Friday, February 02, 2007

Clemson Gangsta Party, Biden, and Some Other Stuff

So Walter said he wasn't going to discuss these things and I was going to post over there about why we should discuss (though not in the moronic manner of mainstream media), but there really is no need to clog up other people's blog space.

So here goes:

What the kids at Clemson did was racist.
What Biden said about Obama was racist.

[long deleted rant]

I had a bunch of other stuff I was going to say and it was incoherent and ranty and probably best left inside my head. It's quite possible that I'm too worked up about all of this to speak rationally. I'll just end with this:

Racism isn't always a hooded figure burning a cross or mob hanging a black man from a tree. Sometimes it's simply people revealing that black people are nothing more than figments of their imagination, figures from their nightmares (to borrow a phrase from Ellison). To pretend otherwise is dishonest and dangerous and hurtful.


Alison said...

Yep. In fact, the idea of racism as a hooded figure--as individual acts of hatred--I think is a huge obstacle. It's easy to identify the KKK member as racist. It's harder to see the much more pervasive racism that's manifested in invisible systems that privilege certain groups while disempowering others. And also what you're talking about here, racism operating at the level of the symbolic.

AND ALSO, there's this idea in one of the essays I teach that's called "the priciple of intentions vs. effects." Lord, let's see if I can condense this: the idea is, if you are in a privileged position, then you don't get to decide what the moral significance of your behavior is, if that behavior affects someone in a less privileged position. Your intentions don't get to define the meaning of your behavior. The person who's affected gets to say what that behavior means and what needs to be done to make it right. I'm thinking about that in terms of the Clemson situation. Those racist white kids will say, "But we didn't MEAN it that way! It was a joke!" The principle of intentions vs. effects says that their intention doesn't get to define the meaning of what they did--it doesn't matter if they meant it as a joke. Its effect was racist.

claire said...

There is a somewhat odd post at on how the racist attitude of the speaker (Biden, in this case0 does not matter, what matters is the policy enacted, which is true up to a apoint, but also beside the point.

And I am also trying to work through my own white privilege response which is to want to say -- don;t even tell me about this and please don;t let it be happening where I teach. When if you don;t read about it you don;t see how truly appalling it was and if you hope it is not happening where I (we) teach, then I suspect (as is often true) that I am living in a dream world.