of proms, integration, whiteness and privilege.

so. a few things on the news in the past few days.

This piece, in today’s Guardian Online about racial profiling of ethnic minority Britons between 1999 and 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/apr/22/ethnic-minority-britons-stop-search-white

And then I stumbled across this, in today’s Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/04/22/should_blacks_and_whites_dance_together_integrated_prom_shines_racism_spotlight_on_southern_georgia.html .

Unlike the first, which doesn’t surprise me, but which is, nevertheless, disappointing, I don’t know where or how to begin here. I’m baffled. I’m stunned. My jaw is somewhere near the ground. There’s so much going on here…the ‘integrated prom’ seem tangential to much deeper issues, but is also, simultaneously, emblematic of all of those issues. As Harriet Hollis, interviewed in the article, states:

“The prom is the symbol, but the absence of black teachers in the Wilcox school system is the material issue. Some of these kids have gone through their entire school years not seeing a single black professional. We talk about racial healing — but sometimes you have to break open the wound so the healing can truly happen.”

At issue in both of these pieces is citizenship – the right to belong. the right to act on one’s belonging. to participate. to know that you will never be challenged on your right to belong.

All of which led me back to this piece published in the immediate aftermath of last week’s Boston bombs: http://www.timwise.org/2013/04/terrorism-and-privilege-understanding-the-power-of-whiteness/ .

In it, Tim Wise argues the following:

… white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you’re white) — and me — to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one’s shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression.

It’s a great piece of whiteness and privilege and I may well bring it into class in the fall.

How do we begin to change the way that racialized bodies are imagined and read? How can we even begin to speak about citizenship until we’ve actually properly healed other wounds?

 

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