There are border crossings and hyphenations. Dominican, but not. Haitian, but not. Black Latino. Father. Poet. One of the fiercest writers…One of the most tender. Back-and-forth between Spanish and English. Rakim name-dropped alongside Ravitch. Some references cited and explained—Paolo Freire, for example – but the hip hop lyrics aren’t; it’s up to the reader to decode, not to Vilson to translate. That flips the rules of power and culture and literacy…
'A tone-deaf inquiry into an Asian-American’s ethnic origin. Cringe-inducing praise for how articulate a black student is. An unwanted conversation about a Latino’s ability to speak English without an accent…'
…not exactly the language of traditional racism, but in an avalanche of blogs, student discourse, campus theater and academic papers, they all reflect the murky terrain of the social justice word du jour—microaggressions—used to describe the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture.
Enough already about Michael Sam, Jason Collins, Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, concussions and the N-word. I turn on ESPN to get away from the stress of everyday life, to relax with my friends, to share some family time with the kids. Why do you keep shoving that stuff in my face?
Paul Ryan’s claim to have made a mistake will be granted because he is white and male. The errors of prominent (as well as rank and file) African-Americans for example, are never excused away or viewed as aberrations or outliers. No. When black folks are ‘inarticulate’ or ‘misspeak’ the white racial frame deems such moments as indications of incompetence, or proof that people of color are somehow ‘not qualified’ or as ‘intelligent’ as white people. The white gaze does not view black Americans as individuals. When a black person makes a mistake it becomes the focus of a ‘national conversation’ about the black community, one in which ‘black leaders’ are forced to publicly explain and condemn the actions of other black people. There is not an equivalent ritual for white people. White conservatives and the white community will not be forced to condemn Paul Ryan.
Am I proud of my Irish heritage? Sure…up to a point: We’re all born with something, and I was born with a name no one can spell or pronounce, which is specific to a few townlands in County Clare…I inherited some of my Irish-raised dad’s snobbery about the hopelessly Americanized character of St. Patrick’s Day, which a serious alcoholic like him could only view as amateur hour. I don’t miss Irish-America’s dishonest relationship to Irish violence (although the worst offenders in that department were almost always the racist and homophobic old guard). But I’d put up with many choruses of “Danny Boy,” and many rounds of green-label Budweiser, to get back that feeling we briefly had of being an immigrant group that was trying to confront its history, and to see the prison of whiteness for what it really is.
Due to my bearded look, the filmmakers cast me as an overseer in two scenes, shattering me out of my comfort zone. Surrounded by production-placed cotton and sugarcane, they gave me a prop whip and directed me to snarl, grunt and shove at extras playing slaves. Racial slurs were plentiful to ensure realism. Everyone participating knew what they had signed up for…