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[Xmca-l] Re: NYT Op-Ed: Class Prejudice Resurgent
You raise a good question. My sense is that "race" is rendered (in)visible
because it is visually marked primarily at the level of the body and
inter-personal relations (both conceptualized as distinct spatial scales).
In classroom dialogues on institutional racism, it is so difficult for my
students to come up with a working definition; yet when I ask what is
race, I get lots of answers akin to what Critical Race Theorists term
'micro-aggressions', answers such as racial slurs, racist jokes, and in
some instances everyday practices that begin to resemble some form of
institutionalized racism as in police profiling. I say 'begin to
resemble' because most (but some do) students don't quite have a working
definition of these practice as systemic and institutionalized (much less
as manifestations of a racial state [David Theo Goldberg, Charles Mill]).
So, we work our way through a series of readings and dialogue in trying to
understand the complexities and invisible dimensions of race (which
operates at other spatial scales, some so large--historically and
spatially--that it basically disappears from sight and our naming).
But I think there is also something in the concrete reality of everyday
life that renders "class" (in)visible in the U.S. It is not so much the
issue of our bodies marked as classed beings (although in Latin America, I
have seen this awareness, how the body, its clothing, use of gold, etc.
becomes a marker for a particular class location) but of the reality of a
'middle class' or the stratification of 'class' in the U.S. People DO see
differences along 'social class' marked by where people live, what they
are able to consume, their professions, etc. -- I am not arguing for some
Weberian model of social class, but am arguing that that is what we
perceive, the phenomenon. And these differences may not be associated with
"social class" concept as articulated by Marx.
I am currently conducting dialogues with teachers on the neoliberal
privatization of public education. There is yet another challenge, as I
try to make sense of neoliberalism philosophically and historically: how
we name "social class" and the discourses that operate in and through
social class difference. Perhaps what needs to be unpacked is our view of
the State and its relation to "social class." How we conceptualize the
State (the working models or metaphors) will shape/color how we see
"social class". The Liberal model of the state, with rational actors and
the Individual as its central construct carries with it a kind of metaphor
where social structures and structural relations tend to disappear (they
are a type of landscape or spatial container of sorts, in the background,
with individuals as the active agents foregrounded in this image). And
there is of course the role of ideology in rendering "social class"
What I find more challenging is teaching how race and class intersect and
interlock, creating what Fanon termed a 'compound standpoint', a
double-articulation, a race-class dialectic. But 'social class' while an
objective reality, is inseparable from its historical geographies of
difference. How we see 'social class' will look different from the vantage
point of people living in abject poverty to folks like many of us, living
as academics, to those who comprise the 1%. The same goes for "race"; it
will be experienced and viewed differently based on one's geographic and
social location. I would argue that Colonialism, from the standpoint of
Indigenous, Mesitizo, Raza peoples from Latin America needs to be a part
of our language and register; it needs to be unpacked and made central in
any cogent understanding of "social class."
On 12/8/14 8:19 PM, "Annalisa Aguilar" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>I'm having a hard time connecting this to the ground. It is a story,
>which perhaps has meaning, but I don't see how it connects to American
>experience. This is not to say that it does or doesn't (in reality), I
>mean I don't see it. It feels too conspiratorial and planned, and I don't
>think any single minority group has that much power over others. Who
>knows? Maybe I'm wrong.
>I do believe that there was a disconnect in the continuity in historical
>experience due to the WW II and this is for many reasons, not a single
>reason. So that's one reason I find it hard to accept a "settlement" as
>The Explanation for this.
>My way of thinking about it is that it was a horrific war beyond anything
>anyone could imagine. There was no way to process this, and the thing
>most people wanted to do was be happy and get on with life and living. It
>For me it has more to do with our humanity and incapacity to deal with
>horror and the abject than it has to do with suppressing the reality of
>class distinctions. It still doesn't explain to me why class is harder to
>discuss than race.
>So I offer that to the soup.