Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday (post)racial roundup: "oh noes" edition

Well, it has been suggested to me that it might be easier on my blossoming readership if I attempt to summarize and comment upon a piece of news in an earnest fashion (instead of posting a link with a snarky remark) and I think that's going to be REALLY HARD.  But um, in case you were feeling OK about the state of things, TODAY I HAVE A REJOINDER FOR YOU:

Yesterday the Times did a piece on why (and I do quote) "Race Matters Less" in the South-- basically, it profiles James Fields, a black Alabama state congressman elected in a 96% white county (and a former Sundown town, no less). Ostensibly, it demonstrates that Southerners actually don't care-- nay, don't SEE-- race as much as we expect them to. There's a few choice quotations from area residents about Fields, the latter in particular I draw your attention to:

"Really, I never realize he's black," said a white woman in a restaurant, smiling.
"He's black?" asked Lou Bradford, a white Cullman police officer, jokingly.

I actually don't even think that's funny. In fact, I'd wager that borders on offensively insensitive, even for the New York Times, but news has been pretty abysmal of late, and it kind of reminds me of this book review the Times ran a couple weeks back (you'll love the first two sentences, I promise), in which the book's author is lauded for his careful examination of the many avenues we might explore in order to understand racial hierarchies besides, you know, racism.

Pretty much everything in this vein reminds me of something Kimberle Crenshaw once wrote about how the greatest tragedy of the discourse of colorblindness is that it has stripped black people of the ability to name their reality.  And it does seem relevant to me to remember that-- particularly in a post-Civil Rights world-- the main function of a hegemony is to control the production of systems of meaning. After centuries and centuries of really unspeakable violence, the fact that we live in a world where a cop(!!!) can make a joke about "not seeing" the race of a black man and our newspapers will run the quote without a hint of irony or even recognition is really quite tragic.

In other news:

EDITED TO ADD: Btw, if anyone sees Richard Thompson Ford, the fellow who wrote the Times-reviewed "The Race Card," tell him I has a present for him?

Really, I had wanted to not ramble here, but I feel like I can't go without commenting on the irony that Ford acknowledges that "the social and legal meaning of racism is 'in a state of crisis,'" and alludes to a "racism without racists." And then he concludes that racism is not as prevalent as most people think. I think I need like a CRT picture book with some diagrams or something, blee. 

Also, for the truly strong of heart, you can read the entire first chapter of Ford's book here


Anonymous said...

wow, crt, that takes me back.

back to trees that dont want rights and supreme court cases upholding white privledge, i mean evil...

and one ugly shoe in many colors

Anonymous said...

oh yeeaaah, and the whole synopsis commentary thing way better than snarky links.

of course it's more work.

better takes effort, duh. that's why i refrains from it

jenn said...

ford was on the colbert report the other day and he is REALLY, really annoying. wtf mate.

AJ sez lolAJ FTW!!

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AJ lives in Minneapolis and is interested in stuff that's political. AJ has a lot invested in his masculinity.


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