Imagine a world where, along with the renewal of vigour within the movements for racial equality (along with social justice in general), a new movement had developed – the ‘metamorphosis movement’, or ‘meta-movement’, for short.
This ‘meta-movement’ concerned mainly white people who believed that they were actually black people, but born in white bodies, as well as a small minority of black people who believed that they were the opposite. It became increasingly accepted, until it was the norm amongst those fighting for social justice of all kinds.
Imagine that, due to the fact that these white people believed that they had been born in the wrong bodies, many decided to ‘morph’ into black people, and that once they did so, they began to demand to be referred to as ‘meta-blacks’ (or otherwise simply as black people), whilst the black people minority of ‘metas’ did the opposite, demanding to be known as ‘meta-whites’. Imagine that they criticised any who objected to the idea that they could simply ‘morph’ into another race as ‘meta-racist’, and insisted that this was a worse form of racism than standard racism, as those born into the other race (‘bio-blacks’ or ‘bio-whites’) were privileged over them (with ‘bio-privilege’), as they were born into what they ‘wanted’ to be.
Imagine that this ‘metamorphing’, for the ‘meta-blacks’ involved the selection of ‘black’ features that they found desirable, often based on criteria of how ‘black’ they considered them. Imagine that criticising their rating of the desirability of black features made you a ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine they debated over and would use a variety of methods to achieve the physical ‘metamorphosis’, including anything from using some makeup / polish / other black substance, through to whole-body tattooing, through to some form of expensive melanin-insertion technique combined with extensive surgery, around which a thriving cosmetic industry flourished. Imagine that any criticism of (or even comment on) any of this based on anything, including the history of appropriation and blackface, the fact that these things just might not actually encompass the whole of the black experience, the fact that the cosmetics / surgery industry might be encouraging this for profit, etc. meant that you were called a ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that, aside from (or instead of) these physical changes, many ‘meta-blacks’ also began to speak in what they considered ‘black vernacular’, which was actually just a highly simplified and dumbed-down version of English, in line with racist depictions of black people in the racist imagination. Imagine that many began to do things they considered ‘black’ in order to make them more ‘genuine’ that included avoiding employment, saying the ‘n word’, smoking weed, being hyper masculine and aggressive if male or hyper-sexual if female, acting ‘ghetto’ etc. Again, imagine that any criticism of their embodiment of ‘blackness’ was criticised as ‘meta-racist’, and this was coupled with questions of why the critic did not level the same criticisms at black people who acted in these ways, regardless of whether or not they actually did.
Imagine the ‘meta-blacks’ insisted that, despite not even being the only methods of ‘morphing’, that the medical ‘morph’ process was so integral to their resistance to ‘bio’ oppression that it must be subsidised. They insisted that these operations, costing tens of thousands of dollars, must be subsidised even in extremely economically disadvantaged black communities and societies, where ‘bio-blacks’ were still struggling to afford and generally access decent healthcare provision. Any individual suggesting that this might not be the most pressing medical need or allocation of resources was considered blinded to the lived experience of the ‘metas’ by ‘bio-privilege’, and a ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that the ‘meta-blacks’ began to demand that any ‘bio-black’ space, organisation or community must accept them with open arms regardless of history or the experiences of their members, and that if they did not they were being ‘meta-racist’, and using their ‘bio-privilege’ to exclude the ‘meta-blacks’. It did not matter if the context of an individual space was, for instance, a space for discussion of racist attacks or abuse on ‘bio-blacks’ by the white police, racists, etc. And to point out that any ‘bio-white’ could walk in if they simply put on some dark foundation (or even by just stating that they were, in fact ‘black’), was also considered ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that awards and honours designed to be bestowed on members of the black community in order to oppose the structural oppression that ‘bio-blacks’ had been subject to over so many years were opened up to ‘meta-blacks’, and that they quickly went on to begin to be awarded the very highest of these. Imagine ‘meta-blacks’ being awarded, for example, the title of ‘black personality of the year’. Imagine that suggesting that this might have anything to do with the privileged position and feelings of entitlement of ‘meta-blacks’ due to their previously white status, or that there should be any such awards reserved only for those born black, was ‘meta-racism’. Imagine that this happened whilst ‘meta-blacks’ and their supporters jeered at the ‘meta-critical’ ‘bio-blacks’, telling them that they were just jealous because the ‘meta-blacks’ were simply ‘better at being black’ than them.
Imagine that, after the centuries of oppression felt by black people at the hands of white people based on skin colour and exaggerations of physical differences, they suddenly found themselves being constantly reminded by the ‘meta-blacks’ that ‘race is just a social construct’, and told that any mention of these things as giving them some sort of exclusive shared history inaccessible to ‘meta-blacks’ through their ‘morphing’ was the height of ‘meta-racism’ and ‘bio-privilege’. The same went for any suggestion that ‘morphing’ did not absolve ‘meta-blacks’ of all attachment to and responsibility for this previous and continuing oppression, even if they had perpetuated it right up to (and even after?) their ‘morph’.
Imagine that the ‘meta-blacks’, in wanting to strengthen their arguments pertaining to the ‘black mind born in a white body’ idea, began to revisit and advocate for the re-adoption of ‘scientific’ ideas previously propagated by eugenicists, through widespread support for the re-ignition of such debates in the field of neuro-science. Imagine they began hang on to any studies, new or old, and even if since discredited, to emphasise that black people had minds that did in fact differ significantly from those of white people. Imagine that many (if not all) of these differences were directly in line with racist eugenicist conceptions. Imagine that pointing out that the idea that black people are naturally ‘more suited to manual labour’, ‘in need of supervision’ or ‘aggressive, and so requiring of control by authority’ is in any way racist would be called out as ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that the ‘meta-blacks’ insisted that they had equal if not more right than ‘bio-blacks’ to comment on every issue concerning the black community, including racism and oppression from whites, regardless of their stage of ‘morph’ (i.e. even if they were still completely white, or white but with a bit of brown makeup on), and despite the fact that many of them would later go on to ‘de-morph’ back into fully-fledged ‘bio-whites’, retaining all of the associated privileges over black people. Imagine that to challenge any of this would inevitably result in a ‘meta-racist’ label.
Imagine that, whilst ‘meta-blacks’ and their allies accepted that the ‘meta’ movement was quite radical in its aims, they overwhelmingly associated themselves strongly and by their own admission with non and anti-radical segments of the black and anti-racist community. Imagine that they would often argue that they ‘were colour-blind’, that the main obstacle to racism was that black people could not ‘get over’ race, that individual behaviours and choices of any black person (‘meta’ or otherwise) should be respected over any talk of ‘solidarity’, structural oppression or internalised racism, and that the economic disadvantages experienced by the black community were largely down to poor personal choices, and could be fixed with a proper ‘go-getter’ attitude and the taking of ‘proper personal responsibility’. Imagine that opposition to their propagation of these (highly liberal and neo-liberal influenced) ideas was shouted down as ‘meta-racist’, as you would be denying their right to have a view on ‘their own’ issues. Imagine that even criticism of these ideas themselves began to be viewed as ‘meta-racist’, due to their association with the ‘meta’ movement.
Imagine that even talking about issues pertaining to the anatomy of black people and their features that could not be fully replicated by any of the ‘morphing’ processes was called ‘meta-racist’. So, for example, if the process could not replicate afro hair, you risked being called a ‘meta-racist’ if you talked about how black people have different hair care needs to white people, without making sure to include mention of the ‘fact’ that some (the ‘meta-blacks’) actually don’t, because they have ‘exactly the same hair as white people’. Imagine that even campaigns aimed at raising awareness of health problems such as sickle cell anaemia and prostate cancer in the black community (problems that only or disproportionately affect ‘bio-blacks’) were not immune from criticism as ‘meta-racist’, if they did not include these disclaimers.
Imagine that now any ‘bio-black’ who showed any sort of behaviour traditionally associated with white people in the racist imagination would often be called a ‘meta-white’ or white, or a suggestion would at least be made that they may be heading towards being one of these things. So any ‘bio-black’ person who studied hard, worked hard, used ‘correct’ grammar, etc. would have people saying that they were white, and likely asking if they were ‘morphing’ into a ‘meta-white’. Imagine this even went for black children, so if a child was doing well at school, their parents would be told by gleeful ‘progressive’ onlookers that they fully supported their child being ‘white’ or ‘meta-white’, regardless of the parents’ own views on the matter. Imagine that questioning the idea that any of these things should exclusively be associated with ‘whiteness’ of any sort and for any reason meant that you would be called a ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that the ‘metas’ combined their descriptions of ‘meta-racist’ oppression with other, genuine oppressions that they faced depending on who they are. So ‘meta’ women argued that they were oppressed for both being a woman and a ‘meta’, disabled ‘metas’ argued they were oppressed based on both their disability and ‘meta’ status, poor ‘metas’ claimed to face both class-based oppression and ‘meta-racism’, etc. until the lines became blurred and it was fully accepted that this was genuine and equal to other forms of oppression. It was also fully accepted that they were more oppressed than any ‘bio’ facing the same further problems. Imagine that, in this way, the ‘meta’ cause became so ingrained into intersectional politics that to dispute any part of it was not only seen as an attack on the ‘meta’ movement, but also likely on intersectional politics itself, as well as the other movements covered by it.
Imagine that the ‘metas’ scoured the history books for examples of others who, like them, had insisted that they were of a different race from what they appeared to be in the past. Imagine that, upon finding that they were highly represented amongst those who had previously been considered to be mentally ill (and despite the fact that many of these simultaneously exhibited other signs of severe mental illness), they came up with new definitions of mental illness that explicitly excluded delusions pertaining to the race or racial attributes of the sufferer, and demanded these be accepted by psychologists. Imagine they decided that the entire medical establishment (working with traditional racist eugenicists) had been hell-bent on labelling them as such since the beginning of time, and was thus a tool of oppression against people like them, who were united by this oppression in a historical struggle of equal magnitude (and perhaps even greater importance than) other struggles for social justice, for instance the civil rights, labour and feminist movements. Of course, to claim otherwise was ‘meta-racist’.
Imagine that racist whites felt threatened by ‘metas’, as they saw their ‘morphing’ as a blurring of racial boundaries, and many committed violent acts, up to and including murder, against some ‘metas’. Imagine that, no matter how much they called out this violence as wrong, any element of the ‘bio-black’ community critical of the ‘meta-movement’ ended up being blamed for these attacks, as their supposed ‘meta-racism’ was blamed for creating the social conditions in which these attacks took place. Imagine these ‘meta-critical’ elements of the black community were also criticised for everything from rejection of ‘meta-blacks’ from conservative schools and religious institutions, to suicides by young white people who wanted to become ‘meta-blacks’ but were prevented from doing so by racist parents. Imagine that these ‘meta-critical’ ‘bio-blacks’ were expected to change their minds on the whole issue every time one of the aforementioned tragic events happened, and that when they did not, they were told that it was further evidence of their support for said acts, of their callous and oppressive ‘meta-racism’, and this was then used as justification for treating them as sub-human enemies worthy of every possible form of abuse, including death threats, and complete exclusion from all left-wing movements.
Consider all of the above. You may recognise some of it as having things in common with some of the racist cultural appropriation that we see today (albeit in an extreme, nightmarish version), which has quite rightly been widely opposed by vast numbers of those who fight for social justice.
What you are seeing, though, is in fact the racial equivalent to what any feminist who has maintained a firm grounding in reality has seen happen to the feminist movement during its most recent resurgence, but with the ‘trans’ rather than the ‘meta’ movement doing the co-opting of the cause. So my question is, where do we go from here?