Time for a bit of reflection, I think. In Part 1, we started to think about how race and racial difference are constructed in different contexts. In Part 2, we talked about how contextual figuration of whiteness. In Part 3, we spoke about assimilation and shifts towards whiteness. It’s gone surprisingly well.
Surprisingly? Well, yes. There have been some horrible moments in the moderation queue, but the series has gone much better than most of the responses to work I do about race at Feministe have gone. I have to spend a lot of time explaining that reverse racism is not actually a thing, that talking from an anti-racist perspective doesn’t mean I hate white people. This, as the non-white/POC writers who have gone before me at Feministe could tell you, is not a space in which writing about race is particularly welcomed by readers.
But there’s something that bothered me even more than the loudmouthed attempts to shut down anything and everything I wrote about race using those played out tropes. I’ve been writing here since October 2009 and it’s now December 2010. In that time, I’ve been called white more times than I can stand to recall, because commenters have expected to find white writers. (I guess white people are supposed to be the ones doing all the writing, telling all the stories, speaking all the English, doing all the work.) When I point out that I’m not white, the response sometimes is to assume that I’m African American. And that set of assumptions about who writes, who exists and who one (a white “one” from the United States) might expect to find on the Internet was really telling.
The other thing was that any time I tried to talk about race, here or in the feminist blogosphere in general, I had to refigure everything I wanted to say according to US logics of what race is. It can be really painful to engage with writing about racism such that only acknowledges only two or three racial identities, and assumes that race is constructed in US ways the world over. I shouldn’t have to separate out the things that form my racialisation and my understanding of race in order to have a conversation on a dominant culture’s terms.
I was sick of it. I decided to write about race again and again, until I didn’t have to put up with being misracialised and such on my own blog. I wanted to hit something really important home. The logics that lead you to expect to encounter (or not) particular kinds of people in particular ways do not hold most of the time.
I’m really glad to have helped, along with those who have commented and otherwise responded, in shifting racial consciousness. Thank you to everyone who has commented, tweeted, posted, and talked about this series so far.
I’ve directed us to talk about whiteness a lot, because I think it’s important to turn the lens on that which is constructed as invisible or neutral. But there’s so much more to talk about regarding how people are racialised across contexts and so forth. I was pleased to get a load of responses from mixed race people, which is something I’d been hoping for even though I haven’t really spoken to mixed experience in my posts.
But I want to take a little break now and give us all some time to reflect. Don’t worry, I’ve got another, parallel series planned out, too. In the comments, I’d so like if you’d share what you’ve gotten out of the conversations we’ve had so far in Cultural Constructions, and any ideas you might have for future conversations in the series.