[permaculture] racism 101 for white american permies

rafter at liberationecology.org rafter at liberationecology.org
Tue Feb 26 01:39:46 EST 2008

Thanks to Ben for calling that one.


Y'all know how there is a cutting edge, a sort of global best- 
practices conversation, about ecological design? And we are all  
pretty excited about it, and how it's called permaculture? And how  
it's not homogenous at all, but how even with all the differences of  
opinion that run though it, it's still identifiable and coherent and  
more-or-less the best thing going in terms of ecological design?

Well, that sort of conversation exists for issues besides ecological  
design. There is also, for example, a conversation just like that,  
but about racial and ethnic relationships. This one is called anti- 
racism (though you might hear it called critical race theory, in  
certain circles, or some other variant.)

In this conversation, racism is defined as "power plus prejudice." So  
it's not just about your attitudes, conscious or not, or even your  
actions - it's also defined by social context of those attitudes and  

If this seems like an exciting, or confusing, or infuriating, idea, a  
great entry point to understand it better is the short,  
conversational, funny book by Tim Wise called "White Like Me."

So, just a few short principles that come out of the anti-racism  

* No one is "colorblind," even if that were an appropriate response  
to a racially divided caste society - which it ain't.
* Unconscious prejudice affects our experience of the world, all of  
us - and it is measurable:
		see for yourself at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
* Explaining one's racially charged remarks as reason, logic, or  
common sense doesn't make you not racist.
* Having non-white genes in your heritage doesn't make you not racist  
- particularly if you are "read" as white in your public life.
* Having non-white friends *definitely* doesn't make you not racist.
* If you think you are racist, you're almost certainly right.
* If you are white, and think you aren't racist, you are almost  
certainly wrong.
* None of these things make white people not racist, or disprove the  
existence of white supremacy:
	* Listening to music by non-white artists
	* Getting pulled over by a non-white cop
	* Making white-people jokes
         * Seeking out spiritual guidance from non-white people
	* Claiming  "logical self-interest" or variations on that theme
	* Being progressive, bohemian, radical, green, anti-authoritarian, etc.
	* Being poor, being a woman, being LGBTQ, being disabled, etc.

Permaculture, as a movement, as a community that is trying hard to  
help save this big complex world we live in, will grow more effective  
and more powerful as we learn to learn from this other best-practices  

rafter t. sass
The Liberation Ecology Project
skype: raughter

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