Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Interrelated but Different Problems of Systemic Color-Based Subjugation and Individual Color-Arousal Disorder

Dear Jose Vilson:

I'm sorry I'm not addressing the AfroLatino immigration issue that you raised in your essay, but your essay raised for me another issue that is close to my heart:

I think that we should stop using the words "race" and "racism" and "racist," and instead describe with specificity what we mean, but using other words, to avoid the ambiguity that results from the historic and disproven belief that people are biologically different in a meaningful way based on their "race."

For example, I find that I can express myself just as well by saying "systemic color-associated denigration, subjugation, and exploitation" as by "racism." That description covers for me what happens at the macro level, but I also see a "color-associated emotion, ideation and behavior disorder" in individuals. I think we need to study and look for solutions to both of these interrelated but different problems.

This isn't about "color-blindness." It's about disambiguation. Although you know what you mean when you say " 'race' still exists," white supremacists say the same thing while meaning something entirely different. When every story in the newspaper about Black people uses the word "race," are they doing that to help us in the struggle to free ourselves, or are they doing it in a continuing effort to perpetuate the white supremacy that gave birth to the word "race" in the first place?

If we describe the same concepts using unambiguous words that don't risk conceding that "race" exists biologically, then we'll find out what white people really mean when they use the word "race" and why they enjoy using the word "race" so much. I think we'll find that this ambiguousness was serving them much more than it was serving us.


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