Bryan’s Question Corner #4

Here are my questions for Racecraft chapters 3-5:

  1. In “Of Rogues and Geldings,” the Fields sisters argue that “[d]isguised as race, racism becomes something “Afro-Americans are, rather than something racists do.” Certainly, racism is not something “Afro-Americans” are, but isn’t defining racism as something “racists do” also confining and restrictive? Here’s another way of framing this question: how do we account for the hundreds of students at Amherst whom you’ll never catch saying something racist in public, yet who were nonetheless silently absent from Frost all weekend. Don’t these theoretical non-racists amplify and reproduce the power of the racial state just by living within it and uncritically using its language/power structures?
  2. One more concern: later in “Rogues and Geldings” the Fields suggest “only African ancestry carries the ultimate stigma.” However in their concluding paragraph they correctly assert that “[r]acism is a qualitative, not quantitative, evil.” Why, then, place race into a quantitative, hierarchical structure where African ancestry is the “ultimate stigma.” This weekend, we asked Biddy to acknowledge our “institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.” Wasn’t this list so powerful because though each of these -isms has its own uniquely painful legacy, we’d chosen to link them together non-hierarchically so that we could press against a state whose power structure is too complex to be explained by any “ultimate sigma”?

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