Music is a powerful medium. Since it’s inception it has been multifaceted. Music has lead the charge of many a fight. Music has also been a tool for social justice activism. Here at Red Sociology we recently reported Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu finally being released. The video went live on May 1st and must be watched.
I have been playing it on loop for days. It’s a fabulous song. The more I listen to it, and see our current political and cultural discourse the more I think that this song is that much more powerful. The more I read about it the more relevant it is. I am often accused of over-thinking popular culture, taking it too seriously, etc. but like I was taught and teach my students the media matters, pop culture matters, it all matters. What we see affects us. It’s important to be critical of that, especially since we are inundated with media images all day.
In this blog post, my aim is to discuss some of the issues that systemic oppression/domination create in regards to many people of African descent in America having a disrupted sense of identity. People of African descent in America are suffering from an identity crisis. This is a result of intersectional oppression: Intersectional paradigms view race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and age, among others, as mutually constructing systems of power. Because these systems permeate all social relations, untangling their effects in any given situation or for any given population remains difficult (Hill-Collins in Black Sexual Politics). Black identity can not be discussed without discussing racist and sexist oppression. At the core of identity within the Black community is the Black man & the Black woman. I would like to discuss the importance of addressing these issues intersectionally with an ethic of love.
I’ll start with a funny Dave Chappelle video on studying white people:
Now for the serious bit…
Whiteness as Personified Oppression
What is Whiteness?
Douglass Massey in his work Categorically Unequal argued that the root of any racial stratification system is in its ability to categorize and rank human beings. Without categorization a society cannot build the social or physical barriers that create inequality or oppression. As social scientists this means that we must not only understand the stratification systems themselves but we need to understand the genesis and functioning of the categories that are used to construct the stratification systems. With this perspective in mind, whiteness and white people become an important social object to study in our effort to understand race and racism. Continue reading
Wonder which country will spill too much olive oil next?
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the “Boston Bombers”.
Of course everyone in America and presumably elsewhere knows the story of the recent bombings in Boston. The perpetrators of the attack, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are the center of a storm of blogging, article writing, and commentary on Tumblr and Twitter; not necessarily because of their attack per se but because of their racial identity. The importance of their racial identity can be summed up in this: most terrorist attacks against the United States have been committed by white men but in almost all of those cases the first suspects were assumed to be Arab, Black, or African. Tim Wise, the ideal type of the white anti-racist, wrote a very powerful piece on how white privilege creates the ideology that allows for everyone to be scared of Arabs when whites are doing all the killing. And here’s when the Tsarnaev brothers come in. Many anti-racist bloggers, Tim Wise included, have been using the opportunity of the bombers being white to highlight the privilege and racism embedded in how we deal with terrorism. Although I understand the purposes of these blog posts and articles, they are all missing an important point: It doesn’t matter that they’re white and making it a point of stating such leave a lot of room for blowback to occur. Continue reading