web analytics

‘Honkey’ Dory (Part 1: White Space)

“Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior. A need that some people have to feel that they are first, and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first. (Make it plain, today, ‘cause I’m against it, so help me God) And they have said over and over again in ways that we see with our own eyes. In fact, not too long ago, a man down in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens Council. And so God being the charter member means that everybody who’s in that has a kind of divinity, a kind of superiority. And think of what has happened in history as a result of this perverted use of the drum major instinct. It has led to the most tragic prejudice, the most tragic expressions of man’s inhumanity to man.” Martin Luther King Jr., 4 February 1968

The son of a German minister after watching his father greet an African immigrant who had attended Sunday morning services, asked his father why the palm of the man’s hands were white. The minister responded, “because God wanted to show black people that He also loves them.”

This joke is offensive, funny, and instructive. The first two are obvious if you have a reasonable sense of ‘self’ and a good sense of humor. The instructive nature of this joke is a little more difficult to discern because the offense and the humor are distracting. The offense is not the implication that God loves white people more than He loves black people. If you believe in God there is no such thing as more or less of His love. The offense is equating God’s love or a measure of it with white skin.

The telling of this joke informs us that there is a ‘sweet spot’ in the consciousness and the subconsciousness of our collective consciousness that is reserved for some white people. A boxing term, ‘sweet spot’ refers to a spot on the chin that if hit with a direct punch causes a vibration that throws the person’s brain into confusion. “ The brain then responds by temporarily suspending certain functions unnecessary to life, such as motor ability and even consciousness, as it works to restore equilibrium.”

Departing somewhat from the boxing term “sweet spot”, as it is used here, has a dual meaning. On one hand, it is an imaginary place defined by a sense of equilibrium that allows some white people to imagine and retreat if necessary to a magical place where white people are the chosen ones and life is good ,that is, “‘Honkey’ Dory”*. (click)

Insisting Jesus Was White Is Bad History and Bad Theology

In trying to police his depiction, Megyn Kelly is wrong on both the facts and the essential universality of the Christian message.

The second meaning refers to the suspension of certain brain functions necessary to deconstruct the fantasy of white supremacy and the purity of the white race. All in all, this ‘sweet spot’ represents a hominy of homogeneity teetering on the cusp of harmony fettered only by the hopes, dreams and aspirations of lives colored by difference and conflicts of difference.

To practice hitting the ‘sweet spot’ a boxer has to position the ‘heavy bag’ just right in order to hone his ability to land a knock out blow on the chin of his opponent. The ‘heavy bag’ has to be hung at the right height and his punches can’t be too high or too low. When he hits the ‘sweet spot’ the bag jumps back. If his punch is too low or too high the ‘heavy bag’ either rotates or absorbs the punch like a wall.

In order for a white person to get to the ‘sweet spot’ in our collective consciousness that sustains the idea that white skin is the birthmark of civilization and progress, certain images and myths have to be calibrated just right. The myths and images have to privilege white people from the beginning of time, the founding of cities, and the mastery of nature and human being.

Eric Foner Revisits Myths of the Underground Railroad

The first scholarly study of the Underground Railroad, published by Wilbur Siebert in 1898, named some 3,200 “agents,” virtually all of them white men, who presided over an elaborate network of fixed routes, illustrated with maps that looked much like those of an ordinary railroad.

benevolent-assimilation-what-will-he-do-phillippines

The images and the myths synchronize history into a narrative that implicitly and explicitly buttress the notion that over time societies consisting largely of white people sowed the seeds of social, economic and political advancements. Even if the white person in question is a ‘white moderate’ as opposed to a ‘white racist’ or ‘white supremacist’ these myths and images can source an ahistorical materialism that weaves privileged perceptions of themselves into the sum and structure of social relations. Drawing upon these myths and images poor and disenfranchised white people, “non-college whites”, can punch above their weight class as Harper Lee’s Boo Radley demonstrates in “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

THE HISTORY OF THE IDEA OF RACE… AND WHY IT MATTERS

“Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field.” (James Baldwin (1924-1987)

manfesEven though difference is often not prominently featured  in these myths and images, they are still part of a collective consciousness that ‘colored’ people share with ‘white people’. If not on display, it is usually the case that difference lies in the shadow of the ‘sameness’ that allows white people to infer ownership of the ‘realness of certain possibilities’ that the myth and images represent. Over time, difference has functioned to containerize the impulses representing the motives that resulted in  Adam and Eve getting kicked out of ‘the Garden of Eden’ and the forces that had to be overcome in order for ‘mankind’ to emerge out of a ‘state-of-nature’. If you understand this point, then you know better what is meant in an earlier post to this blog, “Colorblind People and the Ku Klux Klan”, that ended with the assertion that “it is not necessary to see color in order to be white”.

What Is in a Name?

Dark Hands in Heavy Chains

“Through the use of symbols, society makes a statement concerning its past, present and future values. In the process, the U.S. reinforces to the world–and to ourselves–its priorities and aspirations. We reach back into history and present the living with our immortal heroes, and provide past evidence of our enduring beliefs, just as we offer lessons to future generations on the type of nation we hope to become.”

The angelic face of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy

To create the image of the young Jesus, years were substracted from the man’s face imprinted on the Shroud of Turin and removed his beard. They also colored his hair blonde and lightened his complexion.

reverse-aging-of-shroud-of-turin-face

The New York Times derisively described the generated image:

“The angelic face is reminiscent of the prayer cards sold in Vatican souvenir shops and of the New Age portraits displayed at Venice Beach. The image shows a 12-year-old boy with fair, smooth skin, glassy blue eyes, fleshy lips and waves of dirty blond hair streaked with just enough purple and pink to suggest a sprinkling of cosmic dust.”

George Washington, Slave Catcher

hdgwslavw

While Lincoln’s role in ending slavery is understood to have been more nuanced than his reputation as the great emancipator would suggest, it has taken longer for us to replace stories about cherry trees and false teeth with narratives about George Washington’s slaveholding.

HA

BLACK PRIVILEGE AND THE MYTH OF HORATIO ALGER

Woe of White Men, Again?

statebenefits

Suzanne Mettler Talks Our Hidden Government Benefits

HiddenGOVT

51fws-Hns1L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Stealth Crusade

Inside one Southern university, Christian missionaries are being trained to go undercover in the Muslim world and win converts for Jesus. Their stated goal: to wipe out Islam.

christian terrorist?

‘Honkey’Dory (Part 2: White Place) – COMING SOON 2015

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).