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[Xmca-l] Re: Blackface and Gayface

Your depiction of "the black community in America" presents a monolithic
picture that I think isn't fair or true to the intricacies of racial/ethnic
identity, community, and community affiliation that many on this listserv
have investigated at length, on this listserv and in their own scholarship.

Sure, the notion of "black identity" is constructed--as constructed,
although to very different effect, as "white identity" is. And yet it's
dangerous to be Black in America, regardless of whether a person "buys" the
notion of black identity. A person who is perceived by others as Black
might not identify as such, but that doesn't enable them to avoid the very
real physical and systemic dangers that Black people face. None of the
people responsible for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and
Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland cared whether they identified
as Black, nor whether they were affiliated with a Black church or listened
to rap music.

My research focuses on queer and transgender issues in education, and when
I describe gender as a social construct I commonly also include this quote
from Julia Serano:

"Instead of trying to fictionalize gender, let’s talk about the moments in
life when gender feels all too real. Because gender doesn’t feel like drag
when you’re a young trans child begging your parents not to cut your hair
or not to force you to wear that dress. And gender doesn’t feel like a
performance when, for the first time in your life, you feel safe and
empowered enough to express yourself in ways that resonate with you, rather
than remaining closeted for the benefit of others. And gender doesn’t feel
like a construct when you finally find that special person whose body,
personality, identity, and energy feels like a perfect fit with yours.
Let’s stop trying to deconstruct gender into nonexistence, and instead
start celebrating it as inexplicable, varied, profound, and intricate.

So don’t you dare dismiss my gender as construct, drag, or performance. My
gender is a work of non-fiction."


Jacob McWilliams
Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences Program
University of Colorado Boulder

On Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 8:37 AM, Dr. Paul C. Mocombe <
pmocombe@mocombeian.com> wrote:

> Jacob
> Now we have to get into the definition of what is black identity?  I am
> native haitian who grew up in the provinces where my grandparents practiced
> vodou and raised me to think as an african.  My world was constituted via
> the universe and vodou.  I simply do not believe in defining myself by my
> skin-color.  By white man, yes I do privilege white experiences of the
> earth and the ideologies and apparatuses they have constituted as a result
> of the experience; blackness in the west was defined in relation to that
> experience. So in order for me to be black in america and join the black
> community what should I do:
> Join a so-called black church (they discriminate against my vodou religion
> as in vodou we discriminate against them for they practice the white man's
> faith)Eat collard greens, chicken, and macaroni and cheeseSpeak AAEVwear
> skinny jeansListen to rap music and rb
> OR is Barack Obama a paragon for e. Franklin frazier's the black
> bourgeoisie?
> I am haitian and My wife is black american and we have two sons... I do
> not let my sons do the black church thing.  My wife attends her protestant
> church every sunday.  But my sons are not allowed to attend;  No AAEV in
> the house; we are vegans so we do not do many of the foods...
> Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone
> -------- Original message --------
> From: Jacob McWilliams <jennamcjenna@gmail.com>
> Date: 4/25/2016  9:46 AM  (GMT-05:00)
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Blackface and Gayface
> I do not, and never will, agree with the arguments that reject Obama's
> black identity. I find those arguments deeply problematic at minimum, and
> usually much worse than problematic. However, I do wish that those who
> argue that Obama is not black would not describe him as a white man. By the
> terms of this argument, whiteness is no more a "real" category than is
> blackness, and referring to Obama as a "white man," even if done to shock
> people, serves to feed into the very real, and not at all fictitious,
> hegemony of whiteness in America and around the world.
> --
> Jacob McWilliams
> Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences Program
> University of Colorado Boulder
> j.mcwilliams@colorado.edu
> http://www.jennamcwilliams.com
> On Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 4:29 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Paul:
> >
> > Like you, I have always been puzzled and even a little troubled that we
> > think of Obama as a half-black president rather than a half-white one.
> As I
> > said, I think he's a conservative politician, well to the right of
> > Eisenhower and pretty much in the mold of the first George Bush;
> therefore
> > I think that the adamantine loathing of Obama by the "Republicans" is
> > entirely racial. (Let us remember that the Republicans are historically
> the
> > party of black liberation and revolutionary reconstruction in the USA,
> and
> > let us, that is, you and me, consider the present day Republicans a
> > complete non sequitur, a zombie usurpation, something like the present
> > ruling party of Haiti.) But for that very reason, it really will not do
> to
> > consider Obama a white politician: first of all, it confuses
> conservativism
> > with whiteness, the error of which Condoleeza Rice, Alan Keyes, Herman
> > Cain, and Ben Carson on the one hand and Marx, Engels, Lenin on the other
> > have amply demonstrated. Secondly, it doesn't explain the phenomenon that
> > needs to be explained, namely the bilious hatred of the right for a
> > politician who is politically so very much one of their own number.
> >
> > So in what sense is Obama black? I think, actually, he is black in the
> very
> > best sense: in an entirely voluntary and chosen one. He did not coyly
> flirt
> > with being black, the way that David Bowie and Prince flirted with being
> bi
> > for commercial purposes. Bowie then complained that he was a "closet
> > heterosexual" and that he was forced to have sex with gay men just in
> order
> > to inhabit the persona he had created, and Prince joined the Jehovah's
> > Witnesses and justified the deadly Biblical persecution of gay people as
> > God's revenge on them for "stickin' it here and there and everywhere". If
> > these gentlemen find it difficult to have sex with other gentlemen, there
> > is an extremely simple solution, one that has historically been made
> > compulsory for men who are actually rather than simply sartorially gay.
> > They can have sex with women. No one says that the white extras in D.W.
> > Griffith's films were really trying to stand up for black liberation and
> > revolutionary reconstruction, and no one confuses minstrelsy and
> blackface
> > with black culture: why, then, do we tolerate "gayface" in people like
> > David Bowie and Prince, people who have no loyalty whatsoever to the gay
> > community beyond the cash nexus?
> >
> > Obama doesn't do blackface. He learned black English (which, remember,
> was
> > a foreign language to him, growing up in Hawail and Indonesia). He
> married
> > black, and self-identified as black when it was not at all a commercial
> or
> > an electoral advantage, quite the contrary. He went to a black church and
> > he didn't leave it even under overwhelming white pressure, but only when
> it
> > really did offend his heartfelt (conservative) principles. Obama is black
> > in the sense that Helena was talking about, in the sense that he has
> joined
> > and been accepted by and really belongs to a black community, namely
> South
> > Chicago. It is true that he has given some Cosby-esque speeches about and
> > even to the black lumpenproletariat. But this too is from his community:
> in
> > South Shore some of the most bitter opponents of petty crime and
> > gangbangin' and humbuggin' were precisely the black workers at US Steel
> > South Works, General Motors EMD, and Ford: they'd worked bloody hard for
> > that stereo tape deck and those chrome hub caps and if you tried to swipe
> > them it really didn't matter what color you were, they were going to show
> > the world the color of your blood.
> >
> > I also vote in Korean elections, because I too have a community which I
> > voluntarily adopted and which accepted me and where I am a legal
> permanent
> > resident with electoral rights. In the last Korean election, I voted for
> > the third largest party in parliament, the United Progressive Party.
> > Immediately after the election, the party was legally dissolved, the
> > leaders I had voted for were expelled from parliament, arrested and
> > sentenced to 24 years in prison (later, after the intercession of Pope
> > Francis, reduced to "only" twelve years). All candidates in the US
> > elections have insisted on continuing US support for what is essentially
> an
> > old fashioned Cold War regime, the "free world" counterpart of the North
> > Korean nepotism-despotism. Even Donald Trump's main complaint is that
> Korea
> > doesn't pay enough money for the privilege of being occupied by US
> troops.
> > So from that point of view as well, a vote for Sanders makes no sense.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >
> > dk
> >