Blinded by the Whites: Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

Blinded by the Whites: Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

Blinded by the Whites: Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

Blinded by the Whites: Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

Synopsis

The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology-including post-racialism and colorblind politics-that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.

Excerpt

By most conventional measures of emotional stability,

Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist in Invisible Man is emotionally unstable or, to use street vernacular, downright crazy. Paranoid about racial conspiracies to the point of viewing the entire society – including other African Americans – as potential threats to his personhood and sanity invisible man lives alone in a secret underground dwelling in Harlem. He spends the bulk of his time contemplating the racial crisis that has brought him to this low point in his life and that he sees as a threat to the social stability of the United States. Viewing his current status as temporary (he characterizes his social isolation as a “hibernation”), he plans to “return” to the surface and reenter society when he has unraveled the conundrum of his and society’s racial predicament, with a strategy in tow that he has developed to help explode the status quo. To prepare for his social reentry and liberation strategy, he becomes a one-man corporate subversive, stealing electricity from the Monopolated Light & Power Company, a powerful, white-owned local utility company. To maximize the impact of his subversion and accommodate his perplexing and insatiable desire for light, he wires his ceiling with 1,369 energy-guzzling light bulbs. His ultimate goal is to wire the room so that he can install light bulbs on the walls and floors. There is also a violent component to invisible man’s subversive behavior. A powder keg of pent-up racial rage, he brutalizes and nearly murders a white man he bumps into on the street at night for calling him an “insulting name.” Not the least bit remorseful, invisible man blames the white man for provoking the near-fatal assault, arguing that his violent response was . . .

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