Monday, August 13, 2007

Racism: What Makes It "Real"?

Hey, Everyone! Let's Play "Spot The Looter"!
(Nb, Blackwater, Inc: "Looters" do not wear back-packs.)There remains considerable confusion as to what 'racism' is, whom it advantages, whom it penalizes, how it works and why it persists. Here's the "dictionary" (necessarily 'racist,' since racism is still the default condition of the culture; see Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place) definition of it:
Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another.
Once and for all: Prejudice, bias, bigotry, and general douchebaggery are not race-specific; one may find prejudiced, biased, and bigoted douchebags, in both genders, of all ages and achievements, in any and every ethnic group in the world. Prejudice, bias, and bigoted douchbaggery, however, are NOT what constitutes 'racism,' though they are often concomitant instruments.

Important: 'Racism' [per se] is NOT an individual pathology--as the official definition implies it is, by using the term 'belief.' Racism is not a 'belief.' It is the system by which 'belief' is reified and enacted: an intricate network of deeply embedded, practical nodes of contact. It is social SYSTEM of institutionalized attitudes, assumptions, and practices designed to deny to--and at a minimum, to impede the expression of--the members of despised groups their rights to equal, just, and/or fair participation in and enjoyment of the fruits of the common labors of the society. The despised groups obviously differ according to the specific needs of the dominant, 'racialist' group in any given society; for example, Koreans in Japan. Racism is the name for the system that permits the douchebags of the dominant group their relatively unreproved exercises in humiliation and degradation. It's the official stamp of approval --the imprimatur-- on douchbaggery. (Look into the events of late in Jena, Louisiana, for a pretty clear, recent case-study.)

Racism operates through the individual's intention, but it is made possible--that is, the conditions of its possibility endure--and it retains its power because it is STILL widely held (if perhaps subliminally) as a social norm: Unacknowledged, at least tolerated, if not encouraged, by the quotidian representations of race as configured in the photographs juxtaposed above.

Racism in the US is a "white" phenomenon because the political power structure, the economic elite, the social hierarchy, and effectively all the other means of access to that participation and enjoyment are still owned, directed, managed,and controlled by "white" people. Whites are the only group in the US which occupies positions of sufficient power in sufficient numbers to make racism real.

That is (except for such as Ward Connerly, Clarence Thomas, and other black 'conservatives' who curry favor among the racist elite by blaming the victims), it is nearly impossible to be a Black 'racist' in America, the fact that it IS possible to be a black (or brown, or any other color) bigot notwithstanding. Racism does not 'work' against the dominant group, that group which, as a group, controls the access of other members of the society to the social goods which our common participation in culture creates. The Connerlys and the Thomases of the world tearing at the barriers that impede the recrudescence of the overt racism of the past are incomprehensible to me.

"Racism" self-evidently does NOT 'harm' everyone, either. It manifestly benefits members of the group which owns the power to practice it. If it WERE harmful to 'everyone,' the efficiencies of social architecture would eradicate it pretty soon. That it persists implicates its continuing usefulness in the contemporary codes for ordering and organizing the chaos around us.

P.S.: If there were no social utility in retaining the 'racial' identity of *whiteness*, as a condition of material consequence, there would be no utility in maintaining the distinction between "black" and "white" people at all, would there?

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