Purification

I

“Since racial discrimination and segregation are over in this country,” said Z/Cero sardonically, “we can go right back to court sanctioned segregation.” Read all about it. “This is a decision that the Court and the nation will come to regret,” said Stephen Breyer, still lucid despite sitting with the likes of Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas all these years. “There is a cruel irony in the chief justice’s reliance on our decision in Brown v Board of Education,” said John Paul Stevens. “It is my firm conviction that no member of the court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.” But then again, we know what one of the main problems with integrated schools is: they beget mixed babies. Many parents in the neighborhood I inhabited as a child were concerned about this, and were considered old-fashioned. They are in fashion now.

II

Rachel points out that interracial sex is still a huge taboo in this country and I am sure she is right. On the other hand I get tired of Euro-Americans who believe the existence of interracial couples means racism is withering away. I think this side of the obsession has to do with whitening – let’s make sure their babies are lighter than they – and control – let’s get each one into a white household. It will divide them up, and permit us to exert our influence. Integration becomes dilution, and the unreconstructed sound forward-looking.

For example, I was at a music festival in Oregon last year where virtually every adult person of color in the audience was a member of an otherwise white family. I did not think this was progressive. My immediate, ironic reaction was that these Portlanders certainly did know how to divide and conquer. My subsequent reflection was that we must have been in a white venue. This was a free festival right downtown, the bands were multicultural (and not that sort of “multicultural” band which only attracts white audiences), and the audience was not all white, but it must have been a white venue if there were no persons of color in groups, or groups of persons including more than one adult person of color.

I am of course not complaining about the interracial relationships but about the fact that the only same race couples were of European descent, and that the only interracial groups were the couples. Does any non-sexual interracial communication ever take place here? I wondered. I am sure it does, and I hope Portlanders who read this will forgive me – but you get my point.

III

One of the reasons I felt like such a foreigner in Reeducation during my second stint at it – and should have been more suspicious of it during my first stint, in the early 1990’s – was that in this state which is one-third Black (and New Orleans was two thirds Black before Katrina), it was so white. I mean, like, 90% white. The university was under court supervision because it was 90% white – a ratio like that had to mean it was segregated – and you could tell, because there were parallel, separate but supposedly equal, historically Black programs elsewhere in town. I thought my Reeducation venue was white because of segregation – there was surely Black Reeducation too, with less posh decor, but studying the same things. I intuit now, though, that this Reeducation was white because its values, assumptions, expectations, and judgments were those of the whitest society.

Value: quiescence. Do not criticize the status quo. Remember that you know someone in the Big House, and find your own place on that stairway to that heaven. Assumption: You are now supportive of the aforementioned stus quo in its crueler dimension. You will be happier if you leave this practice behind, and collaborate instead with oppression in its softer face. Expectation: You are resistant to all change and must be convinced that all changes, and especially those which appear to you to be destructive, are good. Judgment: Any part of you which does not fit these values and assumptions is beyond the pale and must be struck out.

And I am sure everyone is tired of hearing me complain about Reeducation. But I am purifying myself, and it means I have to brush off some Reeducation Dust each morning. In my first Reeducation stint I gave some emanations of whiteness – and maleness too, by the way, especially in its queerer forms – far too much benefit of the doubt.

Axé.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Purification

  1. Ann

    “I think this side of the obsession has to do with whitening – let’s make sure their babies are lighter than they – and control – let’s get each one into a white household. It will divide them up, and permit us to exert our influence. Integration becomes dilution, and the unreconstructed sound forward-looking.”

    Yes, let’s get those non-whites to breed themselves out of existence. Let’s get those non-whites to negate themselves by conceding defeat and joining the opposition; let’s get them to believe that “sleeping with the enemy’ is in their own best interests.

    White-run America could not beat, starve, burn, enslave nor genocide every non-white race off America, so they came up with a plan that perverted inclusion into non-white people breeding THEMSELVES out of existence, all the while, white America keeps its gene pool safe and secure.

    “Integration becomes dilution.”

    Dilute, wash away, whiten, make more and more PALER the non-white, to where they no longer exist.

    A new, more subtle, more twisted and sinister divide and conquer.

    “On the other hand I get tired of Euro-Americans who believe the existence of interracial couples means racism is withering away”

    Racism and its long embedded institutionalized structure cannot be bred away. All the rape-mixing in America in the last 450-500 years has still not destroyed racism. And the internalization of non-whites of the worship of whiteness, has eroded their resolve to hang onto their culture and traditions in the belief of more and more assimilation and discarding of what they are gets them acceptance in the eyes of white America, then they will acquiesce, and subjugate and negate their non-white humanity, and in essence will breed themselves out of existence to gain acceptace in white-run America’s eyes.

    “Does any non-sexual interracial communication ever take place here?”

    I wonder as well.

    Could it be humanly possible for a white to intereact with a non-white person without resorting to sex? Is the “eating of the Other” the only type of engagement that a white person can do with a black, Latino, etc. without there always having to include the sex act?

    I would have more respect for a white man who treats me with respect and as an equal, rather than only as some chocolate fantasy.

    I would rather he saw me as a human being, instead of some freak of nature; as a woman worthy of any man’s respect, rather than as someone to be debased.

    Not much chance of such a thing as that happening in my lifetime.

  2. “Eating of the Other” – a great phrase.

  3. Oswald de Andrade too, and beaucoup d’autres … that is why it is so rich.

  4. Calvin Hernton’s “Sex and Racism in America” (published in 1964 and still in print in multiple languages!) unapologetically discussed this topic. Still in print, but it’s like nobody read it…

  5. CS, this is why you should write an academic article about this book. It was around when I was a *child* and I think now people do not know about it. I should reread it as I have not seen it since.

    Things are going backwards in terms of race relations and general awareness and this is not just me romanticizing the past.

    There were many unreconstructed things happening then, but also astute commentary which has not been superceded … and people do *not* realize this.

  6. Ann

    CS.

    I recently bought a copy of Hernton’s “Sex and Racism in America”, at the used bookstore in my city.

    Most people who read the title of the book do not look closely at the title.

    It reads sex and racism, NOT sex and race. And the title alone tells you how sex and racism walk hand-in-hand and have done so for as long as this country has been in existence.

    As I started reading it, I realized, “Hey, I read this book years ago when I was still in junior high school.” It had been such a long time since I had read it, that I forgot I read it, but, as I read the five chapters (WW, BM, WM and BW) I began to remember many parts of the text.

    Yes, this book unfortunatey still stands. What Hernton wrote back then is a testament of how the white man turned sexuality into a perversed abomination.

    How he turned what should be intimacy and caring into a sick form of depravity.

    And that sickness is the legacy of slavery, forced rape miscegenation, defilement of black females bodies, and de facto segregation. A legacy whose vestiges still remain with us today.

    How ANY black woman would not fear letting a white man near her even in this day and age should be of no surprise to anyone. White men raped black women for over 400 years, and there are many black women who feel that if you fucked with, and fucked over us all these centuries, why should you change now in the 21ST Century?

    Why should the majority of black women trust the majority of white men in this country when the last recorded rapes of black women in the South were in the early years of the 1970s?

    Outrages committed against black women and girls for which no white man has ever been convicted and punished.

    Ever.

    Only a little over 30 years ago.

    As if white men of today have come a long way.

    As if white men of today still do not think of black women as sexual outhouses born for the sole purpose of white men’s degradation and debasement.

  7. i am not yet tired of reading about it.

  8. Oh good, Nezua, because it is in a few upcoming posts! But it is fading as a topic because I am leaching it out of myself. I think I should gather up all of the blog comments on it and write a book.

  9. Cero

    P.S. Nezua – it turns out that a friend of mine very different (less complicated) than me has also been to Reeducation long ago, and in an “encampment,” no less. Very interesting comment:

    “They open up your head and turn everything upside down, and then close it back up so you just stay confused. I am not surprised it took you 15 years to get over it.”

    AHHH vindication – amazing!

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