Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Colour Of Fear

Hat tip: Stuff White People Do

Recently I have posted quite a bit on my thoughts on what it is like to be a POC. I have not heavily engaged on the subject of whiteness, and what it means to be white.  To exist as a white person in this world is to live a life of privilege.  As I have repeatedly said privilege can be mitigated by certain factors but this in no way eliminates it.

Whiteness is normalized as good but what is insidious about this construction is the invisibility of the mechanization.  Whiteness is not seen as a race or a culture it just occurs.  POC are constructed as different, or even exotic, but this can only be presented in this manner because of the normalization of whiteness.  For all of the agents of socialization, whiteness is continually reified as not only acceptable, but ultimately desirable.  Even as whiteness consumes bodies of colour we are meant to desire it, and embrace it. 

I am amused that being considered a racist has recently been construed as undesirable amongst whites, and yet they continually benefit from the exploitation of bodies of colour.  I'm no racist but, I wear on my body clothing made in sweatshops by people of colour. I'm no racist but, I continue to purchase products produced by Del Monte and Dole despite its exploitation of workers of colour.  I'm no racist but, "illegal immigration" has to stop despite the fact that the reason for the desire to immigrate is my white led governments hegemonic place globally.  These forces are not divorced from race even though conceptually we are told that it is about economics.  Consider that the the so-called third world is constructed from bodies of colour, and white western governments feel entitled to use these countries resources, and their populace as neo-colonies.  There is a claim that this is about having a better life for westerners, but in actuality this is about consuming bodies of colour. Yes eating the other occurs daily, with malice and forethought.

No one wants to be considered a racist and yet daily each person contributes to the continuation of racism, whether it is in the sphere of economics or passively sitting and watching television.  If we are watching a show and a white person calls a black man a boy, instantly we can identify that as a racist act but what about not noting in an evening of television watching that Asians, or Latinos are rarely seen in mainstream programming.  Where is the outcry for even representation?...It is just one continual echo chamber because whiteness, the bodies that matter are represented. You are not meant to notice that this over representation means the exclusion of certain bodies.  Each act daily reinforces whiteness, and yet to be considered a racist is a terrible thing. I submit that when you don't acknowledge that the failure to act is just as racist as performing racism you are indeed maintaining whiteness as not only good, but natural and above question. 


sardonic sister said...

This article remind me of an article I read in grad school called, "White Privilege and Male Privilege" by Peggy McIntosh. In it, she lists the privileges that white people have that they may not realize. Examples are being able to buy "flesh colored band-aids," speaking our opinions without people assuming we are speaking for our entire race, and buying greeting cards, posters, etc. with white people predominately displayed. Little things like that are really big things, I think. It shows how white privilege is so ingrained in our society...

Elena said...

Thanks for this. I just posted a link to this video as a response to this blog post: http://heidischnakenberg.blogspot.com/2008/07/some-clarity.html and specifically the claim that men in the anti-racist movement don't understand sexism.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I notice the normalization of whiteness in the way people perceive race on the Internet. I recently went to an even where I got together with some fellow bloggers. Of them, I am the only one who blogs about my race (white). When I posted a picture of my hand with those of fellow bloggers, one of my readers expressed happy surprise to see that one of the hands was black. I've noticed that unless someone has an ethnic sounding name or specifically states their race on the Internet, it is assumed they are white because white is the norm.

When I started blogging, I used only initials to post. I added a pseudonym to make it clear I was a woman because in certain parts of the blogosphere, people would assume I was a man, because male is the norm.

Renee said...

I agree MPJ whiteness is very much assumed on the internet. This is part of the reason I believe it so important for POC to make their presence known and create a unique space. We cannot allow ourselves to be created as invisible once again.