If there is a nasty stereotype than it’s the one about the ‘drunken Indian’. It was used to denigrate Indigenous people. Not that many Indians were and are not drunk after white man destroyed their material and spiritual resources of respect and humiliated them in so many ways. White people did it so – they selected behavior which was seen as socially degrading, which generally puts people into embarrassing situation, where people are not held accountable, not in their own mind, so not with a proper reasoning but more with the one of a child. It is held to be submitted further to the moral judgment also being the case that they take that Indians themselves put themselves in this situation of disgraceful infantilized adults, and presented it as general feature of indigenous people.
Stereotypes are always wrong and they are always so appealing because they do contain something of a truth. There was indeed somewhere sometimes some drunken Indian. Alcoholism is a very common disease among Indigenes people in USA and Canada today how I heard. As any addiction it’s a consequence of a very troubling life people had how I see it and society is responsible for helping people in a proper way because of that, not with policies like “war on drugs”. Not that alcohol is seen as a drug, funny enough.
Anyway, I was thinking about how white people have all these stereotypes about Indigenous people, about Blacks, about Roma. I mean everybody uses them, among all these groups you can find also people employ them. Also white people do use stereotypes about white people, like hillbillies , or nationalistic ones, every nation has their own ex-YU stereotypes for example. But I was thinking what stereotypes do all these ‘other’ people have about white people. I mean white people so persistently show some characteristic behavior, humiliating themselves, in a very stereotypical way in relations with ‘others’, and still I could not remember any so easily. I am sure there are some.
We in Roma language have this word ‘Gajo’ for non-Roma people. ‘Dilo Gadjo’ is the name of a movie about one white person living with Roma and its not so derogatory I would say. Mostly they are used I think to say how these people are different and strange, sometimes in a demining way, but not that I can recall some very nasty ones. I was thinking how it is strange we do not have them.
I mean why we do not have one ‘drunken white’ stereotype for example? Like this is the circumstance: white person gets little bit tipsy and released of his/her social norms and political correctness starts exhibiting ‘inappropriate’ behavior more publicly and easily than usual, ones from the set of white privilege category. We all know this is not to be exhibited in public and for some also in private life, so even the greatest racist would most probably start their sentence with ‘I am not a racist, but…’ and then there is this ‘but I am white and I want my white privilege respected’ said in many different ways. So, this stereotypical situation we can encounter many times.
Well the most appropriate place to start is the place where there is booze and some Gypsies. Most probably that would be a local bar with Roma music. Just if you go to the bar where there is a Gypsy music for example, its amazing. You can see how this is a special niche for white, usually man, to feed up their white supremacist self. I mean these Gypsies would not play like they played starving for Nazis to amuse them while they had their dinners, after burning some Jews or whomever, but sure they do amuse some white folks for money. And not that I dispute free choice of people and possibility of real enjoyment in art, here I just put some funny parallels and possibilities, including usual stereotype of Roma being connected with nature and emotions, which must be why the only schools in which they practically excel would be Academy of arts, department- violin, or accordion, and why the one of rare profession in which they could also find a job was music for a long time, even now (well next to being activist I guess).
There are simple things you notice how the evening goes further and nice white shirts less tightly buttoned. More laughter, louder tones, calling musicians to the table, ordering songs, putting the money on them and their instruments, hugging musicians, kissing them, asking them to shorten the brakes, to sing louder, with more vigor, ordering more music even when its time to go, etc. And that’s when people are in a good mood. Once I heard one famous very educated Roma artist had a presentation in some very important institution of art in Europe, he is recognized as one of the most virtuous and most educated and skilled artist, but there was one white man who came to the stage, spit on the money and stuck it to this guy’s forehead. You see, that’s the practice you can observe also all across night bars with Roma music. People are accustomed to this, nobody pays much attention. So, if they are in a good mood you finish your job as a ordinary Roma musician next day in the morning with a lot of spited money stocked to your forehead.
If they are little bit funny some of these white people might just play around with Roma musicians. So they might make fun of them, trying to even make them smile about it, since you know, customers are customers at the end, and white ones especially. They might even pull them to the tables and make them sit there and listen their stories or they might even carry them to the lake and through them or hang them on the tree in front, while ordering them not to stop playing. I realize this sounds totally crazy, but I heard this story about the lake happened relatively recently to some famous Roma musician in Serbia, and the story about the tree I heard from my family, this happened to my grandfather. There is of course no police or any external societal organ of justice for interference for that matter. Kafana, that is, bar is a world for itself, and police does not rush to get there.
And not to be mistaken, this range of white supremacist behavior can be observed in bars & clubs all over Europe, I do not think anyone ever came up with the idea to research this of course, but really, in Budapest you can find many people in clubs, mostly well dressed, smelling good, having expensive drinks, still, I am sure you would be able to notice at least some of the behaviors from this category of ‘drunken white’ person.
So, music is one very problematic area where people feel, they come to feel, so Roma being these ‘exotic others’ are often used as vehicles to their emotions. This should be noticed. Songs Roma sing are about Roma people suffering. They are traditionally made by Roma songwriters, sometimes these are very old songs, and the author is not known, but these stories are very disturbing and very dramatic and said. But they are absolutely not heard as such. Roma and their music are just instruments. And this is what they are, instruments themselves for white people to feel themselves, their lives, their ideas about suffering and pain, to live through their pain or happiness. And there is this way how to do it best.
By recipe you do not need spiritual stuff, black magic, bat’s wings or similar things to connect with spiritual and emotional. No, you need bunch of Roma playing, and you use them following a recipe, but for that you need little bit of relaxation of some social normative, if at all you think there is such a thing, so you drink a bit first, you become ‘drunken white’. Drunk from alcohol and from white privilege. And it works magic. Then its all about you. You roaming in, connecting with areas of yourself, and you are brave and you don’t fear these parts, you get them of your back, you indulge in them, you reign them, and it makes you feel good. It makes you feel real, authentic, it’s a relief mechanism and healing.
I mean if people become alcoholics you know they suffered in life. It numbs the pain. So you and your ego can actually bare the day. When people just get tipsy its kind of a similar mechanism, ego gets a little bit of a bust. But I guess its different in a way if you are a privileged bastard already. I mean it cannot possible work the same as for systematically fucked up marginalized and ‘othered’ persons. So, pardon my language here, I mean I have nothing against bastards, they have my empathy being one of the screwed up people by society which assigns them unjust burdens attaching stigma and what not to the contingent factor of their birth, but more in a sense of a person not really being aware and not really being in a situation without social normative to correct you, so you did not have to care much about these privileges, then I guess your ego just wants more of what you already think you deserve and what you learned you deserve I guess. If that is being treated as superior, then hell you need people to prove it again to you, and you ask for it more blatantly and without bloody political or any civil correctness and some formal or informal procedural rules and mechanism you learned you can use in your private or professional life & communication to get it.
So for example you as a ‘drunken white’ in this case, you really need to be even more right about things, but for other reasons. That’s really funny in general. I am not sure if you observed this, I mean people get into fights easily just because somebody disagrees with them on something when they are drunk. It offends you more if your opinion is not to be seen as superior I guess. Your mental cognitive abilities and your experiences and your perspective on things, its just not disputable. It’s a bit like a mafia rule you know. In Serbian its ‘ispostuj me, brate’, ‘Show me respect, brother’. You just have to be aware of it when people are drunk not to get in trouble, & I learned this very diligently in nights spent awake with my drunken father talking endlessly, since if they need it they obviously lack it in life, so this is where it would come from.
With privileged people in a ‘white drunken’ mood I guess it’s a similar mechanism, but it comes from a different source I guess because most of the time they are on the drug of their own -white superiority. So it gets obnoxious, especially in academia. That’s another example of a ‘drunken white’ we can possible use. Being drunk on white privilege does have the same effect. So, what you do in academia? You research stuff. But being especially ‘drunken white’ you research and study so that all the time you are the one relating to yourself. You can use whomever and whatever is the object of your analysis and just relate it to who you are and what your needs are. I mean on the side the issue of objectivity in science, if it exist at all or not, but this must be one of the most annoying shity privileged things whites can do from the repertoire of a ‘drunken white’ for me, and that’s when they are not even tipsy on booze, with booze, I don’t know, its just too much for me. But lets think about it without booze in the picture.
For example imagine you study social movements, for example Roma or Civil right movement. You study and research and supposedly learn about others but you learn nothing about how it feels to be that other or about your relation to others. So what ever you learn you learn it well, you master it, you learn all the facts and details, and how it was during the time, and you learn what was the role of the church and what was the role of student organizations and who was who in the Black panthers, and all these aspects of why they declined and you criticize their machismo and sexism and ogh my God where are these queer people, and you can say when they are not represented very well, ogh you know what else they did which is not in the material. And you learn all these theories of how you can analyze movements and you just show of your knowledge and you position yourself as an expert on things and you write your papers and argue and you get tapped at the shoulder, and there you are, accredited to speak about it eventually and get a salary for it. Bravo!
And there, you mastered it, as usual. And still you learned nothing about your white privileged position of being right, of being a master, defining meanings, providing interpretations, establishing their authority and speaking in the name of. And its about real people. And you do not learn a thing about respecting this what they been trough. You do not learn to respect their pain You do not learn to be humble in front of their suffering. You do not learn it from a human or from the perspective of trans-generational justice for example. You just don’t.
Academia does not teach you this. Its not necessary. There are no others who would devoid you from yourself in that sense. They are just not there. You ruled the space. If they, or somebody who could be close to their experience was there, they just run away, you scared them. You dominated them with your perspectives and your analysis and your lack of the culture of dialogue your superiority drug and ‘drunken whiteness’ which never allowed you to learn, and self-assured ‘I am right or you must be stupid’ tone, your need to be right and claim your bloody superiority, and all the same fuckn mechanism you laugh at in whites in 50s and 60s in USA. How can somebody possibly be so stupid, right. How is it possible. Because you did not learn.
And you chase people of of course. Who the hell would want to speak to a person drunk on power about their own pain.If there was even remote possibility for you to learn anything about how it is to be the one who is never right, who is silent and silenced, who’s experience and perspective is negated and made illegitimate, crazy and stupid, who is excluded, tied and gagged in many ways, who is never allowed to be a king and a master in his own house, in his own life, and why these movements actually existed, you never ever learn about this. Because you mastered it. This is what you learned to do and what you continue doing like many other white people who learned it from older white generations and take it for the thing which is appropriate white person to do. You never learn how it is that these otherwise nice white people in history could possible do such things. You laugh at them in your ‘socially conscious’ superiority, so much far and above them. You learn nothing.
That is ‘drunken white’ in academia for you. White people rarely get of the drug. It provides them with a kick of superiority even when they immerse themselves in Black’s or other ‘other’’s people suffering and pain. Gives them enough leg space, earplugs, magazines, sleeping mask and thick cushions to fall on like they are in a fucking first class Cathay Pacific airways limited, (and I had to look up which one is the most expensive one) so they feel fuckn grate all the way, on this ride flooded by real people’s real suffering and death! Even so that they can carry on and discuss it in academia as in kafana while getting tipsy. At the end its all about them anyway. So it does not hurt them. They do not feel how this shit relates to them today. So they can be tipsy and safe providing loudly their analysis on ‘drugs’ and smuggishly ridicule those white people being racist. Because it cannot possibly have anything to do with loud, engaged and feminist them, devoting so much time to social issues and equality.
I stay speechless really. Just bitterly thinking about bloody ridiculous ‘drunken whites’ and writing a blog until late to try to calm myself and stop myself of thinking in stereotypes.
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