on what i learned from riley
December 1, 2014
yesterday, Riley gently took me to task for how i”ve been crediting ppl with how they”ve influenced me and my writing and perspective but have yet to substantively address how they”ve influenced me.
yeah. totally something i”m guilty of. as i told Riley yesterday, part of the problem is that their contributions are so general and fundamental that it is (or was) hard for me to take enough steps back to really concpetualize their influence on my thinking. perhaps more than anyone else i”ve read/met/spoken with over the past 4 or so years, Riley has fundamentally changed my worldview… so in a way, everything i articulate these days is influenced by them.
but let”s get specific, shall we?
Here are some ways that riley has influenced my thought:
1) my work on binarism literally started from a conversation i had with them and givne that this is perhaps some of my more influential writing work, in the ways that it has substantively impacted the ways that ~teh trans community~ discusses the gender binary and binarism, ppl should note that this is also Riley”s influence on trans/gender theory.
2) anti-Blackness. now… i did credit so_treu yesterday for her contributions to my… um shall we call it ‘formal” understanding of anti-Blackness, but Riley has been just as important for truly getting me to a place where I really understand both the pervasiveness and insiduous nature of anti-Blackness. the example that is coming to mind is the way that they”ve always been super vocal about the parallels between how trans womanhood is oppressed and how Black womanhood is oppressed. and more generally, the way they have staunchly refused to allow Blackness to ‘disappear” into generalizations discourses about oppression.
3) genderessense/genderescent. again, riley was a big part of the original discussion and deserves just as much credit for it as i do. or anyone else involved in the original (and ensuing) discussions about this conceptual space.
4) disability stuff. Riley has been critical for my own process of coming to understand and accept myself as a disabled person, as well as giving some of my first exposure to poc disability discourse. like… i remember the clashes they had with disabled white ppl on tumblr (before they finally just washed their hands of the entire group).
5) understanding what actual solidarity between Black and Asian ppl. like my posts on #notyourasiansidekick (one and two). are a great example for how deep and transformative my discussions with riley has been regarding both anti-Blackness and solidarity. like… those posts literally might never have been written if not for Riley. importantly, the fundamental change in how i conceptualize ~Asian~ as an identity indelibly changed after i saw their experience with claiming their Asian heritage and the subsequent rejection from non-Black Asian Americans… who largely continue to ignore a huge chunk of the Asian diaspora bc it would complicate and obviate their current hegemonic discourse on ~asian american~ as an identity.
um… those are the five quick/identifiable examples that come to mind…
as we can see with number 5 re: Asian as identity, the influences Riley has had on how i conceptualize and interact with the world tend to go quite deep and are (in retrospect) a little difficult for me to tease out.
also important is… perhaps what i might call their influence on my ‘disposition” towards discussing oppression, particularly in interactive sense.
(ugh. i”m totally failing to articulate what i mean here, but it is about the approach i have to concepts. like. the way my brain works is the way my brain works and how i analyze things is pretty much stable but… idk. this applies to the emotional? dispositional? texture of my writing? I think Riley described it on skype yesterday as ‘not giving a fuck” which is partially it. but… deeper and more than that. i know one thing i say all the time — and i think one of my earliest ‘popular” posts — was about ‘not debating my humanity” and this is the basic disposition/attitude that i really believe has been influence by Riley. because, once upon a time, i was willing to get into debates over my humanity with people and Riley gave me the… deep understanding both as to why this is a bad thing but also why i very much should not do it)
and one last thing.
Riley has also been so fucking critical in helping me contextualize and understand some of my experiences with abuse, particularly online.