Tuesday, January 22, 2008

GUEST POST: Breaking Up with Bill

Catherine Prendergast is Professor of English and Co-Director of the Ethnography of the University Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. She is the author of Literacy and Racial Justice: The Politics of Learning after Brown v. Board of Education, a book Gloria Ladson-Billings called "a breath of fresh air in what has been a very stale atmosphere.” As I think you'll agree after reading Cathy's post here, she's also one of the freshest thinkers on the much-blogged topic of race in this race around. On top of that, she's a dear friend of mine from graduate school and can twirl a mehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifan pirouette. Here's Cathy:

Breaking up with Bill

Out of the ashes of the South Carolina Democratic debate, uninspiring in so many ways, I saw a glimmer of hope. It wasn't in the CNN debate itself or the punditry afterwards, but rather in a related article on CNN's website which saw the media monolith scarfing down a little humble pie. It seems that within minutes of running a story in which it was speculated whether black women in South Carolina would vote their race or vote their gender, CNN was barraged with angry emails decrying the characterization of black women and their "unique" dilemma. Black women weighed in with the obvious (though apparently not obvious to CNN) point that they might also have other options, including voting on (gasp!) the issues. Did CNN really imagine black women so dumb that they would only perceive two choices in front of them? "Pull this racist crap off" one angry reader responded. But perhaps the most revealing comment came from a white man who wrote "Since Edwards no longer officially exists, as a white male I face the same choice - either I vote my race (Clinton) or my gender (Obama)."

What did this man reveal? Whiteness, plain and simple. That state of being that is invisible and somehow transcendant, allowed to be raceless because it takes place against a continually racialized other. People have been quick lately to recall Toni Morrison's description of Bill Clinton as our first black president. They've been less apt to recall her more substantial observation that white people have always resisted shifting the racializing gaze to themselves. Morrison, for a related reason, refuses to don the mantle of feminist writer just because she writes about women. She finds such labels suspicious: "No one says Solzhenitsyn is writing only about those Russians, I mean, what is the matter with him? Why doesn't he write about Vermont?"

So when Bill Clinton, in speech the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, assured listeners that he could well understand why African-Americans would want to vote for the first "intelligent" African American presidential candidate they've ever had the chance to vote for, I cringed. Clinton may have been called our first black president, but he certainly was never called our first "intelligent" black president, which is why, of course, he never was black, and was never called white.

Since this is a blog honoring women writers, let me quote one of my favorites, whose words have been bouncing around in my head ever since this primary season began: Susan Sontag in the days after 9/11, when surrounded by those who asked "why us," famously answered, "Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together." What is going to make this current election different, if it is going to be different, is not the presence of a black (male) or (white) female candidate as front-runners for the first time. It will be the continued presence of all the extraordinary people who wrote speedily back to CNN, and in so many words, said, "Let's by all means vote together. But let's not be stupid together." Here's to those people. They point the way ahead.


SPN said...

Good post Cathy. It was interesting to see Obama making aware jokes related to that - joking about how Edwards is hoping to get the white guy vote. Either he was trying to highlight the problem with media narratives about race, or else he was mocking the idea that one would even think of Edwards as "white." What do you think? I lean towards the former, but I am predisposed to get the joke. Viewers might read that joke very differently than I do.

J. K. Gayle said...

If Bill Clinton is our first black president, then why can't Barack Obama be our first woman president?

Thanks for the post, Dr. Prendergast. We use your wonderful book in classes over here, and one of the profs reviews for all (and a good review too)!

Unknown said...

Thanks, J.K.! Great comment, and please tell Ron hello from me! CP

Anonymous said...


Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa page and other update like as Beratnya Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa, Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa di perpanjang and Jangan Berhenti Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. Thank you So much.

Oes Tsetnoc | Lanjutkan Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Daniela said...

Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up great writing. Find your great Travel News and sing the songs at Free Song Lyric or you can watch the drama at Korea Drama Online one of great korea drama is A Love to Kill if you go to travel to Indonesia learn Learn Indonesia Language first! And find your home cari rumah or make a blog Belajar membuat Blog find your home again rumah dijual and again at jual rumah the point is cari rumah, jual rumah, rumah dijual, download youtube and find blog widget and then if you want buy a new laptop see the Laptop Price List or you can buy a New Blackberry and then take care your Health & Jewerly good job, very great article Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual Thanks ever so much Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual very useful article Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual Great information Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual I like your blog Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual I will be checking back for any new articles Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual just bookmarked it for later reference Cari Rumah, Jual Rumah, Rumah dijual, free scholarships, Wikilaw, eporchshop, free wallpapers, free gadgets. Thanks for kindly sharing it with us. Very well done indeed

love-up-you said...

guoweigang When it comes to the discount pandora pieces of jewelry that you would like to pursue pandora sale are among gemstones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. pandora jewerly You will want to also think about discount pandora beads peal and opal as a gemstone that you would like cheap pandora beads to incorporate into the design of the jewelry new pandora beads . You will find that there are many different pandora bead designs that you could go with, but why not pandora set go with your own design?When it comes to the cheap pandora sets jewelry.

AdFunds said...

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work. Replica Watches

Unknown said...

guests are welcome to women's place

Unknown said...

whant to use led flashlight

Nikola said...

The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottles represents the number of varieties of pickles the company once had.online car insurance

Nikola said...

Originally, Coca Cola had a green color.mini laptop reviews

Christina N. said...

I found out, that taking herbal treatment is the best to get rid of hpv as soon as i feel the symptoms of hpv is appearing, i took the healing process by contacting Dr onokun for natural treatment it works wonders, amazingly ever since I had the herbal treatment i have not feel these horrible disease anymore and my doc told me the virus is gone, i am glad i finally got cured out from this horrible disease. every hpv or herpes patients should also get in touch with this herbalist Dr to get ride of these disease forever his email address; dronokunherbalcure@gmail.com 

Sajjad Ahmed said...

Nice Blog. Here are some good profile of educational sites.

B.Tech College in Dehradun

Best College in Dehradun

Best private College in Dehradun

Best Engineering College in Dheradun

MBA College in India

Best Private BBA College In India

RootsAnalysis said...

Thanks for sharing this article and I hope you like my report as well.

Pharmaceutical Secondary Packaging Market

Viral Vaccine Cell Culture Media Market

Happy Reading

Roots Analysis

RootsAnalysis said...

Thanks for sharing this article and I hope you like my report as well.

Porphyria: Pipeline Review, Developer Landscape and Competitive Insights

Light Activated Therapies Market: Focus on Photodynamic Therapies

Happy Reading

Roots Analysis

RootsAnalysis said...

Thanks for sharing this article and I hope you like my report as well.

Porphyria: Flow Cytometry Services Market by Type of General Flow Cytometric Services

Exosome Development and Manufacturing Services Market

Happy Reading

Roots Analysis

RootsAnalysis said...

Hi, Very insightful thanks for sharing this and hope you like my articles below

Synthetic Biology: Protein Design and Engineering Market

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Kits Market

Happy Reading

Roots Analysis