Sunday, September 03, 2017

Racism is an Integral, Permanent, and Indestructible Component of America

aljazeera | The distinguished novelist and Nobel Prize laureate Tony Morrison has keenly observed: "All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness."

But the question is not fealty to any "native country". The question is rather the systematic subordination of all immigrants, regardless of how they have been colour-coded, to the myth of the "white people" and the violent fantasies of their civilizing missions. No brown, black, or any other thus coloured person can ever be completely "white". But their trying to pass as white is a mechanism of humiliation and denigration they willingly play to presume they are part of the power structure and a more "normal" human being. 

In How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America (1998), Karen Brodkin has put forward one line of argument as to how since World War II American Jews began to pose and perform themselves as "white". The practice is not peculiar to American Jews, of course. Upon their arrivals and one generation into a successful economic status, other recent immigrants, Muslims and Hindus alike, have also sought to posit and pass themselves as (almost) white.

Becoming white has always been the most potent way for racialised "minorities" to overcome their violently alienated personhood in order to become something they could (and should) never be. 

By replicating and reenacting the racial politics of their European origin and now their US benefactors upon Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular, the Zionists are the living testimonials as to how racial hatred is manufactured and sustained as means of political domination. The term "Israeli Arab" invented by Zionists for Palestinians in their own homeland is the epitome of European racism carried to its most obscene colonial conclusions. 

Struggle for racial justice must commence and continue with the full knowledge of how racial divides were socially manufactured and politically sustained before we can learn how to overcome them. The full acknowledgment of the murderous history of racism in the US and Europe is the first step towards dismantling it. No postmodern or poststructuralist dismantling of race can disregard the sustained history of racism as coterminous with capitalist modernity. It must acknowledge, sublate, in order to overcome it.