Friday, May 11, 2012

Gun Culture and Privilege

(This is kind of rambling. I apologize. I am swimming through a mess of fog and phlegm with suspected strep throat. Read or disregard at your leisure.)

Wow, gun culture is some taking some swats lately. Some deserved, some not. I do want to say that I do not know a single gun owner that is an NRA member or has two nice words to say about that organization. I know they are out there, let me tell you about my last gun show. I do not really feel bugged by these swats, because I know I am not their target. I only worry that others will think that it is me.

I carry because I am a crippled lady that simply is not able to physically defend against even the average foe. I carried when able bodied because I was a woman driving on highways and country roads at night alone. I have carried because my personal defense is my personal responsibility. My self defense is my own civic responsibility.

And you know what? At the range, practicing to end a life if necessary, I can honestly tell you that 100% of the time I am imagining a white person at the other end of my barrel. Usually a man, but there have been a couple of women in my life that have altered that for brief periods of time.

I mentioned because it keeps sticking in my head. One of the reasons that people fight the idea of privilege is that if you are a woman, or poor, or disabled, or LGBTQIA - it is hard to feel it like the people telling you about privilege want you to feel it. They will point up the hierarchy and say that's who you want to talk to if you want privilege.

This is because there is a funny thing about whiteness: it seems that it must have something to destroy. The days of open colonialism are rapidly closing in favor of "nation building" and "fighting them over there." But our dirty little secret is that in the absence of non-white folk to destroy, in any single or combination of physically, economically, spiritually, mentally; we destroy ourselves. There is no greater cannibal in history than whiteness.

Without a state of non-whiteness to unite against, whiteness turns in and eats itself: the disabled, the non-straight, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-Western, even the non-male get consumed and suppressed. And so, it becomes difficult to explain to a poor, USian, disabled, Wiccan, trans* lesbian that she has white privilege. Because Whiteness, as an entity, only includes her among it's ranks against some Other.

She does have privilege, and it does matter; all of her other states matter too.

I think we need a new vocabulary, one that that can talk about privilege without stigma. One that can acknowledge oppression without pity. A new language, or a new attitude about language needs to be born. Soon. I thought #Occupy would birth it, but it seems not. But maybe something will come after #Occupy, or inspired by - I do not know. But I think it will play it's part. I think we are still building those bridges, and it feels like we are approaching some sort of apex.