Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quakers and Racism

My initial take, when I heard the suggestion we let go of "Oversight Committee" in favor of something less slavery-oriented, was one of surprise, then suspicion.

That Anglo-Euro Quakers would flinch and drop their own ball (their heritage and nomenclature) suggested deep-seated guilt, worth probing more deeply.  These "peculiar people" might be sicker (more psycho) than I'd thought.

Jiggering with words is a typically "white and nerdy" response; to make it all better with cynical / facile word games.

Put some "English" on the cue ball, replace "Oversight" with "Member Care" (fortifying against non-member interlopers?).  I wasn't eager to leave it to "English" to be the magic puzzle solver, yet again.

Isn't this is the essence of corporate sanitization:  keeping the language innocuous, toothless, feckless?

Keep it squeaky clean on the surface by further delaying the conversations that need to happen.

Is that Quakerism in a nutshell then, or is that Mormonism or what?  If the shoe fits, right?

Actually, now that I'm reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship, I'm seeing plenty to celebrate in this Quaker heritage.  They were into cleaning up their act early and showed it could be done.

Yes, they started out as slave owners, many of them.  Quakers were sharp at business and slaves were a part of their version of World Game.

Today, undocumented aliens (including ETs?) perform much the same role.  Prison labor as well.  The USA has always depended upon grave inequities to uphold its proud (as in "vain", verging on "ugly") living standards.  That's really not a secret.  It's OK to say so in your speaking voice.

Euro indentured were less of a good deal.

Africans could be passed on to your children in your will.  Euros would pay off their debts and not be indentured.

The economics of owning slaves were easy, at least in the short term.

I had been unaware to what level the Quakers had disowned other Quakers in droves over the slave owning issue pre 1800.  I'm not sure all those "disowned" actually agreed with their status though (still studying that question).

The current fracas with Indiana Yearly Meeting might prove instructive, as to how Friends go about disowning each other even if that only means recognizing a schism when you see one.

IYM is agonizing about marriage at the moment, whether it's Biblical (as in "OK with God") if apparently contrary to the social mores and taboos of Middle Eastern agrarians before Jesus.

What's instructive is the extent to which the Bible was used by the pro-slavery movement, i.e. Scripture has a way of arming both sides, with God playing the suckers off against each other in true divide and conquer fashion.

"Way to go God! good job managing those silly humans, barely worthy of your breath" -- this is how the angels think, say some know-it-all gnostics:  humans are just beasts, prove it every day -- actually beasts are better.

Good thing God keeps confusing them, then, in their vanity-packed Towers of Babel (pick a skyscraper, any skyscraper...).  God subverts humans and their best laid plans, is smart enough to do so (being of superior intelligence).  Or maybe we're talking about a sub-god (Theo?), tasked merely with Earth's management?  It might be heresy to even ask.

Anyway, I'm happy to see Quakers fighting their own reflex-conditioning through the ages, standing out from the crowd.

However, this succumbing to the temptation to rename Oversight, because apparently (go the apologists) some people can't be trusted to see the difference between a whip-lashing slave-driver and a Friend, is most telling, most symptomatic.

"There they go again, wallowing in guilt, a low state, spiritually banal.  Shouldn't we help them?  I'm thinking more workshops would be good."  AVP.  Alternatives to Violence.  That was one way Friends sought to better themselves.  They took the workshops into some really difficult situations, where feuds were long-lived and vengeance potent.

Working with AFSC in the 1990s was a relief, for me, from some of the more the boring forms of racism I'm not that interested in.

In LAAP, we were looking at how immigrants from South and Central America were dealing with an influx from Asia and vice versa, mostly from the Asia-Pacific region.  Hence our name:  Latin-American Asia-Pacific program (with variants).

Our scene was sort of like West Side Story but without the white juveniles.  We weren't that interested in blacks either, although respected DJs and VJs helped out at dance parties, where whites showed up too, but not as centers of attention.

To study racism and work on smoothing relations, yet not with any special interest in "whites" -- that was interesting and fun.  I'm somewhat tired of "white racism" which I find rather predictable and boring, no longer instructive.

Will they get over it?  Who cares?  Not holding my breath.  Whites are just dummies, what can I say (chuckle).  Their idiocracy is absurd.

Sometimes I enjoy not thinking about "whites" at all, either as part of the problem nor as part of the solution necessarily.  What a privilege.  I am blessed.