Saturday, September 11, 2010

Racialicious and the Imaginary Will Shetterly

I was wondering why I hadn't remembered that Racialicious was run by one of scifi fandom's antiracism theorists—I remembered it as being an interesting site about race that I've visited a few times a year for ages—so I did a little googling and found two things:

1. Latoya Peterson took over this year. I'd remembered the previous owner's tenure.

2. My name only turns up there in one post, LINK LOVE: POC IN SF CARNIVAL – INTERNATIONAL BLOG AGAINST RACISM WEEK. It's a roundup of blogs that took part in IBARW in 2007. It includes this, which starts with a link to Vom_marlowe's LJ:

[Latoya's note - My heart clenched a little when I saw this essay because the author of the post refers to a favorite author of mine during adolescence, Will Shetterly. Shetterly argues by the numbers that race only affects a few, but poverty affects the many (white) people who are suffering. Inexplicably, I feel hurt. He never painted himself as a racial activist, but to find out someone who helped paint your formulative years holds views that make you want to vomit...*sigh* Fantasy and reality collide in painful ways...]
I chose this topic because it’s an argument I see a lot, especially on the internet. I think of it as the Will Shetterly argument, but I’ve seen it spoken often by many other people as well. The argument goes thusly: Racism doesn’t exist anymore; racism has been superceded by classism or there was never racism to begin with. Solve classism and ‘apparent racism’ will disappear.
This argument is bullshit.

Amusingly, we agree. That argument is bullshit. I've never made it.

As for "arguing by the numbers," I didn't invent them. There are twice as many white folks living in poverty in the USA as black or non-white Hispanic folks. Martin Luther King noticed that in the '60s.

Incidentally, after the 2007 discussion at vom_marlowe's site, I found Adolph Reed Jr.'s New Orleans - Undone by Neoliberalism. It's highly recommended. He notes:
A critique that focuses just on race misses how the deeper structures of neoliberal practice and ideology underlie the travesty in New Orleans, as well as in the other devastated areas of the Gulf Coast. (Adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish's housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating.)