Wednesday, October 11, 2006

White people talking race

Eshunetics has a bit of a go at me in his most recent post. I don't mind criticism, but it is a bit disconcerting to be so deliberately misread on almost every point. I can't help feeling there's some kind of lateral interference affecting his text. Perhaps an irony is at work: some black theorists on race are keen to avoid race being seen as an issue that only black people must think about (avoiding an intensified burden placed upon skin colour). I entirely agree with this point. Unstated white privilege must be stated and explored. White people must be confronted with their own form of otherness (the external perspective) and made to realise the automatic privileges accorded to white skin, as a prelude to practical ways to disrupt this symbolic economy.

However, there does nonetheless seem to be a subliminal refusal to allow white people to theorise race. Hence Eshunetics' emphasis on his '25 years teaching in a multicultural context' and his attempt to belittle my conversations with teachers on the challenge of teaching young black boys in the UK, and his attempt to query how many race theorists I have read. I am sure that many people acquainted with the literature would find his suggestion that Kobena Mercer is the best writer on race a little odd. Either you are happy to broaden the debate, or you are not. If a white person comes along with some considered opinions, allow them their space. Do not attempt to reduce or belittle their considerations. A thousand minor silencing strategies will ultimately alienate a white perspective on race theory, and narrow the debate again.

Most disappointing of all is that Eshunetics and I share a common enemy and probably have much more in common than our differences - we both want to stamp out the forest fire of white supremacy. It seems the narcissism of minor differences may be at work. Either that or pure egotism.


Jeremy 12:58 pm  

Ok Eshu has just left a comment on his blog in response to my comment, and also posted in the thread on the phobic black body below. Thank you for your points Eshu - I'm learning, having chained my ego to a lamppost outside.

Yes I did lump black boys from toddlers to adolescents together which was probably a mistake - there are different issues at different ages. And yes there are unconscious, pre-conscious and conscious tactics at work in the reproduction of white supremacy on the streets, in the playground and in the office. And yes probably we must look to Queer theory and the films of Isaac Julien and others to unpick the patriarchal-racial-capitalist nexus.

But I'm dreaming of an intervention right in the centre, rather than from the margins (inverting bell hooks' phrase). What would it be to try to absolutely disrupt body-image prejudice (whether phobia or desire) at the toddler-age? Our work developing children's books for Cassava Republic is keen to develop this area, in collaboration with others..

Anonymous,  1:44 pm  


"Yes I did lump black boys from toddlers to adolescents together"

I think you also lumped black boys from all backgrounds together.

"Body-image prejudice (whether phobia or desire)"
What's wrong with desire? isn't that more of preference than prejudice.

Styl Council 2:02 pm  


Having read both yours and Eshun's comments, I agree that you are both very similar but with one very obvious but fundamental difference; your RACE!

Eshun, quite rightly, (as a member of the black male and tutor of many black boys/men) would be perhaps better placed to dissect your comments and theories in a way in which you (by nature) cannot. Therefore, his argument and theories are backed up by anecdote and personal experiences as well as his readings... as the old saying goes..."until you have worked a mile in my shoe"....etc.

Whereas, you (as a member of the white male and social philosopher) can only refer to theories, anecdotes and readings without personal experience. During debates of relating to the issues and the experiences of the black male, you can only be a witness... However, this does not in anyway justify the dismissal of your comments or the encouragement of any negative backlash. But you must always remain aware and prepared for the possibility of subcontextualisation of your comments when writing an essay of this type.

On conclusion, it think it was rather humble of to accept the corrections, but without apology. You cannot and you are not capable of unquestionable knowledge on every subject....

Your posts are thought-provoking, passionate and debatable and that is how it must remain.

You are a white man and as such you are and will always be seen as part of the 'establishment'...hence a major enemy of the black-male…. Thus, YOU (Jeremy) also have to deal with preconception and misconception as a result of your race and sex.

So you see; we’re all learning from each-other….swings and roundabouts….

But there is one point where I fundamentally agree with Eshun...And it’s his comments about the likes of Kemi! Beware of such sycophants as they add zero value!

If the word RAGE had an IMAGE it would be a FEMALE...And like any mother, God-help the anyone that points out the defects in a child to his/her mother!


Anonymous,  11:02 am  

but Sisi Oge, you and Kemi are no different. One minute you are ardent supporters (or is it sycophants)of Jeremy, the next minute you come down on heavy on him. All you have said about Kemi can be applied to you as well!

both of you add value - volcanic fingers!!

To your main point, I sense an ambivilance about your in-law. on the one hand, you like him and have to tolerate him and on the other hand is whiteness, is I-too know, his insight about our country grates at you to no end. I sense the same tone in both you and Esunneutics - you both don't like an Oyinbo (a man)speaking about race.

Many of us have come to think that race is the preserve of non-white people and it isn't. I remember when I was an undergrad in the Uk there was a load of critique about unacknowledged white privilege and the fact that whiteness is also a race and it is constructed etc and white people should also study themselves in terms of race. By the end of my degree a whole new movement had began called White Studies. I thought about time too. 3 years later I go off for a masters and find that the very people who are saying that whiteness was unacknowledged are now saying that white studies has hijacked race discourse. they can't win.

I myself don't often agree with jeremy. In fact, he rubs me up the wrong way.


Jeremy 11:42 am  

Hey Anon - both my sis-in-law and Kemi are lovely people. But the fact is, all three of us have quite big gobs and are opinionated to boot. So we're bound to create friction from time to time. But the fact is, I love them both dearly.

I'm sure my 'I too know' attitude irks (even knowing about 'I too know' is a form of I too know!!) But what do you want me to do? I'm a critical being wherever on the planet I plonk myself. My criticism is always intended to provoke better ways of doing things and reducing injustice. Sometimes there's a bit of ego in the mix, but I'm working on that. We need to see that criticism does not always have to imply negativity (in fact, criticism is the best form of support there is in many cases).

Fact is, if I rub you up the wrong way, it probably means that you would rub me up the wrong way if we met or I knew who you were!! You don't have to read my blog now do you?

Styl Council 12:35 pm  


You've completely failed to understand the point in my comment. I have never read Fanon and neither am I an intellectual...But I AM a black mother to a Black Boy child (to whom Jeremy is an uncle). Therefore, I can see where both Jeremy and Eshun ( I hope my son is lucky enough to be taught by a teacher like him(Eshun) when the time comes) were coming from. As you don't know me, and even more so your only experience of me was probably when Jeremy and I fell out sometime back. Aside of that, Jay and I constantly agree and disagree all the time. Its called passion and opinion.

I don’t know about your immediate social network. But you see, I am sorounded by many intellectuals and artist…and the one thing they all have in common is EGO! Although some egos are bigger than others…Therefore, I felt it was important for me to participate in the debate by taking things from that angle.

My second point of correction what you said about putting up with his colour...THAT'S BULLSHIT!!!

Jeremy was white before he married my sister and as such if he's color were an issue then believe you me, he would have known about....I welcome Jeremy's insight into Nigeria without prejudice...He sincerely ahs a love for that country (and its not because he's being paid in 4x)...But he's a critical individual with passion and fervor and this is precisely what I expect from someone whose slowing becoming an adopted child of my country....

See the beautiful thing about my family is that we are extremely individualistic in our thinking and behaviour….We do NOT CLONE each other; whilst together; we form a strong and delightful liquorice family to which Jeremy adds value!!!

It’s been a long time since i participated in any of these debates on Jays my desire to enjoy reading and learning from them outweighs my desire to participate.

Oh and by the, I AM NEVER AMBIVALENT!!!

If you wish to reply this then please do, but that's this is my last comment on the matter!

Anonymous,  1:33 pm  

Jeremy, you rub me up the wrong way because you say the truth and as a true Naija, I don't like to hear the truth about our society. You grate at me not because I don't think what you have to say is unimportnat or you shouldn't say it, it is just that the truth hurt sometimes.


eshuneutics 9:41 pm  

Well, anonymous, what a hypocritical sort of person you are. You attack men intellectually and women personally...that speaks volumes about your gender attitudes. You hide behind the Common Person image to slay me as The Academic and then hide behind the Intellectual to attack "Styl Council" as an Emotional Woman. You even dare to call a Taurean: "ambivalent"! That is the biggest laugh so far! I suggest you take up a degree quickly in Matador Studies. And at the end of all your goading, you have nothing to contribute on any level.

St Antonym 9:48 pm  

Emi n'temi, I'm always ambivalent. Under my face of mourning is a laughing one, and under that is a mourning one. I agree with everything. I agree with nothing.

It's the path of Esu! May Esu save me from certainty.

eshuneutics 9:23 am  

Incidentally, J, my comments had nothing to do with "narrowing" debate. And what I said was: Mercer is the main authority for writers looking at the black male body in relation to Art and healing the psyche. (As in the latest work by Dr James Smalls, 2006). Another little misrepresentation, not that you would be guilty of misreading and misinformation, of course! "If a white person comes along with some considered opinions"...Exactly. But the emphasis is on "considered", not "white". Your opinions--in this case--without much educational accuracy--were not thought through. Now you shift the debate from the "margin" to the "centre". Of course, I only work on the margin. Unfortunately, I know more about children's fiction and the "centre" than I do race issues.
"What would it be to absolutely disrupt body image prejudice" at the infant stage? I imagine you will have studied the likes of Be Boy Buzz and Songololo, Homemade Love and countless other relevant books in this field...So, I won't bother debating this issue: I have learnt not to bother.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP