race

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Nakamura's article is a good segue from our last class discussion. Readings like this tend to leave me a little flustered since I find myself in the unenviable position of both having the ethicality of my own actions implicitly under discussion as a white male and knowing too little about the topics of race and power dynamics to really participate. What I emerged from the essay being most interested in, besides the general issue of identity tourism, which made a great deal of sense, was specifically the line between identity tourism and the borrowing of elements of cultural constructs to define one's identity. The way I was reading the article, it seems to come down to whether the symbols one borrows both are drawn from and affirm repressive cultural practices/constructs/whatever (the examples of the oversexualized asian female sterotypes that Nakamura presents). Nakamura's point about gender being whited-out on the internet is something that came up in class; we also debated whether cyberspace is race-neutral, or only white. I'm still unsure whether things are universally one way. In internet communities where Orientalism or equivalent processes with other races reinforce white-centric structures of racial domination and racial dialogues are discouraged, clearly 'whiting-out' is taking place. But is this true of every internet space? Are there examples of communities in the internet where gender is truly neutral? I wish I was more familiar with literature on how race constructs are built and defined so that I could engage the reading more, and develop a more informed opinion about the role of race in cyberspace.

In class, Prof F posed the question as to why race was so much more a sensitive issue as opposed to gender. Racial differences were historically used to perpetuate the idea of inferiority, the 'other,' and general widespread hate and fear. I recall someone saying that whilst either gender requires the other in order for the human race to survive, it is quite possible for one race to dominate all the others, and possibly wipe them out.

I am not sure what I'm trying to point out with this comment, only that it is still on my mind, and I'm wondering if anybody else has anything to say about it

I was the one who said that comment, and I wish I could have phrased it with more reflection, more PC-ness . . . and maybe not at all. I think I sometimes use class discussions as I way to explore and articulate rough sketches of ideas--much like we use the blog to articulate our thoughts--however this does not mean what I said is a strong belief of mine. I was merely testing it out, and I'm sorry if I offended or irked you in any way. That was not the intent of my comment.

In pointing how how my comment stayed with you, I realize how much more I want to think about the ramifications of my speech before uttering a word.

I do not think one race could wipe out all others; I feel certain eugenic-minded groups throughout history (i.e. Hitler and his followers) have toyed with this attempt, but that in no way means I agree with it, or feel it to be plausible, especially in an era of increasing globalization. I hope this at least somewhat pacifies your concerns . . . ?

I'm not sure any apology was necessary, although it's certainly a courteous thought. That point also stayed with me, but only because it was very thought provoking. This is what class discussions are for, and you did nothing wrong by speaking on an impulse in that setting. I thought the point was a very good one, and one of the only true distinctions between race and gender I heard during that discussion. But does that mean that if our society could synthsize sperm, women would opress and possibly wipe out men? I would think not. There's something else underlying the distinction that makes race so much more taboo than gender. I can think of two things:

1) History of violence -- men have historically treated women poorly, but not nearly as violently as whites have treated some other races. As I'm writing this I decided that this theory doesn't hold water because religion is now even less taboo than race (in the West -- same cannot be said for the Middle East), but religion certainly has a history of violence, even in the West.

2) The idea of "my people." Anyone can refer to their entire race as "my people" because they decended from these people. This leads to a sort of "your grandpa hurt my grandpa" setup. The same cannot be said of gender. A woman would not refer to other women as "my people," because a woman decended from women no more than a man decended from women. There's no grandpa vs. grandpa problem here (or even grandpa vs. grandma) because we all have both grandpas and grandmas. Sorry, that argument sort of fell apart into 5-year-old talk, but hopefully it makes sense.

Do other people have any more theories?

I was thinking about the religion aspect in class also, but it didn't seem to fit into the conversation at the time. I think it has to do with the situation we place the internet in; some sort of anthropological reason for why we see one oppression as worse than another. The middle east holds another subject taboo that we have moved past, but it would probably make the same sorts of headlines there as race relations makes here.

I think the immediacy of racism is more apparent than sexism, at least to me. Race seems to be at the forefront of conversation more than sexism, and is therefore more divisive and controversial. Its just a know in your stomach that arises from talk about race more than talk about gender. I don't think anyone really knows how to verbalize it; it's just a feel.