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Racism and Colonialism Discussion - Essay Example

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Whiteness is a privilege lived but not acknowledged. What are its implications for race, gender, and class? Do you think Frankenberg is apologetic or white racism or the opposite? Provide argument and illustration for the position you take. Ruth Frankenberg takes off her discourse with the provocative observation that “any system of differentiation shapes those upon whom it bestows privilege as well as those it oppresses.” (Frankenberg: 1993: 131)…
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Racism and Colonialism Discussion

Download file to see previous pages... I argue further that Frankenberg explores the themes of race, gender and class vis a vis whiteness not as independent from each other, but as overlapping structures of oppression and exploitation that must be addressed and resisted together. She surfaces, to paraphrase May (1999:4) the hegemonic processes that lead to the universalization and normalization of whiteness and the “othering” of non-whiteness. It is telling that Frankenberg begins with the admission that she had at first considered race far removed from her work as a Marxist Feminist. To quote her, “I saw racism as entirely external to me, a characteristic of extremists or of the British State, but not a part of what made me or what shaped my activism.” (53) Her race consciousness was triggered by the observation that unlike those she campaigned in the All-Cambridge campaigns who were whites like her, those she worked alongside in the feminist movement in the United States were “lesbian women of color and white working class women” (54) – bringing forth a heterogeneity that demonstrated the unities and linked experiences of women from all over. From this early experience, Frankenberg developed a critical perspective towards race and saw whiteness as a category that bestows “structural advantage” and “privilege” (55) and as a “place from which to look at oneself, others and society.” In her work at looking at white women’s childhoods, Frankenberg saw how race was used as an organizing device to bestow or deny privilege; to include or exclude. In a way, therefore, it becomes inextricable with class – particularly when race becomes the determinant of conferring economic benefit. Frankenberg’s critical – as opposed to apologetic – perspective on race and whiteness becomes even more apparent when she reveals how the subjects of her study, the white middle-class women who she had asked to describe their childhoods, had managed to render invisible the black people who they had lived with or encountered within their communities. And when these black people are summoned to memory, it is always in the context of class-asymmetrical relationships. To quote: But whether or not it is race per se that creates the form in which the domestic worker of color appears in the interviews, it is primarily through employer-employee class-imbalanced relationships that women from ‘apparently all-white’ homes encounter women of color. (61) In the other accounts and interviews that dot the text of Frankenberg, other methods of differentiation are explored – some overt, some covert – but always with the result of creating distinctions and setting boundaries using racial markers. In a sense, race and class and gender are similar in that it triggers the process of differentiation, and these differentials are legitimized and ratified in order to support existing power structures or arrangements. Race and gender and class differentials therefore, operate to strengthen one another and create filtering mechanisms that determine what people can get, and how, as well as the relationships between the group that gets and the group that does not. The classifications brought on by race, gender and class create ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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