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Showing posts from February, 2017

Tiny Post 3: The Impossibility of Biraciality

I was once interviewed by a journalism student for an article about what it means to be biracial in America, a subject she told me that was near to her heart (and experience). Among other things she wanted to learn about my experiences as a successful biracial academic. I imagine the conversation that ensued resulted in no small amount of consternation for her, because I informed her that I not believe I am biracial, because there can be no such thing. One's race is defined by one's position in our societal hierarchy; it is imposed, not inherited. To be Black is to be in the lower caste, to be white is to be in the upper. To claim biraciality, one must believe either that race is a biological reality that can be genetically amalgamated, or that the social hierarchy is justified such that you belong above those who are Black, and by doing so you may lay claim to the benefits of being white. I reject both positions. Further, the woman in the elevator clutching her purse or the …

Racism Defines Race

In a discussion about race and racism with a group of Black and Latinx students, the first part of the dialog centered around the things such as the difference between being African American and Black, or Hispanic versus Latinx. We meandered about for a while, and the conversation didn't gain focus until we talked about what it means to be white in America. Most observations about whiteness boiled down to having one's life valued more that those of people of color; the "value gap" as Prof. Eddie Glaude describes it. At that point it became clearer that our position in society defines our race. The processes that put us there is racism.
This brings up a subtle yet key point about race that is summarized nicely by Ta-Nehisi Coates: "race is the child of racism, not the father." Racism is a double standard that breaks along the line drawn by our society that places whiteness above, and non-whiteness below (I can never recommend Barbara Field's essay enoug…

Tiny Post 2: Exceptionalism

The believers of American Exceptionalism see the country as a "city on the hill," morally above other nations and a force for good in the world. However, when one points to the historical record of our nation waging unjust wars of choice, unseating democratically elected leaders, supporting dictatorships, standing idly by as genocide rages, and the like, the response is to point out that other countries have done the same thing, apparently unaware of how this invalidates their original claim of exceptionalism. Thus, how ironic it was for the so-called president to defend the Russian leader as "a killer" by pointing to our country's history of evil. I'm left wondering whether he has some special insight that his electorate lacks, or if he is just woefully inept at applying their arguments by forgetting which country to defend as exceptional. I can't shake the feeling that it's a mixture of both.

No Human is Illegal: Not a Tough Concept

I'm encouraged to see so many fans of progressive, pluralistic society recently rally together against the presidential administration's recent Muslim ban. The executive order is blatantly unconstitutional, and as such it is reasonable that federal judges have moved quickly to strike it down (It turns out it is impossible to legally implement an unconstitutional order, but this hasn't stopped the Court from doing so in the past). However, it's important for people who are protesting the ban to realize that we've had bans similar to this in place dating back to the original Naturalization Act of 1790, which restricted citizenship only to white Christian men. Citizenship in this country has never been free from discrimination. Having a national policy that discriminates against and abuses non-citizens is nothing new.

Tiny Post 1

When you spend time talking about racism's central role in our society, they think you must be suffering from depression, which is the only way they can fathom you'd think such a thing. What they fail to consider is that you are, indeed, depressed, but solely because that thing is so manifestly true and yet they refuse to see it.