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Difference

Like eRacism ‘The Color of Water’ is not about skin color. It is an autobiographical portrait of a ‘colored’ life. In it McBride the offspring of a Southern black man and a white Jewish woman asks his mother, ‘what color is God?’ His mother tells him that ‘God is the color of water.’ The wisdom of this answer is that it analogizes the substance of difference with an element that makes up sixty percent of every human being without regard for the ways in which we are different. Difference like water is not only an essential component of human being it is a persisting process of accidental and necessary social interactions, colonialism and slavery among them, that defines who we are and are becoming.

One of the most insightful reflections of a life of difference ever written by a person of mixed race is ‘The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute To His White Mother’ by James McBride.

TheColorofWaterJamesMcBride

Black-White Conflict Isn’t Society’s Largest

Like eRacism ‘The Color of Water’ is not about skin color. It is an autobiographical portrait of a ‘colored’ life. In it McBride the offspring of a Southern black man and a white Jewish woman asks his mother, ‘what color is God?’ His mother tells him that ‘God is the color of water.’ The wisdom of this answer is that it analogizes the substance of difference with an element that makes up sixty percent of every human being without regard for the ways in which we are different. Difference like water is not only an essential component of human being it is a persisting process of accidental and necessary social interactions, colonialism and slavery among them, that defines who we are and are becoming.

Without taking anything away from the intelligent appropriateness of Mrs. McBride’s answer to her son’s question as a way of exploring his own identity, the answer only works as long as you do not think about it too much. It’s intelligent appropriateness has everything to do with it being a child asking the question. Water like the categories of difference that eRacism focuses on is naturally occurring. Some bodies of water are blue, others green.  Whatever the color or cause ‘the color of water’ is hardly a given.

Again, that there are lakes, oceans, rivers, bayous and water falls that are of different colors does not diminish the subtle saliency of what McBride’s mother was trying to communicate to him. What she was trying to communicate is the omniscient omnipotence of the social relations and interactions that make our human being possible; what Karl Marx refers to as our ‘species being’.

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Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.

Bookshelf

Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Journal

Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).