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Contesting “Race,” “Culture,” and “Identity” 1. Is “Race” an Essential Category? 2. “Race,” “Culture” and “Identity” as Social Constructs - the origins of race theory - cultural performance - representing the “Other”: the social imaginary Toni Morrison “I have never lived, nor has any of us lived in a world in which race did not matter. Such a world, one free of racial hierarchy, is usually imagined or described as dreamscape” (“Home” 3). Frantz Fanon “My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly; look a nigger, it’s cold, the nigger is shivering . . . . The handsome little boy is trembling becausehe thinks the nigger is quivering with rage, the little boy throws himself into his mother’s arms: Mama, the nigger’s going to eat me up” (Black Skin,White Masks 114). Frantz Fanon “From the opposite end of the white world a Magical Negro culture was hailing me. Negro sculpture! I began to flush with pride. Was this our salvation?” . . . . So here we have the Negro rehabilitated, “standing before the bar,” ruling the world with his intuition, the Negro recognized, set on his feet again, sought after, taken up . . . .” (Black Skin,White Masks 127). Carolus Linnaeus (1735) Americanus: reddish, choleric, and erect; hair black, straight, thick; wide nostrils, scanty beard; obstinate, merry, free; paints himself with fine red lines; regulated by customs. Asiaticus: sallow, melancholy, stiff; hair black; dark eyes; severe, haughty, avaricious; covered with loose garments; ruled by opinions. Africanus: black, phlegmatic, relaxed; hair black, frizzled; skin silky; nose flat; lips tumid; women without shame, they lactate profusely; crafty, indolent, negligent; anoints himself with grease; governed by caprice. Europeaeus: white, sanguine, muscular; hair long, flowing; eyes blue; gentle, acute, inventive; covers himself with close vestments; governed by laws (Smedley 164). Johann Blumenbach 1. Caucasian/Caucasoid: white race, European 2. Mongolian/Mongoloid: yellow race, Oriental 3. Ethiopian: black race, African 4. American: red race, American “Indian” 5. Malay: brown race, Asiatic Manning Marable “ ‘Race’ is first and foremost an unequal relationship between social aggregates, characterized by dominant and subordinate forms of social interaction, and reinforced by the intricate patterns of public discourse, power, ownership and privilege within the economic, social and political institutions of society” (Beyond Black and White186). Hershini Bhana Young “To be black is to have accrued a subjectivity haunted by the spectral traces of a social, political and ideological history. Blackness is a historically and culturally specific embodied discourse constituted in and through a discursive tradition mobilized by the reconstituted figure of “Africa’ and brutal systems of oppression such as slavery and imperialism (Haunted Capital 25) Stuart Hall “Identity is the narrative, the stories which cultures tell themselves about who they are and where they came from” (“Negotiating Caribbean Identity”). Stuart Hall “…identity is not only a story, a narrative which we tell ourselves about ourselves, it is stories which change with historical circumstances. And identity shifts with the way in which we think and hear them and experience them. Far from only coming from the still small point of truth inside us, identities actually come from outside, they are the way in which we are recognized and then come to step into the place of the recognitions which others give us. Without the others there is no self, there is no self-recognition” (“Negotiating Caribbean Identity” 8). Michel Foucault (1977) “…the normalizing gaze [is] a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It Establishes over individuals a visibility Through which one differentiates and Judges them” (Discipline and Punish 25). Defining the Social Imaginary The social imaginary is a discursive space in which communities are already constructed, imagined, positioned and created by hegemonic discourses and dominant groups. Frantz Fanon “. . . The white man . . . had woven me out of a thousand details, anecdotes, stories. I thought that what I had in hand was to construct a physiological self, to balance space, to localize sensations, and here I was called on for more. ‘Look, a Negro!’”(Black Skin 111) “And so it is not I who make a meaning for myself, but it is the meaning that was already there, pre-existing, waiting for me” (Black Skin 134). Renuka Sooknanan “The end result of a sedimentary knowing of Black community is a homogenous, transparent identity category, which offers entrenched and inflexible boundaries. Black community becomes a finished product in that it is thought in advance, and to call on something called the Black community is to perform a set of erasures. Among the disappearing acts…is the Multiplicity and plurality of ethnic representations…” (“Politics of Essentialism” 148). Stuart Hall “Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they are subject to the continuous ‘play’ of history, culture and power. Far from being grounded in a mere ‘recovery’ of the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past” (“Cultural Identity and Diaspora” 225). Visible Minority Groups: 2001 Counts, for Canada Canada Toronto Total Population Total Population 29,639,030 4,647,960 Visible Minorities Visible Minorities 3,983,845 (13% of 1,712,530 (37% of population) population) Chinese Chinese 1,029,395 (25% of minorities) 409,530 (24% of minorities) South Asians South Asian 917,070 (23% of minorities) 473,805 (28% of minorities) Blacks Blacks 662,215 (17% of minorities) 310,495 (18% of minorities) Manning Marable “Our ability to transcend racial chauvinism and inter-ethnic hatred and the old definitions of “race,” to recognize the class commonalities and joint social-justice interests of all groups in the restructuring of this nation’s economy and social order, will be key to constructing a nonracist democracy, transcending ancient walls of white violence, corporate power and class” (Beyond Black and White 201).
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