White like me

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UNDERSTANDING WHITENESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE ART OF BRETT
MURRAY
By ROSS P. PASSMOOR

‘“People make race. Differences in skin colour and other physical attributes exist, but on a spectrum rather than in neatly apportioned categories” (Samson 2005: 3). The idea that people make race is a core assumption in the critical study of race as a sociological phenomenon. However in order to understand this fully, a discussion of race and what is involved in its making will be addressed. Ratcliffe maintains that much of the world’s population regards race as an empirical truth. However, “To some, it may be little more than a convenient set of descriptors; to others it represents something considerably more sinister. It is away of ordering groups hierarchically and deterministically, that is the inferiorization of certain groups is deemed to apply in all places and for all time” (Ratcliffe 2004: 27). The term race is essentially a generalization, referring to a phenotypically distinct group of people regarded as similar. As a term it is used by theorists and racists alike, the only difference being that modern theorists generalize in order to shed light on the effects of a racialized social order, while racists perpetuate racial hierarchies in order to secure positions of power. Debra Naills maintains that although individuals can be conscious of their racialized existence, “a race (like a state) can be severally conscious of the existence of the whole but has no distinct consciousness of its own” (Naills in Valls 2005: 64). For the purposes of this dissertation, race will not refer to the genetically based reality of phenotypical differences, but instead to the symbolic meanings attached to those bodily differences (Brunsma & Rockquemore, 2002.
p340). Thus, “the fact that a person is born with “white” skin does not necessarily mean that s/he will think, act, and write in the “white” ways I’ve described. Nor does the fact that a person has “brown” or “black” skin automatically guarantee that s/he will not think, act, and write in “white” ways” (Keating, 1995: 907).’

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“One man . . . cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him”

Booker T. Washington

Comrades Without Irony

Adam Haupt | Thought Leader | Sun 09 Jul 2017

“For as long as I can remember, I have been dealing with lefter-than-thou comrades and more-authentically-revolutionary-than-thou types. Their judgemental bullshit has been harsh and unwavering. Their righteous certainty without irony.

And, yet, among those very comrades I have seen (and continue to see) men fuck female and queer comrades over in the name of the struggle against racist oppression. I have seen comrades sell comrades out to the cops and now to corrupt businessmen and politicians.

I have seen comrades take the moral high ground as they assumed power in the country only to waste no time in handing it over to big business.

I have seen radical comrades settle down in the suburbs and corporate boardrooms, doing a full 180 on their youthful radicalism. Today’s young radicals think that it will not happen to them, but already we are seeing a repetition of the complicit non-intersectional modes of thinking playing themselves out in the battle of the hashtags. This is much too familiar.

I have seen comrades adopt black radical modes of speech and seize every possible photo opportunity, while ignoring social movements that are attempting to counter the detail of neoliberal economics’ everyday violence on the ground – one eviction at a time, one court battle against duplicitous public officials and corporates at a time.

I have seen comrades make judgement calls along the lines of affiliations and self-interest, as opposed to a commitment to social justice.

So, tell me, who is more revolutionary? Who claims ownership over the revolution – ironically, in an age where ideas can be owned as if they are tangible property in a neoliberal era where everything can be commodified?

Even radical left-wing politics can be commodified. Who will win the battle to serve as the next ‘conveyor belt for capitalism’?

I am reminded of a performance by spoken word artist Caco (aka Kultuur aka Tricky Tiger aka Etlone Rainja aka Dr Marlon Swai) at the Urban Voices spoken word festival about a decade ago:

“Viva revolution, viva!
Viva revolution, viva!
Wie? Waa?
The revolution has me doing 360 degrees…”