Part of Me is Still a Racist.

 

“The permanence of domination cannot succeed without the complicity of the whole group: the work of denial, which is the source of social alchemy, is, like magic, a collective undertaking”

Pierre Bourdieu illuminates the paradox that plagues feminism, as well as all struggles for equality, that the only really unity in populations calling for equality is their complicity in pretending racism isn’t really an issue.

I have a friend from Brazil. She is funny, smart, brave, and beautiful too.  We both have children and despite some language barriers communicate well.  But I have always noticed there is something about on relationship that is stunted.  I now realize it is probably me.   My friends and I all converged at one of our houses for a kid birthday and I ignored her. I still don’t really understand it; it is because I grew up in the most homogeneously white community in the Mid-coast and I am physically uncomfortable even though I am intellectually and logically okay? By the end of the party we were laughing and playing pin the tail on the donkey but I still felt ashamed – more so after these readings. I never knew that a racism existed in me separate from my ideology (Fernandez).

These practices are so ambiguous that it doesn’t even seem necessary to address them which is probably why the administrators on Suicide Girls figured a blanket “affirmative action” statement would be enough to absolve them of racial practices.  By doing this they accept little, if any, responsibility for their participation in the diversity of the site and leave it up to those who are not white to do something about it.  This got me thinking about the West Asian child Fernandez observed on the playground.  Those “complementary […] behaviors involving self-control, defiance, submissiveness, and denial” play a part in the perpetuation of embodied racism.  How does this relate to the disproportionate number of incarcerated African Americans?  Blatant racism plays a part but when “nonverbal communication is recognized by law, the police, and the military in assessing the credibility of individuals […]” how might those complementary behaviors imply guilt when there is none?  And, if “internet technology is so pervasively coded as ‘masculine’” how can it be assumed that the complementary behaviors of whiteness are excluded from that masculinity when white, male, and privilege are the dominant class.  Please don’t misconstrue my words.  I speak about ideology through ideology and it is very difficult to suspend those “rules of behavior that are customarily observed with other members of the same group” I am white after all, and though racism is not my intent, my habits may say otherwise.  It is so quiet, but still, my ears are ringing.

But there is hope knowing that “habits are open to transformation as their performativity implies continuous improvisation” so I will – as my friend says – “fake it until I make it” until it’s no longer an act but a new embodied behavior.

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