Saturday, 19 September 2009

Every few months, I check in with my brothers and sisters in the afrosphere and tell them once again that (a) "race" doesn't exist and (b) "race" is an epithet that we are called and that we call ourselves. Today, I visited the Field Negro blog and made the same argument once again, for all the good it does:

The word "race" appears 441 MILLION times in the last year, in a Google search of USA English usage. This is so even when you exclude unrelated topics that might use the word "race" like "bicycle -bike -foot -athletic -grease -run"."

The word "race" (raça) appears two million times in a Google search of Brazilian usage over the last year.

So, even adjusted for population, USA people used the word "race" 150 times more often than Brazilian people over the last year.

Above you say, "What followed was a lively discussion about politics, race, (sic) [politics of skin color] and the problems of urban A-merry-ca."

So what difference does it make if you remove the word "race" and replace it with the phrase "politics of skin color"?

The only difference is that white supremacists love the word "race" because their view of their role in the world is based on their conviction that their white "race" is superior. But if "race" doesn't exist, then it's impossible for "race" to be what makes them better than us. They have to fall back on skin color, and an Obama-electing majority of Americans agree that skin color alone can't make one person better than another.

So what's wrong with using the word "race"? It's a validation of white supremacist ideology. You say you won't cosign Republican bullshit, but everytime you and they agree that what separates us is "race" and not reaction to people's skin color, you are validating THEIR view and showing that you don't have a view of your own. Some of us are still using the slave names that we got because our great grandparents lived on "Johnson's" plantation and all of Johnson's slaves' last names were "Johnson."

Others of us are still using, validating and teaching slavery-era concepts, like the concept of "race".

When will America become post-racial? Certainly not before we acknowledge that what we have been ratcheting up skin-color into RACE!!!, when "race is really nothing more than skin color and skin color-based politics.

So, keep validating the white supremacists by joining them in the carnival of ubiquitous use of the word "race"! By joining them you can best oppose them.

What we call race is nothing more than skin color, and the proof, in your own post, is that you say you and the Republican discussed politics and "race". Even using the sociological meaning of "race", it amounts to nothing more than power relationships (politics) associated with skin color. So, basically you said above that you discussed politics and the politics of skin color with the Republican guy.

That's redundant. I'm willing to bet that you really only discussed the politics of skin color, and didn't discuss any politics that were not about the politics of skin color. So, by saying politics and "race", you're acknowledging that you are co-signing and validating the BIOLOGICAL concept of "race", in which our genes make us so fundamentally different from white people that we are not even members of the same species, or are some sort of sub-species of the human family.

That concept has been completely disproved, as a matter of genetic science, by the Human Genome Project. But, let's not confuse ourselves with facts. Let's just keep using the same word that appears so prominently in Klu Klux Klan literature and on the Stormfront White Supremacist website. Hey, if you can't beat them, join them, right?

And let's keep pretending that when the white-news media uses the word "race" ubiquitously, they're doing it to help us Blacks maintain our sense of identity.

You've gotta be f***ing kidding, right? Whites love the word "race" and the use it 470 MILLION times in one year (along with Blacks), because the word "race" is part of maintaining THEIR sense of who they are (superior) and THEIR social and economic privilege.

You wanna know when American will become post-racial? Well, imagine that your mother-in-law contracted Swine Flu, but YOU insisted on referring to her condition as her "piggishness". :) For so long as you call her "piggish", there will be no peace in your family. Piggish, like race, is an epithet. If you are still using the word "piggish" when referring to your mother-in-law, then you are still in conflict with her and that conflict will go on FOREVER until you change your vocabulary. And then the bitterness will still last a few more years.

The same is true for the word "race." We have a chromatic difference from whites. Since some of us Blacks have straight hair and pointy noses and still are considered Blacks, it's the SKIN COLOR that determines who is who. For so long as you insist on exaggerating the nature of the biological differences between us by using the utterly unscientific "race" word, we will continue to argue about it, if only because it is so amorphous, and you can never quite define something that doesn't exist in the first place to everyone's satisfaction.

Whites and Blacks are at each other's throats partly because the "race" word is so laden with ridiculous hand-me-down stereotypes and insults that the mere use of the word is like saying that Blacks' difference from whites is our piggishness. The word "race" poisons the well.

Not using the word "race" will not magically make everything better, any more than not calling your mother-in-law piggish magically turn your relationship with her into gold. But calling her piggish WILL inevitably and undoubtedly prevent the day when your relationship will change for the better.

Like piggishness, the word "race" is an epithet that whites designed especially for us, and that we love so much we are not willing to let it go. Franz Fanon said that Blacks would imitate the oppressors and internalize the oppressors language and culture. But I guess he wasn't referring to places like AMERICA!

If you ever check in with Google and discover that the word "race has been used less than 470 Million times in the previous year, then you will know we are making progress.

As long as the USA's use of the word "race" remains around 441 MILLION times per year at Google, you'll know that Blacks are still being called sub-species pigs; we're still calling ourselves sub-human pigs, and the conflicts that comes from basing economic and social status on skin color are not abaiting.

Klick your heels together and say the word "race" one hundred times in rapid succession. Does it take you back to Kansas? Does it increase your wealth or improve the way you are treated by the police? Or does it just reaffirm and reassert color-based unjustices and unjust relationships that are hundreds of years old?

The word "race" is great for maintaining conflict and readership. But, using the word race is ultimately dehumanizing for Blacks because we participate in our own linguistic oppression, joining whites in a linguistic practice whose rules THEY designed so that THEY would always win.

If you keep on doing what you always did, you'll keep on getting what you always got.

1 comment:

Robert Reed III said...

Keep them coming. I love your blog, and I agree with your views on race.