I write this essay with the poignant words of writer and Sociology Phd student Zoe Samudzi in mind: “Donald Trump is as quintessentially American as they come. In so many ways, Trump is the president that contemporary white America deserves: he is an amalgamation of some of the worst racism, ableism, misogyny, and anti-poor attitudes and rhetoric that collectively comprise ‘American values’. Outside of Republicans’ own involvement in sexual misconduct, the party is ultimately responsible for draconian anti-choice policies over sexual reproduction, horrific discourses around rape, and a perpetual onslaught on the rights of women and gender and sexual minorities.” These words highlight a settler nation’s refusal to see that Donald Trump is and always has been NORMAL. By normal I mean just that, status quo. There is nothing about him nor his track record that deviates from America’s accepted rules about behavior. It is not taboo to be a bigot in the United States, its an accepted and expected behavioral practice and demanded in many cases. These contemporary colonial relations dominate our minds and how we teach our children to treat other human beings. White supremacy is central to how we socialize our youth and regulate adults into model citizens, designed to defend the logics of settlement and profit even at their own expense. Continue Reading
Liberation Circle & Reading Summaries from D.A.T.T. Freedom School
Summer 2015 – Week 3
Race & white supremacist racism
The Storify for this topic’s Liberation Circle tweet chat can be found HERE.
Summary of “Fatal Invention” by Dorothy Roberts – Chapter 1: The Invention of Race & “Racial Formation in the United States” by Michael Omi & Howard Winant – Chapter 4: The Theory of Racial Formation & Chapter 5: Racial Politics & the Racial State
In this chapter, Dorothy Roberts quickly reviews the history of the invention of “race”. The title of the chapter alone challenges the popular notion that race has always existed along with the complete separation of racial groups till colonial contact. Robert’s historical analysis poignantly reveals that is not the case. Roberts points out the importance of race in settler colonial US,
“Americans are so used to filtering our impressions of people through a racial lens that we engage in this exercise automatically – as if we are merely putting a label on people to match their innate racial identities … So we force the melange of physical features and social clues into a code that tells us how to categorize each person – so as to know where each person fits in our society (Roberts, 2011:1)”.
This process of “racialization” is about making approximations about people’s cultures, behaviors, and etc.. But overall its a series of political processes. Omi & Winant call race a “way of making up people” and also a “process of othering” (2015:105).
According to Michael Omi & Howard Winant in “Racial Formation in the United States” race is “a concept that signifies & symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies” (2015:110). But we know from Roberts (2011) that race is not just a social construct; race is a political relationship. Thus, race is a political conflict carried out by reference to specific types of human bodies. Racism is not something particular to the United States & race is not the same everywhere in the world. Racial categories serve particular contextual purposes depending on the society they are used in, but generally follow the base logic of the supremacy of one type of human body over all others (ordering these human bodies in a hierarchical fashion).
Race is a typology based in zoological typologies and heavily influenced by the line of thought in “the great chain of being”, a concept derived by Plato and Aristotle. Continue Reading
Kendrick Lamar recently dropped the track “The Blacker The Berry”, what has been called a “Black Anthem” that deals with the hypocritical racial self hatred in the Black community. As a hip hop head I was hype to first listen to the song, hoping that it would say something critical, contextually accurate, reveal the true issues at hand & I was unfortunately immediately disappointed. The song left a bad taste in my mouth, it was disrespectful, lecturing, and inaccurate. “The Blacker The Berry” has been quickly gaining traction since its release and its for a very particular reason: Black pathology sells (H/T @thetrudz). Continue Reading
This is something that a good friend of mine & I have been talking about for years! Years I tell you! We have had so many discussions with people about this. So I figured it’s about time for me to share this amazingly accurate (as well as hilariously entertaining) concept to help people understand the problems with: diversity, multiculturalism, and colorblindness. So if you are reading this article I am going to assume that you have heard of Pokemon, get the general concept of how Pokemon works. So enough of the nerd love, let me get the overall point.
Historically academic organizations have made statements at times of peril in particular communities across the world to signify their official stance on the events taking place. From UNESCO’s statement on race in 1950 to the most recent academic organizations’ statements on the oppression of Palestinians and recent media attention brought to Ferguson and other cases of police brutality. But unfortunately these statements don’t necessarily materialize into anything of substance in the academy. Academic organizational statements have not been resulting in changing the racial politics in these departments.
This is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Race, racialization, and white supremacist racism in the United States operates in a very particular & peculiar way. If you pay close attention, anti-Black racism manages to violate some of the key logics of capitalism, demonstrating how white supremacy is an alternative exchange/value system that is tethered to capitalism. In other words, both of those systems of domination/hegemony need each other & capitalism will only bend its rules for white supremacy and cishetpatriarchy.
In light of the recent pile of innocent Black bodies murdered at the hands of the necropolitical state, I decided to share some of my thoughts on the current issues of the high mortality rate of people of African descent in the U.S. at the hands of white supremacy & police brutality and the issues with regards to low quality of life in the U.S. (this also happens abroad but bear with me as I use the U.S. as a case study of sorts).
Blackness & Black bodies are magical. Black bodies function as these mysterious objects that when consumed/appropriated by White people & Non-Black People of Color (NBPoCs) it provides them with power. If you pay close attention to the history of red-lining in the U.S. and the history behind the modern Black Ghettos and the development of racial inequality in America (see “When Affirmative Action Was White” by Ira Katznelson or “Black Wealth/White” Wealth by Melvin Oliver & Thomas Shapiro) you’ll start to notice a telling trend: Black people are magical.
Now the “magical negro” is not a new ideal, its one that has been commonly seen in folklore & American cinema, the magical negro is a Black person who possesses special insight or powers & is usually the Black buddy who comes to the aid of a white protagonist. The magical negro is a form of a very particular kind of tokenism, you aren’t just the only lonely negro face in a very white place but you also possess these magical abilities that are used in service to white protagonists(e.g. The Green Mile). We commonly see this when white people proclaim that they can’t be racist because their ” (insert here)” is Black when research has shown that 75% of white Americans don’t have non-white friends. But has anybody noticed that a Black person claiming to have white friends never really does get anything from being friends with them, & it never provides them with the social, political, or economic power they need? Yeah, I noticed it too.
After having some discussions with some friends in regards to the re-appropriation of words I decided that a big component of that discussion should include looking at the basics of who/what controls meaning/value in a society. I believe that this is a crucial point of the discussion because if the oppressed are the ones working to re-formulate the meaning/value of something then they will do so in vain (in many ways) because of one daunting truth: THE OPPRESSED DO NOT HAVE CONTROL OVER DICTATING VALUE/MEANING…they lack the social and political power & thus their attempts will be shot down & destroyed by the majority population. Re-appropriation is about re-formulating or changing the meaning or value of a word or object. Such change requires that the majority audience accepts the said re-appropriation or social backlash will ensue. Continue Reading
I figured I would write this post to share my recent experiences with some individuals in my department and specifically with some of my classmates in one of my classes this semester. This semester I have come to understand that there is nothing more dangerous than an intelligent, well spoken, conscious, & confident African woman. I have become aware of this because my classmates have highlighted me as a present threat in class. Continue Reading
Its really funny how we interact with race & racism in America, which is generally the overall avoidance of all interaction with race or racism for the most part. I was reading a load of Dr. Alan Goodman’s research work & it reminded me of my first conscious discovery that I was Black. You see, many of us have these moments of clarity but we very rarely recognize them or know that they are significant social processes/moments until someone points it out to us. To understand race & how racism affects people on a daily basis we all need to be able to not just create a discourse but we need to formulate a discourse with an interdisciplinary view point. Continue Reading
I have been recently noticing a number of different programs & individuals pushing the whole “Save our Sons” campaign in the Black community & it always leaves me feeling like they are missing something vital. But what could it be??? Hmmmmm…. oh, yeah, BLACK GIRLS/WOMEN!!!! What is with this whole “We only need to save our sons” mentality amongst the Black community??? Your daughters deserve/need your help too!
While this piece is not in any way about ignoring the plight of African men & their struggle, I do want to point out that fact that they do NOT struggle alone & in many instances their struggles are the struggles of African women & in many ways African men oppress African women via misogyny & patriarchy via systematic sexism. This male privilege in the Black community leads us to devalue our beautiful daughters as we raise our sons up. The focus or emphasis on our sons has a cost & that cost is our young women. We baby our sons, pacify them, encourage them, invest in them & in many cases we leave our daughters to have nothing. Continue Reading