Reckoning with What is Owed — and What Can Never be Repaid — for Racial Privilege

Nietzsche’s “guilt”, whiteness, and what the real cost is to live in the land of another | Oh, and the difference between freedom and liberty

[I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose. But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life? We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies. And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership.]

 

The Question of Who Gets to be Called a “Patriot” | Kaepernick, Jones, and Other Dark Subject Matters

“For some, being American is conditional on behaving like a grateful guest: You belong here because we tolerate your presence.”

“Love of country turned performative. As a result, modern patriotism has become Kabuki citizenship. It’s Joseph McCarthy; it’s the House Un-American Activities Committee. It’s “Freedom fries” and “These colors don’t run.” It’s American-flag pins and the people who go nuts when a politician is caught without one.

But is it also Leslie Jones.”

[…. Fisher is the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, who, in an episode of the reality football show “Hard Knocks,” told his team that standing for the anthem was sacrosanct: “It’s an opportunity to realize how lucky you are.” Yet here was Kaepernick, sitting down.

……………

That’s one rejoinder to the unconditional gratitude — the compulsory expression of thankfulness for a nation that prides itself on freedom of expression — that the Jeff Fishers of the world demand. If you’re a black man, as Kaepernick is, your ambivalence about patriotic rituals may be a way of asking the same question Fisher raised: How lucky arewe, exactly?

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When a black American protests the demoralizing practices of American government, there is always a white person eager to unfurl the welcome mat to Africa. This is where racism and patriotism tend to point: toward the exits. For some, we learn, being American is conditional on behaving like a grateful guest: You belong here because we tolerate your presence. We don’t yet appear to have settled the matter of citizenship — not even for our president, another black man backhandedly accused of harboring terrorist sympathies. We operate on the old logic that only members of the family are allowed to tell hard truths about the family’s flaws. And when black people speak about America, they’re informed that they do not actually have a seat at the grown-ups’ table and that they should be grateful to be around at all.

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“I support our players when they want to see change in society,” Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, told The Associated Press. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the N.F.L.”

Of course we do. Football has long sought to conflate itself with the military, making it easy to confuse players with troops and political protest with treason. Last year, a report by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake investigated the $6.8 million the Department of Defense had paid sports, mostly to pro football, for recruitment and promotional activities over a four-year period — including full-field displays of the American flag and surprise reunion events between service members and their families. The league announced that it would return $723,734, money spent not on recruitment but on what McCain and Flake called “paid patriotism.”

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“Patriot” has a concise definition: “one who loves and loyally or zealously supports one’s own country.” Support can take the form of dissent just as readily as cheer-leading — each is a way of suggesting what kind of nation America is to become, and patriots have lived and died on all sides of the argument. But during the 20th century, patriotism began to treat the question as one we’ve settled.

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Jones had been redefining the face of patriotism — a face that has been evoked by both Marvel’s Captain America and Peter Fonda’s counterculture version. But to some of her fellow citizens, she’ll only ever be an interloper. Soon after her return, hackers invaded her personal website and aired private information. Whiteness and America have always been kept synonymous, conjoined, fiercely paired. Attempts to problematize that marriage — to open it up and show whom it excludes — are reliably met with fear and resistance. New expressions of patriotism always make certain white people fear that a wedge is being driven between them and their America — whether by Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the Army, or by Black Lives Matter, or by a backup quarterback for the 49ers. The fear is almost as old as the nation. Sometimes it feels as if the fear is the nation…..]

 

Red is Not Black

Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith: Integrity, Ethics, Accountability, Identity

[… a more productive place to begin might be to ask why there has not been any noticeable difference in professional or political expectations of Smith—in her self-presentations, speaking engagements, professional service, and publications? There are certainly many people who knew/know, so why have her ethics and integrity not been questioned or challenged in the same or similar way to those of Dolezal? Why does Smith’s fraud get excused on the grounds of “her good work” but Dolezal does not?

Meanwhile, we’ll all fail to ask why, as Dolezal and Smith present themselves through such complicated personal stories of childhood abuse and family dysfunction, we respond so differently to Dolezal’s blackface and Smith’s redface. We’ll avoid the opportunity to think out loud together about why it seems the entire nation demands accountability of someone pretending to be Black–of literally altering her physical appearance to conform to racist expectations of Blackness–but doesn’t seem to give one iota of concern about those who pretend to be Indian.]

Read the full opinion article | tequilasovereign

ANDREASMITH

President Obama’s “Acting White”, and Rhetorical Acts of Erasure

[… It is ironic that a President with the linguistic style-shifting capabilities of Obama (see the work of Alim & Smitherman, 2012) had to engage in discourses of indigenous erasure. Even as Indigenous Peoples have historically and continue adapting to a more globalized world, we need to challenge the idea that we want indigenous youth in particular and Youth of Color in general to seek validation from a society where whiteness remains the gold standard. As President Obama mentioned, and I think he is right, of course we want our youth to learn math, engineering and science; many indigenous communities are creatively teaching their youth these subjects (and humanities) using their indigenous languages…]

Read the full article here | Indian Country Today