Response to the ‘Field’

Field Negro,

I don’t disagree with you about the origin of racism. Clearly, it was and still is learned. However, I’m interested in the idea of adaptation – the way in which certain traits in animals are selectively weeded out by the particular species, while others become more engrained. One of my heroes notes that ‘racism is in the air you breath.’ It seems to have progressed from a mere learned behavior to something close to heredity. It appears to be a collective form of insanity.

I saw this this video on ThatGirl’s blog of black children (in 2006) choosing white dolls over black, and saying that “the white doll is good and the black doll is bad.” These kids were really very young. Who’s teaching them: their parents? Society? School? Television?

Really the question is who’s NOT teaching them? Racism/white supremacy is omnipresent. I don’t think white folks have to be ‘actively’ taught racism/white supremacy from some parent motivated to churn out bigots from the dollar menu. Racism is taught by remote control. To everybody. Through every institution. It is that pervasive.

9 Responses to “Response to the ‘Field’”

  1. collective form of insanity.

    That right there. Sometimes I read or hear things that have an extra vividness to them because I feel them as really accurate. That phrase right there had that vividness for me.

  2. About the dolls, have you read Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes? She gets to the heart of the whole white doll thing.

  3. The idea of a racist adaptation is terrifying. It makes sense within historical contexts, but it’s still terrifying to see the same cyclical descent.

  4. Moksha, I need to read ‘Bluest Eye.’ Had it for a minute and sold it.

    Always, you really pointed out the branches of racism in a way I hadn’t formally conceived. Liberal/progressive racism, conservative racism, LGBT racism – and HOW those different forms of racism manifest AND how those groups attempt to insulate themselves against charges of racism.

  5. Honestly, you all have given great responses and I have learned from all of you. The truth of the matter is, that whether it is adopted,learned,or purposely embraced; racism is the biggest hinderance to progress and a true democracy in America.

  6. Collective insanity, yes. Racist adaptation, yes. I have to study this post more but: the thing I notice about whiteness, including progressive whiteness, is that it wants to be at the center, innocent, and in charge.

  7. P.S. – yes, who is not teaching them, and what are they not being taught, are the real questions.

  8. the thing I notice about whiteness, including progressive whiteness, is that it wants to be at the center, innocent, and in charge.


    So much said with so few words!

  9. Yes, AWQ, I somehow passed over this marvelous point by Prof. Z. Totally on point!

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