Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: more on the politics of Race--the human one

Thursday, January 25, 2007

more on the politics of Race--the human one

I couldn't sleep last night and I wrote a great piece in my head, but I can't seem to remember a word of it now. I do want to put a word in for Gary Kamiya at Salon and his piece called black vs. "black"; I think he says what I was trying to say but in a much more thought out essay. Check it out. He's my favorite staff writer there and I think his spin on what we allow to define us versus how others define us is very interesting, especially given the work I'm in right now, working on Level Two of Teacher Training here at KRI. It seems every question of identity is surfacing, whether it's how we relate to ourselves, to others, to our mind, or to our purpose, what we call ourselves and the stories we tell about ourselves are a direct cause for what actually happens to us. This is where consciousness and awareness come in.

So what is the consciousness of being "white". I realized that in my earlier essay I mentioned that I was very aware of my 'whiteness'. And yet, in a dyad exercise in class the other night, to the question "Who are you?" not once did the word 'white' come up as an answer, nor did middle-class. So, now I question whether my perceived sense of consciousness of these issues isn't actually just a bullying of my agenda and not something that I actually experience on a day-to-day basis. My working theory has always come from the activist political talking points which says that if you're black in America then it's in your face--every day. Now I question that assumption, especially for blacks who live in primarily black neighborhoods, or latinos who live in primarily latino neighborhoods. Maybe there are entire days, weeks, months even that people don't think about their class or their race. Maybe it's only thought about it when the bills are due or the promotion doesn't come. I can't say. I'm as white as you can get.

But I do recognize now that 'white' isn't something that I identify with; I'm not conscious of it on a working, daily basis. Does this make me a part of the white privelege culture? Am I that same person that I condemn? But maybe like Kamiya, I've moved beyond the identity politics? Maybe I just don't relate to the polemics of race politics anymore. Maybe it's time for there to truly be only one race--the human one.

On that note: Can it be possible that a major newspaper, when announcing Richardson's pending candidacy said, "Richardson throws his sombrero in the ring." Ah. . . it rears its ugly head again.


At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. I've never really thought of myself as white either. Maybe I've been denying it too long. My brother and I were the only whites in our school growing up, so we were reminded about race everyday. We were mostly teased for wearing turbans, but they also called us Pinche Gringos (and much worse of course). Since just about everybody else in the school was Spanish, our skin tones weren't that far off. All I knew was that somehow I was different and appearently everybody wanted me to know that I'm wrong.
My brother still remembers in second grade, taking standardized tests, where the teacher anounced "Everybody, except Hari and Prabhu, mark Hispanic, you two mark Anglo."
How come "brown pride," "black pride," and "red pride" are considered empowering and "white pride" is considered racist? If somebody would have told me as a kid that I don't need to be proud of my race, but I shouldn't be ashamed of it either, then I may have suffered less.
I think pride in race is stupid. It's the dumbest thing to have pride in. It's not something you earn, clearly all races of people are doing the same things in the modern age. It's just something you're born with, which may determine the color of your skin, which means nothing.
Somehow I usually feel more comfortable with minorities than with white people, because I feel like they understand what it's like. Maybe that's why I've never realized that I am in fact white, because I've never seen white people and thought 'Oh I'm one of them.'

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa aka Chiara Huddleston said...

I too grew up as a minority in a small town, but even as a minority, still, all the priveleges and power belonged to the 'whites' in town....the problem with 'white pride' I believe is that it historically has led to a lot of atrocities--slavery, massive genocide of Native Americans and other colonial massacres around the globe in the 19th centurty. Although so have many other forms of 'pride'--communism, ethnic cleansing, tribalism, what have you. It's all about power--who has it and who wants it.

So perhaps when empowerment becomes and internal, personal achievement, the pursuit of political power will be less onerous.

Thanks as always for your comments Prabhu.


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