Friday, September 10, 2010

the privileged ignorance of anti-racism, or Censorship at Racialicious, Part 3

Latoya Peterson added a long "Mod Note" to comment 21 at “"COLORBLINDNESS,” “ILLUMINATED INDIVIDUALISM,” POOR WHITES, AND MAD MEN: THE TIM WISE INTERVIEW, PART 1. It contains this astonishing example of the ignorance of anti-racists:
What's frustrating - and something has been discussed here, particularly with reference to the publishing industry - is when a POC creator wants to move their work into the mainstream and they are blocked by a gatekeeper, not because the work is not good, but because "we've already published a book written by a XXX author this year." Then it isn't even about the quality of the work - the publisher is operating off a racist assumption that titles geared toward people of color will not sell with white audiences.
Publishing may be the least racist business in the USA because the old joke about the internet always applied: No one knows you're a dog.

Publishers care about books, not authors. They sell what sells. That's just how capitalism works; they have to make a profit, or they die. So they try to figure out if primary colors sell better than secondary colors, if pictures of humans sell better than pictures of things, if illustrative scenes sell better than characters who seem to be posing for the viewer, etc.

But they don't give a damn about the color of the author.

(They sometimes care about the color of the character on the cover, but that's another discussion.)

She says,
...many of the critiques I do about diversity in the media are frustrating as all hell, since people who are decision makers will happily wring their hands about the problem, but not take steps to change the behavior to get the desired outcome.
Her vagueness is typical of anti-racism. What are the steps she wants "decision makers" to make?

She says,
Reed also doesn't include many references to back up his assertions. He is essentially riffing on different movements, until he strikes on an inherently dishonest opinion:

I remain curious why the “debate” over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms—like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument—and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy.

It's not a matter of race versus class. It's a matter of race and class.
That's what anti-racists say now; they've finally realized they can no longer ignore class entirely. But only a couple of years ago, they said bringing up class issues was derailing. See Liz Henry's bingo card to identify racists, where "class issue" is a square.

Those who study the history of class and race find they're eternally linked, but anti-racists insist on a divide. Ms. Peterson says:
...class based discrimination and race based discrimination are separate things, though they have some common notes. For those of us who grew up dealing with both, the two are simply different. Setting the two concepts against each other trying to prove the righteousness of one over another doesn't serve any real purpose.
That depends on which side of the divide you support. Those who enjoy class privilege like to think they can focus on racism alone.

She says,
If Reed submitted this to me, I would ask him to go back and revise it, adding in more references to support his arguments, discuss the work of activists that are not Tim Wise for comparison purposes (i.e. people like the folks over at United for a Fair Economy, which speaks specifically to the roles of race and class in our society and published a comprehensive textbook - The Color of Weath - detailing how racial discrimination was the root cause of creating an economic underclass to be exploited, and spends a lot of time discussing specific policy based solutions that would close the gaps that must address race, or else the problem is being dodged, yet again!) and overall build a stronger case for the assertion he makes.
As capitalists go, United for a Fair Economy are decent folks, and their site is useful. But they're an organization created by and for philanthropists. The "fair economy" they're united for is an economic pyramid with philanthropists at the top and the rest of us serving them.

A quote anti-racists should know: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Looking for that, I found another I quite like:

“All philanthropy... is only a savory fumigation burning at the mouth of a sewer. This incense offering makes the air more endurable to passers-by, but it does not hinder the infection in the sewer from spreading.” — Ellen Key