[permaculture] racism 101 for white american permies

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Tue Feb 26 21:48:44 EST 2008

   Are you at all aware of the completely absurd origins of this
ridiculous thread????

Michael Burns wrote:
> "Harmon Seaver" <hseaver at gmail.com> said:
>>    Racism is essentially irrelevant at this point. The major problems
>> today are the dichotomies of class, economy, and environment. What color
>> someone might be is almost moot.
>>    And the whole subject is absolutely irrelevant to the subject of
>> permaculture, although I guess you could make an argument that
>> permaculture is inherently racist since it discriminates against various
>> species in favor of other species. Or is that speciest?
> Wow. This thread could turn into a busy and likely heated discussion. I hope
> that anyone entering this discussion take a moment to consider the
> ramifications of their statements, especially if it is a broad generalization.
> May I cautiously suggest that racism "seems" irrelevant if you are not on the
> losing end of the conflict. A person's social and economic class and the
> quality of one's environment is often determined by one's race. My privileges,
> opportunities and and ability to live in a healthy environment were initially
> determined by being born into a white, North American middle-class family. No
> corporation chose to build an incinerator near my home, dig a mine under my
> land, or restrict my liberties or political voice because my family came from
> a demographic that can exert power to protect its interests. My expectations
> of what I could be fit within societies expectations for a well-educated white
> man. My family's roots reach back into a history the gave them some advantages
> based on race. The fact that in 2008 I call myself "white" rather than "Irish"
> demonstrates the importance race played in the assimilation of an outsider
> group into American society.
> No African-American can easily claim the privilege that I took for granted for
> most of my life. Every stinkin' day society's "others" encounter concrete
> examples of how the invisible structures of racism limit their access to
> resources, opportunity, clean air, water, food, etc.
> Honestly, I don't know why someone would post on this subject if they don't
> know the ethics of permaculture or the difference between racism and
> "specieism(?)"
> Yes of course the survival of our species is at stake. But the racist's
> approach to resource depletion and toxic poisoning is to decide who gets
> access to life's needs and who will be left out. It is the racists that assume
> that the other is not of the same species.
> Permaculture has ethics. It is not racist. It calls for design that meets the
> needs of the earth, the expressed needs of humans, and use of surplus to
> further meet the needs of both the earth and humanity.
> We live in a mostly industrial society where those who engage in the
> extraction of resources experience the most injustice. Often these people are
> largely or somewhat determined by their race.
> Unless one lives in an ethnically homogeneous society I don't see how one
> could come to the conclusion that race does not matter. Look at any country
> that has engaged in imperialism or has been conquered by imperialist and you
> will likely find racial or ethnic divisions that are manifested in how much
> access to resources and power each has. Class does not cancel out the racial
> analysis, but rather is part of it.
> Human society may be going to hell in a hand basket, but the human race will
> continue to live, even if with much less of us and much less resources. If the
> racists had their way it would be "their" population.
> I would cautiously make the case that to argue that racism is moot means that
> the proponent of the argument is white, privileged, and in an industrialized
> nation without any other ethnic population in their daily life. They may also
> be in deep denial about the experiences of two-thirds of the world.
> The ice caps are melting, resources are disappearing, hunger, famine and war
> are looming large. Is your solution (or lifeboat) big enough to allow all
> races to participate (or jump on board?) To deny that race will affect how
> some people will answer the question(s) may be ignorant enough to give room to
> racial supremacists who have their answers.
> I have plenty to say about this dismissive attitude towards racism, but I
> don't have the time. In a few minutes I'll return to that hallways of the
> school I teach in. I'll walk past the lunch room where black and white
> teenagers sit at separate tables because the don't trust each other after
> generations of racist violence has become steeped into their culture and still
> young lives. I fill my cup of coffee in the faculty room. The invisible
> structures of the society that exported the coffee (in this case Latin
> America) means that indigenous people likely harvested the beans for pennies a
> pound while mostly European owners reaped profits. I'll hear a teacher exclaim
> their surprise that Johnny can read because he doesn't seem like the school
> "type" (in other words, he is black). My class will begin and I'll look at a
> student who has been kicked out of home because she is dating a black guy
> (never mind whether he is an honor student or a future drop out.)
> Permaculture should be exceptionally concerned about racism because like many
> other laudable endeavors (like public education) race will enter the equation.
> As we design solutions we must first assess the landscape and that includes
> the social landscape and invisible social structures that create beneficial
> connections and opportunities or limiting factors.
> As soon as we say, as permaculturists, that "Racism is essentially irrelevant
> at this point" we are delivering a clear message to those who suffer at the
> hands of prejudice and racism. I refute that message and assert that the needs
> of society must be met through both sustainable and just systems.
> -Michael Burns
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> Michael Burns
> http://www.cayuta.org
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> Earn your permaculture design certificate.
> The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute
> offers affordable local classes.
> http://www.fingerlakespermaculture.org
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>> rafter at liberationecology.org wrote:
>>> Thanks to Ben for calling that one.
>>> Briefly:
>>> 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
>>> actions.
>>> 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
>>> conversation:
>>> * 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
>>> community.
>>> rafter t. sass
>>> The Liberation Ecology Project
>>> liberationecology.org
>>> 518-567-7407
>>> skype: raughter
>> --
>> Harmon Seaver
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Harmon Seaver

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