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Marable Beyond Racial Id

Marable Beyond Racial Id

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Published by: jasper_gregory on Nov 04, 2012
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09/09/2013

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Beyond
Black
and
White
Transforming
African-American Politics
MANNING MARABLE
VERSO
London-
N~
York
 
16=======
Beyond Racial Identity Politics:
Toward
a Liberation
Theory
forMulticulturalDemocracy
Americans are arguablythemost
urace~conscious"
people
on
earth.
Even
in
SouthAfrica,themasters
of
apartheid recognizedthe necessity
to
distinguishbetween "Coloureds"and"black Mricans."
Under
the
bizarre regulations
of
apartheid, a visiting delegation
of
Japanese
corporate executives,
or
the diplomaticcorps
of
aclient Mrican regimesuch asMalawi,couldbeclassified
as
"honorary whites."But in the USA,"nationality"has been closelylinkedhistorically
to
thecategories
and
hierarchy
of
nationalracialidentity. Despite theorth.o.9£x
gJltu
!.
al
ideology
of
th
e
so-ca1leQ
~
''!lr;.Iti.ng
pot,:'p9wer, pnvifege
and
theownership
of
productive resources
and
property have
a l w a y s
~
b
een
-;;";equallyaIIocated
10
is;;ciaf
hiera
rchYs
.t;f
atifi!,<!
by class,gender
and
race.
Those
-who benefit alrectly fromtheseinstitutionalarrangements have histori
callybeen defined
as
"white," overwhelminglyupper class
and
male.And it
is
precisely herewithinthisstructure
of
power
and
privilege that
"national identity" inthecontext
of
masspoliticalculture
is
located.To bean "all-American"
is
by
definition
nol
to
be
an AsianAmerican,PacificAmerican, AmericanIndian,Latino,Arab American or African
American.
Or
viewed
another
way,
the hegemonicideology
of
"whiteness"
is
absolutely central
in
rationalizingandjustifying thegross
inequalities
of
race,gender
and
class,experiencedby miUions
of
Americansrelegatedto the politically peripheral
staLUs
of "Others."
As
Marxistcultural criticE.
Sanjuan
has observed,"wheneverthe question
of
the national identity
is
at
stake,boundaries
in
space andtimeare
drawn....Adecision ismadeto represent the Others-people
of
col
or
-
as
missing, absent, orsupplement.""Wh
it
eness"becomes thevery"center"
of
the dominantcriteria fornationalprestige,decision-making,
authority
and
intellectualleadership.
 
,86
BEYOND
BLACK
AND
WHITE
Ironically,because
of
the centrality
of
"whiteness"within the domi
nant
national identity, Americans generally make
few
distinctions
between"ethnicity" andurace,"and thetwoconcepts areusuallyused
interchangeably.Boththe oppressors
and
those who are oppressed are
therefore imprisoned
by
the closed dialectic
of
race.
ccBlack"
and"whi
te"
areusuallyviewed as fixed,permanentand often antagonistic social categories.Yet,
in
reality,"race"should be understood notas an entity
within thehistories
of
allhuman societies,
or
groundedinsomein escapable
or
permanent
biological
or
geneticdifference betweenhumanbeings.
"Race"
is
first
and
foremostanunequal relationshipbetween social aggregates, characterizedby dominant
and
subordinate forms
of
socialinteraction,
and
reinforcedby the intricate patterns
of
publicdiscourse, power,ownership
and
privilegewithin theeconomic,social
and
politicalinstitutions
of
society.
Race
onlybecomes"real" asasocial force when individuals
or
groups behavetowardeach other in ways which either reflect
or
perpetuatethehegemonicideology
of
subordination and the
patt
erns
of
inequality iri daily
life.
Theseare,in turn,justified and explainedby assumeddifferencesinphysical
and
biologicalcharacteristics,
or
in
theories
of
culturaldeprivation
or
intellectualinferiority.
Thus,
far frombeing static_
or
fixed,
~
_
~
an
o p p r ~ ~
<:..<:.<>
ncept
withinsocialrelationsiSHWd
and
ever-changing.
An
oppressed "racial group"changesover tune, geographical space
and
historicalconjuncture.
That
which
is
termed"black/' "Hispanic" or "Oriental"
by
those
in
powerto describe
one
human being's"racialbackground"
in
aparticularsetti
ng
canhaveittlehistoricalorpractical meaningwithinanothersocial formation
hich
is
also raciallystratified,but inadifferent
manner
.Sincesomany Americansviewtheworldthrough theprism
of
permanent racial categories,
it
is
difficuJt toconveythe ideathat
radicaUydifferentethnicgroups may have roughly thesame "racial
r
entity"impo
se
d on them. Forexample, althoughnative-bornAfrican Americans,Trinidadians, Haitians, Nigerians
and
Afro-Brazilians wouldall be termed"black"
on
the streets
of
New YorkCity,!.hey have remarkably littlein commonin terms
of
Ianae cultureethnic
traditions,
n
ua
5,
an
re
19tOUS
affiliations.Yet theyare all"blac
k"
racia
y,
In
tense
aey
WI
s are many
of
the pitfalls
and
prejudices built intotheinstitutional arrangements
of
theestablishedsocial orderfor those defined
as
"black."Similarly,an even wider spectrum
of
divergent ethnic groups -from Japanese Americans,Chinese
Americans,Filipino Americans,andKoreanAmericans toHawaiian
s,
Pakistanis,Vietnamese,Arabs
and
Uzbekis-arede
sc
ribed
and
defined
'by
thedominantsociety
as
'~siansn
aT,
worse still,
as
"Orientals."In

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