“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.
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.
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.