Thursday, October 14, 2010

4 Bones and Counting

I am amazed at the amount of time that has elapsed since I started this blog in a tea shop in south Delhi four years ago today.  Last year I thought it unnecessary to even mark the third bone.

Since Delhi this blog has become a proud member of the Aboriginal News Group (ANG) and I count the Angryindian and Sina (my co-editors at ANG) as two of the most inspirational and committed struggle folk I know.

Please allow me to share a few user statistics behind this blog.  

The blog averages about 120 hits a day.  Since February 3, 2007, there have been 77.477 hits in total according to Clustermaps.

The vast majority of readers are in the US, followed by South Africa, the UK, India and Germany.

These are the top 5 of the most read/viewed blog entries over the last 6 months according to Blogger:

1. African American Women on NBC News (November 27, 2007) - 428 pageviews

2. Fun and Lynching (June 13, 2007) - 330 pageviews

3. Pedal Voyeurism (June 11, 2007) - 291 pageviews 

4. Eid Mubarak (September 21, 2009) - 265 pageviews

5. Remembering the Soweto Riots (June 16, 2008) - 264 pageviews

 My friend and fellow blogger Dade Carriega of the excellent blog "Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing" is the third most popular spot to re-direct reader traffic here (from May 2010 till now).

It strikes me funny that the top three most read/viewed posts are from 2007 when I was in Portland, Oregon, for six months before returning to my hometown of Kimberley in South Africa.

The Pedal Voyeurism post touched a raw nerve among the white bicycle devotees (and a few others) and still does.  The post led to someone starting a blog for the sole purpose of dissing my thinking and rounding the delusional into pedal power consensus.

My friend and fellow blogger, Eugene of  "Pudgy Indian 3", put the final exclamation mark on the Pedal Voyeurism post and the furor when he wrote a comment here in July 2006:
Bicyclists, like vegans, seem to get this attitude of "holiness" by simply riding a bike or not eating meat. In my activism, I have had to face off with MANY vegans who were holier than me because I eat meat. But, as I pointed out to them; "Being vegan doesn't make you holy, it only makes you vegan." Being a bicyclist doesn't make you holy, it only makes you a bicyclist.
Eugene's words of deconstruction are profound for many reasons.  I remain in awe of his no-nonsense style of blogging.

In the four years of writing here I still believe that this blog, and blogging, is not real struggle.  To pose as if blogging on a capitalist tool like Blogger is struggle, or revolutionary, is delusional.

When I write here I remind myself that this is just a blog.  Still, I represent and believe what I write here and for that reason I do not hide who I am.

In the four years I have written from India, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, the US, and now South Africa.

At each stop the issues have been about social and political justice.  In this time I have also thought a lot about identity in the post-apartheid era.

The issues of black identity and black struggle have mostly dominated the 46 bones that count my life.

In the last couple of years the focus on black struggle and identity has lost its weight for me.  It was inevitable in the sense that being black and in struggle is not a fact but a construction or a framework.

I have been moved and my politics advanced.

I recognize that among the oppressors are prominent black faces aligned with class interests that cut across continents and ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations.

Their recall of being black and blackness is duplicitous and meant just to amass wealth and power over all else like those who came before and the others who come before and on and on.

Changing times have impacted largely on the need to re-frame resistance and it is for this reason that being black and in struggle is not my priority reference and definitely not an accurate descriptor of my struggle activism and thinking anymore.

In a sense this 'arrival' is consistent with what I have developed in my academic work over the years.  I have argued that the notion of making race irrelevant to struggle must begin with resisting whiteness.

That much has not changed.

What has changed is the racial-class make-up of whiteness and its power arrangements.  Inside whiteness race is a relevant trading scheme meant to express interests and to configure power.

Whiteness is still about domination and thievery and oppression.  Only now, powerful black and brown and Other faces have been admitted to make whiteness, as an ideological value system, universal in its dominance.

In the last year or so I have met many black powerful and influential people alongside the 'garden variety'.

What has struck me is that some of the strongest adherents to whiteness are black people who will be severely offended to be called white or the fruit variety thereof (coconut).

In a Gramscian sense, whiteness is the uber ideology.  The common sense toward 'greater wealth and happiness.'

This universal 'truism' is imbibed without historical interrogation and context and at the "end of the day" it is hard to tell a black oppressor from a white oppressor for the values they espouse are the same.

In this frame, being black and protesting an authentic blackness is contrived for among those who suffer the death knell of drones from above and those who eat destructively manufactured foods from Monsanto are not drawn together by skins.

The oppressed are more complex than the binary of race that has delivered Mandela and Obama to the power positions they occupy inside the value system of whiteness.

I now understand what Frantz Fanon meant when he said: "I have seen the future of the black man and it is white."

For too long these words smelled of defeat and pessimism I wanted to believe did not exist.

But it does exist in ideology and in structure.

I hope to expand my thinking here and to use this platform to speak without guarded academic jargon (as best I can).  And I will hear criticism of all kinds except that which espouses racist violence and directs personal attacks.

Thank you for reading.

Here's to the next bone ... of contention that is ;0)



laila said...



Dade said...

Keep it up, Ridwan.

As Joe Bageant says: "I think it is entirely possible that we can be honest cybernetic bards in an unpromising age, possibly even noble amid the ruins."

Congratulations on four years!

Eugene said...

Thanks for the compliment.

Blogs are indeed just blogs, but I think they open our own minds for sure and the minds of others to different ideas than those that we cling to.

Ridwan said...

*Salaam Laila! Thank you kindly for your words. Best wishes and you owe me a ride in your new wheels ;)

**Peace Dade. Thanks brother. I will keep going for sure.

***Peace Eugene. Thanks my brother for your comment. I agree that we are pressed to think and see other views via the blogs we read.

Peace to yaz,

Nolwazi said...

Part One of Two Comments:

Each week, I have a new favourite post from this blog. For the past three weeks, it has been the "Not your erotic, not your exotic" post featuring Suheir Hammad's poem (with that title). You know why.

You may not see the blog as "real struggle" but do not underestimate the impact of your words. They have meant confirmation for me. I have looked for where struggle lives, which circles it moves in, where it was born, which address it might have relocated to after its 1994 eviction; but have not been able to trace it.

Being born in the 80s (apparently when the wave of democracy was sweeping out apartheid's remnants), I am "NOT supposed to have been touched by apartheid" is how my Father once retorted cutting short my anti- White male default privilege- rant. "My girl, you attended one of the best private schools in the country, you have lived with people of diverse cultures and races; you have no excuse to hate White people", is what this former Mkhonto we Sizwe child soldier, who at the age of 12 was freely handed over by his Mother to the ANC's military commanders said to me. My father cannot go inside of a church building to this day because the one they were hiding in, in Mozambique after their training in Swaziland, was bombed by the people he says I have no excuse to hate.

Anyway, before I go completely off course, let me just say that I do not hate White people. I do not hate any people. But my struggle against the "Leftover Whiteness" that you observed in that post is valid too. Why is it that my Father deems his struggle against that all-consuming, legalised, pervasive Whiteness is more valid than mine? Just because it has been erased from the street names, toilet entrances and train stations, it does not mean it is no longer with us. It may be invisible in print and symbols but it is still as pervasive as it was before. He does not see it now but I feel its every vibration bubbling under a sleepy society. Every subtle breath it takes when a cashier asks me for proof that the credit card I am paying with is mine; the same proof that she did not demand from the White woman before me. It is that form of residual discrimination I resist. When I speak to two random, White women at Foschini and their instinctual response to my banter about the end-of-season sale is: "Wow, you speak English quite well hey, how refreshing to hear one of you pronouncing the words correctly." And yes, I feel those vibrations of whiteness restlessly turning in apartheid's grave when my Mom's Afrikaner male colleague- with all the "leftover white dominance and entitlement he can scrape together"- flings open her office door without her permission, only to bellow AT her: "Why is it that every time I come in here, you arrr on yorrr knees? You mos like being on the florrrr ne? "

See Part 2 below:

Nolwazi said...

Part 2:

My Father had his struggle. His Mom handed him over to it. The same way she was handed over to her own struggle by her Mother when she beat an Afrikaner SAP until he vomited and passed out. My Grandmother's defensive brutality was necessary for those times. I defend it. My grandfather was handed over to his struggle when he shot an NP government policeman with his own rifle. It was necessary too. It was either my Granddad or apartheid in the flesh.

They were all handed over to their struggles.

Every trigger my Dad pulled from the age of innocence to one he refuses to disclose to me to this day was justified because it was for justice. Every whip-lash my Grandmother burnt through that policeman's skin, and every hour she left him in that sugarcane plantation for dead was not reduced to her "racism". The enemy was real; he was flesh just like her. Too much had happened before she was forced accepted the decisions that had long been made for her; without her consent by circumstance. The same with my Grandfather.

So when my struggle comes to claim me and my parents and society refuse to hand me over to it, the blog is the only permissive space I have and I fight in- most times vicariously through you, when my fears overcome me. None of the colours of the Rainbow can erase the whiteness of my Mother's colleague or the blackness of the cashier fiercely clawing through my dignity in a desperate attempt to touch “just the hem” of that holy whiteness that the woman before me walked off with. Things are really just that Black and White in this struggle.

So, Ridwan, when a blog like yours comes along it is more than just "a blog". It is confirmation that the struggle is real. I am not imagining this like "they" (Dad, Mom, YT and Mandela) try to convince me I am. I will not find the struggle at a public toilet entrance or the train station but that does not mean it is resting peacefully in that casket called reconciliation. It has been reincarnated into Dad, Mom, YT and Mandela’s denial.

It is in and around me and your blog has handed me over to it.

And for that, I am eternally grateful to you. BLOG ON, BLOG STAR!:)


Ridwan said...

I am humbled by your words and your 'trust' in my words here Nolwazi.

Yo! Thanks hey. You press me to think a little harder about some of what I wrote in this post.

I was listening to 702 this morning as I hurried to work and the white presenter was going on about the population crisis in South Africa and Africa in general.

"We (dunno who we be) need to stem the growth. Stop having children. I know our president is not an example but we must take the responsibility into our own hands," he went on saying.

White callers flowed in to add their "responsibility" clause and not one was brave enough to call the spiel what it was, racist anti-black, pro-white delusion.

Add to that it was classist and sexist too.

What so many of those white callers won't recognize is the manner that a very small percentage of Europeans have through history pillaged the earth through phases of colonialism and post-colonialism and now globalisation.

Now the problem, ironically, is about a small population who through greed and violence reduced the planet to the dire circumstances it now faces.

It is just rubbish to speak of "responsibility" in this context and to excuse whiteness for its layers of genocide.

This is what I thought as I read your comment.

See next comment:

Ridwan said...

Where are the spaces where thinking folk resist this racist nonsense that folks spread?

When I started here I just wanted to post my pictures from southeast Asia.

But as I liked the forum it grew into stories about dogs, motorcycles, and growing older.

In all of that it was impossible to remove topics about oppression and racism and being disillusioned.

This post portrays my giving up on constructs of black struggle for some of the very reasons you raise.

So many have just accepted whiteness and its reasons as reality.

I bet you there are folks calling in of every other colour to tell how the population boom is wrong and we need "education" and YT to remind us that this is not about race and racism "responsibility".

We are truly colonised in these spaces. So colonised that seeing the truth is hard because of the filter of whiteness.

And where I work, some call that development.

Peace and thanks for writing.

You need to start blogging too :)