In Search of the Happiness Max
The Massive Bloody Pile-up metaphor

I feel like a lot of (cis-het-white-able) men in their twenties and thirties are being confronted with something in the social justice movement that’s, in some ways, very similar to what I was confronted with when coming to university. People are angrily telling them to STFU all the time and demanding that they lower their voices and to speak less aggressively, even though those same people seem to be shouting louder and more coarsely than they perceive themselves to be speaking.

This is like my situation on going to university in that, although my life had sucked royally in many ways, I was still a middle-class white girl who had been encouraged to speak her opinion at home (as a child, anyway, less as a teenager) and whose teachers had (mostly) tried to give her equal attention to the boys. Suddenly I found that if I spoke in any way that disagreed with my cis-white-male friends I was being told to calm down, to lower my (not shouting) voice, to use less coarse language, to let someone else (a man) speak instead. And yet the people I was talking to were talking louder than me, longer than me, far more agrressively than me.

It was bewildering and dispiriting and, because I had had numerous other blows to my confidence over the years, some of which I now recognise as being rooted in my failure to conform to gender-norms, eventually it wore me down. I did start to modulate my voice. And it was gutting, because it was unfair, and because I was not rewarded by any better treatment by those cis-white-men who were supposed to be my friends. The quieter and more meekly I spoke, the more they assumed that was correct and punished me for any deviance from that perception of what was appropriate for me.

I think a lot of guys are feeling that kind of bewildered anger right now, because they are looking around at communities that seem suddenly thrust upon them where people are talking loudly and aggressively and often coarsely, and when they try to join in those discussions and add their perspectives they are told their perspectives are not valid or welcome and they need to shut the fuck up. This makes these men FEEL like they are in a situation akin to my situation on coming to university. That they are being unjustly discriminated against - even punished for trying to help.

But it’s not that situation. And I think I have a metaphor that might help explain why.

If you come across an accident and you find an accident victim and that person is screaming at the top of their lungs and effing and blinding you don’t think that’s unreasonable, do you? The person is obviously in pain and the volume of their voice and the coarseness of their language is not only to be accepted, but is perfectly reasonable, given the situation. If you were to start shouting and swearing back at them simply because you don’t like being shouted at, everyone would be rightly shocked and appalled.

No, you didn’t do anything wrong, maybe you’re even trying to help, and that person to yelling at you and saying horrible things to you and you are expected to bear it quietly and listen to that person and, if you’re a decent sort, see what you can do to help.

That would be perfectly reasonable. Oppressed people who are shouting and swearing and being aggressive to cis-het-white-able men are like that. They have been hurt. BADLY hurt. And they are screaming and venting their pain and that is not only OK, it’s entirely to be expected. Moreover, if you keep listening to them you will find that in between the shouting and the swearing and the lashing out, they’re actually trying to tell you what’s wrong and what you can do to help make it better. If you just go in headlong over their protests and start pulling at the things that seem to be pinning them down, you could well make it worse.

Only, it’s not a simple accident, and you’re not an innocent bystander. It’s a massive pile-up that is clogging a major artertial motorway. There are people all around in pain who are screamign for help, and some of those people aren’t being very polite to the people who are trying to rescue them, but they’re in a LOT of pain.

And whilst you may not have been the direct cause of the crash, you did contribute to it in some ways. Maybe there were some other dudes who were more at fault. Maybe there were some envrinmental factors. Maybe it was really icy on that road and there should have been a team of gritters out salting it to help prevent precisely issues like this, but those guys didn’t want to get up early this morning, so they decided to skip today, and it’s really those arseholes who are the main cause of the pile-up. Nevertheless, you contributed. You weren’t obeying the speed limit, you weren’t being careful enough about the icy conditions. You thought it didn’t matter, because everyone goes a little over the speed limit, and you ahd somewhere you really needed to be, and you thought you could control your car well enough to manage the conditions without hurting anyone. But you were wrong.

Maybe there were some other shitbags who were speeding at, like, 100mph, and they were obviously way more at fault than you. Sure, we can blame those guys a bit more. Maybe you wouldn’t have rearended anyone if they hadn’t skidded across the lanes and caused the pile up. But it’s still true that if you had been going slower, if you’d been paying better attention to the conditions and to the other drivers around you, you could have avoided crashing and contibuting your bit to the pile up. And you can see those shitbags yelling at policemen about how they woudl have been fine if the gritters had done their job. And you think they’re shitbags for not accepting their portion of the blame, but the truth is that it’s not just the shitbags and it’s not just the gritters and it’s not just you, it’s all of you together. And it’s the people who didn’t properly manage and discipline the gritters, who didn’t train them properly and who maybe weren’t careful enough in their hiring. Those were good people who believed in the importance of gritting. None of those people were driving 100mph down the motorway. But it’s still true that if they’d done their job properly, with better foresight about the consequences, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

That’s why we talk about the systematic problems of sexism, and racism, and homophobia, and heterosexism, and ableism, and transmisogyny, and so on. And that’s the difference between the person with half a car lying on top of them, who’s bleeding out and screaming at you and swearing at you, and you. Because you may not have been directly responsible for them being in that position, but any decent person can see that if they’re screaming at you a lot of the reason they’re doing that is because they’re in pain and they need help and it would not be appropriate to scream back. And also, simply noting that it wasn’t your car that careened into theirs doesn’t excuse you from any role in the pile up.

Maybe you don’t deserve to be screamed at as much as the shitbags who were driving 100mph on an icy day, or the gritters who couldn’t be arsed to get out of bed and do their job, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to scream back at the people in pain and it doesn’t mean there’s nothing about your behaviour that shouldn’t be amended now that you’re aware that pile-ups like this can happen.

dudewithabow:

"So, er, for the non South Asians in the audience who perhaps didn’t understand why there was applause, the British built a really extensive railway system throughout India before they left, and it wasn’t so much for transportation for the Indian people, it was because it’s really hard to plunder on foot."

Hari Kondabolu’s joke about the British colonisation of India [x]

thegoddamazon:

I want to reblog this every time I see it.

stand-up-comic-gifs:

Like fiery eyeball thing, no problem. But don’t even try to imagine a Samoan elf. (x)

:-/ I wanted to think better of you, Peter Jackson. This is so not cool.

thisfeliciaday:

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The other day I posted this tweet:

"Wait they cast a white chick for Tiger Lily in the new Peter Pan? Did they not remember Lone Ranger last year? Or, you know, racism?"

(If you didn’t hear, Rooney Mara is supposedly playing Tiger Lily, who is a princess of the “Native” tribe, in the…

eschergirls:

oldfilmsflicker:

Hollywood’s Problem With Women of Color Is Even Worse Than You Realize - PolicyMic

On topic about the representation of women in media.  Read the link because the graphics are supposed to go with the context and commentary in the article.

Hi, i don't know if this is too early for you, but is there any record of free black people in Roman times, specifically pre-empire? My father was saying that it was "very unlikely" for it to have been, but i think otherwise.

medievalpoc:

*sigh*

This is just another example of the overwhelmingly pervasive idea in our culture that no matter where or when you go in history, anyone who wasn’t Black and who SAW a Black person immediately thought, “Hey! Thisperson and everyone on earth who looks anything like them would make great slaves!” So…before we play remedial education, can we all take a moment to think about how horrible that is? That the idea of Black people=slaves is SO dominant that we project it into ancient history???

Okay, first of all, slavery in the Ancient Mediterranean was not the same as American chattel slavery. It was not race-based slavery. Your race had nothing to do with whether or not you were enslaved.

Basically, what you’re asking about (roughly) is the Hellenistic Era.

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After Alexander the Great’s ventures in the Persian Empire, Hellenistic kingdoms were established throughout south-west Asia (Seleucid Empire, Kingdom of Pergamon) and north-east Africa (Ptolemaic Kingdom).

This resulted in the export of Greek culture and language to these new realms, and moreover Greek colonists themselves.

Equally, however, these new kingdoms were influenced by the indigenous cultures, adopting local practices where beneficial, necessary, or convenient. Hellenistic culture thus represents a fusion of the Ancient Greek world with that of the Near East, Middle East, and Southwest Asia, and a departure from earlier Greek attitudes towards “barbarian” cultures.

The Hellenistic period was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization (as distinguished from that occurring in the 8th–6th centuries BC) which established Greek cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa. Those new cities were composed of Greek colonists who came from different parts of the Greek world, and not, as before, from a specific “mother city”.

As explained above, what you would have had is a “melting pot” of many different languages, “races”, cultures, schools of art, ethnicities, et cetera.

The art of this period reflects that.

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Greek architects and sculptors were highly valued throughout the Hellenistic world. Shown on the left is a terra-cotta statuette of a draped young woman, made as a tomb offering near Thebes, probably around 300 BCE. The incursion of Alexander into the western part of India resulted in some Greek cultural influences there, especially during the Hellenistic era. During the first century BCE., Indian sculptors in Gandhara, which today is part of Pakistan, began to create statues of the Buddha. The Buddhist Gandharan style combined Indian and Hellenistic artistic traditions, which is evident in the stone sculpture of the Buddha on the right. Note the wavy hair topped by a bun tied with a ribbon, also a feature of earlier statues of Greek deities. This Buddha is also wearing a Greek-style toga.

-Essential World History by Duiker, Spielvogel, p. 101

As for trade routed in the Ancient World, well. The Silk Road has existed for pretty much as long as the continents have been in their current configuration and populated by humanity. I’m not exaggerating-the prehistoric version of what became known as the Silk Road is known as The Steppe Road. The Silk Road ITSELF was established for trading purposes at least 2,000 years ago. Here’s a mockup of the Silk Road as it existed during the era you’re asking about:

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Here are some Hellenistic Era Greek artworks that feature Black people. There is NO correlation in this era between a person being Black and a person being enslaved.

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In general, Greek attitudes towards anyone with Black or dark brown skin were sort of ethnocentric, but not negative OR associated with slavery. After all, the idea of “white people” wouldn’t exist for another 1,500 years at LEAST.

Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks by Frank M. Snowden contains many, MANY invaluable interpretations and translations of primary sources that help to really explore attitudes and philosophies that the people in the time had about appearance, human difference, and personality traits. From page 86:

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If you want something a bit more definitive, The Image of the Black in Western Art Vol. 1:From the Pharaohs to the Roman Empire explores the Greek and Roman preoccupation with physical type+personality traits as a form of PROTO-racism, but please note that nothing in their writing or art indicated the association of Blackness or Black skin with slaves or enslavement/enslavability:

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"Race" as we have this concept today did not exist then. the "races" they are talking about have to do with ethnicity and culture, NOT skin color by necessity. In addition, the "proto-racist" writing is describing geographical origin and climate to correlate with personality type, with the “perfect balance” being conveniently, Greeks.

As for the beginnings of the Roman Empire, the above is wehre you’re pretty much starting from, and then you have EVEN MORE intermixing between peoples. Including the Emperor born in the Roman Province of “Africa”, Septimius Severus, who led a campaign of additional conquering there around 200 C.E.

He then of course sent tens of thousands of Roman soldiers up directly into Britain and Scotland, and there are extensive records of Black military legions at Hadrian’s Wall in the 3rd century. Incidentally, leading to a rather multicultural population in Roman York (England), which is also extensively documented (Ivory Bangle Lady, one of the richest women in that area at that time, was definitely of African descent).

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This would have been the Roman Empire about 100-200 years before the time of Ivory Bangle Lady. Excavations in the area combined with the cutting edge of academia and science combined have this to say:

"We’re looking at a population mix which is much closer to contemporary Britain than previous historians had suspected," Hella Eckhardt, senior lecturer at the department of archaeology at Reading University, said. "In the case of York, the Roman population may have had more diverse origins than the city has now.”

Isotope evidence suggests that up to 20% were probably long distance migrants. Some were African or had African ancestors, including the woman dubbed “the ivory bangle lady”, whose bone analysis shows she was brought up in a warmer climate, and whose skull shape suggests mixed ancestry including black features.

"We can’t tell if she was independently wealthy, or the wife or daughter of a wealthy man — but the bones show that she was young, between 18 and 23, and healthy with no obvious sign of disease or cause of death."

The authors comment: "The case of the ‘ivory bangle lady’ contradicts assumptions that may derive from more recent historical experience, namely that immigrants are low status and male, and that African individuals are likely to have been slaves. Instead, it is clear that both women and children moved across the Empire, often associated with the military."

Feel free to go tell your dad he’s full of it.

Super interesting - saved for reference.

In the U.S., where ninety-six percent of the reported perpetrators of rape are white, eighty percent of the men in prison for rape are black.

Joseph Weinberg & Michael Biernbaum, Conversations of Consent: Sexual Intimacy without Sexual Assault (via cocknbull)

FUCK

And MRA’s dont say SHIT on that. Can we talk about racism please?????

(via miss-melancholy-usa)

Group of white men dedicated to shouting down women does not publicise evidence of systemic racism, news at eleven.

(via dirtybrian)

diasporicroots:

"Map of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon"
This map shows how Africa may have looked like if it had not been colonized. Have you ever wondered how Africa would have looked like if it had not been colonized by Europeans? The map below of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon shows how Africa was in pre-colonial times.
For additional reading, check out Cyon’s presentation on the map and Rachel Strohm’s article on ‘The colonization counterfactual‘.

diasporicroots:

"Map of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon"

This map shows how Africa may have looked like if it had not been colonized.

Have you ever wondered how Africa would have looked like if it had not been colonized by Europeans? The map below of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon shows how Africa was in pre-colonial times.

For additional reading, check out Cyon’s presentation on the map and Rachel Strohm’s article on ‘The colonization counterfactual‘.