14 May 2008

A follow-up

Just a follow-up to my previous post; more evidence that racism is still rampant in our nation. Even that type of racism which is hidden, suppressed, and thought to be long gone still affects how we think/visualize people. It's still amazes me just how interpellated we all are into systematic modes of thinking.

Go here.

08 May 2008

Confessions of a Neo-White Supremacist

Given the atmosphere of the current political debates and the division within the Democratic Party, I'm not surprised that lay people are making such an issue over the gender and race questions present within both candidates' campaigns. What does surprise me, however, is the amount of ignorance I've seen over the past month. With the race heating up and coming down to the final wire, it's unfortunate to hear so many people take reductionistic views of the campaign. (Ireland.com photo credit.)

Take, for example, a recent conversation I've had over a few cigarettes with a construction worker staying at my hotel. I'll call the guy Tom (I don't know his real name). Tom and I were discussing the recent primaries in Indiana and North Carolina when he said, "It's sad that that black man is going to get the nomination."
"Why?" I asked.
Tom responded, "Well, he's just going to change a lot of things, ya know, for the black people, and forget about us whites. He's going to change a lot of laws - we'll be taking steps backwards."

Hidden (or perhaps not so well hidden) within his words is the racist notion that somehow black people deserve to be controlled, manipulated, commodified and used to the betterment of the only racial group deserving of power: whites.

I am still amazed at the amount of blatant racism that still exists in the country today. I was in shock at this man's statements - so much so that I didn't provide much of a retort. I did however, express that the man had one thing right in his assessment of the presidential race: thing will change with Obama as the nominee. But unlike my conversation partner, I believe things will change for the better. Given his speeches on race over the past few months, Obama understands the need this country has for healing and for a coalitional politics for the people. Change needs to happen. Ignorance needs to be wiped out. Education of the masses must happen if we are ever going to move beyond the white supremacist thinking.

Tom also did not realize how temporal his statements were. By stating that "changing laws" to favor a currently marginalized group will somehow "revert" the country to an older time seems odd to me. Kath Weston in Gender in Real Time shows how lesbian feminist of the early 90s used the "Old dyke at the bar" narrative to historicize their own current movement while positing the "old dyke" as an historical artifact. This use of the temporal allows the legitimation of the then contemporary movement as "current" and "progressive" while oppositionally setting the "old dyke" as a fictive character that stands in the way of progress. Thus Tom's statements that reify (and temporalize) slavery and civil rights narratives as a collective artifact legitimize his white supremacist claims. Again we see the reduction of myriad narratives (and many that are still contemporary) to a single time frame. What goes unnoticed by Tom or many other lay persons who hold similar views are the ways in which the past and negotiated uses of time or the temporal still affect and shape how we think of things today.

Thing must change. And change they will.

07 May 2008

So long Sue! You'll be missed!

Long-time sexologist and my favourite grandmother figure, Sue from Oxygen's Talk Sex with Sue is retiring! See this link.