virtual Con, is taking place November 3 – 5 at an Internet-capable screen near you. AMaP is a fully online con designed to be accessible to people who usually can’t make in-person cons.

 

 

If you want to, consider submitting a workshop or presentation proposal for the con. The theme this year is Silenced Voices, and organizers are inviting all to participate with a special emphasis on diversity and folks who do not traditionally have access to the cultural megaphone.

If you are interested, but not sure how running an online workshop can work, you can see our short example here.ww.polyamoryonpurpose.com

 

 

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10 Things Well-Meaning White People Should Stop Doing

As a white liberal – and I mean whiiiiiiiiite some lily white shit white – I never intend to be racist. As a white, lower-middle-class, cis-gendered woman, I have been marinated in white privilege since I was born. Squaring these two opposites – not wanting to be a racist but having white privilege in a decidedly racist society – is challenging. When swimming upstream against cultural conditioning that reinforces colorblind racism and actively works to keep white privilege invisible, knowing what to do and say can be difficult for ordinary white folks.

 

images.jpgUnfortunately, there is a lot of room white us white people to offend people of color because we are all too often ignorant of their sub-cultural realities, values, and experiences. White privilege means we don’t have to learn about people of color to survive, at least not in the way that children of color must learn to deal with white society on its terms or be crushed under its boot heel.[i]

 

Some of the things on this list come from my own personal experience, and some from listening to people of color talk about their experiences with white people who are often well meaning but say or do incredibly stupid racist shit that gets old, especially because it is the same thing all the time. Although I have not made all of the mistakes on this list, I have certainly made some of them. Because I live in Atlanta and hang out with mostly white or Black people, this list emphasizes racism towards Black people a bit more than others. Also, racism towards Black folks has a special kind of uber-virulence that shapes other forms of racism in the US. I hope this list proves useful to you in avoiding these common mistakes.

 

Yo White People, Avoid Doing This

 

  1. Turn down the music

If you are hanging out with people of color and the music is too loud for you, suck it up. Do not touch the dial. Do not ask for the music to be turned down. You are not the queen or king of this domain to demand that it be changed to suit your needs. You can move away from the speaker and/or just develop some tolerance for louder music. If it really becomes an issue, get some cool earplugs that look like ear buds to wear when you in that situation.

 

  1. Explain to a person of color (POC) how what just happened or that thing that person said was not racist

Whitesplaining, according to Maisha Johnson, is a form of privileged explaining (like mansplaining) in which white folks believe that they are “somehow more qualified to speak about a marginalized group than a person who belongs to that group.” Johnson   identifies the signs of whitesplaining as “ a condescending tone and paternalistic assumption that a person of color doesn’t know enough to accurately articulate their own experience.

We white people are not the arbiters of what is racist and what is not racist. If you have whitesplained, most likely you did not mean it as racist, but that does not mean it was not racist in its outcome. If it is racist to a person of color, then it is legit racist whether you meant it to be so or not. All sorts of things that white people do not see as racist have a racist impact on people of color. We are shielded from knowing that by white privilege, which allows us to focus on our intent rather than the impact.

For instance, when my son called my girlfriend-at-the-time/now wife (who is Black) a “big dyke” in jest, I thought I could make it all better by saying “He didn’t mean it that way,” meaning that he did not intend it as racism. While I had the best of intentions to explain that he was raised hippie and we joked about things like that to destigmatize language, the impact was to prioritize what he meant over what she experienced. Saying he doesn’t mean it that way is white privilege saying I want to define the situation, and I say that intent is what really matters. So as long as I don’t mean it to be racist, then it’s not racist. Right? Not really, it is still racist because it lands as racist with POC. To ignore the impact or expect it to simply shift as soon as the person of color comes to understand how you meant it is an expression of white privilege.

Instead – listen to what the other person is saying, ask them questions about how they feel and what they mean, and apologize.

 

  1. Assume it is this person’s job to be your personal Black History Month dictionary

People of color are not obligated to educate us white folks on their ways, thoughts, history, language, music, or traditions. Take it upon yourself to actively broaden your horizons instead of passively expecting POC to interpret for you. See a movie, read a book, attend a lecture – work to expand your understanding of the lives of POC as they experience things. The Internet reigns — use it to educate yourself with search terms like:

  • anti-racist
  • color-blind racism
  • diversity
  • history, culture, or language + (insert diverse groups here)
  • white-privilege (which also shows the white supremacists sometimes, for another view on white privilege as something to be preserved and reinforced),

 

  1. Tell other people that you are broke if you have cash in your pocket, money in savings, investments, own a home, etc.

download.jpgWhite people broke is not the same thing as POC broke, and saying you are broke when you actually have money is obnoxious. It is even worse when you do so in the presence of people who know a whole different level of brokenness.

 

  1. Ask “Where are you really from?”

When you are chatting with someone and ask them where they are from, believe their answer. If they tell you they are from Cleveland and they look like an Asian Pacific Islander, believe them. There are people of Asian descent living in Cleveland, who are from Cleveland in the sense that they live there, grew up there, and might have been born there. Asking where someone is really from implies that they are not to be trusted when they offer their first response and that they do not really belong here, they are not one of “us.”

 

  1. Use the N word

Under no circumstances can white people use the n word. Not in song titles, not in song lyrics, not in conversation, not in jest, and not in irony. Simply do not say it. Ever.

 

  1. Assume that all POC know each other just because they are of the same race or ethnicity

images.jpgPOC are as diverse and widespread as anyone else, and they are not all members of the same club. While they may all experience various levels of racism, that is where the similarity ends. By assuming that all Black people know each other, you are putting them all in the same box and applying a false homogeneity. This erases that person’s individuality and makes them just a member of a group based on their race.

 

  1. Remain in a cocoon of whiteness

If you are white and living in the United States, chances are very high that you can choose to spend most of your time with other white people, eating white food, and watching white tv in your white neighborhood in a house that you got because your family was not redlined from that neighborhood. Whiteness is so pervasive in many ways that you have to actively choose to broaden your horizons. Go to new places where you are not in the majority, and see how other people live and how it feels to be a minority in that space.

 

  1. Talk so much

Be quiet and listen, especially if you are nervous. White privilege makes it seem natural for white people to constantly want to tell other people about their ideas, experiences, perceptions, and values. The thing is, POC have also been marinated in white culture so they know all about us. We white folks are not a mystery to POC, and we need to stop talking so much because it keeps us from listening.

 

  1. Ask to touch a Black person’s hair

White people are fascinated with the various textures that Black hair can achieve. Asking to touch their hair may seem innocuous or even a sign of interest in attempting to get to know about POC, but it does not come across that way to the majority of Black folks – especially Black women. Instead, it is objectifying and rude. How would you feel if your ears stuck out more than the dominant cultural images, and people you did not even know whose ears were close to their heads constantly asked to touch your ears? Chances are good that you would feel objectified or irritated, and that the constancy of the interaction would reinforce for you just how much you differ from the dominant cultural expectations.

[i] Social class obviously makes a big difference, and rich people always have more choices than poor folks. Even so, wealthy people of color still experience racism, and poor white people still have white privilege.

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The Polyamorous Black American Anthology — Call for Submissions

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Christopher Smith is collecting original stories written by African Americans who identify as polyamorous. If you are in that category, please consider submitting to his anthology!

 

 

 

While completing my academic article entitled Open to Love: Polyamory and the Black American (which will be published in The Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships in the winter 2017 edition) I realized that theory, research and the few personal narratives I complied alone are not sufficient to display the eminence of the Black American polyamorous experience. The people themselves need to share their experiences, hearts, minds, and thoughts through essays, poetry, dance, monologues, narratives, biographical stories, text conversations, social media posts, and whatever other avenue comfortable for the individual and/or collective. The people themselves need to be heard…

The Black American Polyamorous Anthology Project is an avenue for self-identifying polyamorous Blacks/African Americans/Black Americans to express; through any form written, audio or video; their experiences. To be clear this project is meant to represent ALL self-identifying polyamorous Blacks/African Americans/Black Americans regardless of socio-economic class, age, sex, sexuality, gender, and polyamorous formation.

There is NO limit to what is expressed, this anthology seeks to show the totality of the Black American polyamorous experiences (the good, bad, happy, sad, celebratory, abusive, rehabilitory, cautionary, progressive, troublesome, sexual, nonsexual, affective, discriminatory, comfortable, uncomfortable, racial taboos etc…) and its intersections with our everyday lives (as pastors, clinicians, hostess, waste disposal professionals, CEO’s, accountants, artists, mothers, fathers, military members, it does not matter). The goal is to show a robust and true view of our lives.

The project has two elements:
1. Written anthology to be digitally released
2. Video/Audio anthology to be digitally released and presented at film festivals

The due date for submissions is July 16th, 2017

For more information about and the directions for participation in this project please email Christopher N Smith at tenabilitymovement@gmail.com expressing your interest.

 

About Christopher N Smith
Christopher N. Smith is researcher focused on consensual non-monogamous relationship trends in current and historical contexts. His prior education includes doctoral studies in Sociology; a Master of Arts in Religious Studies with a concentration in Religion and Society; and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology form Howard University. He is in pursuit of a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration on Minority Serving Institutions. Mr. Smith has extensive experience publishing, working, teaching, presenting and conducting research studies within the education, sociology, human services and criminal justice sectors. Currently he is a Management Analyst for the District of Columbia & in the United States Air Force Reserves. He is an educator, community builder, father, relationship advocate and passionate about increasing awareness of and support for non-monogamous relationships structures in the United States.

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Black People Kink Interviews Dr. Eli Sheff

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Dominus Blue and baby j from Black People Kink recently interviewed me for their new podcast. You can check it out at https://www.blackpeoplekink.com/podcast-2/

 

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Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Still Accepting Proposals

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Do you have something to say about the intersection of sexual freedom and social justice? If so, then please consider submitting a proposal for a panel or workshop at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit scheduled for Washington DC August 3 – 6, 2017. Proposals are due by Monday February 6. For more information click here

 

http://eepurl.com/cx6Jsv

 

 

 

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Dr. Eli Sheff Trains Fulton County CASAs on Sex & Gender Minority Families 9/20/16

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September 13, 2016 · 11:42 pm09

Five Things White People Can Do to Make Their Poly Communities More Welcoming for People of Color

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I just finished listening to a fantastic podcast from Poly in the Cities with Kevin Patterson from Poly Role Models. Turns out white folks in the poly community routinely try to tell Kevin Patterson about his experience as a Black person: When Kevin names race in conversations with some poly folks and event or group organizers, it all too often turns in to an adversarial interaction instead of a collaborative discussion.

White people in poly communities and elsewhere, please listen to a sister white woman who is flawed and still invested in equality: We are not doing well enough at addressing race in US society. From education to health care to (in)justice, the poly community is not the only place we see evidence of white people failing to deal with race in any realistic or direct way. When the liberal white people are too afraid to talk about race, the only white people who will speak of it out loud are the white supremacists, which makes racism seem all the more fringe. In truth, racism is everywhere, deeply embedded in the social structures and institutions of the US.

How can you avoid being one of those white people who argue as if they know POC’s experience better than the POC do? How can you be an ally instead of part of the problem? Try these five not so simple steps, and keep practicing becuse it can be challenging. You may not be perfect at first, and that is OK. Keep trying!

  1. Set your defensiveness aside — Discussion of race and white privilege do not have to be about white people and our egos. Evidence that you are becoming defensive includes a desire to rebut what your conversation partner so strong that it distracts you from hearing what they are saying. If you are searching for flaws in your opponent’s argument, it means that you are not collaborating with your conversation partner if they are your opponent, and you are not truly open to what they are saying because you are not listening. You can be an ally even if you have been an “inactive beneficiary”* of the white privilege surrounding you as long as you can set aside your need to “win the conversation.”*
  2. Listen — This means more than just keeping your own mouth shut. This means really listening to and thinking about what the other person is saying, rather than formulating your rebuttal. If you are not sure what to say or how to say it, listen for a while and clarify your thoughts. If you are tempted to interrupt — especially to correct or disagree with your conversation partner’s explanation of their own experience or areas of expertise — take a deep breath and keep your mouth closed. This can be difficult for white folks who have always been very verbal and used to people listening to them.
  3. Educate Yourself — Do not expect people of color to educate you about racism — that is exhausting for them and inappropriate for you. There are books, websites, podcasts,  and You Tube presentations on white privilege (be aware of the white power folks on You Tube who also engage with the term, they are coming from a very different philosophical orientation than this blog). Plus, Google exists. Take some self-responsibility for your education and start expanding your envelop. Tim Wise is a great place to start. If you are in Atlanta, come to the Sex Down South Conference and see my presentation on Thursday October 13, How White People Can Be Allies to POC in AltSex Communities. You can also check out my blogs on using the term white privilege and some of the benefits of being uncomfortable about race .
  4. Acknowledge White Privilege — Out loud, every time you can, with your family, friends, grocers, neighbors, and strangers on the street. To successfully acknowledge the (very blatant, once you start looking for it) evidence of white privilege in your social environment, you have to recognize it yourself. Educating yourself on white privilege helps you to recognize it as well.
  5. Lean to Tolerate Racial Discomfort — Race is uncomfortable in the US, and white people have been able to shift that discomfort on to people of color for far too long. It is going to be profoundly uncomfortable for white people to talk about race — and that is OK, we should still do it with open hearts and open minds. People of color have been beyond uncomfortable with the effects of racism, and is past time for white people to share that load of social discomfort and change. Take a deep breath and use your relationship skills to work on your relationship with race.

 

  • Quotes from Kevin Patterson on the Poly in the Cities podcast

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