Saturday, October 06, 2007

Racism: Every So Often This Needs Repeating

I did this lecture once per semester, per class. It never got old, because what I discussed was newly minted in the awarenesses of my students, without fail. I went through it again in a series of posts on My Left Wing, last night and this morning.

Mary Scott had discussed how, after an attempted rape by a black man, she had begun to experience fear of ALL black men--but not of ALL men. I replied:
Honey, no white person who denies their racism (7.50 / 2)
is being wholly--or partly, or even remotely--honest with themselves. There is not a white person alive who has not--albeit possibly unknowingly, unconsciously--benefited at the expense of non-white citizens.
The hardest thing for white folks to come to grips with is the possibility that they DIDN'T do it all on pure merit, talent and hard work.
Can't say I blame 'em. It was harder'n shit to actually inhabit that knowledge. I am a racist asshole. It was how I grew up, how I knew the world in very formative times. A Genteel Racist, I hasten to add, but a racist asshole nonetheless. I grew up bourgeoisie, top and bottom, through and through. I speak the language, I lived the discourse.
So: A mebbe recovering asshole? I hope???I have some hope: I quit tobacco 14 years ago.
I wish it had been that long since I had known a 'racist' sentiment.

If You're "White," You've Participated In and Benefitted From (0.00 / 0)
the forms and practices of racism.
You cannot avoid it; you may regret it, and you may work to try not to be a part of it in future, but you have been a beneficiary of it, because USer culture, fundamentally and essentially, is racist through and through.

It's like this: If you "KNOW" yourself be BE "White" (0.00 / 0)
if that term is part of your social self-definition, then you've been defined--defined yourself-- as a participant in racist discourse.

"Whiteness" is not a neutral signifier, you see. (0.00 / 0)
it has meaning as a social descriptor; the meaning occurs in a relationship with other terms--brown, black, red, yellow--none of which have the 'preferred position' of whiteness, the default 'lack of color' (against all optics, of course) against which all 'color' is defined.

In physics, 'white' is the color of all colors (0.00 / 0)
In culture, it is the absence of (despised) colors...
Interesting, n'est pas?

This is the heart of the matter: "The hardest thing for white folks to come to grips with is the possibility that they DIDN'T 'earn' all their advantages, that they DIDN'T get "all this" on pure, unadulterated merit, god-given talent, and hard work.
Now imagine how those "whites" must feel when, with all the advantages they have in culture and society, they are still dismal failures, clerking at Walmart, and flipping burgers at Mickey Ds? That CAN'T be a good feeling, when feeling superior to 'colored' folks is all that keeps you alive.
I wanna repeat this:
I wanna repeat this: Racism does NOT consist in INDIVIDUAL (0.00 / 0)
acts of bigotry, prejudice or bias.
Racism is the system of laws, concords, and social arrangements which makes the doer of bigoted, biased, and/or prejudiced deeds believe she or he can--on the basis of cultural assumptions about superiority and inferiority based on nothing so much as skin color or other morphological distinctions--act out of bigotry, bias or prejudice, to deny 'social goods' to despised minorities, and (because of the culture, community standards, etc.) be immune from the consequences of those acts.
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1 comment:

BlakNo1 said...

If people could learn to look at racism as an institutionalized thing instead of taking it personal, we'd start seeing some true progress.