[eDebate] the mind of a child...
Wed Apr 9 10:06:27 CDT 2008
duane hyland (http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2008-April/074658.html) wrote,
"FIrst, I don't identify people as white, black, whatever - we're just people."
although i appreciate that you didn't avoid the issue (of race) this time, critical race theorists have written a lot of excellent scholarship as to why notions like the quoted one above may contribute to the problem.
see, white people have the luxury of not identifying themselves or seeing themselves as a race, whereas racial minorities are persistently reminded of their racial identity - e.g. they can't walk into an elevator or hail a taxi-cab or a thousand other daily activities without being *made conscious* of their ethnicity. ...or so said theorists have argued.
consider stephen colbert's riff about color-blindness: "i don't see race. people tell me i'm white, and i believe them, because i own a lot of jimmy buffett albums." ...this joke effectively satirizes comments like yours - "i don't identify people as white, black, whatever - we're just people" - since it's obvious that both colbert and yourself *do* see race.
this brings us to the new terrain of battle for anti-racists today. yes, there's still structural/institutional racism which will require long-overdue reparations to help remedy, and yes, sometimes morons will say racist crap in public and we'll all be well within our rights to call them out...
but the primary reason blacks end up paying more for loans - even when they make more money and have better credit than their white counterparts (studies have shown) - isn't (i believe) solely because the average white loan-officer taking their application is consciously trying to fuck them over. my hunch is that it's more due to the fact that we're neurologically wired to be racists in this culture. when every third black person you've seen on television since you were four has played a bad guy, when you have no close black friends, when the parts of town most black people reside in are the same parts of town where police sirens constantly wail, and so on, is it any wonder that you're implicitly associating negative stereotypes to black people on a near-unconscious level? (...and yes, you are. see for yourself, https://implicit.harvard.edu/ )
the most tragic fact is this even infects blacks themselves: african-american children score worse on standardized tests if they're asked to check what race they are. ...or as felipe coronel (a.k.a. the immortal technique) raps it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXtQE-MhY5k), "even though we survive through the struggle that made us, we still look at ourselves through the eyes of people that hate us".
so maybe you are the one colorblind person in america, duane; if so, i've still got a poem for you...
Poem For The Young
White Man Who Asked Me How I, An Intelligent,
Well-Read Person, Could Believe In The War Between Races
by Lorna DeeCervantes
In my land there are no distinctions.
The barbed wire politics of oppression
have been torn down long ago. The only reminder
of past battles, lost or won, is a slight
rutting in the fertile fields.
In my land
people write poems about love,
full of nothing but contented childlike syllables.
Everyone reads Russian short stories and weeps.
There are no boundaries.
There is no hunger, no
complicated famine or greed.
I am not a revolutionary.
I don't even like political poems.
Do you think I can believe in a war between races?
I can deny it. I can forget about it
when I'm safe,
living on my own continent of harmony
and home, but I am not
I believe in revolution
because everywhere the crosses are burning,
sharp-shooting goose-steppers round every corner,
there are snipers in the schools...
(I know you don't believe this.
You think this is nothing
but faddish exaggeration. But they
are not shooting at you.)
I'm marked by the color of my skin.
The bullets are discrete and designed to kill slowly.
They are aiming at my children.
These are facts.
Let me show you my wounds: my stumbling mind, my
"excuse me" tongue, and this
with the feeling of not being good enough.
These bullets bury deeper than logic.
Racism is not intellectual.
I can not reason these scars away.
Outside my door
there is a real enemy
who hates me.
I am a poet
who yearns to dance on rooftops,
to whisper delicate lines about joy
and the blessings of human understanding.
I try. I go to my land, my tower of words and
bolt the door, but the typewriter doesn't fade out
the sounds of blasting and muffled outrage.
My own days bring me slaps on the face.
Every day I am deluged with reminders
that this is not
and this is my land.
I do not believe in the war between races
but in this country
there is war.
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