Racist Things Steampunks Are Not Immune To: Dysconscious Racism

"Planetary Alignment," by Julie Dillon. Courtesy: Digital-art-gallery.com

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

Dysconcious racism is a term coined by Joyce E King (in the Journal of Negro Education, Spring 1991, JSTOR, but you can get it through Google, too) as “the uncritical habit of mind (i.e., perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs) that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given.” It’s pretty much the reason why Moff’s Law exists as a comment policy on pretty much any blog that seeks to analyse pop culture.

You know when people say stupid sh-t like, “there will ALWAYS be racism,” or “people have ALWAYS been prejudiced towards one another” and “human beings are just like that”? And, like, what the fuck kind of argument are you going to have with that kind of statement, anyway? It’s not like there’s any kind of untruth to them; it’s just that it’s a really f-cking lazy thing to say and absolves people of any responsibility to actually think and address the problem of, you know, RACISM!

Dysconscious racism in steampunk is part of a larger attitude of escapism, usually exhibited by people who just think steampunk (and other kinds of fiction) is a fantasy, and whenever you try to engage with them about the political implications of their very problematic ish (whether it’s literature or world-building or whatever), they get their “Why Do You Have To Be So Political About This?” tantrums on and “Suddenly The World Is Ruined and it is Totally Your Fault” because you brought it up, so there.

On another note, dysconscious racism can include the refusal to consider the ins and outs of racism, and a lot of grouching about “being made to feel guilty.” Sometimes, some effort is made to engage, but there’s a lot of tip-toeing around the actual problem, a lot of stumbling around, and rather than have an actual conversation, we all sit around making vague statements about why racism still exists. Which, FYI, doesn’t actually help any.

Anti-racism is a conscious thing. It has to be cultivated as conscious habit. We grow up with so many unexamined assumptions and with poor education systems that cannot possibly cover the length and breadth of the world. Sometimes, our own education systems don’t even cover the ins and outs of our own countries’ histories (and seeing as how schools are as form of state apparatus to mold citizens that comply with state expectations, it’s no wonder!), so it’s easy to grow up not realizing all these histories.

Dysconscious racism, then, is sort of a default state of mind for a lot of people who refuse to develop the critical thinking skills needed to actively combat racism. There’re only so many ways to combat dysconscious racism, and unless the person exhibiting it is willing to give thinking a try, there’s really not much you can do, except reiterate, over and over, “racism can be fixed. Racism is not a natural state of being. Racism is not here to stay. Racism is taught, not intrinsic to humanity,” and hope they gradually internalize that.

 

Awkward Interracial Dating: High Hopes for Season 2 of Awkward Black Girl

By Guest Contributor Tracey Ross

(Note: Spoilers if you did not watch episode 7.)

I’m the kind of girl who walks down the street and doesn’t realize I’ve been singing out loud. Or offers a pregnant lady a seat on the metro only to find out she’s not pregnant. I’m awkward. And black. This is why I love the web series Awkward Black Girl and, like many ABG fans, am counting down to the premiere of season two.

Towards the end of the first season, the audience was left with a cliffhanger episode where the star “J” (played by show creator Issa Rae) finds her two love interests “Fred” and “White Jay” at her doorstep. If it’s not obvious, White Jay is white. And Fred is black. Given the choice before J, the show created an unlikely platform for conversations about interracial dating, and spurred much debate over whether it is OK to date outside one’s race. We can expect season two to highlight J’s new relationship with White Jay, but it would be a mistake to allow the characters to fall into the familiar tropes used to depict interracial dating.

Typically, there are two ways television and movies handle interracial dating. The first is the traditional approach where the family has a problem with the relationship. From the 1967 classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” to the 2005 role reversal of “Guess Who.” The second is the imaginary, post-racial approach where no one seems to notice that the happy pair is an interracial couple. Not even the couple themselves, as seen on many new sitcoms. Continue reading

Winnemem Wintu Nation Fights Against The Clock To Preserve Their Heritage

The Winnemem Wintu Nation only wants the California government to grant them one thing–to allow sixteen-year-old Marisa Sisk to complete her coming-of-age ceremony by legally closing a section of the McCloud River for four days. Unfortunately, Sisk may be blocked from the vital ritual for reasons that started decades ago and continue to this day.

Indian Country Today explains:

Forest Service officials say they can legally close the river only for a federally recognized tribe, and the Winnemem have delayed Marisa’s ceremony, fearing it will be disrupted by the same vulgar disturbances that have marred the previous two ceremonies within the tribe’s ancestral territory along [California's] McCloud River.

Ignoring voluntary closures, recreational boaters have motored through the ceremony site, now a Forest Service campground, some swilling beer and yelling racial slurs like “Fat Indians!” or disruptive taunts like “It’s our river too, dude!” In 2006, a drunken woman flashed the tribe with her naked breasts, and in 2010 a boater dumped cremations in the river shortly before a ceremonial swim. Continue reading

Dating a Trans Man: Negotiating Queerness And Privilege [Love, Anonymously]

Courtesy: The Aggressives and Elixher.com

By Guest Contributor Aja Worthy-Davis, cross-posted from Elixher

“Such a Black man.”

It has become a catchphrase around my house. Guaranteed to elicit an amused (and possibly annoyed) eyeroll from my partner. An inside joke that might seem odd to someone who didn’t know us–a Black heterosexually-presenting couple. Those who do know us know there’s more to the story.

I’m a queer Black femme prone to dating middle-aged divorced hippie White guys due in equal parts to my upbringing, my personality, and my personal baggage. He’s a Black man who has dated more than his share of middle-aged divorced hippie White lesbians. And (I guess this is the kicker) when we met in our staunchly Catholic high school over a decade ago, he was a girl. He was also my laid-back butch best friend I couldn’t stop thinking about when I kissed my boyfriend. We skipped after-school activities and hung out in the Village holding hands. We giddily queered-up our Drama Club performances to culturally-sheltered teenagers who wouldn’t recognize queer if the Gay Pride Parade marched in front of them. We identified with Willow and Tara, which I think says it all. Watching Pariah was like watching our relationship played back at us, only we were Annie On My Mind chaste.

Skip eleven years later, my Black butch Dawson Leery is now a man. A boxers-wearing, heavy-things-carrying, messy, shaving, will-you-buy-me-a-wave-brush-Honey Black man.  When he made the physical transition, it was not all that surprising to me—he was never really comfortable in a woman’s body.  And he had long been identifying as “genderqueer” in LGBTQ spaces. This seemed like the logical next step, and I was happy for him.

But that’s easy to say because we weren’t in a monogamous domestic partnership (complete with the gentrified-Brooklyn condo and standard lesbian cats) back then. Even three years ago, it seemed like our story had forever to unfold. But once we were on the same wavelength, things moved quickly. My personal life sped up to where I thought it would slowly lead, and my mind was so wrapped-up in the practical questions (Where will we live? When will we go to graduate school? Who will do the cooking?), that it totally bypassed the more personal introspective question about how it would change my personal and relationship identity to be perceived as straight and be with a Black man.

Continue reading