it’s been a week of colliding themes… stuff from all sorts of places overlapping and interlocking.
i’m reading about restorative justice at the moment – a large collection of articles and book excerpts given to me by jenny on monday. In the midst of them this evening, on the train home, i came to an article called The Age of Revenge, by Alberto Manguel. The following quote is taken out of context – he takes it another step further, and ends up in a different place – but i think i need to just absorb this bit first.
Even though a text itself allows for any number of readings, it is apparent that the groups in power, defined in contrast to the groups they exploit, largely determine the accepted reading. Male over female, white over black, straight over gay, have been the norms for … millenia. In recent times, it has been suggested that the texts are to blame. That the creation of texts by other hands, in other voices, will shift the emphasis, and that certain voices, which have been speaking about matters that directly concern the oppressed groups, should voluntarily keep quiet for a while and provide room to those who, among the oppressed, have been denied access.
This is the American writer Alice Walker:
What can the white man say to the black woman?
Only one thing that the black woman might hear.
I will remove myself as an obstacle in the path that your children,
against all odds,
are making towards the light. I will not assassinate them
for dreaming dreams and
offering new visions of how to live. I will cease trying to
lead your children,
can see I have never understood where I was going
i will agree to sit quietly for a
century or so, and meditate on this.
This is what the white man can say to the black woman.
We are listening.
it’s pretty easy for me to see where i think others should shut up. but if i’m honest i also have to wonder, who does my voice stop from speaking? what space does my voice take up that could be taken by another? what is my privileged space that i need to relinquish in order for another to be able to speak for themselves?